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