by Jeff Dillon

A South Korean, Jaewoo Joseph Lee, was ordained a priest for Dunedin diocese in a joyful ceremony at a Friday evening ordination Mass on November 16, before a large congregation at Immaculate Conception parish in Mosgiel.

On the front cover of the order of service booklet, there were depicted two figures in a friendly embrace with the caption “Hey, friend”. This was a link to the passage in John’s Gospel where Jesus is recorded as saying, “I shall not call you servants anymore, because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.” (John 15:15) This was part of the Gospel reading at the Mass.

It was a theme that Bishop Michael Dooley picked up on in his homily. He congratulated Deacon Lee — as he was at that stage of the ceremony — on drawing attention to this aspect of being a priest. Bishop Dooley pondered the question that some may ask as to why anyone would want to be a priest in today’s world.

He acknowledged Deacon Lee’s courage in responding to the call to be a priest. To be an effective priest involves some core aspects. It is firstly a matter of being a friend of Jesus, which is at the heart of our faith. That friendship gives us the guidelines by which to live Christian lives. Secondly, as a priest, Deacon Lee would have the opportunity of sharing that friendship of Jesus with others, so that they can be friends of Jesus too. Bishop Dooley thanked Deacon Lee for taking up this call to be Jesus’ friend and to be his priest.

The rite of ordination then followed, with an examination of the candidate, a promise of obedience to the bishop, the laying on of hands by Bishop Dooley and a full assembly of diocesan clergy plus some other visiting priests. That then led to the prayer of consecration.

Fr Lee was then clothed in his priestly garments of stole and chasuble, assisted by his sister Yeunyoung Lee from Korea and parish priest Fr Michael Hishon. That was then followed by Bishop Dooley anointing Fr Lee’s hands with the Oil of Chrism as a sign of his consecration to God and of his commission to preside at worship, particularly the Eucharist, and to sanctify people.

An aspect of Fr Lee’s cultural background was introduced after Communion. Hyunah Cho played a traditional Korean zither-like instrument called a Gayageum with a rendition of “Amazing Grace”. Then a combined choir of children from the two pastoral area primary schools of St Peter Chanel and St Mary’s sang “This Little Light of Mine”.

After the recessional hymn a lavish supper was supplied in the Holy Cross Centre.

Thanksgiving Mass 

Fr Lee celebrated his Thanksgiving Mass at the other parish of the Pastoral Area of Mosgiel and Green Island in St Peter Chanel church on the Saturday morning after his ordination.

Among the concelebrating priests was Fr Michael Hill, IC.

Fr Lee had spent six months with Fr Hill when he came to Dunedin after he was accepted as a candidate for priesthood for the diocese. Fr Hill mentored him on English pronunciation as well as various other aspects of becoming a priest. That relationship led Fr Lee to ask Fr Hill to provide the homily at the thanksgiving Mass.

Fr Hill obliged with a homily focused on the importance of service as a priest.

He noted the importance of a priest knowing the smell of his flock, the importance of being able to relate to his people and of being able to listen to his parishioners.

He also highlighted the choice of saints that were in the litany said at the Ordination Mass. He singled out certain ones that were significant in relation to the new priest’s role — those that were noted for their emphasis on helping the poor; others who were noted preachers such as St Dominic; those who helped the sick.

The recessional hymn was “Shine Jesus Shine”, which saw Fr Lee sway and move about in a joyous response to the music.

He is returning to Korea to spend a few weeks with family members before returning to the Dunedin diocese in December to take up whatever role he is given by Bishop Dooley.

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