Charles Abela, David Dowling, Jerome D’Rozario, Batsirai Maringehosi and Alan Skofic will be ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, on Saturday 10 December, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Ahead of his ordination, Alan spoke to Catholic Outlook about his vocational story and how he hopes to live out his new ministry.
Married to Jaclyn Skovic for 25 years
Parishioner of Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson
On parish placement at St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Parish, Upper Blue Mountains and Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath
Catholic Outlook: When did you consider the permanent diaconate?
Alan Skofic: I first thought of the Diaconate in 2014, but decided not to go any further. I then went back in 2016.
CO: What called you to discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate?
AS: My journey to the diaconate started with me struggling to come to terms with the theory of atonement. This led to a great deal of reading, and even when I had settled my question, the reading continued because as I gained new insight through reading and praying the Rosary, I felt as if the insights were like the treasure in the field. I then saw the flyer for the Permanent Diaconate and went along to an information session, but the requirement for formation plus a Degree in Theology seemed to be too much at the time. I decided to take it no further. After about 18 months, I saw another flyer and this time it corresponded to Jaclyn saying to me that she would really like me to do something in the church. I took this as God giving me a hint and I entered into formation.
CO: What has the experience of your formation journey been for your wife? How have other members of your family been involved?
AS: The Diaconate formation has been a very positive influence in our relationship. Jaclyn is a Counsellor and while the Diaconate is not about psychology, there is a certain degree of similarity to what we are both trying to achieve through our chosen paths. This means that we have had more engaging conversations and it has drawn us both forward into a better understanding of ourselves, our faith and our relations with other people.
CO: How will you hope to carry out your ministry once you are a deacon?
AS: At the moment, there is much uncertainty as to what I will be able to take on. There is a lot of work to do. There’s the support of the Parish Priest in leading Communion Services when priests are not available but there are also visits to nursing homes and hospitals. There’s a need to support the catechists and other parish initiatives like discussion groups and RCIA, and there’s also a need to bring the love of Christ to prisons. I will, however, be continuing to work full-time and finish off my studies, so time will be limited. I have long had a desire to work in prisons, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to accommodate this. Saying this, my real hope is that in whatever I take on, I can make manifest the love of God to people I’m interacting with and serving.
Saying all this, my greatest desire, and even fear of not achieving it, is to do the will of God and not let any of my own agendas or desires interfere in this.
CO: Are there any aspects of diaconal life that you are looking forward to?
AS: I have found that I enjoy the challenge of giving homilies and getting involved in discussion groups. From my limited experience so far, these are the two things I find myself most drawn to.
CO: How would you describe the community of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta?
AS: I can’t really comment on the wider permanent diaconate community, but with regards to the people in the Formation Team, and in particular the five of us being ordained, we have a very close and special bond. There is a great deal of diversity in character and spirituality, but there is a strong bond of unity of purpose even though we see ourselves serving in different areas where our particular attributes are most effective.
CO: How important will the day of your ordination be to you and your family?
AS: The day of Ordination will be very important for Jaclyn and our children, but also for the wider family. I have noticed that relatives that have been rather uninterested in the Church have said, with enthusiasm, that they will be watching the Ordination. This is especially striking in that many of them are overseas and the ceremony will be taking place at midnight their time.
CO: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
AS: Firstly, of course I’d like to thank Jaclyn, Anthony and Isabelle for their encouragement, support and understanding. Then there’s Fr Eugene Stockton, who lead me into theology, encouraged me, supported me and gave me much guidance. Fr Paul Slyney, who was my Spiritual Director for several years and from whom I learnt a great deal. Deacon George Bryan, who made it possible for me to be admitted to the Formation program. Deacon Tony Hoban, who developed the Formation Program and guided and nurtured my development. Finally, Sr Veronica Griffith, who is my current Spiritual Director, who has helped me to unlock a number of issues and see myself in a different light and given me a much better perspective from which I can engage with others.
The Mass of Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate will be held on Saturday 10 December at 10.30am at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The Mass will be livestreamed on the St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta YouTube page here.