Ordination of Fr Chris Kaamiño IV
By Mary Joy Rile
The thought of ordination, wedding, profession of vows and commitment rites always excites me. Every moment is special. I believe in the special grace received being present on those occasions. And I believe that God's hand is working through the newly professed.
I'd been invited to some ordinations before but never made it. So when I learned that I could attend Chris's ordination, I was truly happy. But I thought to myself, I had to control my excitement and believe only when I was there.
I was privileged to meet Chris three days before the ordination. Feeling my own excitement for that day, I was curious to know how it was for him. I asked how he truly felt and he said, 'sagol-sagol man' (mixed emotions), 'di ko kasabot' (I cannot understand). I guess he didn't have to elaborate. Those few words meant much already.
I didn't make it to his rehearsal. But the day before the ordination I went to the Cathedral and witnessed the practice of the altar boys. They were practicing the sequence with all the gestures. Some would chuckle in between as one pretended to be the priest. I was wondering also how it was for those boys being at that sacred altar serving on such an important day and how it was especially for the one pretending to be the priest.
On 29 June 2011, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the ordination to the priesthood of Rev Rodolfo Christopher R. Kaamiño IV was to happen in Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Ozamiz City, with Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado CM DD as the ordaining prelate. The sanctuary was filled with about 40 priests, Columbans, diocesan and religious. The Cathedral was jam-packed with people, many of whose lives and families had been touched by the Columbans in Ozamiz, one of the seedbeds of their mission in the Philippines. It was also attended by many Columban lay missionaries and it was my first time to meet most of the Columbans. Bisaya was the main language used in the ordination Mass.
One of the most touching parts of the ritual was the Litany of the Saints when we knelt in prayer while the Reverend Chris prostrated himself before the altar in total surrender. The silence and solemnity allowed each to really offer a prayer for him as we invoked the intercession of the Saints. The litany was quite long and it allowed the ordinandus to be in touch with his feelings and savor the moment. It was during this part that he was moved to tears for he felt so sincerely the prayers of everyone. It truly meant a lot while he pondered in his heart as he surrendered himself to God to be His servant, in total grace. (I couldn’t help but imagine the day that I will also offer myself in total surrender to the will of God.) The laying on of hands by the bishop followed, making Chris a 'priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,' consecrating him through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Putting on new garments symbolized the taking on of new responsibilities, a new role, a new name, ‘Father’, and a new person. Father Chris was like a trusting child freely submissive as Fr Patrick O’Donoghue, Regional Director, and Fr Tommy Murphy, Columban Superior General vested him in his new garments. In the background was the singing of 'Christi simus non nostri' (‘Let us be of Christ, not of ourselves’), one of the sayings of St Columban. Father Chris’s hands were also anointed with oil as a sign that he was offering his hands to Christ.
The welcoming and blessing of Father Chris of the queuing priests with the laying of hands, the hugs and smiles, were such a wonderful grace. Truly it was something for all of us to rejoice about. But the celebration would not be complete for me without kissing the anointed hands of the newly ordained. I see it as a way of sharing blessings – with Father Chris sharing the grace he had freshly obtained, and with myself and the congregation sharing with him our congratulations, happiness and prayers as he was starting a new phase of his life.
I was captured by Father Chris’s humbling words, ‘the reason for our celebration is because we have a God who is faithful, so that we too can be faithful; we have a God who is loving, so that we too can be loving’. Beautiful words that are so true, and an invitation for us to ponder upon . . . It is by grace that we are able to partake in the Mission of Christ; by grace that we can radiate the love that we receive from Him; by grace that we can commit ourselves and remain faithful to our commitment, to whichever path we are called to follow.
The ordination was just the beginning. The following days had Father Chris saying Thanksgiving Masses in the different areas where he was assigned before. When I asked him for a few words he said, ‘I feel blessed to be a priest, humbled by the calling. Presiding at Masses is just one of the many blessings. Basically a priest is a servant of God's Word, trying to put flesh on God's Word in our world – be it in ritual or in ministry’.
Father Chris is continuing to serve in Malate Parish, Manila, where he had been serving as a deacon. Early in 2012 he will leave for mission overseas.
'Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. . . . Now I have put my words in your mouth.' (Jer 1:8-9) May the Living Word that is Christ be your strength as you accept His invitation to fulfill His Mission. Father Chris, our prayers will be with you. God bless you with a wonderful journey.