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Emotions running high as four Queensland men prepare to be deacons

Men of faith: Four seminarians William Iuliano, Francis Fernandes, Ashwin Acharya and Jack Ho will be ordained transitional deacons on the path to priesthood this month. Photo: Joe Higgins

THREE Brisbane seminarians Francis Fernandes, William Iuliano and Jack Ho are taking their next steps towards priesthood, set to be ordained transitional deacons at St Stephen’s Cathedral on Friday, November 13.

Rockhampton diocese seminarian Ashwin Acharya will head to St Joseph’s Cathedral to be ordained a transitional deacon on Wednesday, November 18.

The four men, closing out their sixth and seventh years at Holy Spirit Seminary, were all looking forward to their ordination days, each filled with anticipation, excitement and some nerves.

“Emotions change from day to day,” Mr Acharya said.

“You can’t really judge your readiness emotionally.

“And you know, who’s ready? And who’s worthy? I don’t think anyone’s ready or worthy but God calls – and if God calls you’ve just got to trust it.

“If you’re ready to take a step, then you’re ready for that step to be taken, and I’m ready for the next step.”

Mr Fernandes, who described himself as more of a methodical thinker, said being ordained was not like a birthday where you could look back and know what to expect.

“Because of that, I’ve heard it can be a bit of a blur on the day,” he said.

“We’ve had the blessing of going on this retreat and working through the rite and praying through it.

“I’ve got some sense of what’s going to happen, but, I think the real happening is going to be in those first couple of weeks and months in the parish when I’ll have a chance to grow into my role as a deacon.”

Mr Ho said he was not sure how to feel about being ordained.

“I think all of us have said that, and one minute you feel like this and one minute you feel like that,” he said.

“It’s a lifelong decision and a lifelong commitment and, you know, am I ready for it? Probably not.

“Am I willing to make that commitment? Yes.

“Am I looking forward to the adventure? Absolutely.”

Mr Iuliano had a different take – “I’m just thinking about the practical things”.

“I’m going to have to start gesturing in particular ways when up there … these practical things are occupying my mind,” he said.

“Other than that, people keep talking about how my life is going to be different and I’m going to be in a different state – it hasn’t hit me yet.”

Mr Iuliano said being with people, eating meals with people, talking to people was his big aim once ordained.

“That’s what I really hope for … to get a sense of what the Church is thinking how the Church is breathing and what’s being experienced on the ground,” he said.

Next steps: Four seminarians Francis Fernandes, William Iuliano, Ashwin Acharya and Jack Ho will be ordained transitional deacons on the path to priesthood this month. Photo: Joe Higgins

Mr Acharya said he would be counting on St Joseph, a close heavenly companion of his, who he had called on constantly throughout his journey.

“And I’ll be counting on him as the days and months and years unravel,” he said.

Mr Fernandes said while on placement he had many “a-ha” moments where the knowledge he gained in study made its mark in sacramental life.

“I was able to put that into practice on placement with sacramental programs and suddenly the dots line up and you start to help people to see the grand vision that the Church has when it talks about a sacrament,” he said.

For Mr Ho, he was thinking about the words of Fr John Conway, who he had been placed with at Regents Park parish in 2018.

“He (Fr Conway) was probably the most instrumental person and most instrumental priest in my journey that completely reshaped my view of ministry,” he said.

“There’s a saying of his, and others before and after have said it – ‘The call of ministry is to be with people in the ordinary events in the messiness of life’.

“I’ve never forgotten that and that’s been my model of ministry since then.”

All of the seminarians had fond memories of brotherhood and growth from their time at the seminary.

Mr Acharya said he and his brother seminarians had been on a journey together.

“It sounds really cliché, but it boils down to that and how do we make this journey? Well we need each other.

“The intimacy that we have has allowed us to fraternally challenge and build each other up in ways that other people can’t.

“I’ve come to lean on my brothers a lot and I’d like to think that at times I’ve been a source of stability for them as well.”

Mr Iuliano said he had a phenomenal time at Holy Spirit Seminary.

“I really love this place and I really love the brothers here and the friendships that we’ve formed, and I think it’s been a big part of me still being here,” he said.

“If this wasn’t part of the process, it would be really difficult to continue.

“I’m really glad to be here.”

Read the full story and special interviews with each seminarian in this week’s edition of The Catholic Leader – click here to subscribe for free.

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