The ordination of the three newest priests for the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains is, says Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, “a sign of hope and renewal of God’s everlasting love for his people.”
As Bishop Vincent ordained Adam Carlow, Matthew Dimian and Jack Elkazzi to the priesthood on Thursday 2 February, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, he was joined by hundreds of others, keen to show their support.
The Cathedral and forecourt were overflowing with family, friends and supporters of the three men, who have described the faithful of the Diocese of Parramatta as their second families.
“The Diocese of Parramatta is the youngest and most culturally diverse diocese in Australia, so each ordination is a joyous occasion,” Bishop Vincent told the congregation.
“Adam, Matthew and Jack will rejuvenate and reinvigorate the Church in Parramatta, bringing their unique gifts and talents. They will go out into the deep and spread the word and love of Christ to all, and I ask that we all keep them in our prayers as they commence their priestly ministry.”
Bishop Vincent: new ordinands ‘sign of the Church that goes forth’
During his homily, Bishop Vincent acknowledged the many people who have been “instrumental and inspirational” to Adam, Matthew and Jack’s priestly vocation. These include, he said, the formation team at the Diocese’s Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park, as well as their family and friends, and the priests and communities from their pastoral placements.
“For the period of nine to ten years, these men have been guided in their human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual development, so that they could serve God’s people according to the commands and the example of Christ,” he said.
Referencing recent comments that Pope Francis made to seminarians at the North American College in Rome, Bishop Vincent encouraged Adam, Matthew and Jack to be “signs of the Church that goes forth, sharing the presence, compassion and love of Jesus with our brothers and sisters.
“A priest, above all, points to the mystery of Christ’s dying and rising, that is, the life-giving force of the world,” he said.
“Let us pray that these men will be a sign of the Church, committed to consecrating the world with the leaven of the Gospel.”
During the Rite of Ordination, dozens of priests from the Diocese of Parramatta and across Sydney, as well as the Maronite and Coptic Catholic communities, blessed their new brothers and welcomed them into the priestly fraternity.
The renowned St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir featured prominently during the Mass, bolstered by the magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral organ, which celebrates 125 years in 2023.
It was the first time that the newly appointed Assistant Cathedral Organist, with 19-year-old Patrick Newman, played for an ordination and during the offertory, the choir sang a hymn specially written for the ordination by young Sydney composer Christian Catsanos, a school friend of Fr Matthew.
Fr Matthew: Ordinands to be “priests after the heart of Christ”
At the conclusion of Mass, Fr Matthew Dimian shared a note of thanksgiving on behalf of the newly ordained, filled with gratitude and humility, and pledging to dedicate their lives to the Church.
“We are priests of Jesus Christ forever. No take backs,” he joked.
“Thanks to the Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God, both in heaven and on earth. Our vocations were born in the Church, they were nourished by the Church, so whatever honour is given to us today, you have a share of it.
“Thank you Bishop Vincent for ordaining us to the priesthood tonight and also for your fatherly care and accompaniment over the course of formation. We look forward to labouring with you in the Lord’s vineyard and going to the margins, and going out into the depths with you.”
During his address, Fr Matthew made special mention of George Cardinal Pell, whose funeral Mass had been held earlier that day at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. Fr Matthew said Cardinal Pell was an example to the three newly-ordained of zeal, courage, faithfulness and bearing one’s cross.
He also thanked the parishes and school communities, which had supported the three new priests throughout their vocational journey and formation.
He especially thanked the families of the new priests. “To our families – we love and appreciate every one of you. Our faith started in the home, and so did our vocation,” he said. “Thank you for your constant support, your encouragement in difficulties, but most of all, thank you for your unwavering love and commitment.”
Fr Adam Carlow, Fr Matthew Dimian and Fr Jack Elkazzi’s new parish appointments will begin on 13 February.
Rewatch the Solemn Mass of Ordination to the Presbyterate via livestream here.
View images from the Ordination Mass here or below: