A packed congregation filled St Monica's church, Bootle, on Friday evening, 22 June 2012, the Feast of St John Fisher and St Thomas More, for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Gerard Callacher by Archbishop Patrick Kelly.
Gerard, who had been an altar server at St Monica's, writes:
I was born in Bootle in 1975, one of four children to Vinnie and Jean Callacher. Ours was a close, loving family in which faith was a vital part of everyday life; I am hugely grateful to both my parents for the fine example they gave me.
Music has always been an important part of my life. At an early age I began learning the piano and organ, and was appointed organist at St Joan of Arc, Bootle, at the age of eleven. After school I continued my musical studies at Liverpool University, and after graduation I went on to do a Master’s degree in Piano Performance. During this time I was Organ Scholar at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, and Director of Music at St Faith’s Church, Crosby, where I learned much about music in liturgy.
Before I began my formation to the priesthood in 2006, at Ushaw College, Durham, I worked as a freelance musician, teaching piano and organ privately and in several schools on Merseyside. I was also accompanist to Birkenhead and Formby Choral Societies. I particularly enjoyed the tours: what a great way to see Europe.
My vocational journey has been a long and gradual one; the seeds, I believe were sown in my early family life, particularly at St Monica’s Church, Bootle, where my brothers and I were altar servers. My work as a church musician has led me to appreciate the importance of music as a spiritual enhancement to human life; at best, it can give us a glimpse of the beauty and transcendence of God. Also, this work has given me the privileged opportunity of working closely with people of all ages and backgrounds, with all the joys and challenges it brings.
I have spent my year as a deacon with Father Martin Kershaw and the lovely people of St Austin’s Parish, Thatto Heath, St Helen’s. What an honour and privilege it has been. I am very much looking forward to the next chapter in my ministry, following my Ordination to the Priesthood. I have always loved working with people, and look forward to the new challenges and joys that priesthood will bring. I give thanks to God for all the graces and blessings he has given me; for bringing me to this point in my life with all my faults, failings and gifts; and for granting me the privilege and honour of serving Him in this way. I thank him too for all the wonderful people who, knowingly or unknowingly, have helped me in my vocational journey.
Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev Gerard Callacher. Friday 22 June 2012, the Feast of St John Fisher and St Thomas More, at 7.00 pm in the church of St Monica, Bootle.
Introduction to Mass:
We are not far from the truth if we say: on Pentecost, the promise made through the prophet Jeremiah, 'See I am putting my word into your mouth,' was fulfilled: for then, the spirit not of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control in tongues of fire came down: all as the Spirit gave them a new heart, a new song, all sang out God’s deeds of power. The Lord God has summoned us before him that he may listen graciously to the prayers of this family that the same Spirit of Holiness will renew the mind, the heart, the voice of Ged Callacher, to lead us in singing the new song of the people of God: a people enlivened and made holy through his Son, Our Lord and Shepherd, by the power and working of the holy Spirit. Disharmony discord, the senseless din of sin have no place here.
What made Jeremiah a prophet was not eloquence, but vision. Prophets see the true state of things. Theirs is a higher viewpoint: God’s viewpoint. They cannot but be exhilarated, transfigured; no wonder their language is often poetry, songs, yes of lament when the day demands it, but above all the joy of the assurance of a renewed creation, a promise of a new heaven and new earth. It is so often the Lord of the dance, of whom Zephaniah sang who puts his words in a prophet’s mouth: 'he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew in his love, he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival'.
But the great festival is the festival of light and fire and song: Pentecost. For the Spirit of truth has come, leading into all truth: the Spirit who makes it clear: the ruler of this world, the father of lies, who falsely accuses, the kill-joy who divides and gloats in disharmony, has been defeated. The Spirit has shown: the way of the cross, the way of selflessness and mercy, is the way to the Father. Indeed no need for mean-minded, lukewarm, milk and water timidity: but an era of the Spirit of power and love and self-control. New spiritual songs will well up from the hearts of the Paschal Pentecostal people, such as:
'Let very tongue confess, acclaim, sing out, Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' Or: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blest us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.' And: 'joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light…rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his Son...and in him all things hold together.'
Ged, the Lord’s people, looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, is formed in heart and mind, in affection and feeling to be attentive to the needs of all; that has to mean at this time, sharing much grief and pain: the overture of Handel’s 'Messiah' is the melody for our day: a sombre undertone, chords not resolved. But we are also attentive to joy and hope. That same overture is pregnant with the expectation of something, someone new: of mirth awaiting the heart's beat for it to soar forth until it becomes the cry: 'Alleluia'. For the Lamb is worthy: mercy has conquered: sin is forgiven: Simon Peter's threefold denial has been drowned by a song of amazed love: 'Yes, Lord, you know all things, you know I love you'.
Ged, out of aching compassion for the crowds, harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, go, feed the lambs, look after the sheep, and feed the sheep. Gather them around the one Good Shepherd who came that they may have life and have it abundantly. And teach them to sing.
Pictures from the Mass of Ordination