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, Charles spoke to Catholic Outlook about his vocational story and how he hopes to live out his new ministry.
Married to Alicja Abela for nine years
Parishioner of Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook
On parish placement at St Joseph’s Parish, Kingswood
Catholic Outlook: When did you consider the permanent diaconate?
Charles Abela: I considered the Permanent Diaconate from 2016 and entered into the program in January 2018.
CO: What called you to discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate?
CA: I have always had a deep sense of wanting to know and serve the Lord more since my pilgrimage in World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. I responded to an advertisement on vocations to the Permanent Diaconate in 2016. Through my faith journey, I found that God would show himself to me in the sacraments.
CO: What has the experience of your formation journey been for your wife? How have other members of your family been involved?
CA: My wife was initially unsure about my possible vocation to the diaconate. The formation journey, however, has been a very strengthening experience for her faith. Alicja has not only grown in her love for God and our marriage relationship, but also developed lasting bonds with the wives of the diaconal community. The regular meetings with the wives has been a comfort and joy for her, which she hopes to continue to support after my ordination.
In regard to other members of my family, they have been a great support in terms of prayer and encouragement.
CO: How will you hope to carry out your ministry once you are a deacon?
CA: I am open to be led by the Holy Spirit on the mission journey and excited to carry out the duties of a deacon with the sacramental grace of Holy Orders. I also hope to have the opportunity serve as a chaplain.
CO: Are there any aspects of diaconal life that you are looking forward to?
CA: I am looking forward to sharing in the life of others through ministering the sacraments, especially baptism. I hope to be able to gain the opportunity to serve as a chaplain in areas of most need. Preaching homilies is also a privilege I will cherish.
CO: How would you describe the community of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta?
CA: I would describe the Permanent Diaconate community as a growing ministry of diverse people seeking to serve the family of God. It is a community that is always improving its formation of people and support network.
CO: How important will the day of your ordination be to you and your family?
CA: I can only wonder what the importance of ordination will be to us all until receiving the Sacrament on the day. I am anticipating a moment of intimacy with the Lord and my family that has not been experienced before.
CO: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
CA: I would especially like to thank my beautiful wife for loving me and joining me on this journey. My family and all the people that prayed for me when I was away from the Church. I would like to thank Our Lady for pointing me to Jesus during WYD 2000. I would like to thank Disciples of Jesus community for life in the Spirit. And finally, I am eternally grateful to God for his mercy.
CO: Do you have advice to men wishing to become deacons?
CA: Keep talking with God. Keep talking with your wife. Discern your call with a spiritual director. Be open to what comes on the journey and God’s hand will guide you.
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.