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, David spoke to Catholic Outlook about his vocational story and how he hopes to live out his new ministry.
Married to Deirdre for 32 years
Parishioner of St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills
On parish placement at St John XXIII Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens
Catholic Outlook: When did you consider the permanent diaconate?
David Dowling: Around 2016
CO: What called you to discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate?
DD: My wife picked up a pamphlet and thought that it was something that would suit me, and I followed it up from there. The more I learned about it, the more I felt called to it. Serving the heart, the altar, and the Word, captured so much of what I have been drawn to for many years.
CO: What has the experience of your formation journey been for your wife?
DD: It’s been good. My wife really appreciates the friends she has made, particularly with the other wives. My family, despite being married and living away from home, have been very supportive.
CO: How will you hope to carry out your ministry once you are a deacon?
DD: With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.
CO: Are there any aspects of diaconal life that you are looking forward to?
DD: I am looking forward to every aspect, particularly chaplaincy to those in mental health facilities and also the opportunity to proclaim the Word and break it open in homilies.
CO: How would you describe the community of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta?
DD: The community to this point has been very life-giving and supportive. The Formation Committee, and the other aspirant deacons and their wives have all been a huge blessing.
CO: How important will the day of your ordination be to you and your family?
DD: This will be one of the most important days of my life.
CO: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
DD: I could never have gotten here without the wholehearted support of my wife, Deirdre. My family, Paul and his wife Jenny, and Hannah, have been very encouraging. [Deacon] Tony Hoban and the formation committee have done an amazing job of forming and supporting us. My fellow travellers in the diaconal community and in particular the brothers in my cohort (Charles, Batsirai, Jerome and Alan) have inspired me and called me on. Bishop Vincent [Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta] has been an incredible support – he has encouraged us, and our wives, and has made himself available to us along the journey. I have been surrounded by wonderful people in my parishes who have helped me to grow in so many ways. And above it all, there is of course God, leading me, guiding me, forming me. Praise be to Him!
CO: Do you have any advice to men wishing to become deacons?
DD: If you feel drawn to it, engage in the formal discernment, and keep taking a step at a time. Even if you end up finding out it is not your calling, the formation that this journey offers will still be a great blessing in your life.
CO: Any other comments you wish to make?
DD: It is a privilege to be called to this vocation, but I have no idea as to what my life will be like on the other side of this ordination, and how I will be asked to serve. I would ask for everyone’s prayers to help me and my brothers live it out well.
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.