Seven years of preparation, great soul-searching and then the conscious decision to follow the call to priesthood led Stefan Matuszek to St Francis Xavier, Ballina, on 14 September.
There, in the presence of his family, friends, fellow students, clergy and parishioners, he was ordained to the priesthood the Bishop of Lismore, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett.
While Stefan’s journey started in Tasmania, where his parents still live, he will end 2015 having commenced his priestly ministry in the Lismore diocese.
Addressing the ordinand in his homily, Bishop Jarrett said: “Tonight the Lord establishes another link in His great work which stretches through time to eternity, a bond as human as His own.
“His name is Stefan Matuszek.
“By words of power and sacred anointing Stefan will be embraced by the Lord into that one body which in its precise work here on earth is that of the alter Christus, the other Christ, not another Christ, as if there could more than one, but rather a human image as on the other side of the same coin, a reflection in human flesh of the one eternal High Priest.”
On behalf of the Church the bishop asked: “Stefan, do you resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ, the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with him to consecrate yourself to God for the salvation of all?
“St John Chrysostom says that while the work of the priesthood is established in eternity, it is ordained to take place in time. The meaning is that it takes place in the very human world of people and events, of imperfection and limitation, of outright sin tinged often as much by malice as by ignorance. Outcomes will be unclear, simply to be left in the Lord’s hands. That is the reality of priestly ministry. After the years of your preparation, Stefan, you will be aware I am sure that as wonderful and beautiful a thing as it is to be a priest, it takes place in a world of repetitive actions, routine timetables and places, of tiredness, dull responses and let-downs, and the temptation to wonder if any progress is being made.
“But keep in mind that these are the ordinary circumstances that the Lord has chosen for your life from this moment onwards, as He has chosen for the rest of us, as indeed, when you think of it, for the countless mothers and fathers in the midst of their marriage and family life and the upbringing of their children. Our fatherhood shares so much with what it is to nurture and shape a family
“Keep also in mind the inspiration and example of those priests who have influenced your life and have given you confidence by their example to follow in their footsteps, the men who would say a resounding ‘Yes!’ — I would live this priestly life over and over again, for I could never tell the half of the works of goodness and grace I have seen in people’s lives, which no one else perhaps might even be aware of, just because the Lord chose to use me as His instrument in their relations with him, and as best I could I let myself be used by Him.
“I imagine that you will often return in moments of prayer and reflection to this feast of 14 September, not simply because of its appropriateness as the day on which you pledge ‘to conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross’, but because so often you will surely be drawing on its abiding power, on this ‘sweet wood, and sweet iron’, and the sweetest weight of Him, the kingly priest who made the cross the tree of life, of unconquerable love. I have no doubt also that the Mother who kept vigil with Him then on Calvary will as frequently be present sustaining you now in that royal, prophetic and priestly office He shares with you.
“Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and to save what was lost.”