Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev Andrew Black

The Diocese of Down and Connor congratulates Fr Andrew Black who was ordained to the priesthood on 3 May 2015 by Bishop Noel Treanor in St Columcille’s Church, Holywood. Please find below some photos from the celebration and also from his first Mass which he celebrated on 4 May 2015 in St Colmcille’s church, Holywood.

First Mass of Thanksgiving

On 20 January 1842 a young French Jewish man called Alphonse Ratisbonne becamea Catholic after what he described as a miraculous encounter in the Church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. Ten days later he wrote a letter to his brother Theodore, who had himself become a Catholic some 16 years previously, and was subsequently ordained a priest, much to the disappointment of his brother Alphonse. The day Fr
Theodore received the letter from his brother he stood up to preach at the evening devotions and said, “the brother for whom we have so long been praying, has finally come home to the faith.” When I read the story I was overcome by one small, probably innocuous detail to most other people, the brother, who was not born a Catholic, had become a priest. I don’t mind telling you that it threw me into the greatest confusion, and almost immediately I asked myself the question, could I be a priest, and could I possibly be happy if I was one?

Standing at the horizon of this new possibility, I went into the sacristy one Sunday after Mass to speak to Fr John Stewart. I said to him that I was thinking about becoming a priest, what he said to me I have never forgotten, he said, “well I think that would be a very good idea, you see being a priest is about trying to save your own soul, and save the souls of others into the bargain.” Though that was twelve years ago it is still so fresh in my mind, and for me it still is the most succinct summation of what the priesthood is all about, moreover it is all the more potent
given that it is how Fr John has spent the past 61 years of his life.

I firmly believe that I was born for this moment, to stand here and offer this mass in thanksgiving to Almighty God for this gift of a vocation, for this indescribable joy. To say that I am doing exactly what I believe God has put me here to do fills me, on the one hand, with such tremendous peace and on the other with great nervousness that must try to live up to all the responsibilities which yesterday afternoon I pledged First Mass of Thanksgiving 4 May 2015 to give the whole of my life for. But I believe that if I wasn’t here I wouldn’t ever be truly happy.

Last Sunday Pope Francis ordained 19 young men as priests in St Peter’s Basilica, and just before he ordained them, he warned them not to give boring homilies, which is a perfectly good piece of advice, so I’d better get to the point, all I’ll say is that as a priest I’m trying to save and sanctify my own soul, to try to live up to everything God wants me to be, expects me to be, and knows I can be, and I am trying to help others to do the same. And the point is this my very dear friends, if God can take me and make me his priest, me, from the most unlikely of  backgrounds and bestow upon me this most miraculous gift – what will he be willing to give to you, if only you’ll let him?

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