By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook, February 2017
Jerome Emmanuel was admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, on 11 December 2016. Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv celebrated Mass to approve his upcoming ordination to the diaconate.
Jerome Emmanuel first thought about a call to the permanent diaconate 13 years ago, when Fr Emmanuel Gatt OFM Conv asked him to consider joining the ministry of acolyte.
This began the process of discernment to become a deacon.
“It was a heartfelt ‘Yes’ from the bottom of my heart,” Jerome said. “Until then I was muted to the voice of the interior, which gradually became so clear that no words can adequately describe.”
Pope Paul VI restored the permanent diaconate in the Apostolic Letter Diaconatus Ordinem after the Second Vatican Council. The permanent diaconate is open to married and single men.
Deacons are an order of service in the clergy, focused on serving God in the Mass and the poor through chaplaincy and charitable works. Deacons often preach the Gospel; celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, Holy Matrimony and minister Holy Communion to the ill.
“I fervently look forward to bringing people to God through preaching and service,” Jerome said.
Freeda Emmanuel and Jerome have been married for 33 years and have been “blessed with two boys and five God-children,” they said.
The couple met in Sri Lanka and married during the time of civil unrest and the imposition of curfew.
Freeda found the process of accompanying Jerome has been a new and beneficial experience.
A married man requires the active permission of his wife to enter formation and ordination in the Permanent Diaconate.
“Our journey together has been very fruitful,” they said.
Jerome’s family has been essential in his journey of faith and his admiration for them is clear.
“The seed of faith was planted firstly by my parents, and secondly by my aunts Sr Brigitte and Sr Rose, who in their 80s still serve as nuns in the Holy Family order, and close relatives who serve as priests,” Jerome said.
“The formation process simply affirmed my thoughts on faith and allowed me to position the sail of my life receptive to the voice of God, and such faith has taken a firm hold.”
The formation process has four pillars, Spiritual, Theological, Ministerial and Personal, which prepare potential candidates for the spiritual and practical responsibility of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
The process for becoming a deacon is an ongoing conversation with the Diocese.
“Having made enquiries about the ministry of the permanent diaconate, I had a meeting with Fr Chris de Souza EV in 2009. He explained to me about the sacred office of diaconate and the formation process and suggested that I should discern the vocation and invited me to see him after a year’s time.”
Enquirers are given time to consider and reflect on a potential calling to the diaconate.
Regular prayer and service are key activities for potential deacons, which also assist them in the discernment process.
“Theological reflection, and the ongoing formation journey are constantly at work, which reminds and propels me to intersect my desires with God’s desires so as to become configured to Christ,” Jerome said.
Jerome was accepted into the diaconal program in 2012 after completing the Certificate of Pastoral Formation at the Institute for Mission. Regular meetings with the Diocese involved both Jerome and Freeda.
Jerome is a Certified Practising Accountant holding a management position in a chartered accountancy firm in the Sydney CBD. He has been able to put his faith into action in the workplace on numerous occasions.
Jerome lets his faith shine at work as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at lunchtime Mass at St Patrick’s Church, The Rocks. “Some members of the staff attend Mass,” he said. Faith also informs his approach from helping staff to the selection of Christmas themes on greeting cards and when various opportunities present themselves.
Jerome is looking forward to putting his skills at the service of the Church and God’s people as a deacon.