FOUR Catholic professionals with impressive resumes are white-collar workers of a different kind after being ordained deacons last week.
Financial economist Adam Walk, technology expert Ivan Ortiz, head of the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s evangelisation arm Peter Pellicaan, and scientific researcher in the mining industry Chad Hargrave were ordained deacons on November 30 at St Stephen’s Cathedral.
All four men have established careers in Brisbane but, after prayer and consultation with their wives, took up the call to serve the Church in the sacrament of Holy Orders as permanent deacons.
The white-collar workers now have the opportunity to don another white collar, the Roman collar, an item reserved for all ranks of clergy including deacons.
While permanent deacons aren’t expected to wear the collar in their day jobs, they continue to represent the Church as mission.
During their ordination, the deacons also received a stole and dalmatic, important vestments for deacons.
They were vested for the first time by their wives Megan Walk, Liliana Ortiz, Leone Pellicaan and Cathy Hargrave.
It was an emotional moment for Deacon Hargrave, who is based at St Stephen’s Cathedral.
“It was the sense of us being there together,” Deacon Hargrave said.
“I think that dawning realisation of being a deacon, but happening with Cathy there, was great because it was a sense of being together rather than it being all about me.”
The permanent diaconate is a state of clerical life that was common in the Church until the Middle Ages, when it went into hibernation within the Roman Catholic Church.
It was reinstated to the sacrament of Holy Orders in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago.
The rank of Holy Orders includes the diaconate, the presbyterate, or priesthood, and the episcopate, reserved for bishops, but all bishops and priests remain deacons for their clerical life.
Brisbane’s first permanent deacon Deacon Peter Olsen was ordained in 2005, and the previous ordination before the ones last week was for Deacon Andrew O’Brien in 2017.
The ordination of Deacons Walk, Ortiz, Pellicaan and Hargrave takes the number of permanent deacons in Brisbane to 20.
And just as they work in widely diverse industries, all four have come to the faith that led them to the diaconate from different angles.
Deacons Pellicaan and Hargrave converted to Catholicism from Protestant backgrounds within the past two decades, while Deacon Walk, who briefly trained in the Australian army, was baptised into the Church in 2001 by Bishop John Gerry.
Deacon Ortiz is the only homegrown Catholic, originally from Mexico City, and his parents and sister were privileged to sit behind him at his ordination.
All four deacons are married and, on top of that, Deacon Pellicaan has five children, while Deacon Ortiz is a father of three young boys.
Out of the four deacons, Deacon Pellicaan is the most experienced in the clerical life, having spent 10 years as a Protestant pastor in Toowoomba before resigning to become a Catholic in 2013.
During his diaconate studies he has been assisting Monsignor Peter Meneely at St Luke’s Church, Buranda.
Through his ordination, he can now officially return to proclaiming the Word of God through the Gospel and the homily at Mass.
“Scripture is so powerful, beautiful and timeless,” Deacon Pellicaan said.
“The opportunity to preach, it is a great gift.”
Deacon Ortiz’s first Mass as a deacon was a small family affair – his sons were altar servers and his wife was an extraordinary minister, while the Mass itself included the Confirmations of his nephews, who live in Finland.
The Mass was organised by his local community, the Latin American Catholic Community, which is based in Ashgrove.
Deacon Ortiz is the community’s first deacon, a fact that has members counting their blessings loudly.
He is now navigating life as a dad and deacon, saying all deacons were called to be diaconal in every aspect of life.
It will no doubt make watching his sons in a gruelling weekend soccer game more sacred.
“I can say to them, ‘If you’re losing by two at halftime, I can give you guys a blessing, and turn around the scores’,” Deacon Ortiz said.
“It’s a great testimony that we are a normal family, but we’re not.”
Deacon Walk, an investment advisor and member of many boards across Brisbane archdiocese, said his ordination was a day he would never forget.
“The ordination was an incredibly moving experience, especially during the laying on of hands and when the saints were invoked as we lay prostrate,” he said.
“I felt a strong connection to the Church in Brisbane in all its diversity, as well as to the Church back in time. I thought about the original seven from Acts and imagined all the deacons that had been ordained through the ensuing 2000 years.”
Deacon Walk will be affiliated with St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane, the parish he attends with his wife.
View the full coverage of the diaconate ordination, including photos, in the December 8, 2019, edition of The Catholic Leader.