In our profile of Permanent Deacons we meet Rev Jon Dal Din, who is also Director of Westminster’s Interfaith agency.
I was ordained deacon in my parish of St Vincent de Paul, in the Diocese of Southwark on the Feast of St John the Baptist, 24 June 2000. I now work as Interfaith Coordinator for the Diocese of Westminster, which grants me the opportunity of exercising my ministry in two dioceses. I had this opportunity many years before because of my involvement with the Caribbean, Italian and French speaking communities.
At the time of my ordination, I was a lecturer in a large Further Education College in North London, where I had been Centre Tutor with pastoral responsibility for both staff and students, which involved dealing with a variety of cultural, ethnic and religious issues. I had just completed an MA in Pastoral Studies at Heythrop College. In my parish, I had been running the RCIA and Confirmation programmes for both adults and children for many years and continued to do so after ordination. I was, and am, still involved in ecumenism and the Focolare Movement.
Some four years before, my Parish Priest, Canon Charles Walker, who was also chaplain to the Caribbean Community, asked me if I'd ever thought of becoming a deacon. Well, I had many years before, on a course in pastoral ministry, when I met a man who had just been accepted to train as a Permanent Deacon. He suggested I should join him. Over the years, he kept nudging me to apply, reminding me he was praying for me and saying that if I took this step he would go on and train for the priesthood, which he did.
Shortly after ordination, my Bishop invited me to become Chaplain to the Caribbean Community, which is spread all over London. I continued being involved in parish catechesis and teaching in Further and Adult Education until I was invited to take on the role of Director of Westminster Interfaith, the agency for inter-religious dialogue in Westminster Diocese.
The most challenging and perhaps also the most rewarding aspect of being a married Permanent Deacon is balancing all the different areas of activity I'm involved in, knowing that I have been consecrated for this service. My first priority, of course, is my family. That has its own demands. We have 7 children and 11 grandchildren. For the past 6 years three of them have been living with us, the youngest is nine. It's like starting a new family all over again, except this time we may be a little wiser and slightly better prepared for the task, at least we hope! We still have a mother, who will celebrate her 100th birthday this year.
Parish work has many facets; participation in the liturgy, preaching, regular meetings, visiting the sick and housebound, sacramental preparation, baptisms, weddings and funerals, which I also conduct in French and Italian.
My role as Chaplain to the Caribbean Community has its own dynamics. It is a privilege and an honour to participate in their liturgies and events and share in their joys and sufferings. Of course, underlying my ministry is the grace of ordination and my commitment to the Focolare Spirituality of Unity, which informs all aspects of my life. We are all on a divine adventure, seeking to carry out whatever the Will of God for each one of us is in every present moment. Being a Permanent Deacon has widened my areas of activity and taken me down fascinating and exciting paths, which have led me to places and people I may never have met.
For more information on the Diaconate contact Deacon Anthony Clark.