Due to current COVID restrictions the Ordination Mass to be celebrated by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan will have a capacity of 600 people. With Deacon Anthony’s Italian heritage and Deacon Olek’s Polish ancestry accounting for many family and friends on the guest list, both said they were grateful that everyone who has supported them on their journey but unable to attend in person could view a livestream of the service at www.adelaide.catholic.org.au.
Ordained to the diaconate in December 2020, the timing of their priestly ordination has been delayed due to COVID restrictions and both men said as March 12 neared they were filled with “powerful emotions”.
“I have been profoundly moved by the messages of love and encouragement from so many family, friends and parishioners,” said Deacon Anthony, who has been serving in the Cathedral parish for the past year.
“At some moments I catch myself thinking about what it will be like to say Mass and hear confessions and my heart is really moved. I know I am not worthy of this calling and I feel a sense of helplessness in the face of it, but I am so grateful to God for the way he has worked in my life and for his innumerable blessings.”
While COVID had caused some disruptions with their studies at the seminary, the Rostrevor College old scholar said it had also provided “incredible grace and blessings”.
“Being back in Adelaide gave us the fortune of getting to know our clergy and parishioners much better, and also it meant being much closer to family and friends.
“God seems to have a way of always making some good out of difficult situations.”
Deacon Olek, who was appointed to the Mount Gambier parish last year, said there was a build-up of “great anticipation and excitement” as the ordination date got closer.
“At momentous occasions it is often easy to get lost in the logistics and the ephemeral aspects of the event,” he said.
“I am conscious, however, to keep in the forefront of my mind what is most important, namely the transformation of my heart, in being conformed to Jesus by becoming a minister of service. To remember that the most important person is Jesus not me.”
Deacon Olek, who was studying chemical engineering and biotechnology prior to joining the seminary, said COVID had provided some obstacles over the past two years.
“It certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing for many from a relational, economic and spiritual point of view.
“For myself, I think imaginative prayer with the Gospels has been a constant reminder that I am never alone. Also keeping in contact with family and friends to the extent that it has been possible has been a source of comfort and solace.”
Both men said they were looking forward to the moment in the Ordination Mass when they lay prostrate on the floor as the congregation sings the Litany of Sounds.
“It’s a moment of profound humility as you lay there before the Lord with the little you have to offer,” Deacon Anthony explained. “But at the same time you realise you are not alone, the voice of the saints and of the people of God is there lifting you up in prayer. I can’t wait for that moment.”
Following their ordinations, the two men will celebrate their first Mass in their ‘home’ parishes of Tranmere (Deacon Anthony) and Hectorville (Deacon Olek) on Sunday March 13.
The ordination of the two diocesan priests will be the first held in the Cathedral since the ordination of Fr Pat Lopresti in October 2020.
The Ordination Mass will held at 10am on Saturday March 12. To view the livestream go to www.adelaide.catholic.org.au
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