Priests are not the Church’s ‘main course’

Priests are part of the church community; they ‘give savour’ to the community and are not the ‘main course’.

The captivating comment that shed light on the role of priests within the Church was made on Saturday, by Monsignor Gerard Burns, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Wellington, during the installation ceremony of Catholic Archbishop Paul Martin at St Teresa’s pro-Cathedral.

Speaking on behalf of the clergy, particularly priests of the archdiocese, Burns utilised a metaphorical approach, comparing the clergy to an ‘Ensalada Mixta’ or mixed salad.

“We’ve got some fresh green lettuce among us.

“We’ve got some salty olives.

“We’ve got some crunchy carrots, some tomatoes.

“And as I look around, quite a bit of shredded chicken.

“But we’re not the main course.

“We (priests) are here to help bring savour to the main course.”

Standing near the Baptismal font, Burns emphasised the significance of baptism as the starting point for all believers.

He stated, “So it was right that we started with a welcome from those living their baptismal vocation as laity and as religious. And all of us gathered here.

“We all start with baptism.

“So I’m so delighted to be standing here saying these words close to the baptismal font because that, as disciples of Christ, is where we all officially begin.”

Burns highlighted the shared mission of followers and disciples of Christ.

“We’re all in this together.

“Followers of Christ, disciples of Christ, sent to carry that light as is entrusted to us at our baptism, to others,” he said.

In his welcoming speech, Burns also highlighted that the Archdiocese of Wellington has developed as a synodal archdiocese with successive archbishops and over several decades.

He referenced the Second Vatican Councilbwhere, rather than the other way around, the Council’s focus initially centred on the community of the Church, eventually leading to a deepened understanding of the collegiality between bishops and the pope.

Furthermore, Burns noted the archdiocese’s appreciation for Lectio Divina prayer as a cherished method of discerning the ways of God.

He also mentioned the archdiocese’s commitment to caring for the environment and fostering encounters with others, aligning with the teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti.”

Burns spoke on behalf of the clergy, particularly the priests of the archdiocese, at Martin’s installation as the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington.

Martin recently reappointed Burns as Vicar General of the Archdiocese.


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