“It is a wonderful day for the Dunedin diocese.”
This sentiment was spoken by Holy Cross Seminary rector Fr Matthew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil but was clearly in the minds of those who attended the diaconate ordination of three seminarians, all for Dunedin diocese, on September 3 at Sacred Heart Church in Ponsonby, Auckland.
In his homily, Bishop Michael Dooley of Dunedin said he felt “a great sense of gratitude” that the three young men were open to God’s call and underwent the preparation to serve God’s people.
He said it was also an opportunity for the different dioceses to come together in unity as he welcomed Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe and Auckland Emeritus Bishop Patrick Dunn at the Mass.
“The ministry of deacon … has at its heart the service to the people of God,” Bishop Dooley said. “This is what we all pray … that you may be effective in action, that you may be gentle in ministry and constant in prayer.”
Bishop Dooley said the Church today needs to have people who will do the work of God effectively.
“Whether it will be in preaching or pastoral work or assisting with liturgy or perhaps celebrating the sacraments of baptism or marriage, there are plenty of ways for you to effectively contribute to the life of the people of God,” he said.
Bishop Dooley said preaching is done not only so members of the congregation can hear and understand the words but more importantly, “so that the heart of Jesus will rest in their hearts”.
“When you preach, it is not just about theological lessons but strive to open their minds and hearts to Christ through his life. And help them, the faithful you serve, to be disciples in the world,” he said.
The bishop said the deacons’ ministry will only be effective “to the degree that draws the worshipping community into the life of Christ”.
He said the deacons’ ministry will only be effective when they are compassionate.
“We pray that you will be gentle in ministry. That gentleness is linked with the compassionate heart of Christ,” the bishop explained.
He called on the three men to be ready to listen, to be patient in difficult situations and to avoid harsh and cynical speech.
He also asked them to have “special care for those on the margins” who have been set aside by society and may be disconnected from the Church.
Lastly, he called upon the newly ordained deacons to be constant in prayer.
Bishop Dooley reminded them that they are not pursuing a career path but a vocation.
“The truth is your ministry can only be made effective by prayer life and the constancy of it. It is in prayer that you start tapping into God’s infinite patience,” he said.
Also attending the ordination were pre-seminarian men who have just arrived in the country from Vietnam. They were accompanied by Msgr Brendan Daly.