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ORDINATION 2015: It is all God’s doing, says Archbishop


Newly ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Perth, Western Australia, Frs Grant Gorddard, Jeffey Casabuena, Stephen Gorddard, Israel Quirit, Simeon San, Patrick Toohey, Conor Steadman and Garner Vergara, with Archbishop Timothy Costelle, fifth from left, at the conclusion of the ceremony, held at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday August 1. The ordination brings the number of priests ordained for the Archdiocese in 2015 to 12. PHOTO: Jamie O'Brien

By Jamie O’Brien

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, last Saturday August 1 ordained eight men to the priesthood, encouraging the newly ordained to remember the words of St Paul, who said ‘God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’

“Our candidates for ordination today will grow into the good and faithful priests we need them to be if they remember these things: that it is all God’s doing, all God’s grace,” said Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, on the occasion of a historic ordination of eight new priests for the Archdiocese of Perth last Saturday, August 1.

“Only God can make sense of our weakness and our foolishness and through them bring strength and wisdom to people’s lives – but only if we let him,” he continued.

The ordination took place in front of an estimated 1000 people, including family and friends of the candidates, at St Mary’s Cathedral with co-celebrants Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey, Rev Monsignor Harry Entwistle from the Anglican Ordinariate, Vicar-General Fr Peter Whitely and special guest, Cardinal Charles Bo, from Myanmar (Burma).

Seminary Rectors Monsignor Kevin Long, from St Charles, Guildford and Fr Michael Moore, from Redemptoris Mater, Morley, were also co-celebrants for the occasion, together with some 100 priests from across the Archdiocese.

The newly ordained priests – Frs Simeon San, Garner Vergara, Stephen Gorddard, Jeffey Casabuena, Israel Quirit, Grant Gorddard, Patrick Toohey and Conor Steadman have all studied at St Charles’ Seminary and the University of Notre Dame Fremantle and originate from Australia, the Philippines and Myanmar (Burma).

Frs Conor Steadman and Patrick Toohey have also both been studying in Rome for the past few years. Fr Steadman will return to Rome in a few months for further study.

Their ordination of the eight men brings the number of priestly ordinations for the Archdiocese to a total of 12 in one year. The Archdiocese has also celebrated four ordinations to the diaconate earlier this year.

In the lead up to their ordination, each of the men spoke about a strong desire to serve the Christian community with whom God will entrust them.

Their experiences, they said, conveyed a distinct sense of faithfulness and commitment to their ministry. The intimacy with Christ had sustained their openness to their vocation and had steadily accompanied them on their journey towards priesthood.

In speaking about the candidates’ call to the priesthood, Archbishop Costelloe said to be called to such a ministry is an overpowering and even frightening thing.

“It is vitally important then for our candidates to have engraved on their hearts and on their minds some other words of Jesus: “You did not choose me – no I chose you”.

The Archbishop encouraged the men to remember the words of St Paul when he says, “God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).

“Conor, Garner, Grant, Israel, Jeffey, Patrick, Simeon, and Stephen, as men who will act in the person of Christ, not only in your sacramental ministry but in every encounter you have with God’s people, it is important to know, really know, and not just know about, the Christ you are called to bring to others.”

The Archbishop also spoke about the upcoming Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, encouraging the candidates to reflect deeply on the opening words of the Pope’s letter announcing the special jubilee year, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”.

“You are being ordained as priests at this precise moment in our history. Your first full year of priestly ministry will unfold in the context of this graced year. In this I believe there is a divine providence at work.

“The Lord is calling to you, urgently and insistently, to commit yourselves to ensuring that the living out of your priesthood is deeply marked by this quality of divine mercy.

“He is calling you, as living icons of the Good Shepherd, to be, yourselves, in Jesus, “the face of the Father’s mercy”. Pope Francis says of Jesus that “everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion”.

“If the people with whom and for whom you will work in your priestly ministry can say this of you, you will know that you are becoming the priests the Lord has called you to be and we need you to be.“

The Archbishop concluded his homily saying that the newly ordained will come to know if they are succeeding when, in their moments of prayer, they can recognise in themselves the traces of the face of Christ.

“You will know if you are succeeding, too, if you can see in the faces of those you encounter that spark of joy, or hope or peace which comes from an encounter with Christ. Learn to read in the faces of your people whether you are leading them to the God of mercy or leading them astray.

“Be unveilers, not obscurers, of the merciful face of the Father.”

The newly ordained priests will be heading to the following parishes

Fr Simeon San – St Joseph’s Northam.
Fr Garner Vergara – St Mary’s, Kalgoorlie.
Fr Stephen Gorddard – Mary MacKillop, Ballajura.
Fr Jeffey Casabuena - St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth.
Fr Israel Quirit – St Andrew’s, Clarkson.
Fr Grant Gorddard – St Brigid’s, Midland.
Fr Patrick Toohey – Our Lady of Grace, North Beach.
Fr Conor Steadman – Further study in Rome.