Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston
Jamaica, West Indies

 

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Diocesan Priests

Fr. Arokiadas Arumainathan

993-2747

Fr. Kingsley Asphall

933-9303

Fr. Rodel Joseph Baal

998-1414
Fr. Charles Brown 927-3608
Fr. Richard Brown 925-9520
Archbishop Edgerton Clarke 960-7064
Fr. Donald Chambers 926-7578
Fr. Paul Collier 938-9024
Fr. Walter Dorsey 928-1020
Fr. Thomas Dynetius 620-9660
Fr. Gregory Eboh 928-1117
Fr. Vethamuthu Xavier Emmanuel 927-6282

Fr. Harold Funa

983-9203
Fr. Cylvin Gloria 992-2265
Fr. Roger Graham 926-7578
Msgr. Robert Haughton-James 927-1024
Fr. Collin Henriques 927-1024

Fr. Alphonsus Iwuji

937-4510
Fr. Kenneth Kong 927-3608
Fr. Alfred Lee Sang 927-3608
Msgr. Michael Lewis 925-9520
Fr. Burchell McPherson 927-6579
Msgr. Kenneth Mock Yen 930-1910
Fr. Devon Nash 384-6189

Fr. Michael Nwokocha

996-2378
Fr. George Phillipps 922-3335
Fr. Gregory Ramkissoon 923-6488
Fr. Kenneth Ramsay 927-3608
Archbishop Donald Reece 927-6282
Msgr. Kenneth Richards 922-3335
Msgr. Stanley Shearer 927-3608
Fr. Howard Thompson 924-2337
Fr. Henry Williams 922-3335
Fr. Kenneth Ramsay 927-3608

We remember those who are gone from our midst..

Eternal rest grant unto them,
O Lord,
let perpetual light
                  shine upon them...

 

   Fr. Roy B. Campbell January 23, 1977
   Fr. J. White February 02, 1983
   Msgr. John A. Meaney February 13, 2002
   Msgr. Alphonso Bygrave February 18, 2000
   Archbishop Lawrence A. Burke February   , 2009
   Fr. Kenneth Goffe April 24, 1988
   Fr. C. Jack Roper July 03, 1963
   Msgr. Colin Bryan July 12, 1995
   Fr. Dermot Verley August 13, 1993
   Msgr. Richard Watson August 31, 1984
   Archbishop Samuel E. Carter September 03, 2002
   Msgr. A. VIdal September 04, 1974
   Fr. Randolph Ferguson September 16, 1999
   Bishop T. Emmet October 05,1950
   Archbishop J. McEleney October 05, 1986
   Fr. Howard Rochester October 26, 2000
   Fr. Vincent Campbell November 26, 2006
   Msgr. G. Wilson December 01, 1974
   Fr. Ron Pieters December 31, 1993

 

"The Priest: Pastor and Leader"
Congregation for the Clergy

 

 

Priests of the Archdiocese at their Annual Retreat at Mt.Calvary Retreat Centre, Mandeville


HOMILY DELIVERED AT THE EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

ON THE OCCASION OF

CLOSING OF YEAR FOR PRIESTS

SOLEMNITY OF STS. PETER AND PAUL, 29 JUNE 2010

BY FR. DONALD CHAMBERS,

President, Association of Diocesan Priests

May it please:

• Your Grace, Most Rev. Donald Reece, Archbishop of Kingston
• Most Rev. Edgerton Clarke, Archbishop Emeritus
• Reverend Monsignori
• Brother Priests, Deacons and their wives
• Religious brothers and sisters
• Priestly People of God

Introduction:

On behalf of my brother priests, I wish to thank God for his unfailing presence within and among us, and you, the People of God of the Archdiocese of Kingston, for your selfless support and prayers especially during this past year dedicated to the Year for the Priest.

As we close this year inaugurated just over one year ago by Pope Benedict XVI, we recognize that it is God who has called and chosen us from among you to be a sacrament of God’s salvation.

