Rev. Shane O’Neill was ordained for the diocese of Waterford and Lismore by Bishop Phonsie Cullinan on Sunday last, July 19th. The ordination ceremony was celebrated in Shane’s native parish of Knockanore, Co. Waterford.
It was indeed a proud day for the community in Knockanore who were preparing for the great event for months. The church was recently refurbished and looked immaculate, proudly showcasing its architectural features, which helped give expression to the rich symbolism of the ordination ceremony. A festival atmosphere prevailed: the church was filled to capacity with parishioners, family and friends of Shane and over fifty priests who concelebrated with Bishop Cullinan.
The rite of ordination is deeply moving and meaningful; it had added poignancy as it was Bishop Cullinan’s first ordination of a candidate to the priesthood. Bishop Phonsie in his homily, spoke of how rewarding the life of the priest is, as he is called to mediate the grace of the healing power of Christ, particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He said that there is nothing like the priesthood in terms of the meaning and purpose it confers on the man who responds to the call of the Lord to follow him.
The solemnity of the occasion was highlighted when Shane lay prostrate before the altar as the litany of the saints is intoned. This is a sign of his total surrender to the Lord and his total commitment to fulfilling his ministerial responsibilities . This is followed by the laying on of hands by the bishop and priest concelebrant, signifying the transmission of Christ’s priestly power unbroken in succession from the apostles down through the centuries.
Shane now ordained for the ministerial priesthood, was then vested in the stole and chasuble by his mother Patricia. Now ready to join the Bishop in concelebrating the Eucharist, Shane was presented with the chalice and paten by Bishop Phonsie with the reminder that Shane was to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.
Shane had taken time before he made a decision to commit to priesthood. After completing his secondary education at CBS Lismore, and later Blackwater Community School. He set out to pursue a career in primary level teaching but he decided initially to pursue studies in the Faculty of Arts in UCC. He graduated from University College Cork with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008. He furthered his studies there the following year, graduating with a Master’s degree in Irish in 2009. He also spent part of this year working as a substitute teacher in various local primary schools, including Cappoquin, Conna, and his native Knockanore. Having completed his studies at UCC, he thought again about the priesthood and was accepted for the diocese of Waterford & Lismore by Bishop William Lee during the summer of 2009. He began his training in Maynooth that autumn, with thirty other classmates from around the country.
He is one of fifteen men ordained to the priesthood for Ireland this summer
Ordination is a deeply emotional experience for parents and family of Shane. Naturally, he parents, Thomas and Patricia are very proud of their son. But there is also a poignancy for parents as they, as it were, gift their son to the Church which from now on will demand total commitment from Shane. This involves great generosity from all members of the family. (Shane is the eldest of the family of four, three sons and one daughter.)
The community hall was packed to capacity after the ceremony where Fr. Shane met with friends and neighbours and members of the wider community wished him well for the future. The spirit of hospitality and welcome was palpable as the community really rose to the occasion.
Shane celebrated his first mass in his native church on Monday evening. He awaits for Bishop Cullinan to grant him his first appointment in the diocese. We wish him well.
Photographs courtesy of John Hennessy Photography, Youghal, Co. Cork.