Four bishops, more than 50 priests, five deacons and – according to Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP – more family members ‘than the Australian Census can count’ gathered in St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday night for the ordination of Fr Matthew Meagher as a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney.
One of eight children, Fr Matthew is also the nephew of Fr Danny Meagher, currently the rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush.
Fr Matthew grew up in Lane Cove, and was educated at St Ignatius, Riverview, the same high school attended by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
Prior to entering the seminary in 2012, Fr Matthew worked as a case manager with the Department of Corrections’ Probation and Parole Service.
In 2014, he was invited by Cardinal George Pell to complete his studies for priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
He will return there next month to finish his studies, before coming back to Sydney next year.
At the beginning of the ordination Mass, Archbishop Fisher welcomed Fr Matthew’s parents, Alan and Elizabeth Meagher, saying that “vocations are usually nurtured in good families.” Alan, a doctor, cared for the Archbishop during his time of sickness in 2015.
In his homily, Archbishop Fisher reminded Fr Matthew, and everyone gathered, that the ordination of any priest is a momentous occasion because it brings about a change of the ordinand’s very being. “Being priested profoundly changes who he is, how he relates and what he does, even if it builds on all he was before,” the Archbishop said.
“It puts him irrevocably at the service of that very humanity from which he is set apart.”
This setting apart, the archbishop said, was not about the priest himself but about the high priest, Jesus Christ, and His relationship to humanity.
In his words of thanks, Fr Matthew thanked the good God who “has given us so many things we can be grateful for.”
One of these good things, he said, was the gift of family and friends.
“When God was thinking of friends to put in my life, He thought very kindly of me,” he said.
“If God looked kindly in giving me good friends, He looked significantly more kindly on me in giving me my family; thank you.”
He also spoke of his uncle, Fr Danny Meagher, naming him as the most important priest in his life.
“Danny’s courageous decision to become a priest and to become a good priest made it significantly easier for me to make that step” and asked those present to continue to pray for him and for all priests.
Fr Matthew celebrated his Masses of thanksgiving at his home parish, St Michael’s, Lane Cove, over the weekend.