From a very early age, Matthew Dimian knew he wanted to be a priest. In less than a week, that dream will become a reality.
On Thursday, Deacon Matthew, alongside Deacon Adam Carlow and Deacon Jack Elkazzi, will be ordained to the presbyterate by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, in front of family and friends, including members of his Coptic Catholic heritage.
Speaking to Catholic Outlook ahead of his ordination, Deacon Matthew said he was experiencing similar feelings to when he first entered the seminary nine years ago.
“I feel a bit nervous and excited – it feels like I am taking a leap,” he said.
“The priesthood is such an extraordinary gift. It’s a gift from God to me, it’s a gift from God to the Church, and I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I receive it.
“It’s awesome to have the company of my brothers Adam and Jack. We’ve done everything together over the past nine years.
“At the moment of ordination, I will be thinking of all the graces I have received from God, all the love He has poured out by choosing and calling me, and His generous providence to get me here.
“I will be thinking of the people that have helped me reach this point – my family, my teachers, the seminary, the example of brother priests – with gratitude to the Church as a whole, who have nourished my vocation from the beginning.
“I want to be open to whatever God is doing on the day.”
Growing up in a devout Coptic Catholic family, Matthew felt that even from a young age, he was called to the priesthood. “I was telling people, ‘I want to be a priest’, and people thought it was very cute back then,” he explained. “But as I grew older, I never grew out of it.
“All throughout school, my desire to be a priest grew and grew. Attending Redfield College bolstered my faith, and I received great formation there.
“I was very lucky to have a chapel at my school, and I remember going there often. It became a refuge and I felt a great sense of peace and a lot of joy in Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.
“After school, I tried a few different things, but I kept feeling this tug – the priesthood seemed like where I would have the most peace.
“The more I prayed about it, the more the image of the priesthood kept coming up.
“I was scared, I didn’t think I would be worthy to be a priest, I thought I had to get my life in order first before joining the seminary, but I realised that God was calling me to take the leap because God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
“The priesthood isn’t something that we decide to pursue for ourselves, it is first and foremost, a calling from God. Our Lord calls us to where we will most flourish, grow in holiness and be of greatest service.”
Following his ordination in February last year, Matthew has been in ministry at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, which has allowed him to see how God can work through him.
“I’ve been really moved by the piety I’ve seen at the Cathedral, particularly with the daily and Sunday Mass-goers, they’re very devout.
“The Choir and the way the liturgy is celebrated at the Cathedral has been a highlight for me. It’s really helped me in my own prayer.
“There’s been times where I have preached a homily I might have thought was empty, but someone will come up to me after Mass and say that it really hit them or spoke to them.
“There will be other times when I’ve been in conversation with someone where I didn’t feel I was helpful to that person in their struggles, but afterwards, they told me they gained specific insights.
“To me, that’s a testament to how God uses unwitting human instruments to impart His graces.
“There have been fruits to my ministry. I don’t always see them, but sometimes God lifts the veil and lets me see how I’ve been helping people. It’s been encouraging to get those little insights to know how God aides His Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
“I have been growing in surrendering my ministry to God and letting Him use me in whatever way He wants, which is often for purposes that are beyond my sight and known only to Him.”
Once he is ordained, Deacon Matthew is most looking forward to celebrating the Mass, as well as celebrating the Sacrament of Penance.
“The Mass has always been an essential part of my own spiritual life as it is for everyone’s spiritual life – it’s the source and summit of the Church’s activity – so to be at the altar celebrating that mystery is something I am looking forward to, but I don’t quite comprehend just yet how extraordinary it is.
“I feel particularly called to spending time in the Confessional. It’s something that the world needs, and the Church needs – it desperately needs God’s mercy, His healing and the grace of constant conversion.
“I hope to make the Sacrament as available as possible for the People of God.
“I feel called to go back to basics. One of the things that a priest does is that he is a preacher and a teacher, and I feel really called to show the beauty of all the dogmas and teachings of the Church. They’re all beautiful and enlightening, they’re necessary and life-changing.
“I hope to not complicate things too much. Yes, we have to speak to the modern world, and we need to speak to the world in a language that is compelling and convincing, but the central message is the same – the love of God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit – it’s the same in every era of the Church.
“I feel called to bring people into that relationship with the Holy Trinity through the sacraments, through teaching, through being becoming an incarnate image of God’s love in Christ.”
In thanking the people of the Diocese of Parramatta for their support over his vocation, Deacon Matthew said “thank you is not enough.”
“St John Vianney says, ‘the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus’. The priest loves the Church with the heart of Jesus, it’s a spousal love, it’s a self-emptying love, it’s a totally giving love.
“A vocation isn’t born in a vacuum, it’s born in the heart of the Church, and it’s through the inspiration of meeting good and holy people like yourselves, hearing your encouragement and discernment, and receiving the fruits of your prayers – it’s through all these things that I have been able to join the seminary and come to ordination.
“All thanks be to God, and thank you all for being instruments of God in encouragement, prayer, grace and support.”
You are invited to celebrate Deacon Matthew Dimian’s ordaination to the priesthood alongside Deacon Adam Carlow and Deacon Jack Elkazzi by attending in-person at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Thursday 2 February at 7.30pm. Wellwishers who are unable to attend in-person can tune in to the livestream, which is live, free and open to all via bit.ly/feb23ordinations.
Matthew’s first Mass as a newly ordained priest will be celebrated on Friday 3 February at St Mark’s Coptic Catholic Church, Prospect, at 7pm.