Ordination to the Diaconate: 09.09.23
St. Saviour’s Church, Dominick Street, Dublin @ 3pm
• Br. Benedict McGlinchey OP
• Br. Christopher Vincent Gault OP
• Br. Blazej Martin Bialek OP
We gather on this Saturday afternoon in this splendid church, designed by J.J. McCarthy, opened in 1862 and dedicated to the Holy Saviour. And it’s here we will ordain three men to the diaconate, three men each with professional backgrounds who have excelled in their own earlier careers before pursuing the call to serve Our Lord and Saviour.
I warmly welcome Br. Benedict, a native of Limavady in Derry Diocese, Br. Chris, a native of Belfast in Down & Connor Diocese and Br. Blazej, a native of Lublin in Poland who at the age of nine moved with his family to Ballon in Kildare & Leighlin Diocese.
I welcome your families who have travelled to be with us today for this grace filled ceremony. I welcome colleagues and friends from your earlier careers who are with us, as I warmly my brother priests, especially your Dominican confreres.
Thank you to the Prior Provincial, Fr. John Harris OP for the invitation to celebrate this ceremony today and thanks to the Prior, a friend from my own days in Drogheda, Fr. Joe Dineen OP for his gracious welcome.
The collect in today’s Mass reminds us our mandate is “to seek not to be served but to serve” and prays that these three men, who are to be ordained this afternoon “may be effective in action, gentle in ministry, and constant in prayer” .
For the shortcomings that are part of all our lives, we pray …
It’s interesting to note that the only question asked off those in charge of the formation of candidates for the diaconate is “Do you judge them to be worthy?” . What do we mean by this term ‘worthy’? What is understood by it? It’s not a word commonly used in today’s lexicon. And yet we ask it of candidates in formation for ordained ministry.
If you are attentive to the words of the ritual today, you’ll notice that the word ‘worthy’ has been used in the questioning and in the response. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Br. Benedict, Br. Chris and Br. Blazej are nothing less than exceptionally worthy, but I remind them and all of us gathered in St. Saviour’s that being found worthy is a daily challenge in ministry. It’s something we must work at, it’s something we must refine, it’s something we must sharpen, every single day.
Worthiness is not about honour, or about being precious, or special, or privileged, the wonderful spiritual writer Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Norway calls it “the worthiness at cause here is an aptitude for self-forgetting” . An ability to forget yourself and think of others.
It’s what brought Pope Francis a week ago on a ten hour flight to a country sandwiched between China and Russia, a country we know as Mongolia. A journey to meet with 1,500 Catholics in a population of 3.5M. A Catholic population tinier than many of our parishes and yet Pope Francis made time to be with them. Forget oneself and only to think of others.
I always love the line in the revised translation of the Missal, just before the reception of Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” . It’s a clear acknowledgement that none of us are really worthy, every day is a day. It’s hopefully what stirs all of us to become servants of one another.
Universally the Church today honours St. Peter Claver, a native of Catalonia, Spain. Peter Claver was a Jesuit who ministered to African immigrant slaves in modern day Colombia. In his own words he said “we must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips”. It’s a wonderful piece of advice for three men about to be ordained into the diaconate to serve the Order of Preachers and indeed even better advice for all of us.
Here in Ireland we honour St. Ciaran, one of the twelve apostles of this land. His monastery at Clonmacnoise, the brainchild of his teacher St. Enda, was to have a presence in the centre of Ireland. Ciaran sowed the seed that became Clonmacnoise, as he died in its early stage of construction. In time it would become one of the most renowned monasteries in Europe. There is a growing tendency now in a much more secular Ireland to push religion and faith matters from the centre to the peripheries. It’s at the peripheries we must minister, we must be authentic and we must be found worthy. In fact being effective and articulate on the peripheries will perhaps one day see us having a stronger central presence once again.
It is a year for particular promotion of vocations to the diocesan priesthood. I realise this is a brave call out in this Dominican amphitheatre! I take comfort in a recent article from the pen of the Prior Provincial who spoke of the affection he held for his local Parish Priest and the influence that priest had on his own journey towards the Order of Preachers. We need vocations, we all need vocations. Recently at the Youth 2000 Summer Conference in Clongowes I appealed to the young people who were to receive their Leaving Cert or GCE results to hold priesthood in their mind reminding them “that this is a journey you may take later in life, so always leave the door open”.
That’s exactly what Br. Benedict, Br. Chris and Br. Blazej have done. Br. Benedict’s background is corporate law working abroad in London and Dubai. Br. Chris qualified as a medical doctor working for a number of years with the Western Health Trust in Northern Ireland. Br. Blazej having moved with his family from Poland to Ireland in 2000, attended the CBS in Carlow before studying law to become a solicitor with a legal firm in Dublin. All of you entered the Dominican novitiate in Cork in 2017.
I realise the three of you will continue your studies after diaconate and that is very important. Indeed the commencement of the academic terms in Rome, Dublin and Krakow determined the date of this afternoons ceremony. But I ask all of you, as you continue your studies and conscious of the rich and varied journies you have each made to this day, that you always remain conscious of the peripheries.
Luke’s gospel shows the lack of concern Jesus held for observing conventual practices contrasted with the Pharisees rigidity around rules and regulations. We are told in the setting of this gospel passage that Jesus “happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields” , he didn’t stick to the defined roadways and pathways, he made his own journey and I invite all three of you to do the very same. It’s only then you will truly understand what it means to be ‘worthy’, privileging you to witness to Him, who first called you to follow Him.
I now address Br. Benedict, Br. Chris and Br. Blazej …