Joyous scenes as Moycullen man is ordained at Galway Cathedral

The ordination of Rev John Gerard Acton from Moycullen to the priesthood at Galway Cathedral on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The ordination of Rev John Gerard Acton from Moycullen to the priesthood at Galway Cathedral on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

On a day when Moycullen celebrated the arrival of its Olympic medal into the parish, it had a second joyous event when local man John Gerard Action was ordaind a priest at Galway Cathedral.

Originally from Knockauranny, Moycullen, John Gerard is the son of Seamus and Maureen Acton and is the youngest of four siblings.

A former pupil at Scoil Bhaile Nua, Moycullen and Cholaiste Chroi Mhuire, Spiddal, John Gerard also studied business and communications in GMIT, worked in both the Galway and Dublin branches of Debenhams and in The Park House Hotel (Eyre Square ), before beginning six years of priestly formation at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

In line with Covid restrictions, only a limited number of family and friends were admitted to the ceremony, but thousands watched the stream live online.

In his homily, Bishop Brendan Kelly said that it was a day of celebration for the diocese.

“This is a good day. A good day for us. A good day for our diocese. John Gerard Acton is here before us and before God, about to say ‘yes’, to becoming a priest for us. To give his life from this day forward to the service of God and of God’s people, the Church, in this diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

“You and I are here to pray with John Gerard that God will bless the solemn commitment into which he is entering, and that he in turn as a priest will be a blessing for the diocese and its people all the days of his life,” he said.

“John Gerard, you have spent years discerning this call to priesthood. That still, small voice that quietly persisted deep in your heart, has been given space and oxygen, as it were, over six years in the Seminary in St Patrick’s College Maynooth. And now you are ready to say ‘Yes’. ‘You did not choose me’, Jesus said to his closest collaborators, the apostles, in what we call his ‘Farewell Discourse’ on the night of the Last Supper after Judas had gone out and ‘It was night’: ‘You did not choose me, no, I chose you, and commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last,” added Bishop Kelly.

Changed environment

He said that he was conscious today as John Gerard comes forward for Ordination of how much the environment for church and priesthood has changed since he was ordained with three companions here at that same altar 50 years ago.

“Looking back the first thing that strikes is the unimaginable change that has been afoot during all those years. We all like to think there’s been more change in our lifetimes that at any time previously. I’m not so sure about this. All I know is that life is more a river than a pool. It flows along, sometimes more calmly, sometimes more a raging rushing torrent.

“Calm or storm, we need, people need, something to hold on to, to steady the nerves. Only that something is not a thing at all. It is Jesus Christ,

In a message on Sunday, Fr John Gerard Acton paid tribute to all who have helped him along his journey of faith.

“On this day of my ordination, I give thanks to God for the many people who have supported me in reaching this important juncture in my life. The last six years have brought me much joy but have also brought challenges. In all those times I have relied on the support of my family, the understanding of my friends, the affirmation of the community and the grace of God.

“I wish to acknowledge the unwavering support and example of my parents Se?amus and Maureen, brother Se?amus Anthony and sisters Caroline and Sally. To my in-laws, Malachy, MJ and Denise, and nieces and nephews: your encouragement has always been greatly appreciated. To my Godparents and my entire extended family: each of you have played a significant role in this journey and I express my appreciation to you today.

“I thank Bishop Emeritus Martin Drennan for accepting me to begin initial formation and Bishop Brendan Kelly for his support and encouragement. I am grateful too for the friendship of Dean Michael McLoughlin, PP, Moycullen,and the priests who have served my home parish since I was a child.

Gratitude

“I express my gratitude for the many friendships which have nourished and supported me: the priests and religious within and without this Diocese, the parishioners of Moycullen Parish and beyond, friends and classmates from over the years. My sincere thanks too to my former colleagues in Debenhams and Park House Hotel, especially Eamon Doyle and Kitty Carr.

“My thanks to the entire community of faith and formation that is St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for supporting, teaching, encouraging, and challenging me these past six years. I express particular gratitude to the staff of the National Seminary and my classmates and other brother seminarians who have accompanied me on this journey of faith.

“I appreciate very much the steadfast support of my initial Vocations Director Fr Diarmuid Hogan who first formally explored with me the possibility of being called to this way of life. To his successor Canon Ian O’Neill - I thank you for your kindness, wisdom, availability, and guidance.

I thank all who have helped to plan this day. While organising an ordination during COVID-19 has been challenging, I have had the goodwill and supportof many. I am thankful to the Master of Ceremonies, Fr Martin Whelan, the deacons, acolytes, cantors, and ministers of the Word. Sincere thanks to the choir director Mr Raymond O’Donnell and the Galway Cathedral Choir who have so beautifully enhanced today’s celebration. I express my thanks to Monsignor Peter Rabbitte and the entire team here at Galway Cathedral for welcoming us so warmly today. I’m especially grateful to the stewards and volunteers who have enabled us to gather safely. Finally, I remember with deepest gratitude and fondness, the friendship, love and support of family and friends who are imithe .On this special day, I feel particularly close to my grandparents James and Sally and James and Sarah, my uncle Michael and my aunt and Godmother Josephine. I pray that you and all the faithful departed are at rest.

Fr Acton celebrated his first Mass, a Mass of Thanksgiving at Galway Cathedral on Monday night, where in his homily, he told the congregation that he is often asked why he became a priest. He said that while he acknowledges that he is taking a risk, the life of a priest is one that has been calling him for some time and that he is eagerly looking forward to praying for everyone, and he hopes that everyone will also pray for him.

 

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