Last 6th of October 2010, I was ordained a deacon by the Most Rev. Bishop Joe Grech of Sandhurst. It was a wonderful occasion of thanksgiving and praise to God for this great gift of vocation to the priesthood.
One of the highlights of that event is the wonderful homily given by the Bishop himself. And here is the full text of it.
|Pantaleon “John” Amaya – Ordination to the Diaconate|
We have just been listening to some wonderful readings from the Bible this evening. I was particularly struck by the 1st Reading which speaks about the call of Jeremiah.
What an amazing surprise it was for Jeremiah when he heard that he has been chosen for an amazing mission, to understand that he had been chosen, consecrated, anointed to be God’s spokesperson, to be a prophet. This is an awesome call. It is a call that can inspire many while at the same time it is a call which entails many challenges and moments of anxiety. It is no wonder that Jeremiah backed off at first from this call “Ah this is too much my God. I am but a child. Nobody will take me seriously. Who will take notice of the words of a child? I thank you but you had better choose somebody else”. This is a very human and honest response.
God knows all of this. Our God specializes in giving us surprises. Our God is an expert in presenting to us a call which at first seems too big to achieve, too impractical and too impossible. Our God knows very well our human nature. He knows each one of us much more than we know ourselves. He is therefore aware of our doubts that periodically assail us as we try to come to grips with what we perceive our call in life might be. He is aware of our hesitations and lack of courage. Yet he has chosen us for this work and he will be there to guide, encourage, heal, forgive and empower us so that we can fulfill the mission to which he has called us to. Yet we cannot do this on our own. “Do not be afraid of them” God says to Jeremiah, “for I am with you to protect you”. Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me ‘There! I am putting my word into your mouth”.
This has been John’s story too. As a young man nurtured by his parents and brothers and sisters high up in the hills in the middle part of the island of Cebu, Philippines; he felt a stirring in his heart that God was calling to be like Jeremiah, a prophet , a person through whom God could speak directly to His people. He felt a call to the priesthood I am sure that this call stirred with in John moments of joy and filled his heart with a sense of purpose while at the same time it also caused him much reflection, much pondering and a fair bit of struggle.
You have been very faithful to the direction and guidance of your seminary formation. I want to thank you for being attentive and committed to the various aspects of seminary formators. It was not always plain sailing. There were moments of doubt, moments of hesitation, moments of interior conflict yet you were never afraid to grapple with what needed to be faced and persevered with it. At this moment I also would like to extend our gratitude as a diocese to Fr Brendan Lane, the Rector of Corpus Christi College and to all the staff. Priestly formation is a demanding ministry and yet so vital for the life of our Catholic faith community. With your guidance, promptings and encouragement, John had a great pastoral experience at St Kilian’s Parish over a six month period of time. Our gratitude also goes to this community of St Kilian’s to Fr Rom and to those parishioners and priest who have walked so closely with John during this important time of his formation. All of this has brought us to this point to the ordination of John as a deacon, another step in John’s journey towards the priesthood which God willing will occur next year.
What does a deacon do? In the first place John will be able to officiate at baptisms and marriages, to give the viaticum to the dying and to preside at the rite of burial. All of this entails a grave responsibility. These are situations which occur during the most sacred moments of a person’s life. This means that you John are being entrusted by the church with the ministry of accompanying people during times of their deepest sorrow and anxiety as well as during their times of great joy and hope. People are going to trust you with very personal and intimate moments of their lives. You are called to have the deepest respect for this trust and to bring Jesus Christ into these moments. You are not called to bring yourself but who you represent who you stand for – Jesus Christ. Make sure that you always give room to our God to console, heal, encourage, empower, forgive, rejoice, and to do whatever is necessary to our people.
In addition as a deacon you are also commissioned to proclaim the Word of God, to prepare the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist and to give the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to our people. Proclaim the Word of God with a heart that breathes and pulsates with the heart of Jesus. Proclaim the word with a heart which has already experienced an ultimate relationship with Jesus Christ. May your proclamation be bold and passionate, the fruit of your own intimate relationship with our God; the fruit of spending time in prayer and the fruit of the reflection on what is occurring around you and in the lives of our people. May your preaching be also bonded by the necessary disciplined study.
Moreover, you are also asked to avail yourself for works of charity. We know that over the years that we have known you, you have proved yourself to be a responsible person, someone who is faithful to what you promise. You have a sensitive heart, you can sense the often hidden needs and struggles of those who you meet. Because of your background you have the generosity and the capacity to be of ready service to those who seek your help.
For all of us gathered here this evening let us pray for all our people in the Diocese so that we become more and more inflamed with the love of God. In particular we also pray for more young people to open to respond to God’s invitation to dedicate their lives to the priesthood and to consecrated religious life.