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Ukrainian Catholic Community rejoices as Richard Charlwood is ordained to the priesthood


Bishop Peter Stasiuk CSsR gives the consecrated Body of Christ to the newly ordained Fr Richard at St John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church on 3 April 2016. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli

By Marco Ceccarelli

The joyful atmosphere within St John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Maylands could hardly be contained earlier this month as Deacon Richard Charlwood was ordained to the priesthood by Ukrainian Catholic Bishop, Peter Stasiuk CSsR.

More than 300 members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church attended the momentous occasion on 3 April – the first priestly ordination in this particular Church - which also saw former Parish Priest Father Wolodymyr Kalinecki elevated to the role of Archpriest.

Also present at the ordination were St Charles’ Seminary Vice-Rector, Fr Jean-Noel Marie; Marist, Fr Steve Truscott SM; Ballajura Parish Priest, Fr John Jegorow; New Norcia’s Fr David Barry and Dom Chris; Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Monsignor Harry Entwistle; and Melkite Priest, Fr Kevin Cummins. Religious Sisters from a number of Orders were also well represented, along with parishioners, family and friends of the ordinand.

The ceremony began with Bishop Stasiuk blessing and opening the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy before Fr Wolodymyr Kalinecki was elevated to rank of an Archpriest and Deacon Richard to the order of the Presbyterate.

In his homily, Bishop Stasiuk drew a comparison between the priesthood and marriage, highlighting what he described as “striking similarities” between two sacraments “willed by God for the purpose of bringing love into the world”.

“Our early Eastern Fathers said there was a similarity between marriage and monastic priestly life. St John Chrysostom insists that the requirements of the Gospel are the same for both, for monks and for married couples: precisely, perfection in the image of the Father in Heaven,” Bishop Stasiuk said.


Newly ordained Fr Richard is led around the altar by Fr Wolodymyr. Fr Richard kissed the altar’s four corners, thus dedicating himself always to serve at the Holy Table. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli

He then laid emphasis on the importance of the family, stressing that the family is the “domestic Church” and invited all to respect the priesthood “because it also is at the very essence of the Church”.

Deacon Richard was then guided by Fr Wolodymyr towards Bishop Stasiuk. He performed three full metanias (prostrations) before kissing the Bishop’s shoulder, hand and part of his vestment as a sign of obedience before being ordained.

He was led around the altar three times, kissing its four corners, thus dedicating himself always to serve at the Holy Table. Deacon Richard then knelt before the Bishop to take an oath, which included the Nicene Creed, before placing his palms crossways on the Holy Table and laying his forehead upon his hands. The Bishop then blessed him three times, laid his hand upon him and said the prayer of Ordination.

As the newly ordained Fr Richard Charlwood was raised to his feet, the parishioners sang Axios (Worthy) with joy. He was then clothed in priestly vestments.

Born in Parramatta, New South Wales, Fr Richard grew up in the parish of St Anthony’s, Toongabbie. He was a member of a religious community for 16 years where he held a number of positions, including co-ordinator of a retreat centre and superior.

After moving to Bunbury in 1991 and Perth in 1993, Fr Richard taught Religious Education and Indonesian at Servite College for eight years. He completed extensive studies in theology and has been highly successful in specifically Eastern Christian studies at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, USA. He was officially received into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church by Bishop Stasiuk in May 2008.


Bishop Peter Stasiuk blesses and opens the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy before Fr Wolodymyr was elevated to rank of an Archpriest and Deacon Richard to the order of the Presbyterate. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli

Fr Richard has been serving as deacon at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Perth for the past two years and is an accomplished iconographer. His passion for Byzantine icons has played a significant role in his faith journey.

“I have always had a fascination with Eastern Churches and have been somewhat connected with eastern Christians, both Orthodox and Catholic, since my youth.”

“My faith journey has also been strongly linked to icons. After showing some enthusiasm and a little skill, I was eventually put in touch with a Greek Orthodox iconographer who taught me how to refine what I was doing,” he said. Many of the finest examples of his work currently adorn the parish church at Maylands.

Commenting on his ordination, Fr Richard focused not on himself, but on the people of God to whom he would tend.

“I see my ordination as both a privilege and a blessing. The priest is the conduit through which God operates. I hope to be continually open to the work of the Spirit so that my ministry will be a source of blessing for the people I am there to serve.”