Cardinal George Pell at Quarr Abbey

It was tremendous news hearing about the acquittal of Cardinal George Pell from the charges against him by the Australia High Court. One wonders why the charges were ever brought, as the evidence appeared so flimsy. The Island Catholic History Society is pleased to remind everyone of happier times in the Cardinal’s life, when he visited the Isle of Wight in January, 2008, at the invitation of Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB.

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney ordained Brother Brian Gerard Kelly OSB to the Holy Priesthood. His family came from Ireland for the ceremony and there was a good congregation of the faithful from all parts of the Island. His Eminence called Bro. Brian forward after the gospel and in answer to the question “Do you know this man to be worthy of ordination“.

The abbot replied: “After enquiry among the Christian people, and upon recommendation of those concerned with his formation, I testify that he has been found worthy“. Having questioned Bro. Brian, the Cardinal laid his hands upon him and all the other clergy precent did likewise. The intercession of the saints was sought in the Litany and after the prayer of Ordination, Bro Brian was invested with his stole and chasuable while the monks sang “Veni Creator Spiritus“.

In his sermon His Eminence recalled his last ordination which was a Burmese priest who was ordained on 29th December. He had specifically requested the Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury as his father had been killed by the Burmese military and he wanted the Medieval English martyr to be his inspiration if he was ever to suffer the same fate. The Cardinal was impressed by this priest’s faith and simplicity. However it is unlikely that Bro. Brian will have the same apprehension. In his homily the Cardinal said:

Nevertheless Fr. Brian will require the same faith and steadfastness to carry out his ministry with joy and love as he cares for the spiritual needs of those to whom he ministers. The choice of this feast day is significant. As we remember the conversion of St. Paul, we remember too that the Church needs converts, not least to balance the departures.

It is always a privilege for me to ordain a priest. In this particular case I am grateful to Abbot Cuthbert for inviting me from the other side of the world to perform this ceremony. I want to take this opportunity of acknowledging the deby which the Australian Church owes to the Benedictine Order, as not only some of the early missionaries but also the first two Archbishops of Sydney were Benedictines.

There are some similarities between St. Paul and St. Benedict. Both devoted their talents in different ways to the Church and the service of Almighty God. Paul was tireless traveller in his work as he sought to spread the gospel message. St. Benedict reminds monks in his Rule to do battle for the True King – Christ the Lord. Indeed Christ must be at the centre of all our lives.

Some of us here on the Island will remember meeting Cardinal Pell (then Archbishop of Sydney) at Quarr Abbey shortly after this Ordination. At the time he was staying at the abbey on retreat. A group of us joined him for tea in the abbey tearoom one afternoon. We came away inspired by his holiness, devotion to duty and his zeal for the Priesthood and the Holy Catholic Church. The Cardinal also visited St. Cecilia’s Abbey whilst here. Please remember His Eminence in your prayers as he recuperates and adjusts once again to normal Church life.