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Myanmar Cardinal ordains 13 deacons to priesthood

The newly ordained priests together with Cardinal Charles Bo, Bishops and priests. (Photo supplied)

Cardinal Charles Bo on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19 ordained 13 deacons to the priesthood in Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Yangon, Myanmar.

The candidates to the priesthood were from Yangon archdiocese, Pyay, and Pathein dioceses, including three from the Society of Jesus and two from the Franciscan congregation.

“It [the ordination] is of the whole Church of Myanmar since the candidates to the priesthood are from different dioceses and two religious orders,” said Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon.

In his homily, he said, “The Church of Myanmar is wounded and displaced. Priests are wounded healers, the hope of the people. They are the refuge of the suffering brothers and sisters.”

Myanmar is journeying the way of the cross. Priests are to stand before the altars and offer their lives for the Church and the country generously, the prelate added.

According to him, Catholic priesthood is to “to serve and not to show authority over others, to heal those wounded and the weak, not to wound others, to search for justice, not to kneel and surrender but to proclaim that no powerful people are to govern the world senselessly.”

“Priests are soldiers of God’s army and fight for human dignity and justice. A priest is another Christ (“Alter Christus” in Latin). Christ is the model, the savior, and the healer of all priests,” the cardinal said.

“We gather and pray in words and our heart, there is faith and hope. Amid challenges, tears and blood is flowing not only in Myanmar but in the world too,” he stressed.

Christ has chosen the weak for the Church. So the priests will be surely filled with the Holy Spirit. Priests will be able to heal, save the world, and will give true freedom to it, the prelate said.

Recalling the words of Pope Francis on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of his priestly ordination, Cardinal Bo said, “A priest is a call to holiness. It is a call to a relationship with God. He is to be close to God and to be close to the people. He is to be close to his fellow priests, to his Bishop and superior.”

Since Myanmar needs reconciliation and dialogue, a priest is to proclaim the good news, heal the sick and bring peace, he reiterated.

Sharing his experience, the cardinal said, “Previously, I would like to be a businessman. I saw that priests seldom came to my place for months. If there would be a priest in my place, it would be very good in various ways for the people.”

Afterward, with the frequent visits of the priest, he could see more clearly the lifestyle and the activities of the priest.

“I wanted to be a priest which was against the will of my mother. I prayed to Mother Mary earnestly so that my mother would agree with my decision to join the seminary,” he recalled.

His mother peacefully agreed with his decision. With the encouragement and support of priests and his fellow seminarians, he could keep on moving forward.

“I always remember the word of the Lord that says, ‘To carry our cross and follow Him,’” said Father James Peter Mg Sein, Fatima Parish, Thone Kwa Township, Yangon Archdiocese.

Right after his first communion, he was sad to see his mother, who could not receive the Holy Communion since his parents were not yet married in a church.  

“I have heard from others that if I am a priest, my parents would receive the sacrament of marriage and both of them can receive the Holy Eucharist,” said James, the new priest.

The frequent visits of priests and seminarians to his village inspire him to be like them.

“I had a chance for further study in Melbourne, Australia from 2014 to 2021. I was ordained deacon on December 3, 2020, in Melbourne. I am willing to come back and serve the Lord in my birth land rather than in the foreign land,” said Father Joseph Kyaw Lin Aung, Maubin Parish, Yangon Archdiocese.

He had a family background of a priestly vocation. His uncle is a priest and his aunt is a nun. His brother is a priest in the Salesian order.

“Their lives and instruction have helped me pursue the priesthood. I was made known about the arrival of the Franciscan congregation to Myanmar by my aunt. I went to the congregation, and the lives of Franciscans drew my attention to be one of them,” said Father Joseph.

He prayed a lot so that he could make the right decision. His parents and other relatives agreed with his decision to be a priest.

“Looking back to the past, I have seen that there has been always divine grace in different parts of my life,” said Father Francis Saw Kay Zar Min, OFM (Taunggoo Diocese).

“I married a Buddhist. I was worried to have a son since it was not possible to bring him up according to my faith. As my son grew up, he has decided to be a priest after having learned about the Society of Jesus,” said Christine Chit, mother of Jesuit Father John Thomas Kyaw Thu Win.

“God gives me a son and I could give Him back as a priest. I am overjoyed that I could not express in word,”  she added.


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