Derry’s Bishop Donal McKeown has told newly ordained priest Christopher McDermott that a call to the priesthood means leaving behind many beautiful things, including marriage and fatherhood.
On Sunday afternoon at St Mary’s Church in Melmount, family, friends and parishioners gathered for the ordination of Revered Christopher McDermott.
It was historic day for the church as it was the first ordination to take place in the Strabane church in more than twenty years.
Parents Sean and Rosemary McDermott watched proudly as their son received the sacrament of Holy Orders marking the final step in becoming a priest.
“Jesus urgently calls men and women to make this mission their full-time and life-long mission,” said Bishop McKeown. “Your duty is to spread the news of the Kingdom of God. Christopher has sensed that call and the diocesan Church has discerned that this is a divine call to give your heart and your life to the mission of Jesus in the diocesan priesthood, pouring out the balm of mercy on our hurting world, helping people to see Jesus who is the face of the Father’s mercy.
“In a special way, the Lord says to you today, I have called you by your name and you are mine. Christopher, let the Lord throw his cloak over you today. Do not be afraid or ashamed to wear that cloak, or the signs of your calling. Wear the prophetic cloak, carry the cross with pride. Your only boast is your call to be used in Christ’s mission. Bear the burden of Christ with joy of the Gospel in your heart. In his name, be prepared to carry people across the many rivers that block their progress and growth.
“Celibacy is mocked in some quarters as being outmoded and unrealistic, a barrier to people entering ministry, merely the entry to an elite clerical caste. But, like Elijah and the people in the Gospel, you have been called to leave behind many beautiful things, including marriage and fatherhood. You answer the call, not because it is a life-style choice that you fancy but because you have been called to bear the marks of Christ in your body.
“Bear the pain and loneliness of it. Jesus did - and you are his bearer to the world.
“The role of the priest is changing, not mainly because there are fewer of them but because the needs of the world have changed.
Christopher, today we thank God for his call to you that came through your family and friends. We thank God for your generous response to that frightening call to minister in Jesus’ name. And we trust that through the prayer and support of the wonderful people of God, you will be used to bear Christ to many people who hunger to know divine mercy and healing.”