The ordination of Deacon Carl Philadelphia — the first Guyana-born diocesan priest in over three decades saw hundreds of churchgoers, government officials, members of clergy, and friends and relatives from the Caribbean, Suriname, North America and from as far as Africa.
First Lady Sandra Granger, a family friend and wife of PM Moses Nagamootoo, Sita Nagamootoo, who was his former school teacher were among those who witnessed the ceremony at a packed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam, last Sunday.
Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown was the main celebrant and ordaining prelate. Archbishop Jason Gordon was among the concelebrating clergy from across the diocese and further afield.
Rev Philadelphia exhibited a demeanor of peace, joy and relief as he slowly walked up the centre aisle of the cathedral and took his seat in the front pew. It was after the gospel reading that he was summoned to ‘come forward’ into the sanctuary. Vicar General Msgr Terrence Montrose requested his ordination and confirmed his worthiness.
The bishop accepted the request on behalf of the Church for his ordination. The rites that followed sealed his participation in Christ’s priesthood and the beginning of a lifetime as a priest of the Georgetown diocese.
AEC General Secretary Fr John Persaud was the Master of Ceremonies of the event which lasted just over two hours and was frequently punctuated by energetic applause.
In his homily, Bishop Alleyne acknowledged that Rev Philadelphia had come to that moment with a resilient spirit and with a passion. “May that continue to work in you and work for you and be a firm pillar in your life and ministry as a priest,” the bishop said.
He also pointed out that the day’s gospel stated Jesus’ teachings made a deep impression on the people because he spoke with authority. The bishop expressed the hope this be a mark of Rev Philadelphia’s ministry which would stem from a profound and intimate knowledge of the Lord.
Before elevating him to the sacred status, Bishop Alleyne urged him to: “Be the priest who can show the face of God to the people in your care. Gentle, sometimes in small doses if necessary, respectful of where they are, mindful of their fears and limitations… accompany them, give encouragement. As Pope Francis says, ‘bear the smell of your sheep’.”
Rev Philadelphia then resolved to discharge the office of priesthood as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops; to celebrate the sacraments; and to unite himself more closely to Christ. Kneeling and placing his hands into Bishop Alleyne’s, he promised respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors.
Rev Philadelphia then prostrated himself before the altar—symbolising his total dependence on God—as the cantors and congregation chanted the Litany of the Saints. He rose and Bishop Alleyne, then Archbishop Gordon followed by the other priests present, laid their hands on his head, conferring upon him the Holy Spirit.
His mother Patricial Matthews-Mitchell and uncle Patrick Matthews, former chief altar server at the Cathedral clothed the newly ordained priest with the stole and chasuble.
Fr Philadelphia’s mother also received loud applause when Fr Persaud thanked her for guiding and giving her son to the service of God in the priesthood.
The joint choir of mainly youths from a number of parishes sang joyfully and energetically to compositions by Sr Rose Magdalene, Br Paschal Jordan OSB and Fr Richard Ho Lung. – Adapted from Catholic Standard