We also recognize that our priesthood truly finds meaning and richness from among you who have loved, supported and cared for us. Thanks for gathering with the priests of the Archdiocese of Kingston as we celebrate the gift of priesthood, and pray that God’s grace continues its manifestation in the ministry of the Church and in our personal witness.

I. Yesterday, June 28, on the memorial of St. Irenaeus, I celebrated my 18th anniversary to the priesthood. I wish to share with you an excerpt from a pastoral letter from Irenaeus: “For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended, or seen allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men. That he may give life to those who see and receive him.”

II. Today, as priests we identify deeply with the insight of Irenaeus. These words are not just an intellectual idea. Rather, they touch and speak to the very heart and essence of our priestly ministry.

A. When we celebrate the sacrament of (the):

a. Eucharist: We encounter the mystery of Christ’s presence realizing that this incomprehensible God draws near to us in the form of bread and wine in spite of our own unworthiness. We are often overwhelmed when reciting the words, (Ask the priests to recite it together), “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed. Or, “Lord, look not on our sins, but on the faith of the Church.”

b. Or, perhaps from a homily preached and someone says to us, “Father, you were preaching to me this morning,” or years later someone approaches us and reminds us of a particular homily that helped to change their lives, then we realized that God “allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped.”

c. Reconciliation: We encounter the mystery of Christ’s presence especially when we realize that God in his inescapable wisdom uses our own human weakness and frailty as a channel of his grace and mercy.


B. When we faithfully carry out our daily ministry, and at the end of the day question whether we had accomplished anything worthwhile, and then an inspiring post card or email arrives expressing appreciation for your ministry, then we realized that . . .

C. At the heart of our priestly ministry, we experience the real presence of Christ drawing close to us in an intimate way. God allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men. Or, as Benedict XVI says, “It is fine and consoling to know that there is someone who loves me and looks after me. But it is far more important that there is a God who knows me, loves me and is concerned about me.”

III. Given the fact that our human weaknesses as priests are so many and real, how is it possible that the People of God (you) have been able to see, comprehend and grasp God through our ministry? How is it possible that a parish priest, who struggled with alcoholism and cigarette smoking, could influence four men and one woman to become priests and a religious sister among others vocations?

A. Beloved in Christ, the answer to these questions lies not in what we do as priests (our intellectual ability, strength, eloquence, giftedness, leadership ability, capacity to raise funds, or social influence), but in what God has done, is doing and will do inside of us. The answer lies in the gift of freedom that we first experienced in Christ at baptism and reaffirmed at ordination. As the song goes,

a. “The Spirit lives to set us free . . . (417).The Spirit lives in you and me. . . His light will shine for all to see . . . The story is told:

b. In the 19th century, a plantation owner was moved by the sobs of a young girl, a slave, who was about to be sold on an auction block. In a rush of compassion he bought her and disappeared into the crowd. After the auction, the clerk handed the girl a bill of sale on which the plantation owner had written “Free.” Stunned by such unexpected kindness, the girl begged to know the identity of her liberator. “He has set me free,” she exclaimed. I must serve him as long as I live!”

c. When Paul writes that “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free,” he expresses similar sentiments and conviction as the slave girl.
d. No longer enslaved by sin, those who have faith in God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ are thereby free – free to serve God and the needs of others.

B. St. Paul in Galatians 5:13 says, “... you were called... to liberty...”

a. Our freedom comes in Christ who gives us his Spirit and calls us to accept the Spirit into our lives, and to leave behind our attachments to enslaved behaviour

b. The scriptures testify to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the two great apostles Peter and Paul whose feast we celebrate with this closing Mass for the Year for the Priest.

i. Prior to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples lived like house and field slaves – shy, timid, nervous, and anxious in front of the Jewish authorities. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, they became bold, brave, courageous and forthright in living a life of grace

ii. Who would have thought that:
1. Peter, who denied Jesus three times, would have boldly stood before the crowd on Pentecost and publicly witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people gathered in Jerusalem?
2. Paul, who was an enemy of the Gospel, would become its most ardent advocate?

iii. When the Spirit sets us free, we overcome shyness, fear, cowardice and step out in faith. We are willing to take risks, to suffer the consequences, struggle for justice, experience ridicule and suffering for Christ.

iv. When the Spirit sets us free, we are free indeed – free to become channels of grace – channels of life.

