What a joy it was to be ordained by the Lord to serve the Lord and the People of God on 31 May!
Over the last three weeks since Archbishop Mark laid hands on me and invoked the Holy Spirit, many people have asked what it was like (to be ordained), and the only thing I can remember is experiencing an intense feeling of joy. I imagine that it’s a similar sense of joy which a bride and broom might experience on their wedding day; ‘the joy of the Gospel’ as Pope Francis says.
That joy was amplified by the presence of so many people whom I know and love – my family and friends from New Zealand and you, my friends and family from Brisbane and beyond. Several bus-loads of people joined us for the evening from both the Maroochydore and Burleigh Heads Parishes where I’d previously completed pastoral placements (2015 and 2017). I thank you all for sharing in the celebration of two new priests for our local Church: the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank those of you who contributed to a gift from the parish. A well-fitting set of vestments are at the top of my shopping list – especially since a certain former Dean who is quite tall – and now a bishop – purchased many of the nice vestments in the Cathedral Parish.
As you may have heard, Archbishop Mark has appointed me to the Cathedral for the next two months after which I’ll be moving up to Caloundra for a three-year appointment with Fr Peter Brannelly. I’m excited to learning as much as I can from you all over these next two months and I invite you to offer me your constructive feedback about my preaching, presiding and general pastoral ministry during this time.
I’m a firm believer that in order for a parish community to function effectively and engage in the mission of the Church, its people need to effectively communicate their feelings. While this may seem like a two-way street insofar as pastor(s) should be open to receiving the feedback of the people and the people should feel free enough to offer their feedback, I’d describe it as simply us doing life and ministry together – as Psalm 27 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.”
Be assured of my prayers for you and I ask you to hold me in your prayers over these next few months – so that I may grow into the priest whom God is calling forth.
Fr. Josh Whitehead