Homily for Ordination to Priesthood of Rev. Malachy Thompson, Mount St. Joseph’s Abbey, Roscrea, 9thof June 2019
Welcome and words of introduction
A huge welcome, Céad Míle Fáilteto everyone as we gather in the these hallowed and sacred walls of Mount St. Joseph’s Abbey today to celebrate the ordination to the Priesthood of Dom Malachy. Welcome to his family, parents, Elizabeth and John, sister Jean and niece Leone & friends. The family, friends and community from Dublin & the many places Malachy served in his work prior to coming here join with us in prayer and in spirit today. Welcome to Dom Malachy’s own community here in Mount St. Joseph’s and further afield and to the many local Roscrea people who gather to worship here on a regular basis.
Ordination as Priest
Today, Dom Malachy is to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ. Many of you would have very warm memories of his ordination as a Transitory Deaconon the eve of Divine Mercy Sundayin April of 2018 and the great day it was then. Today, on this Spirit filled day of Pentecost, ordinarily the feast day of St. Columba, we celebrate his ordination as Priest… May the Holy Spirit come down upon him with the fullness of the many graces needed to follow Jesus Christ in this role.
A new beginning
Today marks a fresh new beginning in the life of Dom Malachy, for his family and community. Brendan Kennelly, the poet reflects on the nature of starting anew in his poem: Beginning
Every beginning is a promise
Born in light and dying in dark
Determination and exaltation of Springtime
Flowering the way to work…
Gospel Calling and Challenge
The Gospel today offers consoling, yet challenging words to Dom Malachy as he responds to this vocational calling as he embraces that work Kennelly speaks of. He will not be left alone. Good help is available. Is gaire cabhair Dé ná an doras! The Holy Spirit will, Jesus tells us, teach him everything he needs to know to fulfil this 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.” Again comforting, yet challenging words in the psalm invoking the Lord to send the spirit and through us that the same spirit would ‘renew the face of the earth’.
In the prayer of the
Come to create, renew, inspire,
Come, kindle in our hearts your fire.
My confident hope would be that Dom Malachy would continue to renew the spirits of people as they come here to Mount St. Joseph’s seeking God’s presence and therefore renew the face of the earth as they return to their homes and workplaces.
Proud Dublin Roots
Dom Malachy is a man of many interests, talents, skills and no doubt he will continue to use them in his role of service as Priest here in Mount St. Joseph’s or whereever the Lord might call him. Malachy is intensely proud of his Finglas and Dublin roots and even after a number of years here in the Offaly hinterland there is no dimunution of his strong Dublin accent and no question of him dropping the ‘t’s and taking on the soft and mild mid-land accent.
I’m told, he being a loyal and humble follower of the rule of St. Benedict he neverboastfully tells people he’s a Dub supporter and you’d never know Dublin were going for 5in a row with the restraint and humility shown. A little bit like the calmness of Jim Gavin or the coming of the Holy Spirit in today’s first reading, coming in the breeze – Malachy’s support and loyalty to his native Dublin is like the quiet effective tongues of flame and the powerful presence of a comprehensive team winning performance! I was just told during the week that Malachy was one of the original card carrying, hill 16 members of Heffoes army of the previous golden era of the 1970’s. Glory days, abound yet again and who will dare bring that winning streak to an end! I feel it my duty to remind Malachy that the last time a team were going for 5 in a row – it was an Offaly man who put an end to that dream!
The home Church of Dom Malachy in Finglas is The Church of the Annunciation. I remarked last year at the diaconate ceremony that the rich theological and spiritual theme of the Annunciation and all contained therein has been contemplated much by Dom Malachy. Today we acknowledge and celebrate the ‘yes’ to vocation of Dom Malachy who like Our Ladyat that Annunciation and on Pentecost day has responded so generously and with great courage, diligence, willingness and openness.
