TO describe Brisbane archdiocese’s newly ordained deacons Jason Middleton and Peter Gablonski as enthusiastic would be the under-statement of the year.
Both are bursting with exuberance for their chosen vocation following their ordination ceremonies in Brisbane earlier this month.
“People keep asking if I’ve come down off the clouds,” Jason said, laughing heartily, with Peter expressing the same sentiment.
The men have been friends since they entered the seminary in 2002, saying they “get on like a house on fire”.
Admitting that the beginnings of their formation for the priesthood “seem like a lifetime ago”, Jason said the years have passed quickly since he began ministry in parishes.
“Study was long … since moving into parishes it has really flown … it’s been an amazing six years.”
Peter added: “Not having to wait until ordination to become involved in the lives of people is vital.
“This involvement is actually a key part of developing into a pastoral minister.”
Jason, originally from Carindale, eventually moved to Tingalpa and worshipped in St Oliver Plunkett, Cannon Hill.
When asked who or what has inspired him along the way, the answer was simple.
“Let’s state the obvious and say Jesus … I’d better put that in there. It’s true,” he said candidly, adding, “Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mary MacKillop all stood up for something and made a difference in the lives of people around them.
“There’s varying levels of inspiration and where it comes from.”
Jason described his first year in the seminary as “a real eye opener” with “a whole new experience of living in community”.
“I was unaccustomed to having to deal with conflict in a community … but it made me a much better person and more confident.”
Jason also was challenged, at times, with the decision he had made.
“Every seminarian has to ask will they be happy living this life and at times you feel you’ve had enough and think, ‘I want out’.”
The 25-year-old “doesn’t regret a moment” of his formation which has had certain highlights including travelling to various parishes, near and far, to “get a sense of the Church in Queensland”.
“I’d never been to places like Cairns or Townsville … it was a powerful experience that resonates with me.”
Admitting to feeling as though he’d lived “in a bit of a bubble” when studying throughout the first years at the seminary, Jason also “relished” his previous pastoral placements of Coolangatta-Tugun and current opportunities in Albany Creek in Brisbane’s north-west.
“One thing I’ve noticed about being invited into people’s lives in difficult, joyous and intimate times is that they trust so much.
“In those times I have been privileged enough to share those moments.”
Of the future, Jason said he desires to “bring passion and enthusiasm to ministry in the Church”.
He will continue to serve in Albany Creek for at least another six months and said after that “anything is possible”.
With the same enthusiasm, Peter spoke of his journey of faith that began by witnessing Daisy Hill parish priest Fr Paul Murphy live out his vocation.
“Watching Fr Paul … I gradually began to feel drawn towards the concept of life as a priest,” he said.
“However, it took some time for God, through prayer and the encouragement of others, to turn this ‘concept’ into something that I could actually follow up on.”
Before joining the seminary, Peter had obtained an information technology degree and spent four years in Japan, something which he’s proud to talk about.
“It’s good for blokes to see that you can do other things.
“Some people think it would be a waste if I didn’t follow up on the study but it’s all part of my journey … and I like people to know I came in later,” Peter said.
The 33-year-old has spent time ministering in Ipswich, Maroochydore and Surfers Paradise and is currently enjoying his pastoral placement in Clayfield in Brisbane’s north-east.
Peter is enthused about World Youth Day in Sydney next year saying it “looms large” in his future.
“I am looking forward to going on pilgrimage to Sydney as a priest. Momentum has been building and I have well and truly been caught up in the excitement.”
Asked from where or whom does his inspiration come, Peter said: “My response can be summed up by one particular exchange from the ordination liturgy.
“Bishop Joseph (Oudeman) asked me, ‘Are you resolved to always shape your way of life according to the example of Christ, whose body and blood you will give to the people?’
“I answered, ‘I am, with the help of God’.”
The vibrancy of the future of the Church certainly rests in safe hands with Jason and Peter.