After a long and arduous journey towards priesthood, Fr Vinco Muriyadan of the Archdiocese of Hobart was ordained in Kerala, India, on 27 November during a spectacular liturgy attended by about 3,000 people.
Fr Vinco said he was emotional during the ordination ceremony as he thought about the sacrifice his mother Ruby had made in giving him the gift of life for a second time.
Just six months ago his mother donated her kidney to him so he could receive life-saving transplant surgery on 14 June.
“I am very, very grateful to her. The step she took was not an easy one,” Fr Vinco said.
Without her “big sacrifice” he wouldn’t be a priest now, he added.
When his mother offered to donate her kidney to him, Fr Vinco promised her that once he was ordained he would offer Mass for her every day.
He has kept his promise remembering her in every Mass he celebrates, including his very first after ordination.
“In every Mass I remember her in my prayers,” he said. “And thank God for giving me these parents, and my family.”
Fr Vinco said he couldn’t hold back tears at the moment of ordination when the bishop placed his hands on his head.
“Many years I was waiting for this moment… it was a total surrendering. Yeah, it was a beautiful, beautiful experience.
“From childhood I have wanted to be at the altar to offer the Mass.
“This was the moment I was waiting for. And now, my dream is fulfilled. I’m so happy being a priest for Jesus Christ.”
He looked over at his parents Ruby and Davies during the ceremony and noticed they both had tears in their eyes also.
“They were waiting for this moment… their prayers had been heard and their son was a priest now.”
Fr Vinco was ordained by Bishop Tony Neelankavil, Auxiliary Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Thrissur, at the newly-built St Mary’s Assumption Forane church in Kottekad, Kerala.
The state of Kerala is situated on India’s southern-most tip.
Archbishop of Tasmania Julian Porteous travelled to India to attend the ordination along with Fr Leonard Caldera who concelebrated the Mass. Archdiocesan executive director Chris Ryan was also in attendance.
“Today, I, as Archbishop of Hobart, rejoice in the ordination of Vinco Muriyadan,” Archbishop Porteous said during his address at the conclusion of the Mass.
“I am very aware that the journey to this day has not been an easy one for Vinco.
“We prayed every day hard for Vinco to find a way to be ordained. And our prayers were answered.
“Vinco was able to return to Kerala in May this year to have a kidney transplant operation. And by the generosity of his mother he has been given a new kidney.
“So the church in Tasmania gives thanks to Vinco’s family, and especially to his mother.”
Upon his arrival at the church in Kottekad, Archbishop Porteous was greeted by a spectacular parade of the faithful including a children’s marching band.
Girls clad in white performed a welcoming dance, firecrackers exploded in celebration and women lined the street dressed in traditional saris and holding colourful umbrellas.
The four hour-long liturgy was celebrated according the Syro-Malabar rite of the Mass which is characterised by an emphasis on music and singing.
Following the ordination liturgy, Fr Vinco celebrated his first Mass.
Fr Vinco said he experienced some nerves as the Mass was celebrated in Malayalam, the common language in Kerala. For the past several months he has been learning Malayalam in preparation.
“I was just totally relying on God’s providence and blessing, this unworthy servant. He chose me. And in every step he guided me and now I’m a priest for him and serving the people of his kingdom.
“It’s a great, great experience and feeling.”
He said he was “blessed” by Archbishop Porteous’ attendance at his ordination and he also expressed his gratitude to Fr Caldera, Chris Ryan, and all the faithful and clergy of Tasmania who had been praying for him.
In particular he thanked the parishes in which he had served—Kingston, Claremont, and the cathedral parish.
It is hoped that Fr Vinco will return to Tasmania in 2024 once his visa is renewed.
He will continue to serve as an assistant priest at St Mary’s Assumption Forane church in Kottekad in the meantime.
“I’m really eager, waiting to come back [to Tasmania] and express my gratitude to everyone,” Fr Vinco said.