Last Saturday in St. Mungo’s we celebrated the priestly ordination of Father Antony Connelly CP, and then on Sunday Father Antony celebrated his first Mass. It was such a joyful and wonderful weekend. We welcome and congratulate our new Passionist priest and we wish him every blessing in his future life and ministry in the service of God’s people.
The Thursday before the ordination we had a rehearsal in the church with the Archbishop’s MC’s, not just one, but three of them, which, added to our own very capable St. Mungo’s MC, made for a lot of masters for one ceremony. Thankfully, they all worked very well together, and every aspect of the Mass of Ordination was meticulously prepared. In my experience however, no matter how well an event is prepared for, in the last hour or so beforehand, there will still be people running around like headless chickens attending to last-minute issues, and so it transpired. The most headless chicken, I think, was myself. It began when I went out to the front of the church to put down traffic cones to keep a place for the Archbishop’s car, my pockets laden with coins to feed the meter, now that Glasgow City Council are charging people for coming to Mass. Just as I placed them down a car arrived bearing two contemplative Passionist nuns, habited from head to toe, along with an Indian and a Dutch Passionist, all based at Minsteracres, where Antony had recently made his ordination retreat. After a long drive they were in need of certain facilities and refreshments, which isn’t so easy now that we don’t live in the retreat house here in St. Mungo’s, but rather five miles away in Bishopbriggs, and that was a bit far to bring them for a cup of tea. The same problem arose as other Passionists began to arrive from various parts of Ireland, north and south, including Antony’s classmate Aidan, and past members of the St. Mungo’s community like Father Terence and Father Paul Francis, as well as Father Frank Trias, the last Passionist to be ordained in St. Mungo’s back in 2015, who came with his lovely mum. The Provincial then arrived, Father Jim Sweeney, another former member of the St. Mungo’s community, and who in fact was the first ever Passionist to be ordained in St. Mungo’s on 19th December 1968. We had a lovely celebration this time last year for his golden jubilee.
I had assigned a Passionist postulant to distribute the booklets, and he then got hold of me to say that the booklets were fast running out. I had picked up 270 copies the night before with another 80 still to come, but somehow overnight the printer got sick and the remaining copies never transpired, so we had to make do with what we had. A few people came thinking this was a good time to ask me to get them a Mass card, but they graciously understood that I was a wee bit busy at the time. I had also mistakenly thought that the Archbishop would bring his own oil of Chrism to anoint the hands of the ordinand, but then one of the four MC’s came in a panic to say there was no Chrism – my mistake, I had to confess. I had to try and remember where I had put the Chrism, which is also used in the Sacrament of Baptism, during the time we were in the hall for Mass during the renovations. Thankfully it came to mind and I presented my stock of Chrism to the MC, who then thought it would be better in a little glass dish. It has only been a week since we moved back into the church and we are still getting the place back together. Finding a glass dish wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but eventually I found one. I was then asked to provide a bottle of drinking water. That wasn’t easy either. I ended up downing a small bottle of Irn Bru from the fridge, cleaning out the bottle, and then filling it with tap water. One of our volunteers then came looking for a corkscrew to open some of the wine that would be on offer during the post-ordination celebrations. I couldn’t find one anywhere, but thankfully Father Antony’s sister was able to produce one – more evidence of the deep and unfathomable mysteries of a woman’s handbag!
The start of the ordination Mass was fast approaching. At last we were assembled, ready to process up the church to strains of O come, O come Emmanuel… Now for Christmas...!