The year-on-year renewal of the Sydney Archdiocese’s clergy is not merely a happy statistic, but a sign that men remain attracted to the challenge of the celibate priesthood, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said at the ordination of two priests on Saturday. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
In his homily for the ordinations of Frs Richard Sofatzis and Matthew Lukaszewicz — preached to a packed St Mary’s Cathedral, rejoicing in the commissioning of yet more shepherds for the city’s Catholics — Archbishop Fisher vigorously proclaimed the goodness of priestly celibacy, pushing back against the view that “no normal man would commit to it.”
“Yet here in the Archdiocese of Sydney we will have four ordinations to the priesthood this year, we had five last year, six in COVID time, and six in the year before,” he said.
“A steady stream has meant the average age of the Sydney clergy has been declining for the past decade and a half.
“These younger priests are not just a happy statistic: they are men of intelligence, holiness and generosity, of evangelical zeal and pastoral solicitude.
“This year alone, we welcomed 17 new admissions to the seminary, the largest intake in nearly four decades. So much for the impossibility of attracting young men to the celibate priesthood today!”
The archbishop said that while “some priests did indeed breach their vows and trust, doing terrible harm to victims, families and the Church,” today’s candidates are generally a decade more mature, more experienced and have had the benefit of psychological screening and first-rate formation.
Polish-Australian Fr Lukaszewicz left a promising double career as a pilot and professional tennis player to become a priest, while Fr Sofatzis, who has Greek heritage and attended a Greek Orthodox school, pursued engineering before beginning his studies at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.
Frs Richard Sofatzis and Matthew Lukaszewicz take up the challenge of priesthood (The Catholic Weekly)