Chani Thomas Park of Auckland diocese and Isaac Fransen of Hamilton diocese were ordained to the transitional diaconate by Auckland Auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen at Sacred Heart church in Ponsonby on September 27.
A limit of 100 people inside the church under Covid alert level 2 was observed, as was social distancing, with every second pew taped off. Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop Denis Browne and Holy Cross Seminary rector Fr Brendan Ward were principal concelebrants.
The ordinations had been postponed from the previous weekend.
Bishop Gielen remarked that this was the first time in Auckland that “we have been able to gather on a Sunday for more than a month – what a wonderful way to do so”.
He also commented on the loud gusts of wind that could be heard outside – maybe this was the Holy Spirit trying to “burst in”.
During his homily, Bishop Gielen noted that the two to be ordained did not sit alone. He made reference to Deacon Park having been born in Korea, and also to the Dutch background of Mr Fransen’s family, as well as to the great faith traditions of both cultures.
During their time in the seminary, Bishop Gielen noted how the pair had joined him in cycling the length of New Zealand to share the Good News. He saw their determination not to give up, and he said they would need this determination in their ministry, alongside patience and love.
Bishop Gielen added: “Thomas and Isaac, you are sons of this age. You know the struggles and difficulties of this generation.”
Referencing the promises the two would make in terms of celibacy, obedience to their bishop and to faithfulness to prayer, to the liturgy of the hours, Bishop Gielen said that what “this generation is searching for is men who choose to love, to trust and to pray. Your faithfulness to these promises will in no small way determine how you proclaim the Gospel”.
Exhorting them to be teachers who are also authentic witnesses, Bishop Gielen said that “your generation, the millennials, the Z-generation, more than any are extremely sensitive to hypocrisy. They are always alert to people who are not integral. They are always asking – do they live what they teach?”
“. . . If people see you laying down your life, giving your best, struggling with everything you have, then they will cry and laugh with you, and they will listen. Thomas and Isaac, we live in a world that is crying out more than ever for genuine love and friendship . . .”