This afternoon I attended the ordination of Fr Damien Nejad in the cathedral and the reception that followed. I took this photo at the start of Mass when he was declaring his willingness to offer himself for ordination.
Fr Damien is the only son of an Iranian Muslim and a Catholic mother who lives in Glasgow but with roots in this diocese. A pivotal influence in his life is his auntie who spoke at the reception. When he was growing up he was aware that unlike his friends he was unbaptised. At the age of 6 his auntie asked him one day what was the thing he wanted most in life. His response was baptism. Auntie brought him up to the local church and he was baptised inside half an hour. When he was nine his auntie insisted on bringing him for holy hours to the church. She promised that Jesus would speak to him while he was praying. This was the beginning of his spiritual life.
The following is a press release from the diocese.
Joyous celebrations in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny, as the
Rev Damien Nejad is Ordained to the Priesthood
for the Diocese of Raphoe. Sunday 11th December 2016.
Most Rev Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Bishop of Raphoe ordained to the Priesthood Fr Damien Nejad, a native of Glasgow whose mother comes from Annagry.
The Cathedral of Sts Eunan and Columba was filled with family and friends of the new priest for the nearly two hour ceremony. Also in attendance were over 50 priests from the diocese and further afield who concelebrated the Mass.
Bishop Boyce in his sermon said: “in our Eucharistic celebration here today at St. Eunan’s Cathedral, we have an added reason for joyful hope and expectancy. A young man, Damien Nejad, approaches the steps of the altar and presents himself for Ordination to the Priesthood in the Diocese of Raphoe. He is following Christ’s call to be with the Master for the rest of his life and to serve the people entrusted to his care. Ordination day is always a day of joy and gratitude: joy at the precious gift received, gratitude to the Lord for calling a young man to his exclusive service in the ordained ministry”.
The Bishop spoke about the joy of the Gospel in the life of a Priest: “In your daily ministry, then, let people experience the joy of Christ in your work, and not simply the burdens of your duties. Pope Francis has spoken many times about the joy of the Gospel and the joy of Evangelisation, notably in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World. This is to be your life in the years that lie ahead. You are to live and work with Christ, “the very first and the greatest evangeliser.” Pope Francis reminds you that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort…it matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.” And he quotes Pope Paul VI who back in 1975 wrote that we should recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelising, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelisers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ”. (Evangelii Gaudium 10, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)”.
On Monday, 12th December, the newly-ordained Priest will celebrate his First Holy Mass in the parish of Annagry in the Church of St Mary Star of the Sea, at 7pm and afterwards give his first blessing to all present.