New priests given 'the treasure of Gospel ministry'

Priests face new challenge in increasingly secular society

Thirty new priests were ordained at St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday.

PHOTO: Janine Eastgate

January 13 2017Archbishop Freier ordained 23 new priests – 15 men and eight women – in St Paul’s Cathedral on 26 November, including Elizabeth Murray, 11 years to the day after her father, Richard Murray, was ordained priest. He said his daughter’s ordination will provide “an extra bond that will be between us forever”.

Also among the new priests are several that have been in Deacon’s Orders for many years, including one, Sheridan Hannah, who was first ordained as a Deaconess more than 30 years ago; and two women first ordained deacon in the Diocese of Sydney: Natalie Rosner and Angela Cook.

Three of the new priests represent the diverse multicultural backgrounds of the Anglican Church in Melbourne. Richard Liu is ministering to the Chinese Mission of the Epiphany in Melbourne’s Chinatown; Manoli Mager, who was ordained deacon in 2000 in Sudan, has been serving for several years at St George’s Flemington; and Dennis Emery, who was ordained deacon in New Zealand, has been leading an Anglican Maori congregation in Melbourne for the past few years.

In his sermon, Bishop Stephen Hale, Senior pastor at St Hilary’s Kew, spoke of “the enormity of the challenge that confronts each of the candidates”. “At the very least, given the reputational damage the Church has suffered in recent years, I’m sure some of you are thinking that it is remarkable that anyone would want to become a priest. The fact that there are 23 of you is really quite amazing.

“The reality is that each of these candidates is here because of a deep inner conviction that this is what God would have them do, which has been confirmed by the leaders of God’s Church.”

He said it used to be that when people were ordained “they would be working in what could be described as a settled church. Parish churches that were sustainable and with established ministries. [However] we live in a new mission era and change is needed. Our city is growing rapidly and we need new pioneer ministries not only on the suburban fringe but also in the more intense inner urban area.

In commenting on 2 Corinthians 4:1-7, he said that St Paul had provided “a powerful and yet realistic perspective on the role of being a priest”. Ministry is given by God and is a gift from God: “As an evangelist to the Gentiles Paul recognised that it was due to God’s mercy that he had his ministry. He himself had been radically turned around by the mercy of God and God had directly given him this critical role.”

Ministry was also about proclamation, he said, in which Paul urges us to set forth the “truth plainly” and preach Jesus Christ as Lord.

He said fruit in Ministry Gospel ministry is dependent on God. “Ultimately we’re totally dependent on God to act – it is God’s work.”

He added that the treasure of Gospel ministry had been given to jars of clay, and that “God works in us and through us in our weakness”. “It won’t be easy. Like Paul, at times you’ll feel hard pressed, perplexed, struck down. Hopefully, like Paul, you’ll know the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and sustain you.”

Read Bishop Genieve Blackwell's sermon here.