Homily of Bishop Fintan Monahan for the Ordination of Rev. Antun Pasalic, Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, Ennis, Sunday 24th of April, 2022, Divine Mercy Sunday at 3.00 pm
Sharing a Pilgrim Path
In few moments time Antun Pasalic will be ordained a priest of Jesus Christ to serve in the diocese of Killaloe. As far back as 2016 I did the pilgrim climb of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo and Antun was on the climb with me that day – little did I think then that we would share the Pilgrim Path as colleagues in the Diocese of Killaloe. It is a unique joy for me to ordain him today and it is an immense joy too for the priests, religious and people of the diocese. May we continue together on the pilgrim path of Antun’s divine call to priesthood in the weeks, months and years that lie ahead.
Sharing the Joy of the Occasion
Speaking of joy, it is an immense joy for Antun’s parents, brothers and sisters and other relatives who have come from their native Croatia for his ordination. I have asked Father Josip Levakovic, Chaplain to the Croatian Community in Ireland to translate my following few direct words of address to the Pasalic family.
“Mr and Mrs Pasalic, Marco and Andja, and Antun’s brothers: Miko, Mairin, Martin and Matej, sisters: Daniela, Martina and Maria, aunt Sister Verica and aunt Danica and uncle Vinko, nephews: Miko, Marko and Matija and nieces: Maria and Clara who are all here today, I welcome you in the words of our native Irish greeting of Cead Mile Failte or a hundred thousand welcomes.
To you Marco and Andja, I would say this: congratulations on the ordination of Antun your son as a priest of Jesus. I want to also thank you for the good upbringing and the foundation of a good Catholic faith you gave to your eldest son and all of your family. You have every right to be proud today and I ask God to bless all of you in a unique way. I also hope you will enjoy your brief time with us in Ennis and express the wish that you will come as often as you can to see Antun and to visit all of us again. May God bless you the Pasalic family.”
Incidentally, on the question of language, a lady commented on social media yesterday that she knew Antun had arrived when she heard him recite a decade of the rosary in Irish (as gaielge) at Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock some time ago. There are those who might say that speaking Irish will stand well to him in his bishop’s eyes. It certainly will not hurt his prospects. I jest of course.
Divine Mercy Sunday
Today is a joyful Spirit-filled day, the Second Sunday of Easter and it is also Divine Mercy Sunday which is a feast dear to Antun’s heart. In his Ordination booklet he gives us an excellent summary of the symbolism of the image of Divine Mercy from Saint Faustina: Mercy, Reconciliation, Baptism, Eucharist, and Peace – “Jesus, I trust in you.” May the Mercy and Compassion of Christ continue to be a guiding force in Antun’s life as a priest.
A Beginning of Promise and Hope
Today marks a new beginning in Antun’s life and it is full of promise and hope, or as the late Brendan Kennelly in his poem Beginning puts it:
Every beginning is a promise
Born in light and dying in dark
Determination and exaltation of Springtime
Flowering the way to work
Today’s gospel offers words of comfort and challenge to Antun as he embraces the work Kennelly speaks of in his poem. In this Springtime of his priesthood Antun will not be alone: good help will be there for him – “is gaire cabhair De na an doras”: God’s help is nearer than the door.
The Support of the Holy Spirit
In the gospel Jesus is telling Antun that the Holy Spirit will teach him everything he needs to know to fulfil his priestly role: The Advocate, Holy Spirit whom the father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.”
In a short while from now during the Ordination Ceremony we will recite the Veni Creatorand its inspiring words:
Come to create, renew, inspire,
Come, kindle in our hearts your fire.
It is my prayerful wish that Antun in collaboration with his fellow priests and the new lay ministers of the diocese will renew in many ways the lives of all who live in this diocese: in the home, the school, and the workplace. As a new priest, Antun arrives at the dawn of a new beginning in these synodal times for exploring and developing new directions for the Church of the present and the future.
Characteristics of the Priestly Calling and Response
All this points to the fact that we are celebrating the “yes” that Antun has answered to God’s calling him – his priestly vocation. A lot is asked of and expected of a priest. Primarily, it is important that a priest is committed to developing and progressing his life of prayer. This prayer life will enhance the other gifts a priest may have and in Antun’s case he has the gifts of natural intelligence, clear thinking, musical expertise, a relaxed and friendly demeanour, and effective communication skills.
He is well suited to and capable of preaching God’s Word from the altar as well as living out the preached word in the example of his daily life. He will do so with the attractive nuance of a slightly “more native than the native” Clare accent which his musical ear has effortlessly picked up over the past few years.
As a preacher of the Word, he will be in the company of Saints Flannan, Senan, Peter, and Paul whose images adorn this cathedral and who keep a watchful eye on all of us. I would also remind him that like our National Saint – Patrick – you a son of Croatia are also answering a call of the Irish to come and walk among us. We welcome you among us today and ask that you feel no pressure whatsoever by our placing you in such saintly company!
Beauty and the Priest
I would like to share a thought or two about priesthood from the late Father Daniel O’Leary called Beauty and the Priest. He said that :
“The vocation of the priest is to be a prophet of beauty, to remind people of the light within them; to reassure them that they are, as Thomas Merton realised ‘shining like the sun.’ There is a beautiful way of celebrating Eucharist, of preaching the Word, of being present to those who are hurting, of embracing sinners, of dancing with the limping on this precious earth.
Meeting such beauty in a priest people will then believe that by their very presence, every word, and every meal they share becomes a small but vibrant sacrament of God’s beauty, warming people’s hearts when they grow too cold, and bring the morning early, when the nights are too dark and too slow.”
The Call to Divine Beauty
Antun, we all rejoice with you and your family today as you begin a life of commitment to the gospel of Christ. It is my wish for you that you will be that beautiful priest, that you will never be hard on others but always gentle with them and gentle with yourself. May Christ be reflected in your priestly life of mercy, love, and compassion for everyone.
Prayerful good Wishes
All that remains for me to say in the following order is Congratulations, every blessing, happy days, and God bless you. Cestitamo! Blagoslovi! Sretni Dani! Bog blagoslovio
And as we say in this country “Moladh to deo le Dia!”