In a few weeks time – on June 6th I will be 45 years ordained.
I was ordained on the Feast of Pentecost in 1976 by Michael Russell, the bishop of Waterford and Lismore in Waterford Cathedral.
My friend Monsignor John Shine always told me: “every time I meet Bishop Russell he always asks for you”.
I am more happy to be a priest now than I ever was and I’m very grateful to God that he gave me the grace of perseverance.
A small number of those I was in seminary with have died. RIP.
My ordination class consisted of six of us.
One, Joe Seery, of Ennis has died. He had big problems in priesthood.
One, although a deacon, never got ordained after a pastoral placement in his diocese of Westminster.
Two, Joe McCarthy and John Flynn left the priesthood and married or took lady companions.
Another one, Oliver Curran is a very conservative pastor in a southern diocese in the USA.
And then there’s me.
My spirituality has undergone a total change in those 45 years.
My early spirituality was all about Calvary and suffering. It was a dark, painful spirituality that left me joyless.
But since undergoing therapy in my late 30s and early 40s – a therapy with a profound spiritual aspect to it, I have moved away from Calvary towards an Empty Tomb spirituality.
That has brought calm, depth, joy and optomism with it.
I have abandoned all legalism and have embraced, instead, a spontaneous and charismatic spirituality.
In practical terms I no longer believe:
1. That Roman Catholicism is the one true church / religion.
2. That any man is the vicar of Christ.
3. That proesthood should be all male.
4. That imposed celibacy is of God.
5. That sexual morality is the primary form of morality.
6. That contraception, homosexuality and masturbation are sinful.
7. That virginity is superior to marriage.
MY EXPULSION BY DALY:
Looking back I no longer see my expulsion from the clerical club by Daly was a disaster.
I believe that God used Daly to set me free.
I certainly have been a happier and freer priest in the 35 since the Daly thing happened.
When faced with a decision I no longer have to worry about bishops, canon law, diocesan regulations etc
I simply have to ask myself: “What would Jesus do? What would Jesus want me to do”?
I feel I’ve kept the baby and thrown out the dirty water.
I can concentrate on:
1. My relationship with Jesus.
2. My love of the Mass and the Sacraments.
3. My inspiration by Scripture.
4. Serving people as best I can.
5. Having freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
I am no longer a slave in the Babylon of Roman Catholicism.
I have the freedom of the sons and daughters of God”.
Has my journey been difficult at times?
Would I want to do it all again?
Have I made mistakes?
Am I hopeful about the rest of the joyrney?
What is the reason for my hope?
A man called Jesus of Nazareth.