Western Sydney’s newest deacons reflect on their first year in ministry
On 22 February 2019, the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains was blessed with the ordination of four new permanent deacons.
Deacon John Cinya, Deacon Roque Dias, Deacon Thong Nguyen and Deacon Roderick Pirotta were ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Parramatta by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.
One year on from their ordination, Catholic Outlook spoke to the new deacons about what they have learnt and enjoyed in their first year in ministry.
Deacon John Cinya, Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown
Catholic Outlook: What has been a highlight of your first year as a permanent deacon?
Deacon John Cinya: My ordination has changed my family life tremendously with many blessings and opportunities because it has brought joy and thanksgiving. I am very grateful to God for calling me to share in His ministry as a deacon. My choice of the vocation is a dedication and commitment that I made to God, my family, the Church and the community.
CO: How has your parish placement been?
JC: After my ordination, I was assigned to assist at Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown (MQOF). It is a privilege for me to assist in the MQOF parish [which is] full of energy and with no doubt the commitment of the parishioners with open hearts in their own respective ministries. Here, in this parish, the Sudanese Catholic Community also gather for praise, pastoral care and social meetings. MQOF parish is one of the most diverse multicultural Catholic community parishes in Australia that operates with the goals of welcoming, faith formation and fostering social justice. And this is a great blessing for me as an ordained deacon. I feel enthusiastic to journey together with all the faithful in the parish to serve, proclaim and charity. The parish has created a smooth transition to my new life as a deacon.
CO: What has been something that you have learnt about yourself over your first year in ministry?
JC: Always as believers, we gather for one common purpose, each individual effort is recognised and welcomed, which is a good thing. I am really inspired by energetic parishioners who are participating fully in various ministries. I came to realise that our parish has a future, especially for the young people who are inspired by what is seen in MQOF parish. Throughout my experience working in the schools, I know a lot of students, families and community stories out there. This is a blessing for me learning how to touch people’s hearts through proclaiming and preaching the Words of God. It is reciprocated at the same time in learning how to allow others to touch my heart as we are journeying together to learn about the teaching of Jesus Christ, because He is living among us.
CO: How has your wife and family supported you through this first year of ministry?
JC: My wife and myself are both working full-time to support and bring up our four children. The routine in the house remains the same, although I spend sometimes in the evening preparing my homilies. Our children have been great supporting us by doing their studies without giving much pressure to us as their parents. They do chores at home without us instructing them to do so. They know that each family member in the house has a responsibility in helping each other for the family to run smoothly.
CO: In an interview with Catholic Outlook ahead of your ordination, your wife Margaret explained that the deacon “needs to be the light and the example for the parish”. Has this been reflected in your ministry both at Blacktown and within the Sudanese community?
JC: As a married man, there are always a lot of fun and challenges going on in life. The culture that we live in now is full of distractions such as work, technology and others. But, my experience as a refugee has given me various answers to different situations in human life, whether it is hardship or happiness. The little contribution that I make in the parish life is to be seen by others, and I will continue to serve as a deacon, a call to this ministry. Therefore, to be light is showing the love of Jesus Christ. The love always begins with my attitude, meaning to welcome one another rather than exclude people, to look to the needs of others who are vulnerable and to pray as a loving care that I can do for others.
CO: What do you hope your second year of being a deacon will bring?
JC: As the time goes by, I certainly wondered not as a deacon, but as a parent who also experiences the challenges of the family life. When I hear or see families struggling, it breaks my heart. I hope that every family should show love to one another, be courageous to stay true to the call of family life and trust God.
Catholic Outlook’s interview with Deacon Roque Dias will be published tomorrow.
To read Catholic Outlook’s interview with Deacon Roderick Pirotta, click here.
For more information about the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta, please visit: www.parracatholic.org/permanent-diaconate