The first multiple ordination in diocese’s history
A dry spell for priestly vocations in the Diocese of Broken Bay was emphatically broken with the ordination of Deacons Roger Delmonte, Sam French, and Aldrin Valdehueza on 18 October.
Bishop Anthony Randazzo ordained the three men at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara, before Sam’s parents and other close family members, while the Delmonte and Valdehueza families each participated in the special occasion from The Philippines via livestream.
“Pastoral action requires renewed efforts, creativity, and joy to be more effective and proactive in meeting people in the Spirit of Christ.”
Punctuated by warm laughter, applause, and tears of joy, it was the first multiple ordination ceremony in the 35-year history of the diocese, which spans Sydney’s north shore, northern beaches and the Central Coast, as well as its first ordination in eight years.
It also came as greater Sydney finally opened all of its churches after months of lockdown closures. “It might have been a long time between drinks but the Lord has certainly filled our cup with grace, full to overflowing, and for that I am very grateful,” said Bishop Randazzo of the event.
Father Aldrin, 39, years old, grew up in the Philippines and joined the Diocese of Broken Bay in 2016, he is the chaplain to the North Shore Serra Club and has been serving as a deacon at Our Lady of Dolours Catholic Church in Chatswood.
At 29 years of age, Father Sam is the diocese’s youngest member of clergy. He grew up on the Central Coast and his home parish is St John the Baptist Woy Woy.
As a deacon he has served at St Agatha’s Parish in West Pennant Hills and Holy Name Parish at Wahroonga.
Father Roger, 40, was born in the Philippines and studied for the priesthood at St John Vianney Seminary in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga. He joined the Diocese of Broken Bay in 2019 and has been serving at Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral Parish.
Nurture the universal call to holiness
In his homily, Bishop Randazzo told the three men that their priestly ministry will be to take the lead through dialogue with the world, and to nurture the common vocation of all the baptised – the universal call to holiness.
“The community of the Church in the 21st century must have humble, faithful, dedicated priests to share in the mission of proclaiming God’s Kingdom; the Truth that God reigns,” he said.
“Pastoral action requires renewed efforts, creativity, and joy to be more effective and proactive in meeting people in the Spirit of Christ. Engaging the world in this space will be your life’s work as priests.
“It must be undertaken carefully with compassion; you must engage this work intelligently and humbly. Never allow your enthusiasm for the Truth of the Gospel to become a burden for others on the journey of faith. My sons, in the words of the Gospel today, ‘let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house’ (Luke 10:5).
“Remember too, that this work does not belong to you or me. It is God’s work. As priests, you are ordained to be co-workers – but the work always belongs to God.”
At the conclusion of the ordination ceremony and Mass, which fell on the feast of St Luke the Apostle, Father Sam offered words of thanks on behalf of all three new priests. He said that they were first of all grateful to God for the gift of priesthood, to Bishop Randazzo for his spiritual fatherhood, and to their parents, friends and family for all their love and support, as well as the wider Body of Christ.
“There have been times of struggle and discouragement over the years and in the seminary where I felt myself being sustained by none other than the prayers of those hundreds if not thousands of people praying for us,” he said.
“Priesthood is a pure gift and a calling for God”, he added, advising young men to “listen to the stirrings of your heart because you never know what the Lord might be calling you to”.
Ask the question “What is God’s plan for my life?”
In recent years, the diocese has seen a springtime in vocations to the priesthood, with another seven students currently in seminary training and several more inquirers discerning a priestly vocation.
“As a Diocese, we have refocused our efforts to pray for vocations, as the Lord asks, then to promote vocations, encourage vocations, and celebrate vocations,” Broken Bay vocations director Fr Paul Durkin told The Catholic Weekly. “We take it as a given that people listen to the voice of the Lord and will help one another discern the question, ‘What is God’s plan for my life?’
“It is a source of great joy and encouragement for the Diocese to have three men ordained to the priesthood.”
To further develop a vocational culture, this year Bishop Randazzo opened St Joseph’s House, a house of discernment for young men in Willoughby in Sydney’s lower north shore.
At the ordination Mass, Bishop Randazzo also encouraged families and communities to continue to pray, encourage and nurture all vocations, including to the married life, consecrated, single and ordained life.