Initial nerves gave way to tears of joy at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday night when two men who had walked very different paths to the priesthood were ordained by the archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Joseph Hamilton, 41, and Daniele Russo, 26, were welcomed into the presbyterial fold by more than 90 priests – diocesan and religious – including Sydney auxiliary bishop, Bishop Terry Brady, Vicar General Fr Gerald Gleeson and the rectors of the two diocesan seminaries – Fr Danny Meagher (Good Shepherd, Homebush) and Fr Eric Skruzny (Redemptoris Mater, Chester Hill).
Both ordinands were buoyed by a large host of family and friends, some of whom had travelled from as far afield as Fr Joseph’s native Ireland, as well as South Africa, the United States and Italy.
Daniele, who grew up in Greenacre and who entered the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, aged 19, was moved to tears at various moments throughout the ceremony, as he approached the pivotal moment of the laying on of hands, when the mystery of ordination formally takes place.
In his comments to the congregation, Archbishop Fisher said Daniele’s route to the priesthood had been a relatively direct one, having been inspired at a young age by the faith of his friends and formative religion teachers.
“Daniele dreamt of being ordained on the feast of the Sacred Heart: occasionally dreams do come true,” the archbishop said in his homily.
“He tells me he’s looking forward to ‘accompanying people in their earthly journey towards our heavenly home’, as man of prayer, the sacraments and that Faith with which he has ‘fallen in love’.”
Joseph grew up in rural Ireland and had a prestigious career in global finance before pursuing the call that led him to the seminary.
A job at Deutsche Bank would see him transfer from London to Sydney. He joined Good Shepherd soon afterwards.
“At university his faith deepened and he developed the helpful habit of daily Mass,” the archbishop said of Joseph.
“A successful career in finance had its perks (but eventually) the magnetic power of Christ finally turned his heart from the economy of ‘Mammon’ to that of salvation.”
In noting that Joseph had once entertained the idea of becoming a Dominican, the archbishop stoked amusement in recalling the advice – and affecting the voice – of “a senior ecclesiastic who will remain nameless”:
“‘Joseph, you’re a thinker but you’re also a doer: you’d go mad as a Dominican.’”
Both men completed their formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and were warmly welcomed by other recent graduates of “the NAC”, as well as a large number of priests – diocesan and religious – from throughout NSW and interstate.
In final remarks to the congregation Archbishop Fisher congratulated the men and said it had been an event “worth getting well for”, paying tribute to St Mary’s Choir for the excellence of the evening’s music.
He also urged young men who felt a similar vocational inkling to discern where the Spirit of God was leading them.
For more information on discerning your vocation, visit vocationcentre.org.au