I J Saldanha-Shet
Mangaluru, Jan 10, 2017: The Mangaluru Capuchin Franciscan community (OFM Cap) on January 9, was blessed with seven new priests; the Bishop of Mangalore, Rev Dr Aloysius D’Souza ordained seven deacons at St.Anne’ s friary and Pio retreat centre at Jail Road in Mangaluru. The solemn ceremony of more than three hours was very devout and inspiring to all.
The close family, kith and kin of the new ordinates with many well wishers, thronged the venue all after noon. Those ordained were Fr.Jeevan of Fermai, Fr.Joy of Balkunje, Fr.Avil of Kuppepadau, Fr.Edwin of Surathkal, Fr.Jason of Bannur, Fr.Joel of Belthangady, and Fr.Micheal. They will immediately be inducted into the Capuchin order to serve the church and it’s faithful. They have been studying and preparing well for nearly nine years and finally this day has dawned bright in their lives never to be forgotten. The Indian term /Kannada word "Deeksha" really sums up their commitment and dedication with the vows and promises they take as Capuchin friars.
The Bishop and several key Capuchin priests extolled the need for priests and they have to come from families, the cradle of all good and so it is the goodness of families that is vital for all work of God. The families of these 7 new priest were present and were thanked and recognised for the gift of such beautiful and accomplished humans that they have given society. A blessing and gift for great service to their fellow men through the good offices of the catholic church where ever they may go, which is surely fore seen to be anywhere in the world as many of their predecessors have done. It was indeed a joy to see the bubbling and enthusiastic waves radiating from these young and blessed youth all set to serve humanity in many ways. The superiors and Bishop particularly pointed out the declining vocation to the religious life in general, particularly in western countries. In Kerala too this trend is marked. However, Udupi and Mangalore have been fortunate and have kept the traditions in good form, it is the families and social and religious factors that determine this trend.
The ordination was followed by a felicitation for the new priests and their parents by the Capuchin superiors. Then all the faithful present wished the new priests and their families individually that truly radiated the joy and fulfillment of their long serious preparation to reach this great stature of ministry.
An over view of the Catholic ordination :
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop and enabled to minister in the Church. The ordination ceremony includes various rituals, rich in meaning and history, e.g., prostration, laying on of hands, anointing of hands, giving of the chalice and paten, sign of peace. Only a bishop can ordain a priest because he shares in the ministry of Jesus passed down through the apostles.
The essential rite of the sacrament, i.e., when it takes place, is the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration. This is an ancient tradition in the Church, mentioned in the Bible. By this ritual the ordaining bishop and the other priests invoke the Holy Spirit to come down upon the one to be ordained, giving him a sacred character and setting him apart for the designated ministry.
Anointing with holy oils stems from the Old Testament and indicates that someone or something is being set apart for a sacred task or duty. The anointing of the hands signifies that the hands of the newly ordained priest are being prepared for the sacred duties and vessels which will be part of the priestly ministry, for example, offering the bread and the wine, anointing the sick and blessing people. The Eucharist is at the heart of the priesthood and this ritual highlights the importance of celebrating the Eucharist in the life of the priest and its meaning, as seen in the words which are spoken by the bishop: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate; model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”
Preparing for ordination to the priesthood : A man has to engage in a challenging program of priestly formation which lasts from five to thirteen years, depending upon his background and the seminary he attends. There are three levels of seminary: high school; college/pre-theology; and theology. Seminaries address four types of formation: human, spiritual, academic (intellectual) and pastoral. In addition to the academic course work, seminarians participate in a full schedule of spiritual activities, e.g., daily mass, Liturgy of the Hours (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer), and spiritual direction and retreats. At each level of seminary training, the seminarian prepares for future pastoral ministry in various settings, such as schools, religious education programs, hospitals, prisons and parishes.
All of the formation takes into consideration the human person; human growth and development is fostered by community living, workshops and other programs. The formation of future priests includes practical learning, too, for example, preaching, presiding at Mass and pastoral counseling. Priests who belong to a religious order (e.g., Jesuits, Capuchins, Dominicans, Benedictine, Franciscans, etc.) take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Diocesan priests make two promises- celibacy and obedience; these promises are part of the ordination ceremony. It is also expected that diocesan priests will lead a life of simplicity consonant with the people they serve.