by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — A total of 535 years of priestly ministry was celebrated in Auckland as 13 priests were acknowledged and appreciated for their years of service to the faithful.
Msgr Paul Farmer, chairman of the Council of Priests, said the celebration of their brother priests’ jubilees is a significant day that no priest dare miss.
“We all too often take one another for granted, but on this day we gather to recognise the faith, the commitment, the courage and the authenticity of our brothers who are celebrating jubilees of 60 years, 50 years and 25 years,” he said.
Fr Albert Williams, OFM, celebrated his diamond jubilee. “Sixty years of priesthood, nine years in seminary plus four years in boarding school, that adds up to 73 years at daily Mass. No big deal, because others can claim 80 years or more at daily Mass,” he said in his homily
at the jubilee Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Ellerslie on July 2. The Mass was followed by lunch at Ellerslie Racecourse.
The golden jubilarians included Frs James Adayadiel, SBD, John Allardyce, SM, Donald Hornsey, SSC, Paul Shannahan, SM, Sean O’COnnor, SSC, Bernard Dennehy and Msgr David Price.
The silver jubilarians were Frs Philip Handforth, Ikenasio Vitaliano, Peter McAfee, Christopher Brady and Linus Miranda, MSP.
Fr Williams said that when he gets envious of people like Mother Teresa who did beautiful things for God’s people in Calcutta, he remembers that he can do something beautiful and powerful for God as well.
“Source and summit: Source of our strength, summit of human activity, Mass is the Everest point of what it means to be Christian. For in union of all God’s holy people, when we priests
serve Mass, we stand before the throne of Our Father, publicly proclaiming the mighty deeds of Our God through Jesus, with Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Msgr Farmer also reminded the priests that they should never underestimate themselves or the good that they do. “We priests spend the years of our priesthood bumbling along, but as we stumble along, it’s amazing how many people’s lives we touch, how many seeds we sow and how many communities we shape and form,” he said.
He said Fr Allardyce had been a great support of Marian Mothers and had always seen women’s faith as “essential for the ongoing vitality of the Church”, while Msgr Price and “canon law are synonymous”.
Msgr Farmer acknowledged each priest and gave a brief summary of the work that each did. A number of them preached the Gospel in various places, including Australia, Rome, California,
Samoa, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, the Philippines, Brazil and throughout New Zealand.
“Our Church is a universal church and we literally see that richness and diversity in the lives and ministries of those we honour today,” he said.
Fr Williams also reminded his fellow priests that, “as salesmen for the Lord, we priests must remember, our job is: Live with the Gospel message when and where possible” and to “remember that heaven is not for conscripts, only for volunteers who welcome God’s grace”.