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Two more priests ordained for MGLs

Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues is a journalist for The Catholic Weekly. She also writes at marilynrodrigues.com. Email her at [email protected]
Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Joshua Whicker and Justin Uzabeaga during their Ordination to the Priesthood at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra on 28 April. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi
Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Joshua Whicker and Justin Uzabeaga during their Ordination to the Priesthood at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra on 28 April. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

When Archbishop Christopher Prowse ordained Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Joshua Whicker and Justin Uzabeaga to the priesthood on 28 April it was a special moment for the friends who have known each other since they were teenagers.

The men were ordained at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra. Concelebrating were Wollongong Bishop Brian Mascord and the moderator of the MGLs, Fr Stephen Fletcher, along with other MGL and visiting priests.

Fr Whicker will now continue to minister as assistant priest at St Declan’s in Penshurst and Our Lady of Fatima in Peakhurst, while Fr Uzabeaga will be based in Melbourne at St Benedict’s in Burwood and St Scholastica’s, Bennetswood.

“Justin and I have known each other since I was 18,” Fr Whicker told The Catholic Weekly.

“He’s been a great friend and brother and a great supporter. He’s been my rock all the way through so for us to get ordained together was very special.”

On Fr Whicker’s ordination card was printed an image of a simple crucifix with the initials B and L for “become love.”

It represents his “call within a call” to a vocation with the MGLs, which occurred during his second year of seminary.

He suffered intense anxiety with panic attacks that turned his ambitions for the priesthood upside down.

He went from aspiring to life as a jet-setting evangelist spreading the MGL charism worldwide, to hardly managing to step outdoors.

“That symbol was a fruit of prayer during that time, amid that difficulty of realising that maybe my grand ambitions weren’t going to come to much and trying to navigate what it was that God was calling me to,” he said.

At his thanksgiving Mass Fr Uzabeaga said that as a teenager he had prayed for God to not make him a priest.

Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Joshua Whicker (left) and Justin Uzabeaga were ordained to the Priesthood at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra on 28 April. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi
Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Joshua Whicker (left) and Justin Uzabeaga were ordained to the Priesthood at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra on 28 April. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

He nevertheless heard God’s call, while serving as a member of the Disciples of Jesus youth mission team.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s God’s voice, you might think, ‘Maybe that’s just my own mind, my psychology,’ but sometimes it’s so very obvious because it’s so miraculous,” he said.

At the ordination Bishop Mascord spoke of the men’s deepening commitment to their life of service to God and God’s people.

“There are many changes they have been through and there are many more to come, but these changes reflect that deepening relationship with God which, in itself, has called for much letting go,” he said.

“The relationships that our two men have established with God has moved to a different level, for they continue to choose Christ, and in choosing Christ they choose service.

“In doing so they place Christ at the centre of everything they do, and in choosing Christ, they also choose the cross.

“In doing so, they live the transformation that the cross enables.”

He urged the congregation to remember to not only witness, but participate and support them in their priesthood, “Praying with them and for them, that through the gift of the Holy Spirit they will be true witnesses to the presence of God, serving God and God’s people and building up the kingdom of God wherever they may be.”

The MGL story began in 1986 when Fr Ken Barker began to pray and seek God’s will with a group of young men who felt called to be priests moving under the grace of the charismatic renewal.

Now recognised as an institute of consecrated life, the MGLs now serve the church across Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

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