By Sarah Mac Donald - 25 July, 2017
“We’re not priests in order to fix the world, or anybody in it. We are priests because God has called us,” Bishop Brendan Kelly told the congregation of family and friends who gathered in Oranmore parish, Co. Galway on Sunday for the ordination of Fr Declan Lohan.
The former barrister and member of the Legion of Mary and Youth 2000 is the first priest the parish has produced.
The Bishop of Achonry told the congregation, which included up to 60 priests, that the implements that build up the community of Jesus Christ are poverty and detachment, and freedom in the face of the powers of the world.
“These are the implements of the priestly trade. These were Jesus’ implements, the tools of his trade, for which at the age of thirty he laid aside the tools of his training in the carpenter’s shed at Nazareth.”
Dr Kelly referred to Fr Lohan’s decision to set aside his first trade in law to follow Jesus as a priest, with and for the people of God in the Diocese of Galway.
“Your priesthood and shepherding will be enhanced by your first training, just as the experience of being wood-worker was never lost on Jesus,” he said.
He thanked the young priest on behalf of the Diocese of Galway and thanked God for the quiet persistence with which he “planted that good seed of your vocation and gathered you into a community in which you could hear his call.”
On poverty and detachment, Bishop Kelly referred to Pope Francis’ words to priests, religious and seminarians in Havana in September of 2015, when he told them “to love poverty like a mother”.
He said “That’s not the message the world gives, nor any of us want to hear maybe. And then, when you think a mother gives life and unconditional love, isn’t the Pope saying that it is out of our poverty and detachment that we become life-givers?”
Addressing Fr Lohan, he said, “As a priest, the witness of your life will be everything. The rituals you perform, the clothes you will wear have their significance, but what people will see above all is the life you live, the way you relate. And as a priest, your work will be the work of building community.”
He said that in these times when all institutions and traditional sources of authority and wisdom are doubted and under severe scrutiny, witness and example in the matter of faith become far more significant.
“This is true for all followers of Jesus Christ, but especially for those of us called to the service of priesthood. Such witness will expose us to opposition, even ridicule and possibly danger. Never forget what Saint Paul says today: The spirit comes to help us in our weakness.”
He recalled Pope Paul VI’s words when he said that “It is … primarily by her conduct and life that the church will evangelise [bring the Good News to] the world, in other words by her living witness to the Lord Jesus, the living witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world …”