A tiny but devout Catholic community celebrates a rare ordination

The ordination of Finland’s ninth native Catholic priest since the Reformation took place last month in Lohja, a city about an hour’s drive east of Helsinki.

In the first row sat members of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, commonly known as the Brigittine nuns, along with two Brigittine monks, who had come all the way from their monastery in Amity, Oregon. The monks were there because the newly ordained Fr Tuomas Nyyssölä had spent time at the monastery to fully discern his vocation.

They said they were pleasantly surprised by the level of devotion in Finland’s tiny Catholic community. (There are 15,000 registered Catholics out of a population of 5.5 million.) They particularly appreciated the faithful receiving Communion on their knees, wearing veils and praying the rosary.

The vitality of the Church in the overwhelmingly Lutheran country is the result of the tireless pastoral work by priests in the Diocese of Helsinki, which has eight parishes and covers the whole of Finland. Their efforts are overseen by Bishop Teemu Sippo, who presided at the ordination of Fr Nyyssölä. On September 22, he will ordain another candidate for the priesthood to the diaconate. Bishop Sippo – the first Finnish-born prelate since the 16th century – has also allowed the regular celebration of Extraordinary Form Masses.

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