Your Eminence, Bishop Clifford, fellow priests. Three words – Welcome, Congratulations and Thanks.
I welcome Your Eminence and all the other Jubilarians here this evening. You know Your Eminence that you are always welcome back here to Armagh and that we are always delighted to see you. We are particularly delighted to see you on this happy occasion, the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of your ordination to the priesthood. It is good that you have been able to come and give us the opportunity of praising God with you and of thanking God with you for the gift of the priesthood of Jesus Christ to His Church, for the gift of 60 years of priesthood to you and to Canon Desmond Campbell and to Canon Michael Ward and of 50 years to Fr Tony Lambe and of 25 years to Fr Seamus McGinley, Fr Martin McVeigh and Fr Christy McElwee. Yes, it is good for all of us to be here.

Congratulations to each one of you Jubilarians. We gladly share the joy of this Jubilee with you. This evening we celebrate and rejoice in the fidelity of a faithful God; a God who gives the grace and the strength to be faithful to commitments made; a God who never fails to keep the promises that have been made; a God who always has new gifts to offer. This evening we rejoice in the grace of priesthood. We try and relive and evoke the sense of wonder and awe which each one of us felt as we rose from the feet of the Bishop who ordained us and contemplated the fact that we were a priest, a priest for ever, according the order of Melchisedech.

Finally, many thanks to all of you for accepting the invitation to be here. Thanks to the Jubilarians for allowing us to join with them in the expression of gratitude for graces received personally and for the graces conveyed through them to the people whom it is such a privilege to serve and to help.

Your Eminence, thank you for your outstanding talk on St Thérèse which did so much to create the special atmosphere of prayer and peace and recollection which were the hallmarks of the visit of her relics to Armagh.

Our prayer this evening is, for all our Jubilarians that God may continue to bless them and preserve them and protect them and guide them. Our prayer is for priests everywhere but especially for the priests chosen by God to serve in this Archdiocese. We rejoice in the ordination of Fr Eugene O’Neill and joyfully look forward to the ordination of Paul Montague on Sunday next. We ask God to watch over our seminarians and to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

My hope is that our ceremony this evening will help each one of us to realise ever more clearly the privilege it is to be a priest, the strength which we can and should give to each other in the face of challenges and to realise the holiness to which we are called and to which we are called to lead other people.

Let us place all of ourselves and all our attentions, but especially our Jubilarians, under the protection and patronage of Mary, our Mother and the Mother of the one Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, as I ask Your Eminence to lead us in this Holy Eucharist.