The chapel at St Patrick’s College Silverstream was packed on Saturday afternoon 10 August when Fr Dennis Nacorda started his priestly ministry.
Archbishop John Dew ordained Fr Dennis for the Archdiocese of Wellington.
Quoting Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Brazil in July, Archbishop John invited Fr Dennis to ‘Warm the hearts of God’s people’ with his ministry.
Pope Francis had asked the bishops gathered in Rio, ‘Can the Church today still “warm the hearts” of its faithful with priests who take the time to listen to their problems?’ … ‘We must train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness.’
Archbishop John said ‘Dennis, if you make it your life’s task to “warm the hearts” of God’s people, you will be doing what Jesus asks you to do as his priest and what the church expects of you.
‘Those tasks can clearly be done only by “being with” God’s people.
‘Just as Jeremiah the Prophet was called, so you are called, too, and the Lord also says to you, “Go now to those to whom I send you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you to protect you.”’
Earlier Archbishop John asked Fr Dennis whether he was ‘resolved with the help of the Holy Spirit to discharge without fail the office of priesthood as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock.
‘Are you resolved to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people?
‘Are you resolved to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and explaining the Catholic faith?
‘Are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, and to unite yourself more closely everyday to Christ the High Priest….?’
Such questions are part of every ordination ceremony. ‘We priests are privileged to do that’.
In speaking about Fr Dennis consecrating his life to God, Archbishop John told Fr Dennis he could be of help to God’s people only by uniting himself more closely to Jesus every day.
‘Dennis, know that God is always with you and has chosen you for this.
‘Think of those questions and as you prepare to answer them do so in the context of “warming hearts”.
‘It’s a wonderful expression and says so much more than doing priestly tasks. It’s about getting out there and being with people.’
You will ‘warm hearts’ by, ‘discharging without fail the office of priesthood by caring for the Lord’s flock.
‘This means being with people in their homes, where they socialise and re-create – we respond to every opportunity to be with parishioners even if we don’t always feel like it.
‘You will also “warm hearts” by “celebrating the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people”.
‘When you exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, when you preach the Gospel and explain the Catholic faith you will touch hearts. Your love and kindness, your compassion and listening ears will be the way to show people you are interested and care for them…that our priesthood is about them and not about us.’
Archbishop John advised Fr Dennis to listen often to the advice in one of the scripture passages he had chosen for his ordination ceremony, the letter to the Ephesians.
‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseer, to feed the Church….
‘Now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace that has the power to build you up.
‘Today, we are delighted to commend your priestly ministry to God and his grace, which has the power to build you up,’ Archbishop John said.
‘Remember, too, that there will be challenges, but listen often to the words of Jesus “Peace be with you”. He also says to you “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you”.’
Fr Dennis will remain in Heretaunga and Stokes Valley until the end of the year.