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Archbishop Cushley: Priestly life is happy and fulfilling

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh says a vocation to the priesthood is a path to happiness and fulfilment for those who respond generously to the call.

 

“Throughout my own life, I have found priests to be among the happiest, most fulfilled, most dedicated people I know, and I am proud to be one of them.  There’s nothing quite like it, and I mean that in a good way,” said Archbishop Cushley, 24 June 2016.

 

The Archbishop made his comments in a homily at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh as he ordained two men – Fr Jamie McMorrin and Fr Tony Lappin – to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

 

“Let your lives be an inspiration and example to others of the love of Christ.  Pray often for your people, not for yourselves. Preach the Gospel first by your lives, and then in your homilies, “ said Archbishop Cushley addressing the two ordinands directly.

 

“Above all, be a loving father to the people entrusted to your care.  You are the pastors of this Church’s future: we look to you to lead us by your words and example.”  

 

Father Tony Lappin hails from Loanhead in Midlothian. Until recently, he was a student at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome. He will soon take up a new post as assistant priest at three parishes in Livingston: St Andrew’s, Craigshill, St Theresa’s, East Calder and St Philip’s, Dedridge. He will be resident at St Theresa’s, East Calder.

 

Father Jamie McMorrin is from Kinghorn in Fife. Until recently he was a student in Rome at the Pontifical Scots College. He will soon take up a new post as assistant priest at St Francis Xavier’s, Falkirk, St Anthony’s, Polmont and Our Lady of the Angels, Camelon.

 

ENDS

 

The full text of Archbishop Cushley’s homily is reproduced below.

 

Homily on the occasion of the ordination to the priesthood of Rev. Jamie McMorrin and Tony Lappin
Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist
24 June 2016

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One of the happiest moments in the life of any diocese is the ordination to the priesthood of men who have been called to this ministry, essential to the life of the church.   That is as true today as ever it was.  Like all of us, the two men you know here before you have also been looking forward to this day for years, and they too will scarcely believe the day has finally arrived.  Let me assure you, Tony and Jamie, that we are all of us delighted to see this day finally arrive.  
As every student of theology knows, “the Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church”.  This is a very ancient statement, beloved of St Pope John Paul II and of Pope Benedict, and it is one that is also very close to my own heart.  The Eucharist, especially the Sunday Eucharist, is at the centre of our Christian identity.  The bishop, and his priests and deacons, gather with the people of God every Sunday to listen to the word of God and to offer Christ's great sacrifice to our loving Father in expiation of our sins, and for the salvation of souls.  The letter to Diognetus says that Christians are the “soul of the world”, and there is no better way to see that, than when we celebrate the Eucharist on a Sunday.
As we know all too well, our diocese needs more priests, and it needs good priests. Ours is a diocese that is scattered, from the English border in the south to St Andrews in the north, reaching over to Loch Lomond in the west.  It is a disparate and diverse group of communities who all love their parishes and want the Sunday Eucharist celebrated there.  They also need the Eucharist celebrated with the dignity, beauty, prayerfulness and attention that it deserves.  Of course, the diocese isn’t quite the missionary territory that it used to be, as it was in the days of St Blane or St Cuthbert or even St Margaret.  Today it’s more Christian than it used to be - but it could also be more Christian than it is.   So the presence of our priests among our people is a both a treasure and a resource, one of the most important of God’s blessings upon us, and, as well as thanking him for the priests we have, we ought to pray regularly both for the priests we see here, and the priests we want for the future.
The world likes to suppose that the life of a priest is tough, perhaps fraught with difficulty, a bar set too high, maybe even impossible.  Well, that may be true for some of the people some of the time.  But throughout my own life, I have found priests to be among the happiest, most fulfilled, most dedicated people I know, and I am proud to be one of them.  There’s nothing quite like it, and I mean that in a good way!
What Jamie and Tony, these men, your relatives and friends, are called to, is a life of loving, sacred service.  It is a busy, blessed life.  It is a life of selfless dedication.  The promise of these men to lead a celibate life means that theirs will be a life of gift and service to all those around them. They will never have somewhere to live that they will ever call “home” in the way others do.  They will be paid very little – at least, in terms of money.  They will place themselves voluntarily and completely at the service of the bishop and of you, their brothers and sisters.   All of this, they will accept for love of Christ and for love of you, the members of Christ’s Body.  Above all, they will offer themselves in this way, so that the work of God, Christ’s saving commemoration and presence in the Mass and the Sacraments, will be continued.  That’s why we call theirs a sacred service, and why they promise themselves to it completely, offering their own lives in a pledge to all of us, offering it with a pure heart and a clear conscience.  

 

The Church has taken these men and helped them over a number of years to consider if they have indeed been called to the priesthood, if they have the human and spiritual qualities necessary, and if their motives are the right ones.  The two men you see before you have now completed that training, and their superiors have come here today to present them to me in your name for ordination.    For my part, I am very happy indeed to ordain them for service to God and His people, and it makes me proud to welcome such fine men, in their youth - even you, Tony! - into our ranks.

 

Tony and Jamie, you chose today, the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist, to be ordained.  This is an unusual but a happy choice, because it give us an opportunity to reflect upon what this Feast offers us, as a key to understanding the mission for which you are about to be ordained.  

 

St John the Baptist was a cousin, a blood relation, of our Lord.  He grew up to be a great prophet, and utterly single-minded, disciplined and dedicated to the mission at hand. That mission was to be Christ’s herald.  John the Baptist was the first to say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world”.  He was fearless in his preaching.  He was arrested, and he gave his life in prison in service to his Lord and Master, his brother and his God. 

 

You, my dear sons, are called to imitate St John the Baptist in all these extraordinary qualities.  You are already “related” to our Lord: in the words of St Paul, you are already “Sons in the Son”.  Through baptism you have already been consecrated as members of Christ’s mystical body.  You have also been trained over a good number of years to be single-minded, disciplined and dedicated to the mission at hand.  You have shared in the mission of Herald of Christ by your ordination to the diaconate; and now the Church will build upon that foundation by consecrating you for the sacred duties of priesthood.  Like the Baptist himself, the first to announce the presence of Christ, you also will announce the presence of the Lord among His people, each time you offer holy Mass, as you say “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world”.  Through your consecration of the bread and wine in the Eucharist, the Lord will be as present to your people as Jesus was to John, when John was baptising at the Jordan.  Like John, you are to be courageous and honest, but also gentle in your preaching of the Gospel, in season and out of season.  And you have already promised yourselves to the public witness, the public “martyrdom” as it were, of a life completely dedicated to the Lord.  Let the powerful words and witness of the Baptist inspire you, and may his presence and prayers accompany you on your journey into the sacred priesthood.  

 

Let your lives be an inspiration and example to others of the love of Christ.  Pray often for your people, not for yourselves. Preach the Gospel first by your lives, and then in your homilies.  Celebrate the Sacraments with reverence and dignity, by placing Christ, not yourselves, at the centre of the celebrations over which you preside, above all the Mass.  Come to the altar of God with a clear conscience.  Frequent the Sacrament of Penance as often, and as well, as you will expect others to do.  Have a special care for the young and for the old, the sick and the frail.  Never forget those who live in poverty, whether spiritually or in the things of this world.  Above all, be a loving father to the people entrusted to your care.  You are the pastors of this Church’s future: we look to you to lead us by your words and example.  

 

As we now approach the moment of your ordination, be assured that the affection and prayers of everyone here accompany you from today onwards, as you endeavour to conform yourselves more and more to Christ crucified, and to model your lives on the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.

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