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Indonesia. Two Jesuit scholastics were ordained deacons on June 1 by His Eminence Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja SJ in the Church of St Anthony of Padua in Kotabaru, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The new deacons are Deacon Agustinus Winaryanta SJ and Deacon Bonifacius Melkyor Pando SJ.

Concelebrating at the ordination Mass were Indonesian Jesuit Provincial Fr Sunu Hardiyanta SJ and St Ignatius College Rector Fr Andreas Sugijopranoto SJ.

Deacons Winaryanta and Melkyor Pando entered the Society of Jesus at the same time on June 22, 2007 and both studied philosophy at Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta.

Deacon Winaryanta spent his regency at St Aloysius Gonzaga High School in Jakarta teaching religious studies and as assistant to the chaplain. Deacon Melkyor Pando did his regency at Kanisius Foundation for Education in Semarang, Central Java where he served as assistant to the director.

The new deacons are now finishing their theological studies at the Faculty of Theology Wedhabakti Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta.

New Zealand. Robert Morris SJ was ordained to the priesthood at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Christchurch on June 2.  It was a special homecoming for the newly ordained Fr Morris, who has been away from home for many years.  He took his first vows in Sydney in early 2010 and did most of his formation in Australia and the United States.

In a video interview with Jesuit Communications Australia later that year, he spoke of why he had joined the Society of Jesus.  “I was touched by the stories especially of the Jesuit martyrs in El Salvador in 1989.  There was something that spoke to my heart about that story, and I think I was just drawn to the idea of caring for people.  There was something that really touched me about the Jesuit ethos, spirituality.”

On Saturday, surrounded by family and brother Jesuits, he was ordained to the priesthood by Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin SM.  A number of Australian Jesuits and lay companions had travelled across the Tasman Sea for the celebrations.  They also joined the new priest for his first Mass at 10 am the next day in Our Lady of Victories in Sockburn.  There, on Sunday, June 3, Fr Morris preached in the very church where he once sat as a young boy.

As he begins his priestly ministry, perhaps he is thinking of his role models for the priesthood.  In another interview given just before his diaconate ordination, he had said, “Before Francis was elected Pope, I was actually drawn to Bergoglio as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. I had read a bit about him – his very simple way of life, his pastoral example, and his depth of spirituality. He practises what he preaches. His simplicity of life, I was really drawn to that.”

Taiwan. Holy Family Church in Taipei City was filled to overflowing on Saturday, June 9 as hundreds of people gathered for the ordination of Romio Brahma SJ and Aloysius Ming-te Hsu SJ to the priesthood.  It was a momentous occasion and some, especially the relatives and friends of the new priests, were moved to tears by the melodious choir and sacred ritual.

Chinese Provincial Fr Stephen Sau-Yan Chow SJ blesses Fr Aloysius Ming-te Hsu SJ Fr Romio Brahma SJ with Kohima Regional Superior Fr Arul Susaimanickam SJ and friends Archbishop of Taipei John B Shan-Chuan Hung SVD officiated at the ordination.  During the ceremony, Archbishop Hung praised the two new priests for their determination to respond to the call of their vocation and their wholehearted pursuit of perfect sainthood. He also inspirited them to start the mission of spreading apostolic devotion, stressing that ordination is not a completion, but a beginning.

Fr Stephen Sau-Yan Chow SJ, Provincial of the Chinese Jesuit Province, welcomed the two new priests to the Society of Jesus, and encouraged them “to empty oneself in order to serve others in the Lord”.

Fr Brahma, who is originally from India and belongs to the Kohima Jesuit Region, was very happy to see so many of his relatives and friends at his ordination. He wants to serve the poor and people in need, and asked all gathered to pray for him as he continues to strive to be a servant of God.

Fr Hsu, who is Taiwanese and from Kaohsiung, thanked all those who accompanied him in his vocation journey. He urged the youth present “to carefully discern, to courageously answer the call from God”.  After all, he said, one has to take action besides feeling moved.

Many Jesuits joined the celebration, welcoming their brothers to the priesthood.  It was a time to give thanks to God for this blessing.

“I am now 86 years old. I’m glad to see successors, and hope that these young priests will continue to carry forward the spirit of Jesus Christ,” said Fr Simon En-jung Chu SJ.

Philippines. Two Filipino Jesuits were ordained to the priesthood on June 2 at the Oratory of St Ignatius of Loyola, Loyola House of Studies in Manila. Jereme Asunto SJ and Firmo Bargayo Jr SJ were ordained by Bishop of Tagbilaran Abet Uy DD.

“The Church rejoices with you this day of your ordination,” said Bishop Uy. “May the young people who are here with us today, and those who will be blessed by your presence and ministry be inspired to embrace, as well, something or someone larger than themselves.”

The bishop urged the newly ordained priests to always find courage and joy in their vocation, citing the example of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul who ignored his superiors’ instructions and gave transit visas to Jews in Lithuania during World War II. Sugihara was dismissed from the diplomatic service because of his actions. He settled into a low-key life and, at one point, even sold light bulbs door to door to support his family. Although he died virtually unknown in Japan, Sugihara saved 6,000 Jews from the Holocaust.

“May people go beyond their consumerist market place mentality, which highlights profit, money, influence and prestige, with you as living and breathing signposts,” Bishop Uy told Fathers Asunto and Bargayo. “May this ecclesial event point people to something more and draw them to someone beyond.”

As words of encouragement, Bishop Uy quoted from a letter written by Fr Horacio dela Costa SJ in 1946: “Somehow, even when the pain is fiercest, there shall be joy always, for that is the miracle of falling in love with Christ; and in the end, when the shadows lengthen, and the stars come out, He will be there as always, pointing across the very little way there shall be left to go, at the lights of home.”

The newly ordained priests both have experience in pastoral formation and social justice advocacy. Fr Asunto entered the Society of Jesus in 2007 and has served in Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, the socio-political apostolate of the Philippine Jesuits. He did his regency at Ateneo de Zamboanga University where he taught Christian Living to high school students.

Fr Bargayo was a full-time missionary with the Youth for Christ charismatic community prior to joining the Society of Jesus in 2006. He was sent to Jesuit Service Cambodia for regency where he worked as adviser of the Rural Development Ang Snoul. Returning from regency, he was appointed the Associate Director of Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan.

(L-R) Deacon Hilario, Philippine Provincial Fr Jun Viray SJ, Fr Jereme Asunto SJ, Bishop Abet Uy DD, Fr Firmo Bargayo SJ and Loyola House of Studies Rector Fr Junjun Borres SJ
In his thanksgiving speech, Fr Bargayo related an important part of his vocation story. “My mother came to my elementary graduation. But she was drunk, as she often was. She pinned a medal on me, but on her way down the stage, she fell. From then on my friends teased me as ‘the son of the falling star’. That incident crippled me.

“But my life changed when Couples for Christ changed my mother. I knew then that God was present. In my mother’s new life, I witnessed a God who granted wishes, a God who made wishes come true … What I was too embarrassed to admit before, I now say with deep affection: my mother is my falling star. And now, I can wish to my falling star that I may become a good priest.”

On behalf of himself and Fr Asunto, Fr Bargayo thanked the many people who have been instrumental in their journey to the priesthood, namely their past and present provincials, formators, spiritual directors, teachers and the communities in their apostolates who “taught us what it means to be a true servant of God”. He also thanked their family and friends “who continue to pray for us and inspire us to persevere in this vocation … We pray that we may grow in love with God deeper and deeper each day.”