Seminarian Tom Green will be ordained a deacon by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, on Sunday 27 November at St Patrick’s Church, Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown.
Tom spoke to Catholic Outlook about his upcoming ordination, his vocational story and how he hopes to live out his new ministry.
Catholic Outlook: Why did you decide to become a priest? What called you to the priesthood?
Tom Green: When I was 14, I began to explore the faith for myself for the first time and very early on in the search, I stumbled upon priestly figures whose life and witness stirred deep within me a longing to reserve my heart for Jesus, to give myself wholly to Him, and to lead people into a deeper relationship with Him. As a senior at high school and later at uni, I really struggled over this, fearing whether what God was offering me would really give me the happiness that I longed for, but slowly as I began to entrust myself to Him, God showed me, especially through the example of Mary, that he never takes anything away, but gives everything and is faithful to his word.
CO: What role does God the Father play in your life?
TG: I’ve come to realise more and more how much Jesus wants to give us a share in His own Sonship, that although He alone is Son, He wants us to call God “Abba, Father” with Him and depend on Him completely just as Jesus did. Living this is difficult to begin with as we struggle to unburden ourselves from the various lesser loves that we become attached to, but I notice the Father every day slowly pulling me closer to Him, to rest on His heart with Jesus, and to teach me to entrust myself completely to His providence.
CO: What role does Mother Mary play in your life?
TG: I can honestly say that without Mary, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in and that I owe my vocation to her. Her example of humility and trust before the God who called her, and her daily example of faith, gave me the courage to respond with her and to say yes to whatever the Good Father was asking of me. She is my daily companion and guide and always shows herself a good mother.
CO: Are there any saints you have a devotion to?
TG: I have a good group of heavenly companions who are always there to support me when I go to them, and who I think wish I would rely on them more! St John Vianney and Padre Pio were and are good priestly examples who have inspired and guided me. St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Faustina have helped me immensely in my spiritual life. Pope St John Paul II will always be for me an inspiration and guide, a good father, and I constantly feel the support of St Mary of the Cross [MacKillop], our diocesan patron. And of course, St Joseph whose life as “guardian of the mysteries” I take for a model of priestly life.
CO: How important will the day of your ordination to the diaconate be for you, your family and friends?
TG: The ordination to the diaconate is in some ways more momentous than the ordination to the priesthood. This is the moment where I will literally lay my life down before the altar of God for the sake of his Church and wed myself to Her. I’ve been asked almost daily since I found out the news of my ordination whether I am excited about it. I have to say that because of the gravity of the moment, it is more sobering than exciting so far – I’m seeing more and more how unprepared I am, how beyond me all this really is. Nevertheless, it will be a happy day for my family and friends who get to rejoice with me in the good gifts of God who never fails to provide for those who love Him.
CO: Pope Francis has urged priests to reach out to the poor and those on the margins of our society and church community. How do you envisage doing this in your priestly ministry?
TG: I am zealous for those who are poor, oppressed, cast off. I seek to be with them, to remain with them in their struggles, and to witness to them the never-failing love of God. How I will do that from parish to parish, ministry to ministry, will probably look very different.
CO: Are there any aspects of diaconate life that you are looking forward to?
TG: I am looking forward to being able to baptise and to participate more fully in the service of liturgical celebrations. I am also looking forward to being able to preach and to contribute more fully to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
CO: How has your parish placement been? What has been a highlight of your time?
TG: Being at Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, has enabled me to observe and experience a broad spectrum of the Church, her peoples and ministries. I have especially enjoyed being able to contribute to the formation of our RCIA candidates. Being alongside the young people of our parish whether in the youth group or in the schools has been a great joy. I have also gained a lot from visiting the sick and housebound.
CO: Can you describe seminary life?
TG: Seminary life can be difficult, but it’s very life giving if you keep everything in perspective: that it’s a place of discernment and growth and that no one is called to be a seminarian.
CO: Has there been a highlight of seminary life?
TG: The fraternity that the seminary fosters has provided me with very fond memories and given me life-long friendships.
CO: Have you received any great advice on your vocational journey?
TG: The best advice I have received has been to be faithful to your prayer life.
CO: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point?
TG: Obviously, my parents and family who are always by my side and keeping me grounded. I would also like to thank all of my friends who have supported me in ways that they probably don’t even realise. I would also like to thank my seminary brothers with whom I have had the pleasure of journeying with over the last several years – you give me courage to persevere alongside you. And to all those who have contributed in their own way to my formation.
CO: What message do you have to other young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood?
TG: If it’s on your mind, give it a crack. As Pope Benedict said, “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.”
CO: Any other thoughts or comments you would like to share with Catholic Outlook readers?
TG: Do not give up praying for vocations – there are many who are being called, they just need the grace to hear it and respond.
To find out more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Diocese of Parramatta, visit https://parracatholic.org/vocations/, contact the Holy Spirit Seminary or Director of Priestly Vocations, Fr Christopher del Rosario – email@example.com.