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Ordinations a Christmas gift for the Church

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Sydney Bishop Daniel Meagher with Fr James Arblaster. Photo: Diocese of Wollongong/Daniel Hopper.

The harvest is plentiful and while the workers may be few, 2022 has been a bumper year for ordinations, ending with diaconal and priestly celebrations in and around Sydney.

Fr James Arblaster was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wollongong on 10 December at St John Vianney Co-Cathedral in Fairy Meadow.

Wollongong Bishop Brian Mascord emphasised the humility a priest must have to keep Jesus Christ front and centre in his ministry. “You do not preach your own word, but that of Christ. You do not celebrate yourself, but Christ who gave his life in obedience to God,” Bishop Mascord said.

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“Nor do you preach and celebrate as if you were an independent contractor. Rather you do so in communion with Christ and his Church.”

Fr Arblaster, who was the subject of a Sydney Morning Herald story in 2015 calling him “the new face of Catholic priesthood”, said in his thanksgiving that he could hardly believe the day had finally arrived.

Fr Adalbert Imperial OCD. Photo: Marilyn Rodrigues

“Fourteen years ago I heard a mysterious call to the priesthood, when I was in Year 12. I wrestled with it intellectually and emotionally,” he said.

The newly-ordained priest was trained at Sydney’s Seminary of the Good Shepherd, and said after a long journey he could not imagine a better life than to bring people into “the most profound communion with God” through the mysteries of the Church.

The Carmelites also got an early Christmas present with the ordination of Fr Adalbert Imperial OCD to the priesthood on 14 December, the feast day of St John of the Cross, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Varroville. Bishop Gregory Homeming OCD told the new priest he was not being ordained for the Carmelites, but for the whole Church. Bishop Homeming was joined by Bishop Mascord, friars from the Carmelites and Discalced Carmelites, and clergy from several dioceses.

In his message of thanksgiving Fr Imperial said that St John of the Cross lived his teaching.
“He teaches us that where there is no love, put love in, and you will draw out love. And this is the kind of love I want to bear in my life as a man, as a Carmelite and now as a priest,” he said.

Deacon Tom Green. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta

The church was also blessed with several ordinations to the diaconate, with Sydney’s Deacon Matthew Lukaszewicz ordained at Sacred Heart Mosman on 10 December by Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Meagher.

Paramatta also ordained six deacons: Tom Green was ordained to the transitional diaconate on 27 November, and Charles Abela, David Dowling, Jerome D’Rozario, Batsirai Maringehosi and Alan Skofic to the permanent diaconate on 10 December.

In his homily, Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long commended Deacon Green to a path of “greater discipleship, leadership and service” in his diaconal ministry. Deacon Green paid tribute to his parents, fellow seminarians and newly-ordained clergy, former parish priest and the parishioners of Blacktown, where he has been serving.

Deacon Tom Green embraces Bishop Vincent Long. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta.

He also paid special tribute to his brother, Fr Jack Green, telling the congregation, “I’m still not quite sure whether some of you don’t know that I’m not Jack.”

Brother Sheldon Burke CRS, well known to Sydneysiders through his work with the Somascan community, was also ordained to the diaconate on 10 December at Sacred Heart parish in Thornlie, Western Australia.

The ordaining bishop was Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and the Mass was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, along with Somascan Fathers from both WA and NSW communities and priests from the Archdiocese of Perth.

Sydney Bishop Daniel Meagher with Fr James Arblaster. Photo: Diocese of Wollongong/Daniel Hopper.

“Today the Lord is calling you in a new and special way, asking you once again as he did at the time of your first discernment of your vocation, the time of your novitiate and profession of vows and the time of your solemn profession,” Archbishop Costelloe said in his homily.

“Just as he asked you in those times, he is asking you today to respond to the depth of your heart to his invitation.”

Deacon Sheldon has returned to Sydney to minister in the Somascan parishes at St Joseph’s Moorebank and St Christopher’s Holsworthy in NSW.

Additional reporting from Marilyn Rodrigues and Mat de Sousa. Thanks to Mary Brazell, Jamie O’Brien, Julian Masiello and Daniel Hopper.

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