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‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’: Permanent deacon ordained a priest

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/30/17

A deacon friend in the U.K. sent this to me last night, some happy news from the Archdiocese of Cardiff: 

There was much joy and celebration today at Cardiff Cathedral – the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David as exactly a week after the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Daniel Stanton, we celebrated the ordination of a long serving Deacon to the priesthood. Fr. Peter McLaren was one of the original 13 Permanent Deacons ordained for the diocese over 10 years ago, and today he approached the altar for ordination as service as priest.  Following the death of his beloved wife Marie, Fr. Peter spent time in discernment regarding his future.  After a period of discernment within the diocese, Archbishop George Stack sent him to Allen Hall Seminary in London where he has spent the past year in formation. Originally from Scotland Fr. Peter’s family home has been in Cwmbran where has served faithfully and lovingly as Deacon over the years.  As part of his formation for priesthood, he spent time on Pastoral Placement in the parish of South Ryslip, London.  It was a joy to see parishioners travel from London for today’s celebration; a testament to the witness of the man being ordained.  It was also a privilege to be joined by Fr. Peter’s children and grandchildren to whom this day just as much belong as a testament of love and witness to Almighty God and family life. Acknowledging the path Fr. Peter has taken to this day and in honour of St. Martha whose feast day was celebrated, Archbishop George reflected upon the phrase “If only”.  On the death of her brother Lazarus, St. Martha approaches Jesus saying “If only you had been here my brother would not have died …”.  The Archbishop said: “I think the “if only” questions in life are the most important. And we have all asked them. “If only this hadn’t happened. If only I hadn’t said that. If only I had made a different decision. If only life had been fairer to me. If only my mother, father, brother, sister, husband or wife had not suffered and died, everything would be all right, and I would be happy”. But we need to be careful of what we ask for. As I said, the Lazarus story is ambivalent at the very least. It responds to the needs of Martha and Mary in their grief. They wanted him back. But Lazarus would have to die again having to go through the process all over again. “If he came back to life it was to say a last farewell to it”.  The life and ministry of the priest is to be with people at the moments of great joy in their lives and also at times of greatest confusion and sadness. Continually he will be asked the “if only” questions ….Peter will have had his own “If only” questions during his life, too, not least with the death of his beloved Marie. But he has been, and continues to be, sustained by his faith and support of a loving family. “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world”.”

The archbishop concluded his homily: 

The raising of Lazarus from the dead was one of the ‘signs’ of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was a sign of the life to come. Today, Peter will be “signed” with the Oil of Chrism on his hands as he begins a new life at the age of 71. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Ad multos annos!

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