Cardinal Thomas Collins, staff in hand, stands tall with five freshly ordained priests for the Toronto archdiocese, left to right, Antonello Murgia, Matthew McCarthy, Jeremias Inoc, brothers Ryan Alemao and Favin Alemao. Photos by Evan Boudreau

One journey ended, another begun for Toronto's new priests

  • May 16, 2017

Fr. Matthew McCarthy couldn’t help but choke back tears as he stood at the altar of St. Michael’s Cathedral in the moments before entering the priesthood.

“I have to say just being up there and looking at everything, my family and friends who I’ve journeyed with over the years,” he said. “I almost lost it.”

McCarthy, 30, was one of five men who were ordained on May 13 for the Archdiocese of Toronto in ceremonies presided over by Cardinal Thomas Collins.

Of the five, McCarthy is the only one who was born in Canada. Fr. Antonello Murgia is from Italy, Fr. Jeremias Inoc from the Philippines, and brothers Fr. Favin and Fr. Ryan Alemao from the United Arab Emirates.

Born and raised in Brampton, Ont., McCarthy acknowledged the contributions of the teachers, mentors and peers along his journey.

“God has just been so good, he’s surrounded me always with a very loving community,” said McCarthy, who studied kinesiology at York University prior to joining St. Augustine’s Seminary. “And we’ve journeyed together. It is a huge blessing.”

But it is his family who assisted him the most in making the transition from layperson to clergy, he said.

“Family is huge, it is absolutely huge and I am so blessed to have a loving family here which is very supportive of me and ... my choice to lay down my life as a priest,” he said. “Yes, it is my choice to lay down my life as a priest but in a very crucial way they were involved in that decision.”

That comes as a slight surprise to Kevin McCarthy, the family’s patriarch, who heard no talk of the seminary prior to his son enrolling.

“I remember the day that he told us, not thinking about it but that he was going to do it, that he was going to go into the seminary,” said the father of three. “We were a little bit surprised actually because we hadn’t heard him talk about maybe yes, maybe no. Just suddenly he told us that ‘I had decided to go do this’ and we were just blessed — it was a wonderful day.”

mccarthy ordination webFollowing his ordination, Fr. Matthew McCarthy shares the moment with his parents Diose and Kevin. (Photos by Evan Boudreau)

When asked what influenced his son the most to join the priesthood, Kevin immediately said the Catholic chaplaincy group at York University.

“That was like an oasis in a storm,” he said, noting his son’s faith remained strong despite the secular atmosphere of the school. “He never had a crisis of faith, he always loved God, there was never a time when he questioned his faith I don’t think. It did have a lot to do with his vocation.”

Many of those from the chaplaincy who McCarthy befriended were among the more than 250 who celebrated his ordination during a private party later that evening.

“He has got a wide circle of friends,” said the new priest’s father, who also has two daughters with wife Diose (pronounced Josie). “He’s always enjoyed people where ever they come from, whatever their walk in life is.”

For now, the biggest adjustment for Kevin may be figuring out whether to call his son “Father.”

“I don’t know if we’re ready for that but we will see how that goes,” he said with a chuckle. “People don’t know what to call him now so it will be interesting. It is just going to take a while to sink in.”

McCarthy, assigned to Holy Family Catholic Church in Whitby, Ont., said his most important support will be found where it has always been — in his family and his prayers.

“I mean this is my job description, to be a prayer dude,” he giggled before taking a more serious tone. “In future years it is going to be huge (to have) the support that I receive from my family. They give me a lot of strength and moral support and I do believe that God has given me all of the tools to go forward now.”

During the homily, Collins called on the 1,300 parishioners in attendance to be a community of support through prayer for the ordained.

“We ask all the people of God to pray for your priests, pray for your bishops, prayer for your deacons, that we may be faithful in fulfilling the office that has been given to us because it is not guaranteed,” he said.

Collins added that temptations do not end with ordination and warned the Class of 2017 to be cautious of clericalism or putting personal ambitious before priestly duties.

“We never should do that,” he said, noting that it is the reason clergy need support from their community, fellow clergy and God.

The five new priests are part of a 11-man graduating class from St. Augustine’s this year. The other newly ordained priests have been assigned to the Dioceses of Hamilton, Pembroke, Ottawa and St. Catharines.

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