Ordination celebration – three new priests in Christchurch


St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Christchurch was packed with around 800 people to celebrate and witness Graeme Blackburn, Alister Castillo and Huynh Tran’s ordinations on Saturday 1 July.

All three were ordained as diocesan priests for the Christchurch diocese, where they have been working as deacons.

Supporters witnessing their priestly promises of obedience and service of the church and its evangelising work included family from New Zealand and overseas, fellow students – among whom about six are from Vietnam – and many seminary staff.

The ordination represents the international flavour of the Church, says Fr Paul Shanahan.

Huynh (called Anthony) is from Vietnam, Graeme’s family is from New Zealand and although Alister is also a New Zealander, his parents are from the Philippines.

Shanahan says he, along with 40 to 50 priests concelebrated the ordination. They included Merv Duffy, who is the acting principal of Good Shepherd College and Brendan Ward, who is the rector of Holy Cross Seminary.

The emeritus bishop of Christchurch, Basil Meeking, was the ordaining prelate and Anthony’s uncle, who is a Bishop in Vietnam, presided in attendance as a concelebrant.

The MC for the ordination, Fr Chris Friel, arranged the celebration with “a beautifully done liturgy,” Shanahan says.

This acknowledged the new priests’ diversity. There were two choirs – one of which was Vietnamese – and the second reading was read in Vietnamese. Translations were included in the service sheet.

“There was a wonderful spirit of faith and support at the ordination,” Shanahan says.

“It brought back memories of my own ordination day in Christchurch’s basilica (now earthquake damaged). There were eight of us ordained that day.

“It was a very uplifting occasion and many of the [now elderly] clergy were encouraged to see ‘reinforcements coming’,” he added.

The ordinations were streamed live on YouTube.


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