By Anthony Barich
The Archdiocese of Adelaide has been buoyed by the ordination of Fr Matthew Newman, a 31-year-old who grew up on a farm in Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills.
He was ordained by Archbishop Philip Wilson on July 8 at Adelaide’s St Francis Xavier Cathedral, where he is now based in his first pastoral placement.
Fr Paul Cashen MSC, Archdiocesan director of strategic planning, said the ordination – a rare occurrence in the Archdiocese without a seminary – would give everyone in the diocese “a sense of hope for the life of the Church, for which we should be truly grateful to God”.
Fr Newman’s ordination is the fruition of a long journey that started when his mother, who is of no religion, enrolled him into Rosary Primary School in Prospect, North Adelaide, and he wanted to be a priest after witnessing his first Mass there on the feast of the Assumption.
“Since then I’ve wanted to do nothing else but become a priest,” Fr Newman told The Record.
On his own decision, he was baptised aged 13 and entered the seminary in Adelaide in the late 90s but left to work as a farmhand while doing a semester as a lay student at the Adelaide College of Divinity before returning in 2002 to complete his studies at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd at Homebush in Sydney.
There he studied under Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous, the rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.
In his homily during the ordination Mass, Archbishop Wilson stressed the importance of the priest’s call to serve.
“We must be sure, what we are involved in today is an ordination to the priesthood and not a coronation,” the archbishop said.
“People who are ordained priests are ordained for service. They are asked by the Lord to live the reality of the Gospel that we have just read for our Eucharistic celebration today; to love one another, to love the Lord, to give one’s life in service for others.” He said that the memory of Jesus is at the very centre of a priest’s life.
“When someone is ordained to the priesthood, something happens to them at the depths of their being,” he said.
“It’s technically called an ontological change, but that doesn’t matter much.
“What it means is that while a man remains who he always was, and who he always will be, that the Lord, through the power of the Spirit, commits Himself to him, so that in the very act of living and carrying out his responsibilities, he activates the memory of Jesus as we live in the middle of the world today. “So, this is a great day for all of us, but it is a day that is committed to the service of God’s people.
“It is a day in which you now are about to change, not in yourself – you will always be Matthew Newman with all your wonderful strengths and gifts and also all of your limitations – but Jesus takes you to Himself today through the power of the Holy Spirit and makes you a priest; not for your sake or for your glory, but that you may be the servant of God’s people.”