On Saturday 28th July, Cardinal Vincent ordained Rev Antonio Pineda to the priesthood at St George’s Church Sudbury in the presence of family, friends, priests from around the diocese, and deacons and seminarians. Among the priests concelebrating were Mgr Philip Whitmore, the Rector of the Venerable English College, where Fr Antonio received his formation.
Taking the mosaic in the chapel at the College of St Philip Neri offering his blessing to the priests about to depart for the English Mission in the sixteenth century as the starting point for his homily, the Cardinal preached on the words of the saint’s ‘Salvete flores martyrum’.
The greeting salvete ‘encapsulates the openness, the respect, the encouragement that every priest needs to offer to his people if he is to be gracious and graceful in their service,’ said the Cardinal. ‘The priest who knows his people by name; the priest who can answer the doorbell with a smile on his face, even in the most unwelcome or difficult moment; the priest who is at the sick person’s bedside at an inconvenient hour: that is the priest who is respectful, encouraging, and effective in bringing the love of God to bear in the world.’
Flores, or flowers, are ‘eloquent of God’s beauty’. ‘Our true beauty lies in finding and following what God wants of us. Antonio, thank God for your vocation. And please, all of us, be attentive to what God is calling us to be, praying especially for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.’
The flowers also ‘remind us that the homily on which you will be judged, in the end, is not the words you have spoken but the life you have lived. The actions of the priest always carry more influence, for good or for bad, than the words he says. The priest whose life is an attractive advertisement for the love of God and the truths of our faith gives the best homily of all. This happens only when his life is indeed rooted in Christ: “planted in love and built on love”, as St Paul writes to the Ephesians,’ added the Cardinal.
Of the word ‘martyr’, the Cardinal recalled the priests who ‘willingly put themselves in the way of such danger and pain, and an early death, because their faith was more precious to them than life itself. They believed, not as a dry intellectual assent, but from the very fabric of their being. They believed that the Church is Christ’s sacrament in the world, making him present and making us holy. They believed in the consequences that flow from the Resurrection: that while their present life was uncertain, their life in Christ was absolutely secure for all eternity.’
Speaking to Rev Antonio directly, the Cardinal said: ‘It is a faith and confidence that, I pray, you will bring to your priesthood as you grow towards that ultimate fulfilment of heaven to which the martyrs came, and help others towards that fulfilment by your word, your witness, and your faithfulness.’
Before proceeding to the Ordination Rite, the Cardinal reassured Rev Antonio ‘on this most significant day of your life’ of his prayers, ‘for the life of priestly ministry that you enter today, and, we pray, carry with you every day until you too are summoned to the heavenly Kingdom’.
Fr Antonio will begin his ministry in September as Assistant Priest at the Parishes of St Teresa of the Child Jesus and Ss John Fisher and Thomas More in Borehamwood.
Please keep him and all our newly-ordained priests in your prayers as they begin their ministry in the autumn.
Photo: Alex Balzanella