It may have been the most unusual beginning to a homily at a priestly ordination in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, as Archbishop Tartaglia greeted the about-to-be ordained candidate with the words “My dear Vincent, you got here at last, after possibly the longest diaconate in the world (over 25 years)”!
The words reflected Vincent Toal’s lengthy journey of discernment to the priesthood, from his ordination as a deacon for Paisley diocese, through many years as the editor of Flourish, the Archdiocesan newspaper, to his final decision. St. Andrew’s Cathedral was filled for the service with family, including his brother Bishop Joseph Toal and his elderly mother, Archbishop Emeritus Conti, Bishop Brian McGee from his home diocese of Argyll & The Isles, priests from Paisley and Glasgow dioceses, and friends and colleagues.
Archbishop Tartaglia went on to say what a wonderful day it was for the ordination -the feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the universal church, someone who had faith in God’s promises and listened to the Spirit of God, even as Deacon Vincent had. The Archbishop continued with the reflection that a priest, in preaching the Word of God, is called first to hear it himself and to do it. He is called to be holy, the loving shepherd of his people whom he should always put first, and to carry out his ministry with joy and constant love.
The music for the Mass was supported by the Archdiocesan Choir, the St. Mungo Singers, who set an atmosphere of prayerful reflection before the Mass began, singing a selection of music including the Celtic Invocation, and Gibbons’ setting of Come, Holy Ghost. The music of the Mass itself was a mix of traditional and modern, with the plainchant Kyrie, missal chants for the Litany of Saints, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, the Fitzpatrick setting of Psalm 88 (a very appropriate psalm for an ordination and one which would be used again for the Chrism Mass the following week), the hymn written for the canonisation of St Mary McKillop, the Quinn/Joncas setting of the St. Patrick Breastplate, Sean O’Riada’s To Christ the Seed.
The Mass ended with the singing of the Salve Regina and the recessional hymn Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go with its words which reminded us that we were all sharers with Christ in his roles as King Priest and Prophet for our world. The celebrations continued in the Curial Offices as the congregation thronged across to congratulate the new priest and enjoy a buffet and refreshments.