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Tasmania’s Benedictine monks celebrate first priestly ordination

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Photos: Patrick Giam

Tasmania’s Benedictine monks celebrated their first ordination to the priesthood, as Fr Bede Mary Cannavo OSB was ordained on 3 April at St Canice’s Church in Sandy Bay, Hobart.

Fr Bede was the first Australian-born member of his community at Notre Dame Priory in Colebrook, central Tasmania, to become a fully professed monk in 2021. He said the ordination ceremony was “truly awesome” and “humbling.”

“I was praying for the grace of receptivity, to truly receive the sacrament with as much devotion as possible, and to receive the grace to be made worthy of such a great gift,” he said.

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“It was incredibly humbling to be surrounded by so many priests, and to have them impart their prayerful support through the laying on of hands. Among their number were several who have known me since I was a child.”

“The bishop prayed that through the anointing and his blessing that what my hands bless and consecrate may be blessed and consecrated; that henceforth, these hands would handle the most Holy Eucharist. An incredible grace!”

The church was overflowing for the historic ordination Mass celebrated in the extraordinary form and lasting more than three hours. Around 28 priests attended as well as Fr Bede’s parents and many friends from around the country.

The sacrament of ordination was conferred by Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, emeritus bishop of the Diocese of Lismore.

Archbishop Julian Porteous, who first invited the Benedictine monks in 2017 to found a community in Tasmania, preached and presided over the ceremony.

“Br Bede, I know that you are deeply conscious of being a monk first and foremost, now called to the dignity of the priesthood,” Archbishop Julian said in his homily.

“Be an example of holiness to your brothers and may your priestly presence serve them in their own path in monastic life. And may your spiritual services draw many on the path of Christian sanctity.”

Tasmanian Monk celebrate first ordination
Photos: Patrick Giam

Prior of the Notre Dame community, Fr Pius Mary Noonan OSB, said the first ordination in the fledgling Benedictine community gave them “great hope for the future.”

“Given that we are only in our eighth year of existence, we are immensely grateful to divine providence for having made it possible so soon.”

“The rite of ordination itself was an amazingly beautiful celebration,” Fr Pius added.

“We are most grateful to Archbishop Julian for his firm support since before our community began. Without him we would never have reached this point.”

Fr Bede said, “The real heart of the monastic priesthood is that daily offering of the Mass.”

He also said ministering the sacrament of confession would be a “privilege”.

“That’s obviously an incredible privilege to be that—a minster of Christ’s mercy, of his justice, and of his open gift of forgiveness to souls.”

Fr Bede said he had felt the call to priesthood from a young age.

“I never really had the feeling of wanting to be a fireman, a doctor, this or that. It was always, ‘No, I think Jesus wants me to be a priest.’ That was just quite natural.”

He expressed gratitude to his parents for their support of his vocation.

“They always encouraged me to be open to, and to follow, the will of God, to give myself to him in religious life and priesthood. I’m eternally grateful to them for the gift of life, of course.”

He also thanked Archbishop Julian, Bishop Jarrett Fr Pius, and his fellow monks and priests for their support.

Fr Bede celebrated his first Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook.

“It was a great joy to speak the words of the consecration and to hold the Blessed Lord in my hands for the first time,” he said.

“To offer him to the Father, and then distribute him in Holy Communion to all the faithful who had come to be with us on the occasion. I must admit that it was rather surreal, and somewhat of a blur, and it is going to take some weeks, if not months for the realisation to sink in.”

Catherine Sheehan is Communications Manager for the Archdiocese of Hobart and editor of the Catholic Standard newspaper.

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