Derry man James Devine will live up to his name on Sunday when he is ordained to the priesthood in St Columba’s Church, Long Tower.
The 30 year-old deacon from Prehen has been serving in a number of parishes in the city for the last few years and will continue his ministry in Limavady following his ordination.
Rev. Devine was educated at St Columb’s College before beginning his studies for the priesthood at Maynooth in 2004.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s ordination, the Derry deacon said he is looking forward to his ordination.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “Over the years I have been to the ordination of friends but it is different when it is your own. It’s a beautiful ceremony. I suppose the main thing people know about ordinations is laying prostate on the ground, which symbolises laying down your life before Christ. It is emotional for people watching. It is those gestures during the ceremony that really stand out,” he added.
He also said the venue for the ordination is of particular significance to him. “I wanted to get ordained in the Long Tower because I have always had a connection with the church. Like a lot of people from Prehen, my family would have gone to Mass in the Long Tower, even though it wasn’t the closest. My mother was from that area too so it is special to me. It seems to be a church that people always return to no matter where they go,” he said.
Rev. Devine said the decision to enter the seminary was a difficult one but added he is looking forward to becoming a priest. “It was a difficult decision. I can’t point to one thing, it was just something that was there and I wanted to give it a go and see where it took me, I felt like I was being drawn towards it but I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it.
“I started thinking about it when I was about 18 or 19 years-old and it started coming on stronger then. It was like a nagging sense I had. I questioned it and thought it would go away but it was there and I wanted to explore it,” he explained.
The Prehen man also said he enjoyed his studies at Maynooth. “It presents a challenge certainly. It can be a difficult experience and it’s pretty intense. There are four main elements to the formation training in the seminary; spiritual, pastoral, academic and human.
“It involves going out into hospitals and schools so doing that can be a shock to the system. It takes you out of your comfort zone but all of those experiences help to form you. Being away from home can be difficult too. Maynooth may not be far away but you don’t get home very often, just at Hallowe’en, Christmas and Easter.
“But it is a great experience and I enjoyed my time in the seminary. It is a different experience than it used to be because seminarians can mix with the rest of the students and go out if you want to,” he said.
After being ordained as a deacon, Rev Devine spent time in a number of parishes in Derry, as well as travelling further afield. “When I was ordained as a deacon I spent a year in St Eugene’s Cathedral which I enjoyed and then I spent time in the Waterside and Limavady.
“I also had the great opportunity of spending six months in France at the Basilica of St Mary Magdelene. The basilica houses the relics of St Mary Magdelene and while I was there the relics were going on a tour to the United States. There were only three English speaking priests there and I was asked to go on the relic tour to Chicago. It was almost by chance as I was one of the few English speakers there.
“I was in America for five weeks and it was a fantastic experience. I travelled from parish to parish with the relics and it was great to see all the different parishes with diverse communities.
“I counted it all up and I preached 85 times in the 31 days I was there and instead of being exhausting I found it exhilarating.
“So many people came to see the relics. I think many people could identify with St Mary Magdelene around the whole issue of confession,” he said.
He also said he considered moving to France to continue his ministry but decided to stay closer to home. “I had a question about whether I was going to join the order I stayed with in France or stay here but in the end Limavady won out over France. It’s a great parish,” he explained.
The 30 year-old also said the timing of his ordination during advent is significant. “It’s a great time to be ordained. It is like the New Year for the Church when advent begins. This will be the second Sunday in advent so it is an exciting time to be entering the priesthood,” he said.
Aside from his pastoral duties, Rev Devine, is a keen sportsman. “I still play a bit of football, both Gaelic and soccer, and when I get the chance I like to watch football and would go along to Celtic Park to watch Derry. Rev Devine will be ordained this Sunday by Bishop Francis Lagan at 1pm in St Columba’s Church, Long Tower.