June 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5-MOURNIAN

Joyful celebrations as Motherwell welcomes its newest priest

Fr Bernard Mournian was ordained during a joyful celebration at his home parish of St Mary’s Hamilton on Friday, June 30—but his road to the priesthood began with the inspirational response of a parish priest there to a tragedy.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of great examples of priesthood—priests that I’ve encountered growing up in my own parish and my own school,” he said, adding that a ‘fundamental aspect’ in his entering the priesthood was the ‘tragic and very sudden death of my brother-in-law, Phil O’Donnell.’

Fr Mournian praised the wonderful comfort that the parish priest of St Mary’s in Hamilton, Fr Harry O’Brien, gave to him and the rest of the Motherwell footballer’s family, and this was a source of great inspiration for him.

“The spiritual comfort that he brought to our family was just so impressive; he gave us a real sense of Christ among us,” he said. It was at this point in his life that he started to explore a vocation to the priesthood in a more serious way.

Another key factor was going to World Youth Day in 2008. “Pope Benedict led us on that pilgrimage there in Sydney,” he said. “To hear his words about listening to what the Lord is asking me to do, it became quite clear then that I really had to pursue this call. And spending seven years in Rome, the call became clear—this was what I had been called to do.”

Reflecting on his time as a seminarian at the Scots College, Fr Mournian said that although he was admittedly nervous about going, he loved his time studying in Rome.

“The major highlight was meeting Pope Emeritus Benedict and deaconing for Pope Francis at the Easter Vigil,” Fr Mournian recalled fondly. “I was very privileged to be given a gift last week just before I left Rome from Pope Benedict of a signed, first edition copy of Jesus of Nazareth as a token for my ordination. I was totally overwhelmed.

“Being able to study philosophy and theology with such dedicated professors who are so at the forefront of their field of study, to be taught by them in Rome, was just such a great opportunity.

“I’m very grateful to the formation staff and the religious sisters who have cared and supported me in the college.”

Friends and family of the seminarian are travelling to attend Friday’s special Mass from both near and far, including from the USA, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia and Ireland and he said he was ‘really excited’ ahead of the big day.

“I’m very nervous about celebrating Mass for the first time, but I’ve been very lucky in that all the organising and arranging has been taken care of by my parish. My parish priest and the people in the parish and my family have taken on so much of the organisation, so that’s been a great blessing,” he said.

“I’m so looking forward to the day itself, to be with all my friends and family. There’s such a great excitement to celebrate Mass for the first time, the amazing privilege to experience that, and to ­celebrate the Sacraments in general—I just cannot wait!

“My Faith and the Church means so much to me. To be that instrument for others in a very particular way as a priest, there’s so much you can do to bring Christ to others—not least in the Sacraments but in so many other ways.

“I am just so looking forward to being a priest and serving the Lord as best I can. I simply can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

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