The Lord calls all of us to vocation, for some the call is to follow a vocation to priestly or religious life. There are many ways to answer the call and serve Jesus; we need to spend time and prayer to identify what our response should be. My initial vocation was to marriage and I have been married to Jolanta for over twenty years. But I am also blessed with another vocation and that is to the Permanent Diaconate.
The journey from initial enquiry, through discernment, selection, the propaedeutic period, formation to the Diaconal Ordination takes several years. My journey to the Diaconate started in June 2010 when, as a parishioner at Ealing Abbey, Deacon Gordon Nunn asked me whether I had considered a calling to the Diaconate.
After praying and discussing with my family and others I offered myself for service to the Church. Initially I had a number of informal discussions with my Parish Priest and the Diaconal Formation Director for the Diocese of Westminster. Following my application, there were more interviews and assessments, culminating in a visit to Archbishop’s House where my wife and I met with Cardinal Vincent. A little later I was informed that I had been selected to start the three years of formation in September 2011 studying for a degree through St Mary’s University at St John’s Seminary in Wonersh.
The three years of formation flew by. Each year there were ten days of lectures, two residential weekends and a weekend retreat. The academic side provided a good grounding in pastoral theology and we received more practical based sessions where we had training in giving homilies and administering the Sacramental Rites for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
On Saturday 19 July 2014 I was ordained Permanent Deacon at Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Vincent. Ordained with me that day were two other men from the diocese, Deacon Stephen Khokar from St Anselm’s Church in Southall and Deacon Justin Cross from St Bartholomew’s Church in St Albans.
The day of the ordination was a glorious hot summer’s day and I was fortunate that many fellow Deacons from Westminster were able to attend the ordination. At the start of the Ordination service, the person to be ordained is sitting with their family and is then called forward for the Ordination Rite. Following that rite the person becomes ordained. For myself and my two colleagues the first time we were Deacons at Mass was at Westminster Cathedral. This was both an honour and, as you can imagine, a time of great nervousness in front of a very large congregation.
I have been asked on several occasions, do I feel any different following my ordination? I am still the person I was before, but through the grace bestowed on me during ordination, I have changed. It’s rather like marriage, after you are married you are still the same person but are also changed as your life is now part of something new. I am now part of the Parish team at Ealing Abbey and have joined the Parish Priests and Permanent Deacon serving the needs of the parish and its parishioners. I deliver homilies at Mass, have celebrated parish baptisms and have assisted at funerals. As well as these duties I am involved with the First Holy Communion programme and leading retreats for Lectors and Extra-ordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist.
Becoming a Permanent Deacon takes time, effort, prayers and reflection. If you hear God’s call and think a vocation to the Permanent Diaconate is where God is leading you then do discuss this with your Parish Priest and you can also contact Deacon Anthony Clarke, the Director for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Westminster.