Mercy essential ‘in whatever we do’ – Archbishop

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, flanked by Fr Alliston Fernandes and Fr Francis D’Sousa at their incardination mass, confirming that they now serve the Archdiocese of Malta.

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna emphasised that mercy would always be essential ‘in whatever we do and in whatever happens to us’ in his homily during an incardination mass that took place at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

The incardination mass served to confirm that two priests from the ICPE Mission, Fr Alliston Fernandes and Fr Francis D’Sousa, now serve within the Archdiocese of Malta.

Both priests hail from India, and their incardination follows Archbishop Scicluna’s 2015 decision to grant permission to establish a house for the formation of future ICPE Mission priests within the seminary.

The Archbishop welcomed the two priests into “the glorious family” of a Maltese priesthood which has existed since Paul came on our shores.

Missionary spirit ‘part of our spiritual DNA’

Archbishop Scicluna also emphasised that it was a great honour for the Church in Malta “to welcome the fruits of the formation that ICPE is offering in this sacred ground.” He also thanked ICPE “for bringing this missionary ideal back on the agenda of the Church of Malta.”

He highlighted that the Maltese had been baptised by a missionary apostle, stating that he liked to think that a missionary spirit “is part of our spiritual DNA.”

“When we lose that, we are losing our identity. So thank you for bringing this important aspect of our own identity and renewing us through it. It is a gift of the Spirit,” he said.

The Archbishop said that he realised that the incardination of a priest was a responsibility as well as a risk, though he assured the two priests that in their case, the risk was a calculated one.

‘His mercy endures forever’

Archbishop Scicluna recalled the psalm read on the occasion, Psalm 118, a psalm which gives thanks to the Lord and emphasises that “his mercy endures forever.” Mercy, he emphasised, would always be essential.

He recalled what he had said during the ordination of ten new priests earlier this year; that their hands were being anointed as the hands with which Jesus wanted to embrace humanity with his tenderness, mercy, compassion and care.

“They are not hands that should throw stones. They are not hands that should point fingers at the weak, at the vulnerable, at sinners. If they need to point at something, they need to point to Jesus crucified on the Cross. He is our salvation,” the Archbishop emphasised.

He also recalled a meditation by an ancient Father of the Church, St Chromatius of Aquileia, who recalled that the Lord did not want us to arrive in heaven crippled, without a hand or blind: emphasising that in this, he was referring to the Church as the body of jesus.

“The feet of the Church are the deacons, the hands of the Church are the presbyters and the eyes are the bishops. If these become an impediment, they have to be censored and chastised for they cannot corrupt the whole body,” the Archbishop explained.

“You are the hands of Jesus Christ, not the hands of the accuser or of the tempter. May you grow in holiness and may you join with your holiness, that is really a wonderful work of the Lord’s mercy, a very august and special line of priests of this Archdiocese who give their lives everyday.”

‘May this modest house of formation grow’

Archbishop Scicluna recalled when St Peter had been imprisoned, facing death, he was alone and afraid, but the prayer of the Chruch saved him, promising the two priests that the Archdiocese would keep them in their prayers.

He also observed that the two priests would likely be assigned to unknown land, expressing his hope that they would not always be sent where they would not want to go, as Jesus told Peter.

“But I realise that you are giving a special availability to be sent in missions and mission territories and situations that you cannot imagine today,” he said, before concluding by auguring the continued growth of the ICPE Mission’s house of formation.

“May this small and modest house of formation grow. May it multiply and bear fruit. May you be an expression of its blessing and a reminder of the Lord’s mercy,” he concluded.