Advice to a newly ordained priest
Family, friends and the Canberra-Goulburn Catholic community celebrated the ordination of 27-year-old Fr Alex Osborne on August 30. Here, three of our priests – with a collective 80 years’ of clerical wisdom between them – share advice with Fr Alex as he begins his priestly life.
Dear Fr Alex,
On God: Desire God in your life like thirst after solid exercise. Acknowledge you are nothing without each member of the Holy Trinity drawing you forward in the Church you love and wish to serve. So in all things you do, bring glory to God. Be prepared to thirst.
On prayer: Be a man of prayer – deep, sincere and constant prayer. Do not be a showman. Conduct and play the instrument you are for God and his Church. Be prepared to listen.
On sacred scripture: Do not use it to moralise, politicise or ostracise. It is the Word of God. Savour it and let it feed your soul. Be prepared to be constantly surprised.
On love: Only talk about love if you have experienced love, its joys and its sorrows, its warmth and its coolness, its presence and its solitude. Be prepared to love and be loved.
Have a comfortable acceptance of your whole humanity, the person God created you to be, and with such acceptance admit you are a magnificent work in progress. Be prepared to grow.
Accept that there can be pain in life, and should be expected in your own at times. From pain we unlock courage that we did not even know we possessed. Be prepared to be courageous.
Have enough humility to admit you are not perfect, that you can make mistakes, and that you know what forgiveness truly means. You are not the expert but are often the student. Be prepared to forgive.
Remember that you may be an anchor but are not anchored to one place or people. Be prepared to be unsettled at times.
Have a healthy sense of humour that is wise and even allows you to be able to laugh at yourself when necessary. Be prepared to smile and laugh.
Fr Richard Thompson
Dear Fr Alex,
Congratulations Fr Alex. The greatest and most fulfilling life you could possibly imagine, now begins.
• Do the ordinary and simple things well, patiently and with love.
• Celebrate the Sacraments as if it were the first and last time you ever celebrated them.
• Bring God’s people together … and let Christ worry about the rest.
• Teach God’s people Who Jesus is, and know and never lose sight of the One you serve; this means prayer. Prayer is the first and last and only necessary thing … for Jesus to shine through you, and for you to be a good, effective and happy priest.
• We have received an unimaginable gift in the priesthood, but we always remember that it is His Priesthood. It is He they laud, He alone that they seek, and indeed equally, it is He too that the world mock and derides.
• Be brave enough Fr Alex, to never doubt that He’s all you need… but of course you do know this, for this is why you are His Priest.
Fr Trenton Van Reesch
Dear Fr Alex,
1. Know the Jesus of the Gospels
2. Remember, you are his representative.
3. Be humble serving each person’s needs by listening and then acting in a pastoral way.
4. Give people a good experience of Christian living, particularly in celebrating the sacraments.
5. Pray each morning, Dear Jesus, I submit my day to you. Help me to love as you love me. Holy Spirit fill me with your own self. Keep me open to your signs, inspirations, and promptings so that my day may give glory to the Father.
6. What you experience each day – including rejection – remember Jesus experienced this before you. Stay close to Jesus.
Fr Bernie Patterson
I am thrilled to read all these words for Fr Alex – and us!! For me, the honour of the Priesthood is epitomised in the celebration of the Holy Mass. How blessed are we who have these wonderful men who represent Christ on the Cross daily, as they offer and re-offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May they continue the work of the Lord as they pray with and for us. God bless you all.
In your receiving God’s call and blessings we are all blessed.
This is the most profoundly reflective, prayerfully garnished advice I have ever read in my 27 years of ordination, and so beautifully shared from the hearts of such Spirit filled men like Richard, Trenton and Bernie. Inspirational and encouraging. Thank you. Deacon Mick & Cora
Very good, practical and encouraging advice! I take it on board as well. Thank you Frs Richard, Trenton and Bernie.
My prayers go with you Fr Alex as you begin your mission as assistant priest Goulburn.
Beautiful words of wisdom, soak it up Fr Alex. I think many of these points are also fitting for the laity.
Very heartening to read these comments from 3 obviously very dedicated and humble priests. Gives me some hope for the future.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the holy spirit be with you always. When we are almost at the verge, then God makes a miracle that soothes our failing hope. You are a miracle and I ask the Lord to give you the grace to quickly realise that you are.The grace to avoid being swallowed up by the world.Jesus chose you and you went for him.He could have chosen me, Tom, Dick or Johnson,but you were his choice for many great reasons.May his blessings be with you always.Now that you are a priest, it will be like temptations have been set on your door, but when you hang on the Lord, he will hang on you.Once again, may the Lord richly bless you so that we continue to have more good priests.I devoted all my life to caring for aircraft but have never failed to marvel at God’s works and wonders.
Thank you Lord for yet another Alex in your family.