New Catholic Priest Fr John: Remember me de Malayway
"…Keep the Candle burning…" sang Father Brancker John as he gave thanks towards the end of his ordination to the priesthood Eucharistic celebration at the St Pater's Parish Church in Colihaut last week Saturday. An in one voice the large congregation picked up the refrain adding spontaneous applause to the voice of the former Calypso Monarch.
Father Brancker John was delighting in the moment of his priestly ordination in his home community on Saturday June 29, 2013. So on behalf of the Diocese of Roseau, Fr John acknowledged those who'd played leading roles leading up this special moment: the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a "nice ceremony:" Bishop Gabriel Malzaire celebrated the sacrament.
Fr John recognised His Excellency Eliud Williams – President of Dominica government ministers and parishioners, visitors from around the diocese, all interspersed with warm applause, adding:
"I love you very much," he said.
He remembered persons at home and abroad who followed via radio, television or internet; his fellow priests from the United States, and there he interposed that the latter would have liked him to remain in the US, "but now they understand why I have to come home."
"One chapter ends, another begins. However, you will continue to 'Remember me the malayway'", the title of one of his popular calypsos.
Father Brancker John celebrated his first mass on Sunday June 30, 2013 on the occasion of the Feast of St Peter and St Paul. The readings for the Mass were: Isaiah 61: 1-3; 2 Corinthians 5: 14-20; and John's Gospel 20: 19-23 read by Deacon Alvin Knight.
Bishop Malzaire began his homily by reminding his listeners that it was just over a year ago, on Pentecost Day afternoon in the same parish church that there was an assembling to witness the diaconate ordination of this beloved son of the soil, Rev Brancker Fabien John.
Bishop Malzaire thanked Almighty God for the blessings for the gathering for his elevation to the order of the presbyterate, which this reality brings to Deacon John himself, to his family, to the parish of St. Peter, to the entire Diocese of Roseau and to the Church universal.
The bishop acknowledged the members of the immediate family of Rev John: his parents Blaize John and Gretta Philogene, his siblings – Tracy John and Wyzel Philogene. Bishop Malzaire made special mention of the 101-year old grandfather Astor Philogene with whom John grew up.
"This is indeed a proud moment for the entire family. We thank God for allowing them to share their son and brother with the God's Church," he said.
Con-celebrating were Msgr Joseph Reilly, the Rector of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, where Deacon John spent four years; Rev Fr Robert Suszko, the Vice Rector; and faculty member, Msgr Robert Wister. Other friends from the US included Fr Bill Halbing, Fr Joseph Meagher and Deacon Raj. There were also friends from Trinidad and St Lucia.
Bishop Malzaire spoke of the parishioners of St. Peter's, among whom Brancker grew up, the many priests who influenced his life with special mention of Fr Celsus Auguiste.
For Fr John, the way to the priesthood was a long and winding one. It traversed through the pathway of calypso and politics, through the streets of social work, and just as Brancker was contemplating entry through the narrow doors of matrimony, the Lord made a last cast, and he was caught. What a mighty catch it was!
"As foolish as this turn of events may seem, from all indications, we have before us a happy young man; contented for the paths his life has taken, and more so, for this present point of arrival. I think it fitting here to say: "To God be the glory great things he has done." However, I suspect that there are other young and maybe not-so-young men, whom the Lord is beckoning in similar ways but are still resisting. So we continue to pray for them," the bishop said.
After a look at the readings, Bishop Malzaire left these few pointers with Fr John as he embraced this new mission:
Let the people of God see in you a man on fire with the Lord and for the Lord. A man of prayer, a man of sacrifice - a true priest of God.
Keep your feet planted on the ground, so that you will best be able to respond to the people in their pastoral needs. The Lord is in search of ambassadors with great fortitude: spiritual, physical and otherwise. Be such a one.
Do not run away from the tough questions that will come your way in the line of witnessing for the Lord. That will free you and save you.
Make Jesus in the Eucharistic species a special friend so you can properly share him with God's people.
Above all, for love of God's people, "keep the candles burning!" Be of kind heart to them, they will love you for who you are; and that is, a priest forever; a priest of the order of Melchizedek".