Australia Wide | December
Ordination of Deacon Kenneth Hagan to Priesthood
Broken Bay – 28th Nov 2015
Monsignor Harry Entwistle’s sermon delivered at Fr Hagan’s ordination
The ordination we are celebrating this morning may appear to be the same as almost all other ordination services that have taken place in this cathedral. It is the same, yet it is not the same. It is the same because a baptised member of the Church, described in the first epistle of Peter as a holy people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation, is being set apart by that royal priesthood to be admitted to the ordained priesthood. So all the baptised are called to live priest-like lives of self-giving lives, some are called to be visible examples of that life.
This ordination is different because Deacon Kenneth is being ordained a Catholic Priest to serve in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. This is a non-geographical Australian Catholic diocese erected by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 for non-Catholics from the English spiritual, theological and pastoral tradition. Although fully Catholic, the
visible distinctiveness of this diocese is seen in its own form of the Roman Mass which has been provided by Pope Francis and authorised for use from tomorrow. This liturgy contains elements from before and after the Reformation, and so for the first time, a Catholic Mass contains some prayers from a Protestant Reformation Church.
This ordination is different also because you are witnessing an act of Church unity – a former Anglican becoming fully Catholic while maintaining some of the distinctiveness of his Anglican tradition. This is what the unity the Church has been praying for looks like. This is Christian unity with distinctiveness. When Fr Ken says his Mass of Thanksgiving, he will use this new form of the Mass.
But having said that, why do we need priests at all? Are we more trouble than we are worth? Ask any bishop or Ordinary and listen carefully to their response! If all the baptised should lead priest-like lives, why do we need an ordained priest?
Kenneth will shortly be ordained and what is the first thing he will do? He will stand at the altar alongside Bishop Peter, and me his spiritual and canonical leader, and his brother priests and be a vehicle through which God’s love is revealed in the Body and Blood of Christ.
The special mercy of Christ in the sacraments is simply that Christ puts himself there. His presence in them does not depend on anything special in the bread and wine, or anything special in the priest, except that he is really a priest.
The gospel reading tells us that Jesus gathered his apostles, imparted the gift of the Holy Spirit, as he will do today, and made them his agents. Through ordination, the priest is united with Christ the Great High priest and grafted to Jesus the True Vine, and he brings the sacraments to God’s people as the fruits of the Vine. He gives us Christ’s Body and Blood, and if you are truly repentant, he speaks the words of Christ’s forgiveness and absolution from sin. He stands with his Bishop or Ordinary who is the focus of unity in the diocese as the focus of unity in the parish or community in which he ministers.
When God’s faithful gather for worship, the priest is at times the voice of the congregation, and when he receives his communion he is part of that congregation. But there are times when he steps into the place of Christ himself when he takes, gives thanks, breaks and shares the consecrated bread and wine with Christ’s disciples who have gathered for worship.
Monsignor Entwistle is the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Educated at St Chad's Theological College, he was ordained a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Blackburn in 1964. After reception into the Roman Catholic Church, he was ordained to the priesthood in St Mary's Cathedral, Perth on 15 June 2012.