Being a new priest during lockdown

 

On Saturday 26th September 2020, Bidhop David ordanined a new man to our diocesan presbyterate, Daniel Rooke.

Fr Daniel shares some thoughts on his first few months as a Priest.

There are many thoughts and expectations that inevitably go through the mind during the six years of seminary preparing for priestly ordination; I would consider the kinds of ministry I might come to be involved with, such as getting involved with catechetical work at the local School and of course, coming into a new parish I would have expected to form new relationships with people of the parish, having tea after Holy Mass on Sunday.

Ordination to priesthood fundamentally includes service to people, yet, because of lockdown, many normal features of ministry and integration have not taken place. Essentially my only experience as a priest has been in these difficult times. As a result, I still feel I have not had a great opportunity to introduce myself, as, of course, the normal opportunities to gather together and meet are not possible.

That said I have been profoundly overwhelmed by the experience and graces of ordination. Despite the difficulties and challenges, I have been able to exercise many aspects of ministry. Truly, the celebration of mass is an extraordinary experience and just an absolute joy; it is entirely humbling, I often wonder to myself that “I am just Daniel, how could I be worthy to do this?”

Yet it was apparent, when the public celebration of Holy Mass was suppressed, how much I missed the people of God being present. The experience of celebrating mass, through live streaming, continues to feel bizarre and heart-breaking.

It was a great blessing to be able to baptise a little one, anointing someone for the first time, hearing a confession for the first time, and even receive a person into the Catholic Church. The distancing rules have at times felt counter intuitive, but we have a great amount of goodwill and understanding from everyone these sacramental celebrations have remained dignified and special.

My heart particularly goes out to those who have lost friends and family over this period, the sense of loss and sadness is only exacerbated when there are restrictions on numbers at funerals and not having a reception afterwards to mourn and celebrate loved ones.

I must say that though the encounters I have had with people have been far too few, I am given hope and inspiration due to many who have kept a positive attitude, being hopeful and joyful despite the difficulties. Someone said to me, it might be hard for us, but there is always someone who is going through a much more difficult time. This is a time where so many of us can feel loneliness, which is why it’s important to keep in contact with each other as best as we are able, and most especially to sincerely pray for each other. God has a plan for our lives, when we trust in him we can never go wrong.

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