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by José Sánchez

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Toronto, Canada – June 15, 2024 – In a morning ceremony brimming with joy, the Jesuits welcomed three new priests: Jude Forbi, S.J. (Cameroon), Matthew Hendzel, S.J. (Canada), and Brook Stacey, S.J. (Canada). The ordination, held at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, a vibrant hub nestled within various diverse communities in Toronto, was an expression of the global reach of the Jesuit order.

A Call to Serve
Archbishop Francis Leo of Toronto presided over the ordination, emphasizing the profound significance of the day:

“We today receive a gift from the Lord Jesus, three gifts, Jude, Brook and Matthew, gifts that Jesus gives to the Church… He loves the Church, He can always see the need of the Church, for men to emerge over 2000 years ago, to dedicate themselves completely, entirely, for their whole lives, to the priestly ministry.”

Indeed, the readings for the Mass—Jeremiah 1:4-9, Hebrews 5:1-10, and John 15:9-17—echoed themes of calling, service, and the multiplication of good works.

Archbishop Leo drew inspiration from the readings and spoke of the call to priesthood as “a radical and joyful invitation to leave everything behind for the sake of the kingdom and begin a new life as a believer, a follower, a witness, and an apostle to the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.” Archbishop Leo reminded the new priests that their mission is to continue Christ’s work of salvation, reconciliation, and transformation. “The call of Christ was and still is a radical and joyful invitation to leave everything behind for the sake of the kingdom,” he noted.

He also highlighted the importance of abiding in Christ’s love, finding joy in service, and fostering friendship with the Lord. He reminded the newly ordained of their calling to be “contemplatives in action,” witnessing to the joy of the Gospel and engaging in diverse ministries to meet the needs of the world.

Archbishop Leo also encouraged them to embrace a deep and abundant apostolic zeal, following the example of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America. He urged them to seek intimacy with Jesus Christ and docility to the Holy Spirit, discerning and teaching discernment so that Christ’s abundant life may be experienced by all.

His words were both inspiring and grounding. “By way of the ancient and sacred rites of the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, my dear deacons, you will become an icon of Christ, minister of the new and eternal covenant,” he said. He encouraged the new priests to “serve the people with love, with charity. Nourish them with the word of God and strengthen them with the sacraments.”

Harmony in Diversity 
The congregation—friends, family, fellow Jesuits, and others—filled the pews, diverse in cultures, languages, and ages, reflecting the parish’s usual community and the wider world in which the new priests will serve. Many captured moments on their cameras, eager to document and share the joyous occasion.

Another highlight of the ceremony was the rich musical tapestry woven throughout. A Cameroonian choir, consisting of friends and former schoolmates of Fr. Jude Forbi, S.J. and bishop Michael Bibi, infused the service with powerful and soulful singing. The Litany of the Saints, accompanied by the beat of drums and vocal harmonies, created a moving and unique experience during the rite of ordination. A choir directed by Christina Labriola, also contributed to the celebratory atmosphere, their voices uplifting the spirits of all present.

Reflecting on the gathering, Fr. Provincial Erik Oland, S.J., aptly described it as “very alive”, an example of the Church “alive and well.”

A Future of Service
The three new priests are set to embark on their individual ministries, each reflecting the diverse ways in which Jesuits serve the needs of the world. These ministries may include teaching, parish ministry, prison ministry, retreat centers, accompaniment of refugees, and Indigenous reconciliation, among others. Their ordination marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of service and witness, guided by their faith and the teachings of the Church.

Following the ordination, Brook Stacey, S.J., will pursue a Master of Teaching degree and serve as a chaplain, teacher, and counselor at a Jesuit high school in Canada.

Matthew Hendzel, S.J., will continue to teach and work in campus ministry at Loyola High School in Montreal.

Jude Forbi, S.J., will continue his theology studies at Regis College, pursuing a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) and a Master of Theology (Th.M.).

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