The Catholic community of Tasmania have last month rejoiced as John Joseph Martin of the Little Eucharistic Brothers of Divine Will was ordained a priest.
His priestly ordination took place at Hobart’s St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday 14 September, with family and friends from Western Australia making the trip over to witness the momentous occasion.
Fr John Joseph LEB was ordained by Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous, who said in his homily that as a priest, Fr John was called to be a man of God, a spiritual father, and a missionary disciple.
He added that the life of a priest was to enable people to encounter Jesus Christ and enter upon a path of conversion and faith.
“Br John-Joseph, tonight you are raised to the dignity of the priesthood,” Archbishop Porteous said.
“You will attend to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people. You will serve them by being a conduit of saving grace through the administration of the sacraments.
“You will assist them in growing in the Christian life by your preaching and teaching. You are to be an agent of God’s mercy by absolving them of their sins,” he said.
“Be always ready to offer witness to Christ that those who meet you may also meet Christ.
“Tonight, is a night of great joy – for your community, for your family, for your friends, for the Archdiocese of Hobart.”
Fr John Joseph said that in the lead up to his priestly ordination, he was conscious of the momentous shift it would constitute in his life.
“The unique sharing in Christ’s ministry, the privilege, the responsibility; you prepare so long for this moment and then it’s here! It’s a strange and wonderful thing,” he said.
“Despite the little sleep I could get in the days leading up to the ordination, anticipation, and adrenaline, I was at great interior peace, especially on the day itself.”
He said the laying on of hands and prayer of ordination during the Mass were moments that stood out to him.
“Although sensible or perceptible experience has no bearing on the efficacious nature of a Sacrament, and is thus complimentary if you will, I personally sensed a change in my soul during this sacred moment,” he said.
“In view of the call the Lord has had for me, and made clear to me as a child, this change, theologically understood as the character seal of configuration to Christ in persona Christi capit, was for me an experience of a certain completion – that is, an awareness that I am now fully equipped to be who Christ has created and called me to be.”
The culmination of a process which began with a call to the priesthood at 11-years-old, Fr John Joseph said his ordination was the end of a long journey, as well as a new beginning.
Having now celebrated Mass at all the churches in his parish, the Little Eucharistic Brother’s Oratory in Dover and at Launceston’s Carmel for the Feast of the Holy Archangels, he said he feels he is now doing exactly what he is supposed to.
“Each and every day, Christ summons me to the altar – like before, but now, in a way that is more encompassing and demanding, in a blessed and joyful way.
“The faith I had before ordination is swept up into this new mode of service and gift. Looking into the chalice and saying the words of consecration in the Institution Narrative, this for some reason struck me: this is the Blood of Christ.
“The summons to the altar to offer the sacrifice of praise, of Jesus Christ, to the Father, is a matter of God’s glory and of giving to His People, with His People. It’s a humbling place to occupy,” he said.
“Even fresh off the press, I feel a sense of how normal, or right, or ordinary this is, not that it’s anything but wondrous, and mysterious, but in the sense of it being how it’s meant to be, and what I’m supposed to do.
“I just hope, pray and trust, that I will remain and become more so who God created me to be, since only in that capacity can I fulfill His Will for me.
“I expect to never stop learning, and hope to grow, although, hopefully not bigger, but smaller – as St John the Baptist said, ‘Christ must increase, I must decrease.’
“What a joy it is to be a priest of Jesus, in Jesus – I’m not my own man, I am His and His People’s,” he concluded.