Married couples searching for a more active way of serving Christ in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains are being encouraged to explore what it’s like to be a deacon at an information session on 12 December.
The Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta is an ordained ministry of the Catholic Church. It allows married men to serve in a variety of settings as varied as parishes, prisons and hospitals, in preaching the Gospel and in performing charitable works on behalf of the Bishop.
There are currently 13 active ordained deacons serving in the Diocese of Parramatta, with another 13 in formation.
The diaconate community is always keen to welcome new members to their ‘family’.
“We are a very close community, we encourage one another, we share each other’s ups and downs in life,” says Deacon George Bryan from Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains, a member of the diaconate vocations committee with Deacon Willy Limjap from St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith.
Deacons Willy and George have been ordained as deacons for six and four years respectively. They felt called to the diaconate as a way of serving the Church alongside their marriage vocation.
“Years before coming to Australia, I had given up on what I thought was a calling to the priestly vocation. After a couple of years settling into a new country, I felt a longing to serve, given the many blessings we had been receiving,” Deacon Willy explained.
“I was quite actively serving at the St Nicholas of Myra parish and with the Couples for Christ community, but I thought perhaps I should consider taking another step forward in my service.”
Deacon George felt that the diaconate would be an extension of his own commitment as a Benedictine Oblate. These group of laymen and women are inspired by St Benedict to live monastic values in their everyday lives.
“I had been trying to discern, ‘Who was Christ at my monastery door and how do I serve Him?’” he said.
“During the ordination of a deacon, the Bishop places the Book of the Gospels in the hands of the newly ordained, saying ‘Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practise what you teach.’ Deacons answer this challenge in many ways. For me, it was a call to bring the Gospel both in word and deed to the people on the margins of society.”
While there is a range of criteria for married men to be considered for the diaconate, many agree the most important factor is the support of your wife who journeys with you.
“Without Kaye, I would not be a deacon, it’s as simple as that,” Deacon George clarified. “There’s an old adage in motorsport, ‘win as a team, lose as a team’. That’s how Kaye and I view the diaconate. We are a team, we share the ups and downs together.”
Deacon Willy added, “Without the support of our wives, we will not be in this ministry. They share in our journey, but exercise their own ministries through their own Spirit-given gifts.”
Both deacons stressed the importance of prayer and discernment for couples who may be interested in the ministry.
“If you feel that there is some bit of a calling, give it a go. Continue to discern together with your wife,” Deacon Willy said.
Deacon George added, “You need to establish a regular prayer life which allows you time to ask what God wants of you, and, as St Benedict says, ‘Listen with the ear of your heart’.
“As a couple, you need to talk about and understand the diaconate, and talk with other couples who are in formation or ordained.”
Deacon Willy explained the everyday impact of being part of the permanent diaconate.
“Being in ministry has greatly influenced my life, in particular, my relationship with others. I find it easier to bring Christian love in this manner, not only at the parish level, but also in the workplace, and to anyone I meet,” he said.
Couples considering a calling to the Permanent Diaconate are invited to attend an information session at the Institute for Mission (IFM) Blacktown on Saturday 12 December from 10am – Noon. RSVPs are due by 5 December through Deacon Willy on 0428 332 619 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Deacon George on 0408 440 769 or George.Bryan@parracatholic.org
Couples who decide to proceed with the discernment process will be asked to meet with the Vocations Committee in 2021.
To find out more about the permanent diaconate, visit https://parracatholic.org/permanent-diaconate/