A large congregation gathered in Saint Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan on Sunday 28 July for the celebration of the Ordination to the priesthood of Reverend Raymond Donnelly by the Bishop of Clogher, Most Rev Liam MacDaid. This was an event of great significance and joy for people throughout the Diocese of Clogher, being the first priestly ordination in 11 years for the diocese, which includes County Monaghan, most of Fermanagh, and parts of Tyrone and Donegal. The diocese has seen a resurgence in vocations to the priesthood in recent years and there are currently six men undertaking study and formation in St Patrick’s College. Maynooth and the Irish College, Rome.
Reverend Raymond, 34, is a native of Monaghan town and is one of five sons of parents Colm and Maureen Donnelly. Raymond was educated at St Louis Infants, Saint Mary’s Boys’ National School and Saint Macartan’s College, Monaghan. He took a BA in Philosophy, Theology and English in St Patrick’s College, Carlow and completed teacher training in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Having taught for six years in Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Raymond began studies for the priesthood in 2008 at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. He was ordained deacon in Rome by Bishop MacDaid on 9 April 2012.
During his time of formation, Raymond took up several pastoral placements in the diocese, including work in Saint Michael’s Parish, Enniskillen, Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg as well as his native parish of Monaghan. While in Rome, Raymond studied for an STB in Theology and an STL in Dogmatic Theology.
The Ordination ceremony was attended by Raymond’s family and friends, fellow priests and students from the Irish College, Rome, Bishop Emeritus Joseph Duffy and a large number of priests from the Diocese of Clogher. Diocesan organisations, pastoral and apostolic groups from the parishes of the diocese were also represented. The congregation also included staff from the local Catholic schools where Raymond was educated, and these, along with a large number of parishioners from the parish of Monaghan and Rackwallace ensured that this was truly a celebration for parish and diocese. Music at the ceremony was provided by the Cathedral Choir, directed by Deirdre Macklin, assisted by Claudine Marron.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Bishop MacDaid extended a warm welcome to all present, especially Raymond’s parents and his brothers Jonathan, Ciarán, Karol and Colm. He continued:
“It is a day to remember with gratitude for all of us. Every ordination brings joy and strength to the Christian community, knowing that the Word of God will be brought to us and that we will continue to have the Sacraments to nourish, inspire and guide us on our pilgrim journey through life”.
In his homily, Bishop MacDaid highlighted the significance of the occasion:
“Today is an occasion to glorify God for the fullness of life he has given us in the Incarnation of his son. We are gathered to acknowledge and affirm a young man’s sacrifice of his own pleasure and ambition in offering his life in the service of others and in the spread of God’s kingdom… It has been eleven years since we gathered here for the last ordination to the priesthood. So today is a welcome and happy occasion… We hope it will be an inspiring day for the five clerical students who are following in his footsteps, for the sixth young man who will join them in September and hopefully for the many others who may be hearing faintly the voice of God calling, inviting them to take up the same challenge.”
Speaking directly to Raymond, the Bishop thanked him for his generosity in offering his life in the service of God’s people and assured him of the support of Bishop, priests and people:
“Give with joy and you will receive in even greater measure. Let the Word of God be your treasure and the teaching of the Church your guide… May the Lord bless and make fruitful your ministry.”
After the ceremony, the newly-ordained Father Donnelly was congratulated by the large crowd of well-wishers. Fatherr Raymond’s First Mass is to be celebrated in Saint Joseph’s Church, Park Street, Monaghan on Monday 29 July at 7.30pm, after which he will give his first blessing to those present. After a short break, Father Raymond will take up an appointment in the diocese at the beginning of September.
Homily of Bishop Liam MacDaid at Ordination Mass for Reverend Raymond Donnelly
My dear friends,
This past week, as I suggested earlier, has been locally one of celebration. Two teams, minor and senior, had deservedly achieved the sweetest of victories in that they were unexpected. The ladies, not to be left behind, also had a victory to celebrate. The whole county seemed in the grip of euphoria and everyone you met seemed to feel a few inches taller than they actually were. After the matches, even hardened warriors, whose bones carried the relics of past battles, had tears in their eyes.
This Sunday, it is the turn of the community of believers. Today is not a celebration of a quality athletic performance rewarded with victory. It is rather an occasion to glorify God for the fullness of life he has given us in the Incarnation of his son. We are gathered to acknowledge and affirm a young man’s sacrifice of his own pleasure and ambition in offering his life in the service of others and in the spread of God’s kingdom. All of this we do in the name of Jesus Christ because we believe he is the Son of God and this is the way he has shown us to fullness of life leading to eternal life.
An American physicist Brian Swimme, in his reflections on the universe describes creation as an outburst of celebration, an explosion of love, and a gracious and beautiful work of art.
“You never have to ask anyone else what or why to celebrate; the dynamic of celebration celebrates, that’s all. Self-expression is the primary sacrament of the universe. Whatever you deeply feel demands to be given form and released. Profound joy insists upon song and dance. Don’t ask anyone what to celebrate; don’t even ask yourself! Let celebration be. Let generosity of being happen. Nothing more is required.”
My dear friends, if today is such a spontaneous and natural song of the universe, we had a long vigil. It has been eleven years since we gathered here for the last ordination to the priesthood. So today is a welcome and happy occasion. It is a special day for all Raymond’s friends who have come here to say, if you need encouragement I’m right behind you. It is another proud Sunday for the parishioners of Monaghan, Ardaghy and Rackwallace who have a sense that Raymond belongs to them and indeed for the people of the diocese of Clogher who know that he may be the one who will bless their place of rest and welcome their grandchildren into the Church. It is a wonderful day for his parents and brothers because they know where he belongs and where his faith was nourished. We hope it will be an inspiring day for the five clerical students who are following in his footsteps, for the sixth young man who will join them in September and hopefully, for the many others who may be hearing faintly the voice of God calling, inviting them to take up the same challenge.
Raymond, the Christian community thanks you for your generosity in offering your life in its service. We compliment you on the diligence of your preparation for priesthood. After serving the community in your baptismal priesthood you have now committed yourself to full service of the faithful in the diocese of Clogher. Your Bishop and fellow priests welcome you and promise you whatever fraternal support they can give. You will have the support of the prayers of the people as you strive to cope with human weakness and to conform your life more closely to the way of Jesus Christ, your friend and model.
Give with joy and you will receive in even greater measure. Let the Word of God be your treasure and the teaching of the Church your guide. Strengthen the faith of your people and as you break bread with them at the Eucharistic table, in memory of the Lord, remember it is God’s grace and the gift of your own life you are offering them as nourishment. Give with joy and love and you will be a source of unity to the flock. The Lord will walk with you and Mary will watch over you with a mother’s eye. Always remember you should take as your model the God Shepherd who came to serve and not to be served, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.
May the Lord bless and make fruitful your ministry.
+Liam S. MacDaid
28 July 2013