St Matthew's church, Clubmoor, Liverpool had a full congregation as Archbishop Patrick Kelly ordained Rev Liam Collister to the Priesthood on Sunday 8 July 2012.
Liam has lived in the parish of All Saints, Anfield for most of his life, but worshipped at Saint Matthew’s for thirteen years. After attending All Saints Infant and Junior schools he went to De La Salle Liverpool (Croxteth) to study for GCSE’s and then attended Saint Francis Xavier’s Sixth Form, Woolton to study for A levels.
At the age of 16, he started working for European Wellcare as a part time cleaner in Greenheys Lodge Residential Home in Toxteth, and after finishing school became a care assistant at the Prince Alfred Care Home in Wavertree for a year, before transferring back to Greenheys Lodge, as a care assistant. He was a member of staff within Greenheys Lodge Residential Care Home for over ten years, and spent nearly thirteen years with the European Wellcare company.
Before formal studies for the Priesthood Liam went to the Royal English College of Saint Alban in Valladolid, Spain, in 2005 to begin the propaedeutic year. After this year, he moved to Saint Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw College, Durham and spent five years studying there gaining both a BA and my PGCert in Theology and Ministry from Durham University. After ordination to the Diaconate on 11 June 2011, he moved from Saint Cuthbert’s Seminary to Saint Mary’s Seminary, Oscott College, Birmingham, for his Diaconate year in formation.
Liam says: 'I have always felt that I have been called to be a priest, and I remember watching a priest in All Saints’ church when I was a young lad while he was saying Mass and thinking to myself “That’s what I want to do when I am older”. Of course, my journey in life has brought me down many varied paths, but they have led me to this final end, and all of which have shaped me into the person that I am today. I am looking forward to helping people, and walking with them on their journey in faith. During my long placement in Saint Margaret Mary’s parish,Huyton, I looked forward to my weekly sick and housebound calls, visiting people and being with them and sometimes bringing them the Blessed Sacrament. These were blessed times for me, to be with people in their need and walk with them in their journey towards knowing and loving God better. I hope that I will continue to be able to help people in the future, by my ministry; and work towards bringing people closer to God, to know and love him more in their lives.'
Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the Ordination to the Priesthood of Liam Collister. Sunday 8 July 2012 at 3.00 pm in the church of St Matthew, Clubmoor, Liverpool.
Introduction to Mass:
Staggering power: daring familiarity before God: fascinating control and assurance: this is the atmosphere into which the word of God summons us today: confidence: ultimate truth: definitive priorities: that is the hallmark of the people among whom and for whose service Liam Collister is ordained today. Nothing less than living by and so expecting the articulation of God’s own words: such confident reading of what has come to pass among us that we can know God’s intimate life and relationships: assurance of a call to be no less than salt, spice, zest, vitality for the earth: light, illumination, clarity, brilliance for the world.
Many rightly have a word, an insight, a light to shed, let us say on sickness: chemist: biologist: physician: psychologist: but we also seek a Tolstoy to speak, in poetry, in the richness of literature, a fuller account as in the Death of Ivan Ilych. Poetry speaks from a higher viewpoint, comes closer to the truth. We are wise if we stand for the priority of poetry over prose. A fact our great local poet Roger McGough proclaims by an inverted slant when he offers a plain, prose version of Wordsworth’s daffodils: 'one day, by myself, I saw a lot of daffodils: I often think about them'. 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' is more true.
And we as God’s people are convinced: the seeing, the understanding, the assessment of us as a priestly people of all that is definitive truth: the salt that gives a real lively edge to priorities: a light that opens up unexpected awareness of how things really are and can be. We are a people who live and interpret and act and prioritise by nothing less than God’s word.
And our assurance, our daring is in perfect harmony with the boldness of Saint Paul: he is absolutely certain, from what has taken place, that it is no longer enough to acclaim: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord or God, the Lord is One': now we are certain: there is one Lord: there is one Spirit: there is one Father: our God is not an isolated, aloof, cold, closed silence: our God is a communion, is conversation: is giving and receiving: no unmoved mover: but such that a Son leaps to his feet and pitches his tent among us. We know God: we are light to the world.
Liam, I am certain, Valladolid, Spain, Saint Teresa of Avila stole your heart. Let Carmel be woven into your priestly life. Contemplative prayer rejects the partial, the superficial; it soars to the heights, to poetry and beyond to prophecy: to God’s voice and God’s words. Never be afraid of the silence in which all partial readings, inadequate priorities, superficial words are put to the test and found wanting.
In silence, allow yourself to be put to the test: in everything you say or do, allow the vocation, in the words of Cardinal Manning, that you are a messenger sent by God to be tested. Yes, let crisis of identity be a sharing in the Lord’s own severe testing in the wilderness and throughout his ministry even unto Calvary. For unless we are sent by God we are, in every significant circumstance, intruders and impertinent. Be assured prayer of, with and from Carmel will lead you into all truth as a priest of a priestly, prophetic people, among whom and for whom and inspired by whom you will speak definitive, liberating, glorious words of God.
Pictures from the Mass of Ordination