Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
New priest 'a fearless prophet'
Collins calls Kavanagh to liberate the people
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
After nine years of discernment and journey through the seminary formation, Paul Kavanagh begins another chapter of his life when he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Thomas Collins May 22.
For the third priestly ordination celebrated by the archdiocese this year, St. Joseph's Basilica was packed again. This time, parishioners from Castor, Consort, Stettler, Sherwood Park and Good Shepherd among others attended the Mass.
As a deacon, Kavanagh, 28, served in Good Shepherd Parish in Edmonton while finishing courses at Newman College and St. Joseph Seminary. He spent his year of pastoral internship in the Stettler region.
In his homily, Collins told Kavanagh that, "You will be a ghostly father. Being a ghostly father is being a spiritual leader, which is a reminder that the priest is really the instrument of the grace of God in a very special way."
He also reminded Kavanagh that he is called to be a fearless prophet of the Lord. "As a fearless prophet you're called to be a liberator of people like Jesus Christ is a liberator."
Among the many points that Collins made about the priesthood he emphasized the priest's being an agent of grace.
Illustrating this, he cited the priest's privilege of hearing the sins and sufferings of others through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
"People will come to you to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation and as you do that you are called to be an agent of grace."
"One of the marvellous realities of being a priest is to be there while the Lord acts through you. You are an agent of grace, so that the people of God will become the salt of the earth and the light of the world."
In his presentation of the then to be ordained priest, Father Lionel Gendron, St. Joseph Seminary rector, said, "Paul is a man of simplicity. He has a simple but authentic prayer life. He is a person who likes his life simply to be Christ-like."
Five deacons were present at the ordination and 56 priests concelebrated with the archbishop.
In an interview before the ordination, Kay Kavanagh, 53, mother of the new priest, told the WCR, "I'm very nervous and excited, excited for him, for the whole family. The whole family came and that's exciting."
Kay was grateful to her family and friends who helped prepare for the event.
"Paul's journey for the past nine years has been really exciting. I think at first it was quite nerve-wracking. He was nervous and I was nervous for him too. God helped him through it all and through the Holy Spirit the whole journey has been great."
She totally respects and supports whatever it is that her sons want in life. "And I am proud of them . . . both of my sons."
John Garden, one of Kavanagh's fellow seminarians, said, "Paul is great with people. He's got great people skills and a real pastoral heart. He is funny, very generous and a great host."
Garden remembered having many walks and car rides with the newly ordained priest. In those get-togethers they reflected on their life at the seminary, their successes and failures and how to better respond to seminary formation.
"I wish him a sense of fulfillment and a sense of peace in what he's doing."
Roxanne Lambe, parish secretary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park, had always heard of their seminarian Paul and she would see him on the occasions he was home from Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C., where Kavanagh studied philosophy.
Lambe, who used to work at Newman College, got to know Kavanagh when he began his studies at the college.
"What first struck me when I met Paul was his warm and friendly smile and his gentle nature."
As Lambe got to know him better, she came to see his deep love for God, his desire to enlighten people about changes in liturgy and his ability to share his sense of humour with everyone, young and old.
"The smile on his face is a reflection of the one on his heart."