Rev Malachy Gallagher was ordained to the priesthood for service in the Diocese of Derry on Sunday 30 July last. Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, was chief celebrant at the Ordination Mass, which was held in Saint Mary’s Church in Father Gallagher’s home parish of Kilrea.
Thirty-three-year-old Father Malachy Gallagher is a native Coleraine, Co Derry. He is a qualified speech therapist from the University of Ulster, and spent time as a seminarian in Saint Malachy’s Seminary, Belfast, and at the Pontifical Irish College, Rome. Father Gallagher also spent some years in formation with Divine World Missionaries in Chicago and Taiwan. He was joined on the day by his parents Colum and Teresa Gallagher and siblings Lisa and Gerard.
In his homily Bishop McKeown said, “Just as with a wedding, an ordination to the priesthood is a wonderful occasion. A person not only feels enthused about a particular way of life or partnership – but is prepared to make a life-long commitment to whatever the future might hold. In an age of radical uncertainty about what the years ahead might hold, and a philosophy of truth that is based on ‘my feelings’ being infallible, it is profoundly counter-cultural when someone is not afraid of commitment and is deeply in love with the Lord who calls them to walk forward in trust, whatever the future might hold. That person is blessed to believe that a crisis is not so much sign that they made a bad decision as a test of their commitment. The Lord tests those whom He loves.”
He continued, “Your greatest asset as a priest will not be your theology qualifications but that Christ-like heart which people see in you. The greatest wisdom you will have to offer will come from a heart that knows and loves Jesus. Otherwise you are offering just yourself – and talented though you may be, you have no power to save the world! Use the talents you have to bring people to Jesus and not to put yourself in the way. Loving the Lord with your whole heart and soul and mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself will not be guaranteed after today’s ceremony. It is your search for this love that must dominate the rest of your life. If you do not have Jesus, you cannot bring him to others. Pray for that childlike wisdom.”
“Your role as teacher, sanctifier and leader will that you will constantly getting your hands dirty and scarred. Labour with the sweat of your brow for only then can you have the smell of the sheep.
“Your ministry will often not be welcome because Jesus’ message says that the world will not be saved by better laws, more things or new political units. The world will be healed by virtue in the human heart and not just by legislation in human parliaments. Poverty and war will not be overcome merely by more collections, taxes or philanthropy but by the remaking of the human heart through grace. A New Ireland will never be created through political changes alone but when human hearts are softened. A New Ireland, ruled by old hard hearts, will never make us humane.”
Bishop McKeown went on to say, “In our Gospel from the end of the chapter of parables in Matthew’s Gospel, we heard about the pearl of great price. Malachy, you have discovered a treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price. The way of life that you take on today through the grace of ordination is to be a constant sign, a sacrament of the beauty that you have found.
“Celibacy and simplicity of life-style are not impositions from a harsh Church, rather an invitation from a loving God. Whether we are married, celibate, ordained, consecrated or single, we will be salt to the earth and light to the world only if we live as if we believed that life here is not as good as it gets. Live the sort of life that will inspire generous young people to do beautiful things for God. After all, our culture gives young hearts little to dream about. “We tell them just to have fun and to do whatever you think – and each person is left to find some paltry value in a life lived without values. Your life style will be a protest against the stifling hedonism that is presented as the best we can hope for. Belief in God is not repression of our dignity but an invitation to the individual greatness that is God’s dream for each of us. Never cease to cherish the treasure you have found and keep finding ways to share your joy.
Bishop McKeown concluded, “The Lord wants to share his glory with all of humankind. That will mean helping people to not be afraid of living in the real world and to avoid any childish escape into a virtual one where salvation will not be found. Speak the truth, live the truth and love the truth – and do so because you have discovered the ‘One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ And the God, who co-operates with all those who love him, will give you a heart wise and shrewd.”
The full text of Bishop McKeown’s homily, along with pictures from the Ordination Mass can be found on www.derrydiocese.org.
Photograph: Stephen Lattimer/Derry Diocese