Reflecting on church services that have adapted and taken place during the midst of the pandemic, during the lockdown last year in 2020, St Mary’s Cathedral in Aberdeen were delighted to have welcomed Christopher Doig and Malachy Eze as deacons at a special ceremony with invited guests who had to endure and adhere to social distancing guidelines. And similarly, now this year on Friday the 16th of July in 2021, both Christopher Doig and Malachy Eze have been ordained to the priesthood.
In a service celebrated by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB and taking place at St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen with Covid restrictions still in place, this Mass was again by “invitation only”. However, an additional thousand viewers from all over the world were able to witness and participate in this joyful and blessed occasion which took place under such unique circumstances.
As Bishop Hugh Gilbert had said last year, when Christopher and Malachy were ordained as deacons, they will have a “story for life” after being ordained during lockdown. And now as priests, Bishop Hugh added:
“The ordinations of Christopher Doig and Malachy Eze on 16th July has brought much joy to the Catholic community of the Diocese of Aberdeen and to all who know and cherish them. Especially as we emerge from the long tunnel of the pandemic, it is heartening to see two young men coming forward full of faith and the desire to serve God and their fellow human beings.”
In a moving homily Bishop Hugh cautioned Christopher and Malachy: ”Be aware of the power you carry to wound and pray not to do harm. Pray, in fact, to share the weakness and vulnerability of Christ. Don’t turn – you won’t turn – into hard, all-knowing, omni-competent functionaries. Don’t dull yourselves – you won’t – with cheap consolations. Endure people’s grief or anger and disappointment. Accept the measure of the rebellion and pain of the world that will come your way and allow Christ to transfigure it. Your priesthood is no vaccination against this. Au contraire. Keep your sensitivities, your weakness, your limits, your vulnerability. That will let the power of Christ – St Paul said it – roost in you, pitch its tent in you, overshadow and protect you, and comfort others.”
Father Christopher, originally from the Perth and Blairgowrie area, commented upon his becoming an ordained priest:
“This day is, without a doubt, the best day of my life. It has taken seven years of intense prayer and study to get here and what a joy it is to make that final Yes and be firmly rooted in a vocation to serve God and His Church. The journey has been a long one, mixed with immense joys and trials but ultimately one that has been fulfilling and a real adventure filled with surprises. It is also great to see the family and friends who have accompanied me and helped me along the way. God be praised! ”
Father Malachy who was born in Igboland, Nigeria, added further to what he described as “The Dream of a Newly Ordained Priest”:
“I was ordained a priest, just two days ago and it is with a grateful heart that I reflect on my journey, and to where it has taken me. Indeed, the Lord has exceeded all my expectations, granting me the gift of the priesthood for his people. With gratitude for what the Lord has done, I can only pray for one thing more, that all may truly come to the knowledge of Christ as a living person who loves us personally and will remain with us till the end.
“I believe that this too is Bishop Hugh’s vision for the Diocese of Aberdeen. It is my prayer and my dream, and I sincerely hope that, as a Priest, I may become an instrument in God’s hand in bringing this about. I Pray that the Spirit of God will renew the hunger and thirst for the knowledge of Christ Jesus in the heart of his people. It is in knowing Jesus that we are set free, that our hopes are restored, and that we are reassured of his abiding presence, specially so in these difficulty times.”