On Sunday 2nd October 2022, three of our confreres Rev. Pierre Damien, Rev. Joshua Munterim, and, Rev. Wycliffe O. Ogega, were ordained deacons of the Church at St. Mary Immaculate Parish, Mihang’o, Nairobi. This is a transition diaconate that serves as a time for preparation for Priestly Ordination.
A priest is a vicar of Christ on earth (Vicarius Christi). By the virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordained person has been conferred the faculties of Christ’s priesthood. Through this Sacrament, Jesus intended that his presence in the world is perpetuated. Jesus gave his disciples the authority to celebrate other Sacraments that he established as living signs and symbols of the grace of God to his people.
St. John Mary Vianney says, “AFTER GOD, THE PRIEST IS EVERYTHING!” “ A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Again he reflects, “O, how great is the priest!… If he realized what he is, he would die…God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host”…
About the responsibility of a priest, St. Vianney Says, “Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but love… Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth… What use would a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods… Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshipping the beasts there… The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.”
Understanding the importance of the priestly ministry is as imperative to the priest himself as it is to the people of God. A priest is the embodiment of Christ and at no time does he act on himself. Every time a priest performs the duties conferred to him is simply Christ. Therefore, being conscious of this reality is paramount at all times.
The priest is a way, abridge, a vehicle that carries the people to heaven while working on his salvation. Proper formation and preparation for this ministry are indispensable. A bad priest is the worst disaster in the life of the Church. An ill-formed priest can cause a lot of harm to the people of God. The 21st Century priest faces unprecedented challenges as he performed his ministry. These include moral relativism, contempt for authority, and increased scandals facing the clergy.
Being a true man of the church and faithful minister of the Word is very challenging in the times we live today. The faithfulness to the Church’s teachings and his conscience implies a certain tension in the life of the priest. He lives like a stranger in the world going against the current trends. There is a deliberate effort to persuade the priest to be like the people rather than helping them to be like Jesus. on one hand, this tension has aggravated to point of a priest who stands on their ground to do the right thing being targeted and every losing their life. On the other hand, we have priests who have surrendered to the heat and have either conformed to the demands of the world or live lukewarm lives.
Our call as the people of God is to help the priest stand and not criticize them to frustration.