Father Thuc Van Le Ordained
Reverend Thuc Van Le was Ordained to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Bathurst by Bishop Michael McKenna on Friday 4th July 2014.
It was a joy filled celebration with around 450 people in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. John. A luncheon in the Cathedral School Hall followed. Father Thuc's Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Cathedral the following morning.
Below is Bishop McKenna's Homily from the Mass which was held in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. John, Bathurst. Some photos are available HERE and you will be able to read more about the ordination and see more photos in the July issue of the Catholic Observer.
Homily for the Ordination of Le Van Thuc
Cathedral of St Michael and St John
Bathurst, 4th July 2014
“Anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way, is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock…”
Today, Augustine Le Van Thuc stands at the gate of the sheepfold. He is willing to enter and share in the work of Christ as a shepherd and pastor. He is and will remain one of the sheep, not better than the others, but with a new responsibility and ability to lead and nourish the flock.
As we stand with him at the gate of the sheepfold, we can see Jesus Christ. You might see the bishop as the gatekeeper, but you must see Christ himself as the gate.
This morning, we are here to celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination. It is a sacrament for sacraments; for the sacrament that is the Church. Christ is the sacrament: Christ is the gate.
God does not work only through sacraments. Even as we speak, the Spirit is moving through creation, in human hearts, for God’s purpose. Much of that is silent and invisible. But at moments like this we can see God at work. He lets us know what he is doing. With faith, through sight and touch and taste and smell and sound, the sacraments assure us of God’s action and purpose.
“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”
In the name of Christ, I will lay my hands on Thuc and say the words of ordination: and he will be changed for life. Changed for life in the sense that this is permanent - God will never take back his choice. Changed for life in the sense that this change has a life-giving purpose. Thuc is not receiving an honour for himself, but a mission and a power in the service of life.
Thuc, God is calling you to be a priest so that you can pass on life, life to the full, to your sisters and brothers and make them sharers and givers of that life for one another.
In the second reading that Thuc chose for today, St Paul repeats the Eucharistic words that the priest says in the name of Christ. This Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ is the core of the priestly ministry. In it, he nourishes the People of God and gives them life. From it comes the unique leadership of the shepherd. The Eucharist is the source and must be the pattern of all that the priest does.
The most famous priest in the world today is Pope Francis. He is a good model for all of us who try to live out our holy calling. Like every priest, he brings with him through the gate of the sheepfold his own gifts and weaknesses, the good and bad experiences of his journey of faith and life.
Pope Francis has spoken of his mistakes and how he has learnt from them. We can’t avoid making mistakes: but we can choose whether or not to admit them, whether or not to let God use them to expand our wisdom and compassion.
In this process, genuine and persevering prayer is essential. Prayer that is open to the Spirit, so that God prays in us and we truly share his life. Prayer that is nourished by God’s Word and in turn illuminates our understanding of that Word. Prayer that cries out to God in union with people who suffer. Prayer that the priest offers constantly for the flock entrusted to him, conscious that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Thuc, as you prepare to enter the sheepfold through the gate, know that the Lord wants to give you life to the full. You will find that fullness of life in bringing others to its source.
May the prayers of Mary, Mother of Priests, of the Vietnamese Martyrs and of the holy men and women who have gone before us in the Diocese of Bathurst, accompany you to that source, that gate, Jesus Christ.