Laying on go hands
‘Joy and delight’ as two priests are ordained in Tuam
“A DAY of great joy and delight in the Archdiocese of Tuam,” was how Archbishop Michael Neary described Sunday, June 3, when two young men were ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Eugene O’Boyle from Claremorris and Shane Sullivan from Minnesota, USA, were the first men to be ordained there since Patrick Burke from Killererin in 2006.
The Cathedral was thronged for the afternoon ceremony. The congregation included the families and guests of the ordinands and parishioners from Tuam and other parishes.
Over 80 clergy attended, 65 from the Tuam archdiocese and visiting priests including Fr Athony Wroblewski, pastor of Baxter, Minnesota, Shane Sullivan’s home parish.
Fr Shane’s first appointment is as curate in Tuam, which for the past few months has been served by only two priests, Fr Francis Mitchell Adm and Fr Seán Cunningham CC.
Fr O’Boyle is to be chaplain to Castlebar General Hospital. The Diocesan appointments, announced on Tuesday, are only three in number this year. The third is that of Fr Patrick Burke, Hospital Chaplain, Castlebar to be Curate in Knock.
There are no retirements this year.
The music for the ceremony was provided by the Tuam Cathedral Choir under the direction of organist Catherine Mulhern. The soloists were Fintan Higgins, Emer Kelly, Eoin Hynes and Nephron Demoran, and the music, which ended with Handel’s Hallelujah! chorus, received high praise.
John O’Keefe, Director of Sacred Music at Maynooth, said that “in content, quality and delivery it was superb”.
Archbishop Neary said in his homily that it gave him great pleasure “this day to ordain two young, courageous individuals for service in the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the Archdiocese of Tuam. Two talented young men of great calibre and strength of mind and will, delighted to respond, happy to commit to the call of God at this most challenging of times.”
He said that “Both young men before us today have approached that call and have responded from very different backgrounds, Eugene from a rural town in the West of Ireland and Shane from the heart of the USA, Baxter, Minnesota. Both responding with outstanding generosity to the radical call of Jesus Christ to serve as diocesan priests in a diocese steeped in a wealth of faith and tradition, St Patrick, St Jarlath, St Colmcille, St MacDara, St Colman, St Ciarán, Our Lady of Knock, Ballintubber, Máméan!”
He said that like Isaiah and his people we find ourselves in a time characterised by change, and, some might argue, a vacuum in society. The Church may have lost its strong influence in society and it is unclear what public role it will play in the future.
“Today, Eugene and Shane are being sent on a way where we have not set the goal ourselves and may not even know where we are going. The appearance of tomorrow’s Church may have little in common with the Church of today. But the true Church of all times lives and acts based on the divine promise.”
Addressing the two men, he said: “Eugene and Shane, you are called and sent to be a builder of communion between people and a sower of hope. Within your own family you have experienced what the Second Vatican Council described as ‘a community of life and love’. Here you had a wonderful experience of this self-giving love. Christian families are not only the privileged place for human and Christian formation; they can also be ‘the primary and most excellent seed bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the kingdom of God’.”
He went on to say that there would be times in their ministry when they would feel discouraged and disillusioned, when despite their best efforts many would reject or refuse to respond to the message you preach.
“While the experts are predicting a bleak future for the Church and its ministers you are called to be men of irrepressible hope who will help people to read the signs of what is happening in our contemporary culture. It will be your responsibility to support them as they struggle to find meaning in life and to experience God’s presence in the midst of pressure. You will be a bearer of hope for others if you have hope in your own heart, if at all times you are in close relationship with God in prayer.
“In spite of the problems which are highlighted today, this is a great time to be a priest. You will experience wonderful support from people, you have a tremendous privilege, as a member of a team to work with the people, religious and your brother priests here in the Archdiocese of Tuam. I look forward very much to working with you and I pray that the joy of this day will remain with you, your families and friends and all the people you serve.
“On an occasion such as this it is appropriate to acknowledge and pay tribute to the generosity of our priests. There is something very attractive, inspiring and uplifting when we see priests who are men of prayer, close to the Lord, interested in and committed to their people and appreciative of their struggles and their strengths. Priesthood will always be indispensable for the Church and for society when lived in this way and thank God for our priests.”
Fr Eugene O’Boyle said his first Mass in Claremorris on Monday, and Fr Shane Sullivan in his father’s native parish of Cill Chiaráin. From arriving in Ireland with no Irish in 2008, he is now proficient enough to be interviewed on TG4 and to say his first Mass completely as Gaeilge.