One of the special graces of my Silver Jubilee celebration was the string of little speeches that followed Mgr David Smith's lovely words and toast, and then my response. These two speeches caused an avalanche of interventions from others. Not only were most of family family present, but there was a good representation from Youth 2000 and from some of my former parishes. Australia sadly was represented only by the gorgeous red wine we were drinking.
These speeches were a real honouring of the priesthood and made me realise just how much I am recognised as a priest - this was a great grace for me, and I am very grateful to all those who spoke.
To be frank, the past twenty five years has had its fair share of confusion and contradiction in the priesthood, but my experience has been one of being led by God, and of being supported and strengthened in the priesthood by many God-given human agents - not least, by my mother, who has supported me so tremendously.
If the priesthood is about anything, it is about Jesus Christ and His Priestly Mission; for a priest to come to know himself as a priest is a work of grace in itself. The speeches that were made on this day were a sign of just how strong that grace has been for me. At a time when so many in our culture have been avoiding and distancing themselves from the issue of Jesus Christ, I have allowed myself to be transfigured by His priesthood. May the years that remain to me, see me still being shaped by His priesthood.
Thanks to Peter Jones for the photographs on this post.