What did I do on a busy Sunday afternoon? Went to a really wonderful ordination in Leamington Spa. Read more about it, courtesy of Peter Jennings, below.
“THE PRIEST MUST BECOME A LIVING ICON OF CHRIST”
Archbishop Bernard Longley during the Ordination of Fr Roger Peck
Archbishop Bernard Longley ordained Fr Roger Peck to the Sacred Priesthood during an uplifting two-hour ceremony at Saint Peter Apostle Church, in Royal Leamington Spa, on the afternoon of Sunday, 24 January. It was the first time the new Archbishop had administered the Sacrament of Ordination in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Fr Roger Peck, aged 43, was born in Birmingham and brought up in Halesowen, in the parish of Our Lady and St Kenelm. He worked in IT as a computer programmer with Book Club Associates based in Swindon, before he studied for the priesthood at St Mary’s College, Oscott, the diocesan seminary.
Archbishop Longley has appointed Fr Roger an Assistant Priest at St Peter’s, Leamington Spa, where he had been Parish Deacon since September 2009.
During his homily on the theme “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me for he has anointed me”, Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “In the Sacrament we celebrate today our Lord shares his own priesthood with the friend who is in our midst, Deacon Roger Peck.
“The readings remind all of us of what it means to be a disciple of Christ, sharing his anointing through our baptism and therefore sharing his mission. For everyone who has been called to the priesthood there must already have been a deepening awareness of what is means to be a disciple in the Church today. As priests we have already experienced discipleship in our own lives and we are called to discern and encourage it in the lives of others.”
Speaking directly to Deacon Peck, Archbishop Longley said: “Roger, by this sacrament you become the gateway for many to the mysteries of God’s mercy and love. Through your words the Word of God is preached and its meaning made plain. Through your anointed hands the healing and forgiveness of God change the lives of others. As you act in the person of Christ his body and blood bring peace and salvation to his faithful people.
“When we met recently you spoke to me of some of the influences for good in your life, coming at times when you least expected them. In particular you recalled your cycling accident on a dangerous bend of the road. This eventually opened your eyes to the value of priestly ministry in the hospital where you recovered, which gave you time and space to reflect and pray. May your priestly ministry always bring Christ’s healing touch, and the insights of the Holy Spirit to others.”
The Archbishop of Birmingham emphasised: “The priest must become a living icon of Christ – especially at Mass and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – so that through him the sphere of God’s influence may grow in human hearts and in the world at large.”
He continued: “Roger, you have spoken to me of your desire to play your part in the new evangelisation needed so much, especially by young people today. You recognise the need to evangelise the imagination and all aspects of our culture in order to communicate the Gospel. May your priestly life offer opportunities for that desire to become a reality as you work alongside others, priests, religious and lay faithful in the years to come.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “It is the desire of Christ that the good news, liberty and new sight he was himself anointed to bring, may reach others through the anointing we will witness today. We are grateful for this gift to the Church. Pray for Roger that the years of his priesthood may be long and fruitful, and that he may always bear witness to Christ in whose anointing he shares today.”
Archbishop Longley was the Principal Celebrant at the Mass of Ordination together with more than 40 priests, including Mgr Canon John Moran, Vicar General; Mgr Mark Crisp, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott; Fr John Cross, Parish Priest of St Peter’s and Fr Mariano Tarrosa, Assistant Priest.
The sanctuary looked magnificent adorned with flowers, and the music, beautifully sung and led by the choir, included the Gloria from the Missa De Angelis, and the Communion Motet, Ave Verum by Sir Edward Elgar, adding to a memorable occasion for the parish.
The first reading, from the Book of Nehemiah, was read by Mrs Nuala Scarisbrick. The second reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians by William Peck, Fr Roger’s older brother. The Gospel was sung by Deacon Michael Collis.
The singing of the Litany of the Saints, that included an invocation to St Roger Blessed Dominic Barberi and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was followed by the Laying-On of Hands and Prayer of Consecration.
Archbishop Bernard Longley and the priests present laid their hands on Deacon Roger Peck. This was the moment that the grace of Holy Orders was requested and conferred by the power of the Holy Spirit acting in the Church.
The Archbishop of Birmingham prayed the Prayer of Consecration. Fr Roger Peck was vested with his priestly vestments – first the stole and then the chasuble, before the Archbishop anointed the palms of his hands with the sacred oil of Chrism. The choir sang the Veni Creator Spiritus.
A chalice filled with wine and a paten with the communion bread were brought up by Fr Roger’s parents; his father Windsor, who was born in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, and his mother Rosa. They presented the gifts to Archbishop Longley who handed them to Fr Roger. The Archbishop greeted Fr Roger with the Kiss of Peace, and all the priests present did likewise as a sign of welcome and acceptance into the sacred priesthood. Fr Roger said one of the prayers during the Canon of the Mass.
After the final blessing Archbishop Bernard Longley and Fr John Cross, Parish Priest presented Fr Roger Peck with a special Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his Ordination to the Priesthood. As he held the framed Blessing Fr Roger was greeted with warm applause from his brother priests, and the packed congregation, including his parents, family and friends, some of whom had travelled from the Falkland Islands to be present.
During a buffet reception in nearby Leamington Spa Town Hall Fr Roger Peck said a heart-felt thank you to his parents and family before cutting three special cakes to mark the occasion.
The Ordination Mass of Fr Roger Peck was, in the words of Archbishop Bernard Longley: “An important moment in the life of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.”
Fr Peck celebrated his first Mass in the parish church at noon the following day, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Bernard Longley, who celebrated the seventh anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Conner in Westminster Cathedral on 24 January 2003, Feast of Saint Francis De Sales, flew to Rome for the Ad Limina Visit of the Bishops of England and Wales. Archbishop Bernard was only Installed as Archbishop of Birmingham on 8 December 2009, so he does not have to present a report about the Diocese for two years – this will include new ordinations to the Sacred Priesthood during that time.