The Mass of Ordination took place in front of a socially distanced congregation of up to 150 people and 25 priests at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich and was celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes.
Fr Michael had recently arrived back from Rome after a 10-day period of Covid-19 quarantine. Aged 57, he has worked for 20 years on the Cambridge Science Park in a publishing role for the Royal Society of Chemistry.
During his ordination homily, Bishop Alan Hopes said: “Dear brother, dear Michael, you have been chosen out of the priestly people of God, to be set apart to share in his High priesthood so that you can serve his holy people. You are called, in a special way, through your life and through your ministry, to proclaim to God’s people and to the world that Christ is risen.
“As you reconcile men and women to God through the Sacrament of Confession, anoint the sick, celebrate the Sacraments and carry out your pastoral ministry in many different ways, you will encounter the Lord you serve. Conversely, your ministry will invite the people you serve to encounter the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, to touch his glorious wounds, where they will find resurrection and hope in his healing presence.”
Speaking about his ministry, Fr Michael said: “I don’t think you can ever feel fully prepared for it but ultimately it is about trusting in God that he will give you the strength to do his work – which is really important, because it is not about me and what I can do, although I will bring my talents to the role. It is really about letting God work through us so that we can serve one another and we can love and help one another, particularly after the pandemic. There is lots to do to reconnect people and to be of service to one another to build community again.”
Talking about his journey to the priesthood, Fr Michael said: “I had a sense of being called to ministry in my 20s and I joined a religious order and spent three years with them. I left them as I wanted to be absolutely sure that this is what I wanted to commit the rest of my life to.
“I then got involved in a career in science publishing, which was quite absorbing. It did not take me away from the church or from prayer but it did take me away from thinking about the priesthood. But the little voice inside never went away and so in the end, if you start to listen to it, it comes up stronger.
“In my first year as a priest I am really looking forward to working with people and helping them in their faith and in their prayer life. Also to be involved in a parish community as someone who can hopefully make a difference and grow and strengthen our community at this difficult time we have been through,” said Fr Michael. “It is not all about me helping others but us all helping each other and ministry in the church is very collaborative and everyone brings their talents to build the Kingdom of God.”
After the summer, Fr Michael will be appointed to St John’s Cathedral in Norwich.
You can watch the ordination Mass on the St John’s Cathedral live stream here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsf1nE-RutI
Pictured above are Bishop Alan Hopes and Fr Michael Smith at the ordination Mass