Wednesday, 19th June 2024

Admission to Candidacy & Golden Jubilee

Posted on 19. Feb, 2014 in Carousel

 Admission to Candidacy for Diaconate and Priesthood

and Golden Jubilee of Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Dermot Clifford


Two seminarians of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, Conor McCarthy of Down and Connor and Marius O’Reilly of Cork and Ross, were admitted to Candidacy for Ordination to Diaconate and Priesthood by Cardinal Seán Brady at Mass in the College Chapel on Wednesday, 19th February 2014.  Pictured (left to right) are: Fr Thomas Norris (Spiritual Director), Fr Hugh Clifford (Director of Formation), Archbishop Dermot Clifford (Cashel), Marius O’Reilly (new Candidate), Bishop Francis Duffy (Ardagh and Clonmacnois), Cardinal Seán Brady (Armagh), Monsignor Ciarán O’Carroll (Rector), Stephen Duffy (College Master of Ceremonies), Fr George Hayes (Vice Rector), Conor McCarthy (new Candidate). Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Dermot Clifford, alumni of the College, and now College Trustees, are celebrating the golden jubilee of their ordination to the Priesthood in the Lateran Basilica on 22nd February 1964.

To see photographs of the occasion, click here.

Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady at the Mass

Some years ago I was in Springfield, Illinois, USA. There they proudly boast of one Barack Obama. He had come to the city for a visit in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln to declare his candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America, on the steps of the State Building. This evening we gather to witness Conor and Marius being admitted as Candidates for something far more important and enduring – candidates for sacred orders. In bygone years, the McCarthys were princes of Munster in Cork, but Conor’s branch obviously moved north to Down and Connor in Ulster! While the O’Reillys were princes of Breifne in Ulster, before Marius’s family moved south to Cork!

            In any case, we are here to support these ‘princes’ Marius and Conor with our prayer as they declare their desire to be ordained deacons and priests. I know they have prayed and reflected long and hard about this decision. They have shown by their lifestyle that they are willing to match their words with their action, as students, as they generously place their many gifts and their talents at the service of the Lord and at the service of the poor and of the College community in many ways over recent years. We rejoice and congratulate them on being called. We are glad to be here to accompany them with our prayer that they not only be aware of the presence of the Lord in their lives at all times but that the Lord may fill their hearts with joy as they encounter him once more in this decisive step on their vocational journey.

When Archbishop Clifford and I came here in the year of Our Lord 1960. Good Pope John XXIII was Pope. There was no ceremony of Admission to Candidacy for Sacred Orders. Instead, there was a ceremony of Tonsure, which involved a cutting of hair. Pope John thought it would be a good idea if those who had received Tonsure when getting a haircut would get the barber to shave a spot on the  head to indicate our trust in the Lord and our commitment. It did not last long but I think that we can still reflect by our lives our commitment to the poor and all God’s people.

Today the 19th of February I celebrate 19 years as a Bishop. I’m pleased that Fr Michael Toner, the diocesan secretary and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Armagh is here, as well as Fr Brian McCanny, former student and Director of Formation in the College and of course Francis Hand, whom I congratulate on his recent institution as an Acolyte, and Bishop Francis Duffy, the new Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. So this is a day of humble prayer and for forgiveness for my many failings in situations and for opportunities missed.

After 19 years of celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation, I now realise now more clearly how the Spirit comes over and over again:

-to make us more fully Sons of God the Father

– to make us become more clearly brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ

– to enable us become all the more temples of the Holy Spirit and enlivened by this Gift

– to make us full members of the Church

and finally, something dear to the heart of Pope Francis, to send us forth as missionaries to bring Good News.

The Word of God as usual throws so much light on what is going on here. The Church, the Body of Christ is called to continue the Ministry of Christ, especially his healing ministry each day. We strive to let Christ heal our own blindness and to open our eyes to the wonders of his loving plan for us. In this evening’s Gospel Jesus gradually restored his sight to the blind man of Bethsaida. In the same way Jesus gradually reveals to each one of us his plan for us and prepares us to assume our responsibilities, and to play our part and do the work that we have been placed on the Earth to do. In the Gospel we heard, some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him.

Conor and Marius, so much of your life’s work will be just that: bringing people to Jesus so that they can see and touch him, bringing people who cannot see Jesus, those who cannot see meaning or purpose in their lives, letting him touch their minds with his truth and to touch their hearts with his love. It is his work. When all is said and done we are only God’s instruments. A couple of questions suggested themselves to me from this Gospel.

Why did Jesus lead the blind man out of the village of Bethsaida to work the miracle outside the village? Why did he send him home with the order, “Don’t even go into the village”? Was it because the villagers were not ready for the kind of Messiah Jesus was going to be? Was there a chance that they would not understand and therefore that they would refuse him and reject it? What is that saying about our own lives as Priests, Deacons and Bishops – in preparing people to receive Jesus and to welcome him, to recognise him and to announce him.

I am delighted that Archbishop Clifford and I can be together here in Rome this week as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Ordination to the Priesthood in the Lateran Basilica on Saturday 22nd February 1964. There were 11 in our class. Three have died. May they rest in peace. One is a Benedictine monk and the rest of us are struggling on as best we can towards eternity. On a day like this we give thanks first of all to God the giver of all good gifts and to our parents and families and dioceses, and to our colleagues, to our various alma maters, but especially on this occasion to the loving mother, the Irish College, to its staff and students. I spent 16 years of my 50 years of priesthood here. One of the outstanding events was the canonisation of St Oliver Plunkett, a past student of the College, ordained for the Diocese of Meath. He had spent many years in this city teaching. He had a difficult time as Archbishop of Armagh and suffered martyrdom for his faith on the scaffold at Tyburn in 1681. Another happy occasion was the Beatification of Dom Columba Marmion, another past student of the College, ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin, who later became a Benedictine monk and Abbot of Maredsous and a master of the spiritual life and the encounter with Christ. Another great event is coming up, the Canonisation of Blessed John Paul II, who visited the College and visited our homeland very early on in his long Pontificate. All of this reminds us that the purpose of our being priests is to direct ourselves and others to holiness and to Sainthood.

My good wishes go to the Rector, staff, and community of the College. Let’s keep with what St James advises in this evening’s first reading, what God the Father considers to be pure and unspoilt religion, which is to care for the orphans and widows and those suffering and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world. Conor and Marius, I think that the pastoral work which you have undertaken lives up to this. You have devoted yourselves to pure unspoilt religion ahead of passing pleasures. We wish you well for the future. Buon proseguimento! Blessings and joy now on the road to Ordination.