News

Three Permanent Deacons Ordained

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Nov 2017

By Monica Doumit

St Mary's Cathedral was filled on Wednesday evening as Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP ordained three new permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Deacons Constantine Rodrigues, John Ting and Gregory Alessi were ordained in a joyous ceremony witnessed by their families, friends and faithful from Sydney and beyond.

Although deacons have served the Church since its beginning, with the ordination of the first deacons described in the Acts of the Apostles, the presence of the diaconate as a distinct, permanent ordained ministry gradually declined before disappearing in the Middle Ages, with the role of deacons mainly linked to those who are ordained as "transitional deacons" prior to being ordained to the priesthood.

After the Second Vatican Council discussed the desirability of restoring the permanent diaconate, In Pope Paul VI decreed that the order of deacon could be conferred for a life-long ministry upon married or celibate men.

Prior to this, the office of the permanent deaconate had not been exercised in the Western church for more than a millennium.

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher explained the crucial role of the deacon to the Church.

"Deacons are specialists in sacred hatch, match and dispatch; they do baptisms, marriages and funerals," the Archbishop explained. 

"If a deacon is a who before he is a do," the Archbishop said, "the who is a servant."

"Whether he's preaching at Mass, taking Viaticum to the dying, assisting the bishop in the chancery, organising charitable works, or hatching, matching and dispatching sacramentally - he is first and foremost about service.

"St John Paul II called deacons 'the Church's service sacramentalised' and 'living signs of the servanthood of Christ's Church'."

Archbishop Fisher told the congregation that the "Church is not fully herself wherever deacons, priests or a bishop are lacking" and that, by ordaining deacons, the Church is saying "that service is at the heart of the human and divine mystery".

Sydney's three new deacons have very different backgrounds, and travelled different paths to the same vocation.
                       
Deacon Rodrigues, 57, migrated to Australia in 1989 and ran a computer business for more than a decade.  He served his local parish of St Anne's, South Strathfield as a catechist, and co-ordinated its homestay program for World Youth Day in 2008.  It was in conversation with one of the priests who Deacon Rodrigues and his family accommodated during World Youth Day that he first learned of the vocation to the permanent diaconate, and soon after began his path towards last night's ordination.

Deacon Alessi, 46, speaks of the strong Eucharistic devotion instilled in him by his mother, who took them daily to visit Jesus in the tabernacle before and after school.  A trained chef, he too found his call to the diaconate through service in his local parish, in his case as an acolyte.  After first learning of the permanent diaconate at a workshop conducted by the Archdiocesan Liturgy Office, Deacon Alessi applied for the diaconate, a journey which took seven years to complete.

Deacon Ting, 53, came to Australia from Malaysia as a teenager, and is a chemical engineer.  Spending time working and volunteering as youth leaders in both Singapore and Malaysia, Deacon Ting and his wife returned to Australia in 2001 to again volunteer as youth workers with the Australian Chinese Catholic youth.  After completing a Master of Arts at the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 2008, Deacon Ting discerned his call to the permanent diaconate.

For more information about the Permanent Diaconate, including the steps to take if you feel called to serve the Church as a deacon, go to: http://www.sydneydiaconate.org.au/