Five new priests were ordained for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne on Saturday 4 December in an Ordination Mass that had previously been postponed due to Victoria’s extended lockdown. More than a thousand people gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral for the ordinations of Fr Alexander Chow, Fr Hoang Dinh, Fr Jaycee Napoles, Fr Joseph Nguyen and Fr Samuel Pearson.

It was the first time in months that the Cathedral had hosted such a large event, with some in attendance having travelled from interstate and overseas for the Mass.

In the weeks leading up to the ordination, the ordinands shared their vocations stories with the community and reflected on the challenges that the state’s extended lockdowns had presented. ‘I think preparing for anything over the past few months or so has been quite difficult (to put it mildly), for everyone!’, said Fr Samuel Pearson.

‘I’ve certainly learned to trust more deeply in God’s will and strength and not my own, through a deep interior process of just letting go and entrusting all things to him whose ‘ways are clearly as far above mine as the heavens are above the earth!’ (Isaiah 55:9)’

In his homily, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli encouraged those to be ordained to take on the missionary and priestly spirit that will inevitably ‘lead you out onto the streets, into parishes, at hospitals, and in prisons.’

‘It is a medicinal spirit that enables you to bind up the wounded with compassion and tenderness. It is a spirit of justice and mercy that asks of you to seek out paths of freedom for the imprisoned of heart, mind and body. But all of these locations can be found together in one place – in family homes. For it is in the reality of our family lives, mixed in blessing as each one is, that you will find all the locations where you might bear priestly fruit.’

At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Jaycee Napoles offered words of thanks on behalf of the newly ordained. He paid special tribute to their families, for their support and contributions to their ‘character development’:

We thank our families, members and friends, those abroad and those who have died. You have been there from the beginning. You were our first teachers, our first friends, our first inspirations.’

He also thanked the various teachers, tutors and seminary staff who have been part of their journey. ‘You have given us not just a deeper language and understanding to speak about God and our faith in the world, but also transcending us from our immigrant backgrounds to be integrated; to be thinkers, and to be builders of community.’

The Ordination Mass was livestreamed and broadcast to community TV channel C31. Watch the Mass below:

Images courtesy of Casamento Photography