BY DAVID V BARRETT
FOUR priests were ordained by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Westminster Cathedral last Saturday on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
They are Fr Paolo Bagini, originally from Brazil, Fr Andrew Connick, Fr Andrew Gallagher and Fr Graham Stokes.
In his homily Archbishop Nichols told the four: “For you, this is a day of radical selfgiving and of radical fulfilment. It is a day of dying to self and rising again in the dignity of the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ.” Before their ordination the four candidates prostrated themselves on the floor of the cathedral, “taking up a posture of utter vulnerability, of selfabandonment. They do so as a sign of dying to self, so that Christ may raise them up to a new life in him,” he said.
Archbishop Nichols said: “In this act of ordination God exercises a total claim over your lives, setting you apart for himself in a particular way. Such is the nature of priestly holiness.
“Yet it must not be misunderstood. Holiness is a setting apart. Everything we bless and consecrate is indeed set apart for God. Yet this being set apart is, at the same time, a being sent out on mission. This is true of Christ: consecrated by the Holy Spirit, abandoning himself to death on the Cross, yet at the same time fulfilling the mission given by the Father of bringing love and compassion especially to those most in need. Our consecration to God, as a baptised people, as priests and bishops, is inseparably our mission of service to others. The holiness we receive, for which we strive, lies always in our being for the world.” Brought up in a Neocatechumenal family in Brazil, Fr Bagini wanted to be a priest from an early age. “I can even remember baptising my cat,” he said. Following teenage rebellion he said God led him “on an incredible journey which brought me to England at the age of 18” to begin training as a priest.
Fr Connick was an altar server at his parish church in Golders Green, London. He studied Computer Science at university. There, he said: “I came to realise that my relationship with God was the most important thing in my life.” At seven Fr Gallagher was an altar boy at Our Lady of Lourdes in Harpenden, near St Albans. Later work as an intern at Westminster Cathedral, contact with the Faith Movement and working with parish pilgrimages with Pax Travel helped him to realise that God was calling him to the priesthood. Fr Stokes’s vocation was nurtured through the chaplaincy at Nottingham University and the Youth 2000 movement. Then he became involved in parish work, including involvement in the ‘At Your Word Lord’ programme at St Peter and St Paul’s in west London. The four new priests bring the total in the Archdiocese of Westminster to 417, serving over 400,000 Catholics in 214 parishes.