Concelebrating priests and other ministers were led to the altar by a traditional Sing-Sing group from the Hela Province. The Cathedral is in the background. The Holy Mass was held outdoors to accommodate the thousands who came to participate in this festive liturgy.
Three young women of the Cathedral Youth Group led the Assembly in the Responsorial Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want."
Traditional Drummers come forward for the Gospel Procession. On the right you can see one of them unwrapping the Gospel. The Word of God is seen as a precious gift and so the Gospel Book is un-wrapped to show it's importance. The Deacon then took the Gospel Book to the Ambo where he proclaimed the Good News.
After the homily, all kneel and Deacon Elias prostrates (on a traditional mat) in front of the altar, while 5 Sisters lead the Assembly in the Litany of Saints - a powerful expression of our belief in the Communion of Saints.... "Bless this chosen one and make him holy!"
In the ancient, silent gesture of the laying on of hands (and ensuing Prayer of Ordination), Deacon Elias becomes Father Elias - a servant of God's people after the example of Jesus.
Fr Elias' hands are then anointed with Sacred Chrism that was blessed by the bishop during the Chrism Mass held during Holy Week. "... that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God."
Bread and Wine, the offerings of God's People are then placed in the hands of Father Elias. "Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's cross."
The Presentation of Gifts is a colourful display of culture and faith from the various tribes making up the faithful people of the Diocese of Mendi.
Having given the final blessing of the Ordination Mass, I kneel down and ask for the first blessing of the Fr Elias. A priest is a blessing for the entire church and so we must always pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. We should also pray that those who have been called to this ministry will remain faithful and holy servants of God and God's Holy People.
After the Holy Mass, the priests and other ministers pose with the new priest. The Joy of the Gospel is everywhere evident today.
Thank you for following along this story of the ordination of Father Elias. And thanks to AK Gleske for taking such beautiful photos of the occasion. See you soon!