DEACON Ashwin Acharya felt like he was floating in the middle of Rockhampton’s St Joseph’s Cathedral, soaking in the prayers of his friends, family and saints, at the height of his ordination Mass to the transitional diaconate last Wednesday.
“I was going to lie down and pray the responses, ‘pray for us, pray for us’, with all the saints being named,” Deacon Acharya said, speaking about his experience during the Litany of the Saints.
“I was told before the ordination, ‘Don’t do that, just lie there and don’t think of anything; just lie there and let people’s prayers soak into you’.
“There was a beautiful feeling of being lifted up despite the fact you’re lying on the ground.
“You feel like you’re in the air, you feel like you’re in the middle of the whole Church that’s just shrouding you in its prayer.
“It was very powerful – there’s no question there, very fortifying.”
He only found out after the Mass that his little niece and goddaughter also prostrated herself right next to him.
“It was pretty cute,” he said.
“People were telling me later, when I laid down, she laid down, so who knows what prayers she soaked up as well.”
Deacon Acharya had his mum, dad, brother and sister-in-law and their two daughters at the Mass with him.
In his homily, Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy, who ordained Deacon Acharya, said his first memory of young Ashwin was when he had just arrived in the diocese and saw a group of students from St Ursula’s and St Brendan’s colleges preparing for the sacraments.
“There was Ashwin, in the middle of them all, telling them about Jesus Christ,” he said.
“I blinked and thought, ‘This is an interesting young man’.”
Deacon Acharya’s formational journey, which he told to The Catholic Leader recently, was founded also on his brotherhood at Holy Spirit Seminary.
His seminary brothers had made the journey north to Rockhampton and Deacon Acharya had chosen one of them, Deacon Jack Ho, to vest him with the dalmatic.
“I chose him as a kind of elder brother amongst all of us, who had gone before us and who we’ve had the privilege of joining,” Deacon Acharya said.
“He was ordained with us; we were all ordained together, so it was special that it was him.”
Deacon Acharya was appointed to Emerald parish for his diaconate, which, as providence would have it, he visited by chance earlier in the year.
He had gone out on a road trip with his dad and stopped at Emerald, where he was invited to stay at the parish.
“It’s nice to have had that connection and now go there more formally with a friendship already having been sewn,” he said.
His priority was to become embedded in the community to serve them.
“That must be the undercurrent of everything I’m doing; I’m with them for them,” he said.
“It is a formative six months.
“I’m there as a learner in a kind of intensified learning space as I now look forward to priestly ordination.
“So hopefully, it’s a time of intense learning and growth; that’s what I’d hope for.”
He said he was deeply grateful to Emerald parish secretaries Francie Hartley and Cathy Chapman, who travelled to be at the ordination.
He also thanked Joy Philippi, who co-ordinated and planned the ordination ceremony.