Claremorris and Minnesota natives ordained in Tuam
TWO young men were ordained to the priesthood at a special ceremony in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam on Sunday. Eugene O’Boyle (29) from Claremorris and Shane Sullivan (27) from Baxter, Minnesota were accorded a prolonged round of applause at the conclusion of the ordination ceremony. Archbishop Michael Neary, who presided, described the occasion as ‘a day of great joy and delight in the Archdiocese of Tuam’.
That sense of joy was radiant too in the faces of the families of both young men as they shared the good wishes of a packed congregation whose goodwill and encouragement was abundantly clear. The happy mood of the day was encapsulated in the uplifting rendition of the recessional hymn, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, by the Tuam Choir, as the newly ordained priests, accompanied by the Archbishop and the clergy from throughout the Archdiocese and further afield, came down the aisle and exited into the Cathedral Square.
It was, of course, a tremendous day for the O’Boyle and Sullivan families and their many relations and friends who joined them for the special occasion in Tuam. This was the first ordination ceremony in the Archdiocese since Patrick Burke was conferred with Holy Orders in 2006.
Archbishop Michael Neary described Eugene and Shane as ‘two talented young men of great calibre and strength of mind and will - delighted to respond – happy to commit to the call of God at this most challenging of times’.
Setting the scene of the long tradition of faith in this western region, the Archbishop also outlined the challenges ahead.
“Both young men before us today have responded from very different backgrounds, Eugene from a rural town in the West of Ireland and Shane from the heart of the USA, Baxter, Minnesota. Both responded with outstanding generosity to the radical call of Jesus Christ to serve as diocesan priests in a diocese steeped in a wealth of faith and tradition, St Patrick, St Jarlath, St Colmcille, St MacDara, St Colman, St Ciarán, Our Lady of Knock, Ballintubber, Máméan.
“Like Isaiah and his people we find ourselves in a time characterised by change, and, some might argue a vacuum in society. The Church may have lost it strong influence in society and it is unclear what public role it will play in the future. The appearance of tomorrow’s Church may have little in common with the Church of today. But the true Church of all times lives and acts based on the divine promise.”
He referred to the role of the family in the formation of vocations. “Within your own family you have experienced what the Second Vatican Council described as ‘a community of life and love’. Here you had a wonderful experience of this self-giving love. Christian families are not only the privileged place for human and Christian formation; they can also be ‘the primary and most excellent seed bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the kingdom of God’.
“There is no priest who is not challenged by the goodness and fidelity of the people to whom he ministers. It will be important in your ministry to be open to and appreciative of this goodness. There will be times in your ministry when you will feel discouraged and disillusioned, when despite your best efforts many will reject or refuse to respond to the message you preach.
“While the experts are predicting a bleak future for the Church and its ministers you are called to be men of irrepressible hope who will help people to read the signs of what is happening in our contemporary culture. It will be your responsibility to support them as they struggle to find meaning in life and to experience God’s presence in the midst of pressure. You will be a bearer of hope for others if you have hope in your own heart, if at all times you are in close relationship with God in prayer. There is no need to be fearful as the risen Lord impressed upon the disciples in today’s gospel: ‘I am with you always’.
“In spite of the problems which are highlighted today, this is a great time to be a priest. You will experience wonderful support from people, you have a tremendous privilege, as a member of a team to work with the people, religious and your brother priests in the priesthood here in the Archdiocese of Tuam.”
Archbishop Neary said an occasion like this also presented an opportunity to acknowledge and pay tribute to the generosity of priests.
“There is something very attractive, inspiring and uplifting when we see priests who are men of prayer, close to the Lord, interested in and committed to their people and appreciative of their struggles and their strengths. Priesthood will always be indispensable for the Church and for society when lived in this way and thank God for our priests.”
Fr Eugene O’Boyle celebrated his first Mass before an overflow congregation in St Colman’s Church, Claremorris yesterday evening (Monday). Fr Shane Sullivan celebrated his first Mass (as gaeilge) in Cill Chiaráin Church in the parish of Carna, Connemara.