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Three – decade wait for diocesan ordinations

Bishop Francis Alleyne (centre) introduces new priests, Frs Joel David Sundar (left) and Berchmans Devadass. Photo: Michael Lam, Catholic Standard


Deacons Joel David Sundar and Berchmans Devadass, both from India, were ordained for service as diocesan priests in Guyana, September 3 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam. It was the first time in 32 years that a diocesan priest was ordained, according to diocesan weekly Catholic Standard.

Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown was the chief celebrant and homilist. Vicar General Msgr Terrence Montrose, 88-year-old retired Bishop Benedict Singh and more than 20 other priests concelebrated. The congregation included parishioners from some of the outlying parishes in which the candidates had served over the past two years. A cousin of Rev Sundar travelled from India to witness the event.

In delivering his homily, Bishop Alleyne reflected on the reading from the Book of Jeremiah in which the prophet says he has been seduced by God. The brothers to be ordained, he said, had also been seduced by the call and the spirit and the mysteries of God. He prayed that God would continue to draw them more deeply into His ways, His love and life.

Bishop Alleyne related that the candidates, who began their priestly studies in India and completed them in the Caribbean, “had a long and varied journey which had brought them to this day and place”. He continued, “Not only a long journey from India but one filled with hopes and dreams, sometimes being affirmed and understood, sometimes a journey that brought disappointment and moments of doubt, a journey that has brought great challenges to their capacity as human beings.”

What has remained constant however, Bishop Alleyne said, was their desire and something “really genuine” between God and themselves. He added that this was a very important quality for each of the ordinands for their vocation as priests and ministry. The bishop urged them to create a “culture in the faith community where the people of God can be immersed in the mysteries of God”.

After the homily, the rite of ordination took place. Catholic Standard stated that each of the candidates promised obedience to Bishop Alleyne and his successors.

The ordinands also pledged “to celebrate the mysteries of Christ, faithfully and religiously…for the glory of God and the santification of Christ’s people” along with other promises regarding the priestly duties they would faithfully discharge.

They then prostrate themselves in the sanctuary as the choir and congregation prayed the Litany of the Saints. Following this, Bishop Alleyne laid his hands on each of the deacons conferring on them the gift of the Holy Spirit with other priests following suit. After being vested, Bishop Alleyne anointed and kissed the hands of the new priests before kneeling before them to receive their blessing.

Frs Sundar and Devadass are currently visiting their families and friends in India but will return to Guyana to be appointed to their pastoral ministries. Bishop Alleyne has joined them on the trip to thank the families while also visiting the religious houses of the Jesuits, Ursulines and Missionaries of Charity.