Bishop Robert McGuckin anoints Fr Darrell Irvine's hands during the Mass of Ordination
Father Darrell Irvine, 62, ordained in Toowoomba last month, sees his remarkable journey to the priesthood as "a series of lamp-lights", reports The Catholic Leader.
Among those "lamplights" are the death of his wife Elizabeth of cancer in 1999, his work with Mother (now Saint) Teresa of Calcutta's Missionaries of Charity in India and his baptism in Auckland into the Catholic faith when he was 47.
On the eve of his ordination to the priesthood, then Deacon Irvine conveyed a sense of awe at the "long and winding road" which had led him to becoming a priest in St Patrick's Cathedral on the night of February 25.
His adult children Daniel and Mel-issa shared the joy of his ordination with more than 400 others who had braved a wet and windy Toowoomba night. "I'd always been of a spiritual nature, even as a boy," Fr Irvine said.
"I was not following any particular religion but always sensed there was a God and that I was being protected." Deaths of those close to him, starting with his parents who died a year apart when he was 14, seem to have played a significant role in his journey to the priesthood.
"My mother was a Catholic and I always remember the incense at her funeral Mass," he said.
"There was something about the sight of the incense being swung around the coffin of my birth mother, something about the ritual that has always stayed with me."
Born in Christchurch, New Zeal-and, Fr Irvine moved to Auckland at age 18 to join the navy and served in South East Asia during the Vietnam War.
Returning to New Zealand, he met and married Elizabeth, a director of religious studies in the Catholic education system.
However, initially he did not consider getting baptised into the Church.
"I always seemed to be too busy," he said. "But slowly Elizabeth wore me down. Eventually, she was my sponsor - I was baptised in Auckland with full immersion at the Church of St John the Baptist with two priests in attendance."
The discovery of his wife's cancer would inevitably have been a dark time. But Fr Irvine now lists it as one of his "lamplight" moments. "The discovery my wife would not survive seemed to top everything off," he said.
"We talked about me joining the priesthood and she thought I would be more suited to a religious order - the Franciscans, for example.
"After Elizabeth's death, I tried this out but found I was not suited to this life." Among his wife's possessions, however, was a letter written to Mother Teresa.
FULL STORY Widower ordained a priest (Catholic Leader)