- Archbishop Eamon Martin ordains Father Carlos Esteban Rojo.
- Mass of Ordination to the priesthood celebrated in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. See photos of ordination for publication below.
I think it was Mark Twain who once said that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out ‘why’. Why am I here? It’s a question that we all think about from time to time: What is the meaning and purpose of my life?
Sadly, we live in a world where there seems to be almost an epidemic of despondency and despair, where too many people – including some of our dear young people – struggle to answer the Why question and to find meaning and purpose in life.
Recently, a careers teacher in one of our schools told me that she feels really privileged to be helping and guiding young people as they make important decisions for the future. She likes her students to go much deeper than simply picking a course for University and employment – she likes them to ask themselves, what will make me happy? What do I feel called to do? What’s my vocation?
It’s the month of May, and these days our school leavers are preparing to take their final exams and firming up their choices and next steps. I expect that many of them are still quite uncertain about where life is bringing them or which way they are going. The answer to that ‘why?’ question in life tends to emerge gradually – it’s a journey of discovery, an adventure in which we slowly uncover the path which God is unfolding and opening up before us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says to his friends, ‘You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas says, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus replies:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’
I hope and pray that some of our young school leavers will be open to hearing God’s call to priesthood and the religious life. My dear brother Carlos, it is some years now since you first expressed publicly that God may be calling you to priesthood, standing up at a convivenza of the Neocatechumenal Way. If Mark Twain is correct then I trust that day in the convivenza was one of the most important in your life. Now today, after much prayer and mature deliberation, you say formally your ‘yes’ to the Priesthood – you solemnly promise to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. and, in turn, to give your life to the service of the People of God.
One of the joys of a priestly vocation is the privilege of helping others to discover the ‘why’ of their lives, by encountering Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. You will help them to come to know the Father, to make Christ the cornerstone of their life, and to find fulfilment in the Church as members of the ‘people set apart to sing the praises of God’.
As someone who has been walking the neocatechumenal way for many years, you know that God’s will for you will further unfold as you continue to walk in the path which the Holy Spirit will set before you. We are in those days between Easter and Pentecost when the early apostles found new life and a new sense of direction in the Holy Spirit. Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life as a priest.
Carlos without the Holy Spirit, your priesthood could easily end up being just like a job or routine; your preaching will become lifeless and the various tasks and appointments you are assigned will become simply a burden or something to moan about. But with the Holy Spirit, you will retain a sense of your priesthood as an ongoing and unfolding vocation from God, your ‘why’, the meaning and purpose of your life.
Today, Carlos, I invite you then to say ‘no’ to despondency, and yes, in the Holy Spirit, to the evangelising mission of Christ who is the Way, who is the Truth and the Life. Say ‘yes’ to the people and the communities who will be entrusted to your priestly care; say ‘yes’ to your communion with the Church, the Pope, your bishops and your brother priests. Say ‘yes’ to the Eucharist, to Mary our Blessed Mother who is the Star of the New Evagelisation; say ‘yes’ to prayer and self-discipline. In short, say ‘yes’ to the ‘why?’ for which you were born – the ongoing unfolding of a vocation to priesthood to which God has called you.
- Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. This Mass of Ordination was celebrated by Archbishop Martin on 7 May 2023.