1. “Jesus promised life to all . . .The dead were wakened by His Call . . .”

C. It is this freedom in Christ that has inspired countless (diocesan and religious) priests of this Archdiocese of Kingston to respond daily to God by drawing near to him. As God draws near to us, we draw near to God in our ministry.

a. St. Paul says, “My life is already being poured away as libation. . .” Like Paul’s ministry, each time we draw near to God he demands that we pour away our life, giving ourselves completely over to Christ without counting the cost, that is, dying to self.

i. When we:
1. Abandon scheduled appointments to respond to the dying or the sick
2. Establish orphanages and extend care for children who are HIV/AIDS. . .
3. Establish skills training centres to empower the youth . . .
4. Inspire our congregation with a well prepared homily. . .
5. Unfold the wisdom of God by sound teaching
6. Form missionary parishes. . .
7. Spend time in private prayer and in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. . .
8. Spend time grieving and mourning . . .
9. Absolve people of their sins . . .
10. Stand for justice and peace in a society in which they are scarce . . .

b. Paul reminds us that in the demanding ministry, “The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all. . .”

c. When Christ allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped it is then that our ministries become stamped with the cross of Jesus Christ and then, like Peter we can courageously proclaim, “You are the Christ.”
i. “By Jesus’ love our wounds are healed. . .The Father’s kindness is revealed . . .

IV. If we have become free in Christ, then we have a greater responsibility as ministerial priests (in alto Christo) to be witnesses as did the two Great apostles Peter and Paul. What we have experienced in Christ, we have a responsibility to help others experience that freedom as ministers of the word and sacraments.

A. In the same spirit,

a. Benedict XVI reminds us that “The priesthood, then, is not simply "office" but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be, through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf.”
b. Monsignor Lewis quoted recently from a newsletter from a parish in Malaysia struggling to be Christian in a Muslim country. An excerpt reads, “The priesthood is a call, not a career; a redefinition of self, not just a new ministry; a way of life, not a job; a state of being, not just a function; a permanent lifelong commitment, not a temporary style of service; an identity, not just a role”.

B. If Christ has set us free, then our responsibility is to be the sacrament that sets others free

a. Let us not become:

i. Distracted with material possession; and people of God do not spoil us or manipulate us with your wealth

ii. Mediocre regarding spending time preparing to feed the people with the Word of God. People of God affirm us priests when we do well, and challenge us when we miss the boat

iii. Lazy in responding to the spiritual, material and emotional needs of our people. When they are mourning let us mourn with them, when they rejoice let us rejoice with them

iv. Narcissistic about our self-image – concern about social image, being the nice-priest trying to please everyone, or caught up with what people are saying about us.

v. Caught up only in the lives of the rich to please them, and turn a blind eye to their faults, and challenge only the poor.

b. Let us model St. Paul who says, “I become all to all men.” Let our sacramental life speak to the cause of justice, and the establishment of a culture of life. Let us work to establish a social structure that is just, equal and peaceful

C. In Acts of Apostles, while Peter was in prison the “Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

a. I urge my brother priests do not neglect your prayer life.
b. I urge the People of God, pray for us your priests
c. I urge the People of God to pray that our priestly witness may inspire an increase in vocations to the priestly life.
d. I urge you to pray that in and through our witness you may “see, comprehend, and grasp the mystery of God” whose presence brings abundant life to all who believe.
 

 
Copyright (C) 2008 Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies