The ordination of three new priests to one of Australia’s fastest growing religious communities is “a sign of hope for the Church”, according to its founder.
“I am grateful for the grace of God in the lives of these young men,” said Fr Ken Barker, who established the home-grown order the Missionaries of God’s Love.
“It is a sign of hope for the Church, and a challenge for all of us to be faithful in responding to the Lord’s call on our own lives. Please pray that we will be faithful.”
Bishop Mark Edwards ordained to the priesthood Frs David Lemewu, Antony Santhiyagu, and Rembert Fernando at St Dominic’s church, Camberwell, in Melbourne, on 19 August.
Fr David was originally from Indonesia and discovered the MGL community while studying aeronautical engineering in Melbourne.
A gifted singer, he had starred in several musicals and now praises God through music.
He celebrated his first Mass on 20 August at St Simon’s parish, Rowville, where he had been working as a deacon.
More than 3000 people are expected to attend a thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Fr David in Kelapa Gading parish, Jakarta, on 4 September.
Fr Antony Santhiyagu was raised in India and taught maths as a De Montfort Brother before discerning a call to the priesthood.
He learnt of the Missionaries of God’s Love while on retreat in Kerala during a visit to India by Fr Ken.
During his studies, Fr Antony spent time working with the MGL Indigenous mission in Darwin. Members of that community travelled to Melbourne to attend the ordination.
Fr Rembert began his journey to priesthood in his native India before joining the Missionaries of God’s Love.
As a deacon, he worked with the MGL parish in Narrabundah, Canberra.
Fr Rembert’s parents and relatives were among the packed congregation at St Dominic’s during the ordination Mass, which was concelebrated by about 40 priests.
Bishop Edwards encouraged the newly ordained priests to remain close to Jesus in a life of daily personal prayer, good spiritual reading, and with a heart of mercy for the poor.
He stressed the importance of listening to the faithful and ministering with love and mercy.
It was not a time for self-congratulations, he said, but for gratitude to God for the call to enter into a life of service.
The Disciples of Jesus, a lay movement connected with the Missionaries of God’s Love, will host its annual Summer School early next year.
The week of prayer and formation will be held in Bathurst, Paterson, Melbourne and Perth from 8-15 January.