In his Homily during the Ordination Mass at Leeds Cathedral on Saturday 17 July 2021, Bishop Marcus was unequivocal in the warmth of the support and welcome he expressed on behalf of the whole Diocese of Leeds to the Rev Christopher Butler as he became our newest priest. The livestreamed Ordination Mass will be available to view via our Leeds Cathedral Live You Tube Channel. We pray for Fr Chris throughout his ministry, but especially on this joyful day of Ordination and join with Bishop Marcus’ words in a Cathedral as full as pandemic restrictions currently permit:
‘The face of malice has no place here; instead the radiant and transforming Face of Christ can be seen in all its Sacramental beauty and power.’
Surrounded by friends and family, many of whom had travelled long distances to see him ordained, Fr Christopher will have been uplifted to hear the Bishop going on to highlight the qualities he brings to the Sacred Priesthood; those qualities of ‘closeness, compassion and tenderness’ that bring healing and reconciliation are well understood by all who know Fr Chris, and none more so to those who have experienced them in his capacity as a nursing professional who for decades has been a caring, loving, and cheerful presence on the Diocese of Leeds Lourdes Pilgrimage.
‘Closeness, compassion and tenderness’ were also the qualities of priesthood recently highlighted by the Holy Father as being those which characterised the friendship between Christ and His Apostles, all of whom – just like all of us, sinners as we are! – were men whose personalities and lives exemplified the whole range of human failings and weaknesses, and yet were chosen by Our Lord Himself to be His closest companions, undergoing a profound and radical conversion of heart and conversion of life.
This is later a theme of St Paul, who boasts in his weakness, overcoming his human failings not as a consequence of his own will or resolve, but as a result of the transforming power of Christ’s love. It is a theme also recently taken up by Pope Francis with regard to the priesthood. The Holy Father has said ‘Superman’ priests end up badly; the fragile priest who knows his weaknesses and talks of them with the Lord will be fine!’ It also a theme that every Christian, ordained and lay faithful alike, can be reassured by in our own lives, confident that we are not defined or judged by any human perceptions of goodness and virtue, but instead every man and woman is acknowledged for who we really are: a unique and beloved child of God.
As ever, the Bishop cautioned his ordinand that although following Christ supports, heals and gives us strength, it can also imperil us, but that we take our resolve from both dying and rising with Christ – and as a priest Fr Chris will do that daily in the offering of Holy Mass. The Bishop reminded us all that it is when we are most weak that we are strongest, as that is a chance for encounter with God, and there is nothing and no-one He cannot transform and use for His purpose.
All photographs copyright Patrick Sice for Diocese of Leeds.