Diaconate Ordination in Rome for Two Sydney Seminarians

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
29 Sep 2015

Last year's Ordination to the Diaconate of priests in training at Rome's Pontifical North American College

Families and  friends along with several fellow seminarians from the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush are in Rome this week for the Diaconate Ordination at St Peter's Basilica of Australian priests-in-training, Daniel Russo and Joseph Hamilton.

The two Australians will be among more than 50 seminarians from Rome's Pontifical North American College who will be ordained to the Order of Deacons by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan at St Peter's Basilica on Thursday, 1 October.

Taking place on what is also the Feast Day of St Therese of Lisieux, the ceremony marks one of the final steps along the path to priesthood, and signals the profound change in the life of those studying for the priesthood as they pass from the lay to the clerical state.

Friends and fellow seminarians from Sydney, Fr Lewis Barakat and Joseph Hamilton photographed for Rome Echoes magazine last year

Cardinal George Pell, former Archbishop of Sydney and now Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See and based in Rome, will be among the strong contingent of Australians to attend Thursday's Ordination.

Also there will be Father Lewi Barakat. Like Daniel Russo and Joseph Hamilton, Fr Lewi spent his first two and a half years at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush before being given the opportunity to complete his priestly studies in Rome.

He was ordained a Deacon at St Peter's Basilica in Rome on 1 October 2014, and on 15 August this year, he was ordained a priest at St Mary's Cathedral by the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP.

Now back in Rome completing his Licentiate Degree in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas also known as the Angelicum, Fr Lewi will vest the newly-ordained Deacon Russo on Thursday.

Seminarian Matthew "Matt" Meagher who studied at the Seminarian of the Good Shepherd before having the chance to continue his studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University will also be among the Australian friends and families to attend the Ordination of the two Sydney candidates for the Diaconate.

Aussie seminarians studying in Rome were there for Pope Francis' election and installation ( l to r) Christian Irdi, Lewi Barakat and Daniel Russo

And there will be a special another "special guest" from Sydney.  The Director of Music at St Mary's Cathedral, Thomas Wilson, will be in Rome to play the organ at the Ordination.

Both Daniel Russo and Joseph Hamilton are members of the Pontifical North American College's Class of 2016, the year the entire class of more than 50-plus seminarians from the US and countries worldwide will be Ordained to the Priesthood.

Educated at Trinity Catholic College, Auburn, Daniel was 19 years old when he entered the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in 2010 where after completing his first two and a half years of study, was sent to Rome by Sydney's then Archbishop, Cardinal Pell, to continue his priestly studies.

Joseph Hamilton during his high flying days as a global expert on asset liability management for Deutsche Bank

While Sydney's eighth Archbishop, it was the Cardinal  who established a far reaching  initiative to enable a number of Sydney seminarians about to enter their third year of study the opportunity to continue their studies at Pontifical institutions in Rome. His Eminence believed it was important for some of the city's seminarians to spend time in Rome to better understand and experience the universality of the Church.

For Daniel and Joseph the opportunity of spending their final four years in Rome has not only meant encountering many different cultures and the wide diversity of the Church, but has given them a chance to explore the 2000 year history of the Church of Rome, become fluent in Italian and exchange ideas with some of the world's leading theologians and philosophers.

Both were also in Rome for the historic election of Pope Francis and for his historic Papal Inauguration on 19 March 2013.

Sydney seminarian Daniel Russo is also chair of the planning committee for this week's Diaconate Ordination ceremony in Rome

While Daniel was just 19 when he responded to God's call, Irish-born Joseph was in  his 30s and had already made an international name for himself in finance. After being awarded a Bachelor's Degree in Actuarial Science at the University College Dublin, Joseph was appointed senior asset consultant at Hewitt Associates working for the company in London as well as in South Africa. From there, Joseph joined Insight Investment London as Fund Manager, with specific responsibility for LDI (Liability Driven Investment) strategies for defined pension fund clients.

Then in 2006, Joseph was snapped up by Deutsche Bank to run the Bank's global pensions advisory group in London. Three years later he was sent to Sydney to establish Deutshe Bank's Asset Liability Management business in Austeralia and New Zealand, building on the success of the bank's franchise in Europe.

But for the corporate high flyer something was missing, and in his search for deeper meaning and closeness to God, he found his true calling and enrolled at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.

After their ordination to the Diaconate on Thursday, Joseph and Daniel are expected to complete their studies before returning to Australia in 2016 where they will serve as Deacons at a parish within the Archdiocese as they prepare for their Ordination into the Priesthood.