It’s not often that a parish experiences the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of a priestly ordination. What I mean is, it’s not common for a deacon to be in a parish, to be ordained to the priesthood, and then to return to the same parish. Over the last week, we have shared in such an experience, and a joyful few days it has been. Fr James Bradley was ordained to the sacred priesthood on Saturday at St Patrick’s in Soho, and celebrated his First Mass back in the parish on Sunday. The whole weekend was a great joy, and it has received a lot of attention here and here: these are the first ordinations of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham where the priests were not Anglican vicars beforehand.
What it has shown us is the great miracle that is the priesthood: last Friday, Fr James was a deacon preparing for the Ordination Mass, and on Monday morning when parishioners arrived for the early Mass, it was Fr James who celebrated it. When you see the before and after of an ordination, you realise it is nothing short of a miracle that God can take any ordinary man, and transform him so that he can offer Christ’s Sacrifice… mindblowing.
The grace of an ordination can really touch minds and hearts. After the beautiful Liturgies of the weekend, and the sense of youthfulness and vibrancy in the congregations, conversations with people afterwards revealed the power of Liturgy to stir hearts. I think many graces will flow from this ordination.
In itself, it is a wonderful grace to have a new priest in the parish. While the requests for First Blessings keep coming, and while we still get used to calling him “Father” (it’s like learning And with your spirit all over again), there is nothing like this experience to make us, as a parish, more grateful for the gift of priests.
You can read more from Fr James on his new blog: Thine Own Service.