As has been stated before, a Jubilee is a time to give thanks for what (and who) has gone before us; a time to recommit ourselves to our mission and vision in the present; and a time to look to the future with hope. The fourth day of the Golden Jubilee gave the faithful of the Diocese of Mendi the opportunity to strengthen their hope in a bright future as Deacon Peter Mondo was ordained to the priesthood.
Now Father Peter came to the Diocese of Mendi from the Diocese of Kundiawa (Chimbu) over two years ago. He served as deacon, under the supervision of Father Isaiah Timba, in the Sumi Pastoral Area - one of the most remote areas of the diocese.
The Rite of Ordination is one of the most beautiful and ancient in the Catholic Church. It is rich in meaning and symbolism. And in the Diocese of Mendi, the Rite of Ordination takes the on some of the extra colour of the peoples of PNG. At the beginning of the actual Rite of Ordination the deacon is called forth. He has been seated with members of his family. He is dressed in some of the traditional attire of his people. He comes forth to the altar, accompanied by members of his family. In this case, Deacon Peter's father and mother (and others, dressed in full traditional attire) came forward with him. In front of the altar, Deacon Peter's father said some moving words presenting his son to the bishop for ordination. The deacon then removed the symbols of his traditional attire and proceeded close to the altar with the the bishop. This is a meaningful moment. It represents a kind of passing of a man from his tribe to a new tribe; from his incorporation in one family to his incorporation into another family.
The most significant and meaningful part of the Rite of Ordination is the laying on of hands. The bishops lays hands on the top of the deacon's head. It is the solemn moment of ordination that is completed by the Prayer for Ordination which follows. It is a gesture which comes from the Holy Scriptures themselves and enacts, by the grace of God, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the new priest conferring on him the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. After the bishop (and concelebrating bishops), the priests who are present also lay hands on the new priest ... a powerful symbol of the unity of the priesthood in Jesus Christ.
After the solemn Prayer of Ordination, the new priest is dressed in the vestments of the priest and his hands are anointed with Sacred Chrism, that had been blessed by the bishop the previous Holy Week. The priest's hands are anointed for his ministry of administring the Holy Sacraments and his service of the Holy People of God. After all of the rites of Ordination are complete, the new priest takes his place with the other priests and continues with the celebration of the Holy Mass.
The ordination, taking place during the time of Jubilee was a sign of hope for the future of the Church in the Southern Highland and Hela Provinces of Papua New Guinea. A priest is a man who lives only for God and in loving self-forgetful service of his brothers and sisters. A priest is called to be "another Christ". Please pray for Father Peter and for all those who generously give their lives in service in various ministries and callings. Please pray for an increase of missionary vocations in the Church.
(Sixth in a series.)
Photo credits: Demoti Magini