Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ
Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Matthew has only reached this crucial moment in his life, tonight after a long and sometimes challenging journey of discernment and discovery. In all kinds of ways, some of which Matthew might be able to identify and some of which are hidden to him, God has been at work in his life, whispering to him in his heart, shaping and moulding him through moments of suffering and moments of joy, revealing Himself to him in the people he has encountered and the challenges he has had to face.

This excerpt, taken from the homily of Bishop Duncan Tsoke, of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, as he presided at the Mass of priestly ordination of South African Jesuit, Matthew Charlesworth, describes the experience of a chosen path and a long journey – an answer to a call. He was ordained to the priesthood on Friday, 23 September 2016, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church a well-known place of worship in the Johannesburg city centre. Father Matthew’s formation has spanned three continents and five countries over a period of more than a decade. Immediately, after his ordination, Fr Matthew, begins full-time ministry as assistant to the priest and universities chaplain at Holy Trinity and neighbouring student residence, Trinity House in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was a joyous occasion of great thanksgiving for all the Lord has done in, with and through Matthew. This fact was evidenced by the presence of a large number of Matthew’s friends and brother Jesuits who have been important throughout his training. There were a number of international guests that made the long journeys to celebrate their friend’s commitment to the service and proclamation of the Gospel. A call he heeded when he first met the Jesuits while still a student at Rhodes University; and to which he responded years ago when he first entered the Jesuit novitiate house in Birmingham, U.K., and throughout the lengthy years as a Jesuit scholastic. He was ordained a deacon earlier this year in Toronto, Canada, where he studied for a Pontifical Licentiate and a Masters degree in Theology at Regis College, the Jesuit School of Theoloy at the University of Toronto.

Bishop Tsoke, continued his homily, encouraging Matthew to foster the ‘peace of the risen Christ’ that ‘calls Christians to form communion and unity in faith.’. Speaking directly to the ordinand he said:

You are called to serve, build, and re- build, where it is broken, that unity of Christ’s peace … This you will not, indeed you cannot, accomplish alone. The priest’s is not a solo act. St Paul, in this extract from the letter to the Ephesians that you have not chosen, hails the contribution of all charisms and talents in building a vibrant community of faith. This collaborative ministry, this active partnership, is the heart and core aim of the Living Church project in our Archdiocese and with which you will become involved as a priest here in our local Church.

Read the transcript of Bishop Tsoke’s homily on Fr Matthew’s personal website.

Watch the video of Fr Matthew’s Ordination