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, Jerome spoke to Catholic Outlook about his vocational story and how he hopes to live out his new ministry.
Married to Theresa D’Rozario for 40 years
Parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Druitt South
On placement at St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community, Marsden Park
Catholic Outlook: When did you consider the permanent diaconate?
Jerome D’Rozario: About 8 years ago. Out of interest, my wife and I attended a “Spiritual Development Course” at the Institute for Mission, Blacktown. We both loved the course, which helped us to grow in our faith. I also saw and read a leaflet for the Diaconate at St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill, and the desire I always had in my heart from a young age spoke through it. In my youth, I was previously studying in the seminary in Bangladesh. It was after I met Theresa (my future wife) that I felt called to the vocation of marriage, after much reflection in my third year. In Australia, after reading the leaflet, I asked Theresa how about if I go for it. Theresa at once said that if I hear the call, to go for it, and I will have her support. We both attended the meeting of candidates at St Oliver Plunkett Parish, Haris Park, and completed the form. Thus, my journey began and I never looked back.
CO: What called you to discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate?
JDR: I was always involved in church work, and I believe God showed me a sign. St Aidan’s isn’t our local parish, and if we didn’t decide to attend Mass there, I would not know about the diaconate ministry. That was the beginning. I heard the call which was always in my heart, and I was encouraged to become a Deacon because it would help me to grow spiritually as well as would give me an opportunity to serve the Lord.
CO: What has the experience of your formation journey been for your wife? How have other members of your family been involved?
JDR: Theresa and I would always attend the formation meetings each month. Theresa often mentions that her prayer life and faith has been deepened and it encourages her to actively live her faith. Theresa cherishes the time when the deacons’ wives and aspirants’ wives meet to meditate, pray, and discuss their own matters during monthly formation the most. She is encouraged by the support she receives, which is extremely valuable for her journey with me. Theresa is grateful to God for the call for me. It was not easy for her when I was stressed with study and work. We both run our own childcare business, with Theresa as the Authorised Supervisor, and myself as the Director. Although daily operations are quite stressful when staff are sick, Theresa happily accepted the challenges and we both managed the disruption together.
My children have also been big supporters of my formation journey over the years. They told me they have admired my dedication and have been very understanding of the sacrifices and time commitment made. They also loved to see my enthusiasm in relearning the beautiful significance of the liturgy. They are proud of my ordination soon and it has deepened their faith as well.
CO: How will you hope to carry out your ministry once you are a deacon?
JDR: My involvement with the services of the church have given me some experience of ministry, and I have seen how the community is involved and drawn in the Church’s mission. I was placed for my pastoral experience at St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community, Marsden Park. Two years of COVID has given me different (more virtual) experiences, however it was fantastic to be involved there and learn from Deacon Tony Hoban, an experienced deacon who is the Pastoral Director of St Luke’s and Director of Formation of Permanent Diaconate. I hope to carry out Christ’s mission as His instrument, using whatever talents I have to proclaim the Word and evangelise. Of course, I will be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in whatever ministry I will be involved in, and I am looking forward to working with the people in our communities.
CO: Are there any aspects of diaconal life that you are looking forward to?
JDR: I would very much like to see that my personal life is nourished by the spiritual gift and grow. To me, the call (vocation) is very personal which will transform the person first. We meet Christ first, then the mission will follow.
CO: How would you describe the community of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta?
JDR: It is the best experience of my life to be part of the permanent diaconate community. The sharing we do and the support we get is beautiful. As we all are family men, we understand each other’s problems and get guidance and support from the experienced deacons. Wives also get support from other wives. It is a very practical and motivated community based on spiritual formation.
CO: How important will the day of your ordination be to you and your family?
JDR: I am looking forward to the blessing and grace I will receive on my ordination day. My wife and children are extremely excited about it. One of our daughters who works in London is coming for the occasion, and our other daughter will be attending with our first grandchild. My extended family in Bangladesh are also very joyous. Our Bangladesh Christian community in Sydney is also excited about it.
CO: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
JDR: First, I am grateful to our Lord for calling me to this ministry. I would like to thank my wife who has been part of this journey and my continual support, as well as my children who have encouraged me on this mission I will be taking. I am grateful to the deacon formation team and the directors, especially Tony Hoban, and my teachers at the Catholic Institute of Sydney. Special thanks to Ms Helen Marchant for being my voice coach, and to Deacon George Bryan and the late Deacon James Phelan, who have been part of this journey from the very beginning.
CO: Do you have any advice to men wishing to become deacons?
JDR: It is a joy to be part of this community. It is fulfilling, nourishing (spiritual) and liberating when you answer the call of the Lord. Anyone can ask ‘what is God calling me to’ and discern. The community has a formation day each month; even though it is for the aspirants, deacons can also join and get nourished. As a family person, it is our mission to bring the Good News to other families. So, if anyone wants to be a disciple of Christ and follow the Lord closely, here is the opportunity. It is a wonderful journey and an opportunity to open your life to Christ; come and taste.
CO: Any additional comments you wish to make?
JDR: It is a new beginning of another dimension of my life and Theresa’s life. I always had the desire to serve the Lord, initially joining the seminary; however, the Lord had a different plan and it turned out to be the best one. I am an immensely proud father of three adult children, and my mission continues.
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.