On 27th June 2020, there was great joy at Moroto Cathedral. After fifteen years without an ordination, two young men offered their lives to God, with the sacrament of priesthood: Richard Akol (Moroto) and Dominic Alinga (Kangole). On the same day, Michael Aleu (Kangole) was ordained Deacon and six major seminarians: Ojok James (Gulu), Opio Francis (Moroto), Sagal Moses (Iriri) Ayepa Moses (Iriri), Onyang Athanasius (Namalu) and Kiyonga Paul (Moroto) received the Minor Order of Lector and Acolyte. Fr. Dominic Alinga shares his journey to Priesthood;
Give thanks to the Lord for he is so good. His love endures forever (Ps 136). Indeed, God is so good that he remains true and faithful to his promises. I sincerely praise Him saying, “you’re faithful to your promises O my God” (Ps 71:22). My whole journey to priesthood has been full of surprises and miracles, but all things happen in God’s timing. ‘When it is not in God’s time, we cannot force it: when it is in God’s time, we cannot stop it’. “For who can know the Lord’s plans and thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice” (Rom 11:34). For sure, he planned it to happen during this difficult time of COVID-19 with its tension so as to show his greatness even in the midst of the storm. This ordination was one of its kind since 2005 in Moroto diocese: throughout my studies to priesthood, I did not imagine or foresee getting ordained a priest in the time of a global pandemic. But, despite all these challenges and difficulties, I am convinced that God wants me to be his public ambassador. When God wills it, he always provides and makes things happen no matter the circumstances. I believe the whole drama surrounding my vocation journey and my ordination is a reminder (or a lesson) to me (and to all of us) that God is the one in charge.
When Bishop Damiano Guzzetti broke the ordination news to me, I felt a bit incomplete because I realized I could not share this very important moment with all my loved ones and all those who accompanied me to God’s altar though some of them still found their way in/to the ordination venue. I felt a little anxious, too: but after the retreat, I came to my full understanding that, ‘my Journey to priestly Ordination was never really just about the day, I did not prepare for the ordination day; I planned for priesthood-entering a new state of life, a moment of getting configured to Jesus Christ.’ Helped by my knowledge of Church history, I knew that through Christian persecutions, times of war, calamities of all sorts, and now the coronavirus, men continue to answer Christ’s call to his priesthood and I found myself in the same experience. I felt within my heart that my ordination will be a tangible sign of God’s continued care for His people of Moroto. I was extremely excited to be ordained; the circumstances were secondary to me, leave alone the fact that many people were more concerned with pompous celebration. COVID-19 did not dampen the excitement in me. For me, it was a moment to learn that we have to think creatively during these times and be flexible to receive whatever graces God has prepared for us. This is my generation’s time to figure out how to bring the Lord to everyone. I think we will come out a stronger Church through it.
While the ordination was certainly much different from what I had always pictured it would be, it was still so incredibly grace-filled and beautiful. To be ordained a priest in these times shows the need for priests to listen to the heart of Jesus’ people, which are searching for him, and respond to that cry and be Christ to those in our world. A priest needs to offer himself as a victim, as Venerable Fulton Sheen said, and conform himself to Christ, most especially during these difficult times.
I believed and I still firmly believe it to be a sign of enduring hope that God is blessing the Church of Moroto diocese with two new priests and a deacon, especially during this time.
I think we will look back to this time as providentially a great gift to the Church, to prepare us for a new springtime, much like the churches that emerged out of times of persecution or hardship, “God is still with us!” Hope and consistent patience never disappoints.
I strongly believe that, ‘even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise’, COVID-19 is not here to last, it is ephemeral. We’re so stressed out these days, because we believe everything needs to happen right now. We forget that everything happens in God’s perfect timing.During the homily, Bishop Guzzetti invited all to reflect on prophet Jeremiah and the Gospel of John. He encouraged the candidates to be ready at all times, as they carry a tresure.
By Rev. Fr. Dominic Alinga