Being a Priest Is a Grace, Not a Privilege

Two new Columban priests were ordained in Chile – Rafael Ramírez and Gonzalo Borquez

"The priesthood is a grace. It is not a privilege. It is not a means to get something better for oneself. It is an undeserved gift, where Jesus Christ, the one Eternal High Priest allows us to participate in his ministry. You have been called to announce the Good News of the Gospel. To this, you have been called."

With these words, Bishop Pedro Ossandon, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Chile, began his homily at the ordination to priesthood of two new Columbans:  Rafael Ramirez and Gonzalo Borquez. The ordinations took place in St Columban's Parish in the southern suburbs of Santiago, on Saturday, June 25, 2016.

The church was full with family members, Columban priests, and parishioners from all Columbans parishes, friends and representatives from the local Mapuche community, Chile's indigenous community. The offertory gifts of bread and wine were taken up by Gonzalo's sister, Catalina, and by Rafael's sister, Raquel. Each one also carried a flag of the country where their respective brothers have been assigned, Gonzalo to Korea and Rafael to Myanmar.

Bishop Pedro exhorted the two new priests not to settle down and get comfortable in the priesthood. He said,

"Being ordained to priesthood is not about joining the middle class, not about becoming a member of the bourgeoisie. It is not about believing that because you are a priest, you are something really special. If that happens, remember John the Baptist, who was poor and humble and never rested for a minute in giving of himself for others."

He went on to say,

"As priests, never allow yourselves to become lazy, never be self-serving and think that you are so important now that you are a minister of the Lord. I know that you are not like that. However I want to counsel you, be very careful not to become vain. There is a virus that can take over priests whereby they can believe they are more important than everyone else and never have to be accountable for their mistakes and faults."

Bishop Ossandon concluded by saying he would like to thank the Columbans for continuing to demonstrate to the local Chilean Church that the Church is truly universal, that it belongs to all nations and that we are responsible to bring the Gospel to all nations. He thanked the Columbans for making the Chilean Church more missionary now that Gonzalo will go to Korea and Rafael to Myanmar.

After communion, the family members of the two new priests were given an opportunity to speak. Catalina spoke on behalf of Gonzalo's family saying,

"We as a family have a lot of mixed emotions. We have a little sadness because we would have loved that our father had been alive for this ordination, but we know that from above he is very proud of our brother. It has been a very long road to ordination and our family has tried to support Gonzalo from day one. From the moment Gonzalo told us that he wanted to take the road to priesthood we have been happy about that. What really makes us happy is to know that Gonzalo is happy. Also to see this church so full of so many friends and supporters, gives us great happiness. All of us here today are united in happiness."

Raquel spoke on behalf of Rafael's family.

"This is the culmination of a long journey that our brother has made. He has taken the option to be a missionary priest. Today is a dream come true for him. It is a great blessing for all our family as we have accompanied him in his journey. During all these years we have seen how the people really appreciate him and have a lot of affection for him. The fact that this Church is so full of people today indicates this.

From the beginning of Rafael's preparation for missionary priesthood, we as a family have grown in our acceptance and understanding of this vocation. We understand that his missionary road will lead him to other places, other cultures, other countries where the Lord calls him. And we are very happy about that."

Towards the end of the Eucharist, the Mapuche elders present offered a special prayer ritual of song and dance called Ayuwen in their language to bless the two new priests and offer their support to them. Mapuche elder Amelia Millahueque said on behalf of the Mapuche community:

"This day is very important for us Mapuches. It is especially important because Rafael comes from Chile's ninth Region, the original home of our Mapuche people. Even though he is not a Mapuche, we love him just like a son. We sing of our great happiness for him and for Gonzalo."

At the end of the Ordination Eucharist, the Columban Regional Director in Chile, Fr. Alvaro Martinez, congratulated Rafael and Gonzalo on their ordination to missionary priesthood as Columbans. He expressed the happiness of all Columbans who now welcome two new brothers into their family.

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Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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Missionary Society of St. Columban
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