From brother to father: Halifax-area friar joins priesthood

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From brother to father: Halifax-area friar joins priesthood

St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Halifax was packed with people Saturday, but they weren't all there just to attend a regular mass.

They were there to witness Peter Hanna, a Franciscan brother, become a priest.

Unlike baptisms and weddings, Catholic priesthood ordination ceremonies are somewhat rare in Halifax. Hanna's ceremony is the first — and so far the only — one scheduled for 2018, according to the Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese.

"It was more than I could ask for because I've always imagined this day since I started, but today it was real," said Hanna, who grew up in Lower Sackville, N.S.

Becoming a priest

In Catholicism, the priesthood is part of the sacrament of holy orders. The ceremony was held during a regular church service, known as a mass, which was led by Archbishop Anthony Mancini.

During another point in the ceremony, Hanna lay on the floor in front of the altar, face down while the congregation sang a prayer.

More than a dozen priests from throughout the diocese took part in the ceremony. At one point, each priest placed his hands over Hanna's head and blessed him. Hanna was also given his priest vestment (liturgical garment) during the ceremony.

'He's got a huge heart'

Hanna has been assigned to St. Clement's Catholic Parish Church in Dartmouth, N.S., and St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church in Eastern Passage, N.S.

Father Gerald David, the pastor at St. Clement's, said he's looking forward to Hanna coming to his church.

"He's got a huge heart and a good zeal for the love of the people, so I think he'll be a tremendous addition to our church, to our diocese and our parishes," said David.

Blair Hanna, Peter's older brother, attended the ordination and said he's proud of him.

'That is all something new'

"The ceremony was just beautiful. You can't ask for anything better than when you have that much support in a church," he said.

Hanna said he starts at St. Clement's on Wednesday. He said his work as a priest will be adding to what he already did as a Franciscan brother.

"As a brother, we pray with people, we walk with people, but now, on top of that, through the ordination and the anointing of my hands, the sacraments of being able to consecrate the Eucharist and the laying on of hands through sacred anointing with the chrism oil and for hearing people's confession — that is all something new," Hanna said.