Western Sydney’s newest priests reflect on their first year in ministry
On 30 November 2018, the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains was blessed with the ordination of four new priests.
Fr Galbert Albino, Fr Jessie Balorio, Fr Christopher del Rosario and Fr Jack Green were ordained as priests for the Diocese of Parramatta by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, on the Feast of St Andrew.
One year on from their ordination, Catholic Outlook spoke to the new priests about what they have learnt and enjoyed in their first year in ministry.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fr Jessie Balorio was not available for an interview.
Fr Galbert Albino, assistant priest at St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill
Catholic Outlook: How has your parish placement been?
Fr Galbert Albino: Being assigned here in St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill, provides me with an awesome experience, especially that I am just fresh with my priestly ministry. When I came here in this parish, I was greatly amazed with the warmth welcome of the people and from the parish priest, Fr Alan Layt.
I am still in the process of adjusting myself to this ecclesiastical work, but with the guidance and spiritual advice of my parish priest, I feel that everything seems to be running smoothly. Honestly, I am very pleased to work collaboratively with Fr Alan, who is very supportive of my priestly endeavour in the parish.
Of course, aside from my parish priest, the parish staff and volunteers are also helping me get things done here, guiding me all throughout. And I do really admire them of their sense of active participation in nourishing the faith of the community, considering that St Aidan’s Parish community is a diverse parish.
CO: What has been a highlight of your first year as a priest?
GA: Aside from celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I consider administering the other sacraments, particularly the Anointing of the Sick and the Dying, as one of the highlights in my first year as a priest.
As I administered this sacrament to the elderly people in the nursing homes and hospitals, who have mostly been surrounded by their family members, I have witnessed the beauty of it and the serenity it provides to the person receiving the sacrament. It also gives the family members the assurance that their sick loved one, who is about to leave from this earthly life, is ready to be united again to the Creator.
Reminding them that this rite of passage to eternal life is something sacred and that our whole is a gift from God that needs to be returned according to its due course bringing with it the good things we have done on earth.
CO: How have you got through the challenges that you might have faced in your first year as a priest?
GA: A couple told me when I gave them a blessing for their wedding anniversary that married life is not just a bed of roses. And I would say that priesthood as well is not just a box full of chocolates. While there is joy in serving the Lord in His vineyard, there is also some challenges to encounter and acknowledge.
One of the challenges I experienced in my first year as a priest is organising my own timetable. I only realised this when I became a priest that sometimes our schedules can be hefty. Aside from the parish activities, some parishioners and other religious group organisations like to invite the priest to be part of their activities.
People from different walks of life would come to me to share their personal struggles. While I have the desire to make myself available for all of them and help them out, I am also restricted with my own limitation.
I must humbly admit that I don’t have the answers to all of their questions. After all, this is what I am being called for, to serve the people of God. And I think, other priests are also facing this same challenge in their ministry.
I am very grateful to the Holy Spirit Seminary for preparing me in dealing with matters like setting up our own priorities. The Transformative Psychology training taught by the Rector, Fr John Hogan, in the seminary, is helping me to live with purpose and for a purpose.
This is why seminary training is very essential in developing our human aspect, so that we can be that instrument that God wishes us to be, that is, another Christ. In this sense, we can be capable of fulfilling our function for which we are being called.
CO: How has it felt being able to celebrate and consecrate the Eucharist?
GA: It is a very humbling experience because despite the human defects I have, and shortcomings I felt inside, God still chose me to be His collaborator to bring His people back into His presence by offering the sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
That is why I am still in great meekness for giving me the privilege to be a sharer of Christ’s priesthood.
CO: You said in an interview with Catholic Outlook before your ordination that the priesthood would “satisfy the desire of my heart”. Do you still believe this to be true?
GA: Yes, I still believe it is. I feel that my day is no longer complete if I am unable to say the Mass even for just a day. It becomes now an integral part of my whole being.
CO: What do you hope your second year of being a priest brings?
GA: I am a mere servant of God and I only do what He tells me to do. I will only try my very best to fulfil the task that is being entrusted to me. My only hope is to give justice of this gift that God has been given to me.
Catholic Outlook’s interview with Fr Christopher del Rosario will be published tomorrow.
VIEW: Images from the ordinations here or below.