There was much joy and celebration today at Cardiff Cathedral – the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David as exactly a week after the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Daniel Stanton, we celebrated the ordination of a long serving Deacon to the priesthood.
Fr. Peter McLaren was one of the original 13 Permanent Deacons ordained for the diocese over 10 years ago, and today he approached the altar for ordination as service as priest. Following the death of his beloved wife Marie, Fr. Peter spent time in discernment regarding his future. After a period of discernment within the diocese, Archbishop George Stack sent him to Allen Hall Seminary in London where he has spent the past year in formation.
Originally from Scotland Fr. Peter’s family home has been in Cwmbran where has served faithfully and lovingly as Deacon over the years. As part of his formation for priesthood, he spent time on Pastoral Placement in the parish of South Ryslip, London. It was a joy to see parishioners travel from London for today’s celebration; a testament to the witness of the man being ordained. It was also a privilege to be joined by Fr. Peter’s children and grandchildren to whom this day just as much belong as a testament of love and witness to Almighty God and family life.
A long and poignant journey
Acknowledging the path Fr. Peter has taken to this day and in honour of St. Martha whose feast day was celebrated, Archbishop George reflected upon the phrase “If only”. On the death of her brother Lazarus, St. Martha approaches Jesus saying “If only you had been here my brother would not have died …”. The Archbishop said:
“I think the “if only” questions in life are the most important. And we have all asked them. “If only this hadn’t happened. If only I hadn’t said that. If only I had made a different decision. If only life had been fairer to me. If only my mother, father, brother, sister, husband or wife had not suffered and died, everything would be all right, and I would be happy”. But we need to be careful of what we ask for. As I said, the Lazarus story is ambivalent at the very least. It responds to the needs of Martha and Mary in their grief. They wanted him back. But Lazarus would have to die again having to go through the process all over again. “If he came back to life it was to say a last farewell to it”.
The life and ministry of the priest is to be with people at the moments of great joy in their lives and also at times of greatest confusion and sadness. Continually he will be asked the “if only” questions ….
Peter will have had his own “If only” questions during his life, too, not least with the death of his beloved Marie. But he has been, and continues to be, sustained by his faith and support of a loving family. “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world”.”
Following his words of thanks to the congregation Fr. Peter was met with a warm round of applause at what was a very moving celebration. Thanking Almighty God, Fr. Peter told the congregation that he will be serving the people of the Rhondda Parish and the Sisters of Llantarnam Abbey in his priestly ministry.
Food for thought
Today’s ordination marks the end of a series of 4 ordinations for the diocese this summer. In June the Rev. Robert James and Rev. Nicholas Williams were ordained to the Diaconate as part of their priestly formation at seminary. Last weekend we celebrated the priesthood ordination of Fr. Daniel Stanton and today Fr. Peter McLaren.
TWO priests in one week! Food for thought and reflection after what was a very arid period for Vocations within the diocese. Next year, pray God, Deacon Robert and Deacon Nicholas will be ordained to the priesthood.
In addition to the ordinations the Archbishop reminded the congregation of our remaining seminarians Laurence Bryce and Elliot Hanson, and he introduced Dale Cutlan who enters a discernment period at the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain this September.
Continue to pray for Vocations to the priesthood and religious life within our diocese every day. This summer has been the first harvest of your prayers and encouragement. Pray and encourage and the Vocations will continue to come.
For more information about Vocations within the Archdiocese visit the Vocations section of the website.
Read the Archbishop’s Homily
View complete gallery of images from the ordination (Coming soon)