HOMILY FOR THE PRIESTLY ORDINATION OF
KNOCK, 23rd AUGUST, 2020
The Harvest Day Of A Diocese
After a year in which we laid to rest seven of our priests, Joe Cooney, John McCormack, James Kelly, Seán Kilbane, J.J. Cribbin, Peter Waldron and Paddy Gilligan, and having coped with the disappointment of the postponement of this day due to the Coronavirus, it is a source of great joy to celebrate the Ordination of Shane Costello. The Ordination of a priest has been described by Pope Benedict as the harvest day of a Diocese, one of the high points in its life. This day demonstrates how much faith is alive in a local church, the hope-filled courage and strength it gives the young priest to entrust himself to the Lord’s service in the knowledge that the faith of the people of God will support him in it.
A Warm Welcome
I welcome you all as we come to celebrate this special day in the life of our Archdiocese of Tuam. I welcome Shane himself, his parents, family, his neighbours, former teachers, the priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Tuam, the President, Rector, staff and our students from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
I welcome Shane’s local Priest, Canon James Quinn, and the Vicar General of the Diocese, former Parish Priest of the parish, Mgr. Dermot Moloney, and Fr. Francis Mitchell, Director of Vocations.
Priesthood: A Gift Given For Service
Shane, the gifts that you receive in your ordination today are for service to God and the people of God. In your priestly ministry you will have the privilege of welcoming, working with and encouraging people who are open to and led by the Spirit. You will rejoice and celebrate with them as together you build up the Kingdom of God. You will have to be patient and make allowances for others who see things differently from yourself.
The Faith Community Forms The Priest
An African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child”. It takes a community of faith, like yourselves, however, to form a priest. You have witnessed Shane grow, develop and mature here in your family and neighbourhood. His teachers have directed his progress from primary to post-primary, St. Colman’s College, and then to third-level and the seminary in Maynooth. During those years he has drawn closer to Jesus Christ in prayer, studied the scriptures and familiarised himself with the teaching of Jesus Christ and his Church.
Priestly Ministry Is Counter-Cultural
Today, Shane is entrusted with the responsibility to go out and preach Christ’s gospel, to make disciples, to baptise and to teach. In many ways the responsibility entrusted to him is counter-cultural. Our society today places such an emphasis on self-fulfilment, on autonomy, on doing one’s one thing. As a priest of Jesus Christ you will proclaim his message, you will do so utilising your gifts, interests and insights but it will always be his message not your own preferences or prejudices.
From Classroom To Brotherhood Of Tuam Priests
Today, we warmly welcome Shane into the brotherhood of the priests of the Archdiocese of Tuam. We thank God for him and look forward to working with him. Christ told his disciples that he would make them fishers of souls. The apostles left their nets there with the boats. As a young teacher you left the classroom and a career in the teaching profession. Now you are to cast God’s nets into the seas of the world. You will haul home to the shore of eternity the people who resist and bask in the false appearance of their illusory happiness. Yet you are to sail out on the sea of life and cast God’s net with undaunted courage.
“Duc In Altum” – Put Out Into The Deep
Like the apostle Peter, you will be called upon to exercise service, to take risks, to go beyond the purely secure, the tried and tested and take new initiatives. You will have responsibility for making disciples for Jesus Christ. You will utilise your interests, your natural ability, your training and your personality in order to draw people to Jesus Christ and point them in the direction of the Lord. Jesus Christ will remain dominant and the primary focus for you.
The Centrality Of The Eucharist In Your Ministry
In order to do that you must be a companion of Jesus. That word, companion, comes from two Latin words – meaning “with bread” – cum panis. You will share with others the Eucharistic bread which is Jesus Christ each day at the altar. There you will bring the hurt and the wounded, the farmer and the factory worker, the saint and the sinner. When Jesus chose the twelve, he underlined the fact that they were to be his companions, they were to be with Jesus and will do nothing without him. This is especially true in the Gospel of St. Mark. It is Jesus who will give meaning and purpose to your work, Shane, to your preaching and teaching. You will share the joys and the sorrows of the people whom you serve.
A Great, Exciting, Challenging Time To Be A Priest
Despite the way some may dismiss priesthood today, nevertheless, it is a great time to be a priest, an exciting and challenging time. You will enjoy encouraging people to be their best selves, to utilise the gifts they have received from the Lord and to improve the quality of life for all those who come into contact with him. Nevertheless, you will continue to preach the good news of Jesus Christ in season and out of season.
Carrying The Burdens And Forgiving Sins
As a priest sharing in the priesthood of Jesus Christ you will carry the burdens of the people. You will discover their unexpressed needs, deal with situations which, at times, may seem far removed from the Gospel, and help others towards conversion by detecting and encouraging the initial promptings of grace in them. You will forgive sins not yet committed, you will make Christ’s body and blood available to heal the hungers of the human heart and bandage the wounded.
Teaching, Building And The Missionary Mandate
At an earlier time in your life, Shane, the teaching profession held great attraction for you. At the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, the risen Lord reminds us that teaching will be an important dimension of our priesthood: “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age”. In your teaching you will communicate the mind of Christ to a culture which prides itself on being independent, self-sufficient, self-opinionated and sophisticated. In your teaching you will underline the challenging as well as the comforting and consoling aspects of Christ’s gospel. As a builder of community you will endeavour to encourage, support and challenge the faithful to work as a team, united by the spirit of God and sharing different gifts and talents authenticated by the same spirit.
Immanuel: God is With Us
Recently we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration. Shane, your ministry will move between the Hill of Calvary and Mount Tabor. You will share peoples’ pain and suffering, whether in sickness or their experience of bereavement, and you may be called upon to make a quick transition to situations of joy and celebration in the Baptism of their children and the blessing of their love in the Sacrament of Marriage. In all of this you will be the presence of Christ and a reminder among the people of the fact that the Lord journeys with them and shares their experiences. You will be dependent on the prayers of all those who rejoice with you today and many others whom you will meet and serve in your ministry.
The Community Supports You
As the people of God and a community of faith we have a responsibility to you to pray with and for you, to encourage, support and at times challenge you to live up to the standards of Jesus Christ which you embrace on this your Ordination day.
Ad multos annos.