Dom Malachy has already given a lifetime of service in his previous life, a busy life in business, a man committed to his family, committed to the community here in Mount St. Joseph’s. He has served and continues to serve with spontaneous generosity. Over the past few years, I have heard from numerous people, young and old about the wonderful welcome and hospitality shown by Dom Malachy to so many here in Mount St. Joseph’s. Many students from the diocese of Killaloe come on visits, school retreat and particularly Confirmation retreats here. Today we had the final Confirmation ceremony of this year in Kinnity. Students often remark and are very taken by Dom Malachy’s engaging, sincere and prayerful manner, the genuine way he can link in with them and have echoed that many times through their teachers and leaders.
Benedictine at Heart
Dom Malachy is obviously a man who takes the words of St. Benedict in his rule to heart – “All guests who appear shall be welcomed as Christ.” Or the12th century life of St. Cronan “One receives Christ in a guest”. He has certainly embraced whole-heartedly the “way” of Slí na Manachthat beautiful publication that I had the privilege of being present at the launch of last year.
Priest – man of Prayer
As a Priest, we will look to Fr. Malachy to be a man of Prayer, a man who having spent prolonged times of profound communion with the Lord in adoration will share the fruits of that with others. In the words of the Benedictine Monk – In Sinu Jesu – when heart speaks to heart! As Lacordaireputs it, to go from men to God and offer him their prayers. In the phrase of today’s second reading from St. Paul in Romans 8, being “possessed by the spirit” or to use the term of Raniero Cantalamessa being “intoxicated by the spirit” he will better be able to share the radiance of the presence of the Lord to and with those to whom he will minister. Again the Rule of St. Benedict, a gentle reminder: “We believe that the divine presence is everywhere… most especially… at the Divine Office.” Or again the12th century life of St. Cronan “The angels of God have prayed in our place this night.” This is a hallowed house of constant prayer and future generations will come here and depend on people like Fr. Malachy to be a guardian, interpreter and promoter of such sacredness.
Priest – Preaching the Word of God
A big part of Malachy’s ministry as Priest will be around the word of God. As Priest, among many other interesting and fulfulling tasks, he will be called upon in the service of preaching and teaching the Word of God, sharing this enthusiastically with others with the missionary zeal of St. Columba or Colmcille of this day. Being a friend of his for some years on different social media platforms – Malachy has been doing this very effectively for many years.
The Word of God
He’s a man that appreciates the importance of Lectio Divina, again in the Rule of St. Benedict “The brothers must at fixed times be employed in reading devoted to God”.
In remembering back to the diaconate day last year we were on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The classic definition by one of the giants of Cistercian spirituality, Thomas Merton is that of God as Trinity as Mercy, within Mercy, within Mercycaptures. One of the key notes of Pope Francis since his election as Pope has been the emphasis on Mercy, the Name of our God is Mercy. Again, the12th century life of St. Cronan reminds us that “The servant of Christ excelled unbelievably in obeying divine commands in mercy, patience, modesty, fasts, prayer, humility and more than all else, in compassion”. May Fr. Malachy be a beacon of this Mercy and Compassion as he follows Jesus Christ as Priest from today onwards into eternity!
A prophet of beauty
To finish I came across a thought I really like from the late Daniel O’Leary, God be good to him, entitled Beauty and the Priestin which he says 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’.
Every priest, O’Leary reminds us is called to be a sacrament of the mystical, a reminder for people of their divine loveliness. There is a beautiful way of celebrating Eucharist, of preaching the Word, of being present to the hurting, of embracing sinners, of dancing with the limping on this precious Earth. The 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 heart when the grow too cold, and bring the morning early, when the nights are too dark and too slow. And that’s, according to O’Leary when people will start going to Mass again.
New Beginnings … with boldness!
And this moment marks the beginning of that exciting new venture for Dom Malachy as a priest of Jesus Christ. Echoes of Brendan Kennelly’s Beginnings or in the words of Goethe
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Congratulations and every blessing to Dom Malachy, to your family friends and community on this happy day. We rejoice & celebrate with you and promise to keep you in the prayers for the generous ministry of service as Priest you are about to take on. May the Lord reward you for your dedication, commitment and love of the Lord and continue to bless you in abundance from the gifts and the fruits of the Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost day! Amen!