DEACONS Francis Fernandes, William Iuliano and Jack Ho are ready to get stuck into ministry after Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell ordained the trio to the transitional diaconate at St Stephen’s Cathedral on November 13.
“It was amazing; it’s beyond words,” Deacon Ho said.
“From the moment that I saw some friends arriving before Mass to the joy that we all shared afterwards, feeling the support of the Church and feeling the support of the people around me that have made it possible … it was amazing.
“I have a sense that without the call of God and without the support of the Church and the support of all the people around me, this would just be totally impossible to get to this point.
“It was an extremely humbling experience.”
Deacon Iuliano said he and his deacon brothers had been in preparation for a long time, which was a stark difference to how the ordination went for him.
“It was just quick; I couldn’t believe how quickly it went by,” he said.
“I’m just in there and then it almost felt like we were out.”
Deacon Iuliano, who had been appointed to Gympie parish for his diaconate, said it all felt worthwhile.
He said there was still “great excitement in the air” for the future too.
Deacon Ho said there was a feeling that “this was the moment”.
“There was definitely a sense of unworthiness, but there was also a sense of trust; I’m placing myself completely in trust at the hands of the Church and the hands of the people around me,” he said.
Deacon Ho had “a fantastic group” with him at the ordination.
“I had people from my pastoral experiences in Ipswich, Regents Park … and I was really glad that three schools were represented in the group too,” he said.
“School ministry has always been very close to my heart, so it was beautiful to have them there.
“It was wonderful to share the moment with them.”
He said it was amazing to know the General Council of the Sisters of Nazareth were watching the ordination live stream from their mother house in London.
“They played a tremendous role in me discerning my vocation and I’m extremely grateful to them and their friendship along the way,” he said.
Deacon Ho was appointed to Chermside and Wavell Heights parishes.
“The ordination was wonderful but now was the time to start the adventure and the next part of the journey,” he said.
Deacon Fernandes said the ordination was exhilarating.
“When we were standing by the baptistry and the first notes of the pipe organ started playing, they were just so divine and it carried me into the start of Mass,” he said.
With him was his dad and his brother as well as friends and members of parishes he grew close to over the years.
He said it was a “deeply humbling” experience to lay down on the floor and be prayed over during the Litany of the Saints.
“I was just staring at the floor and there was something humbling about having the Church around me, physically but also spiritually, praying for us,” he said.
“I just joined in from the floor.”
Deacon Fernandes jumped straight into ministry too, being invited to celebrate a Mass with Fr Frank Jones for the Carmelites at Ormiston.
“I wouldn’t ever turn down that offer,” he said with a laugh.
“He also asked me if I wanted to give the homily, so I spent the following day crafting and refining a homily; well, I was pretty proud of it and I thought it’s a good first experience of giving a homily.
“They seemed to respond positively as well; either that or they were being really polite.”
He said his new title and his new ministry all hit him at the start of that Mass at Ormiston.
“I thought, ‘Something’s changed now, I’m in a new space in my life’,” he said.
Deacon Fernandes will spend his diaconate placement at Gatton-Laidley parish.
“I’ve only heard good things about Gatton-Laidley so far and wonderful things about Fr Noyichan (Mamoottil),” he said.
“I know I’m in good hands when I get there.”
In his homily, Bishop Howell reminded the deacons of their baptism, which united them with all Catholics everywhere – lay, religious, ordained.
“You are vested in the white alb, which represents the garment of your baptism, when you first put on Christ.
“And you stand in this, the mother Church of Brisbane, dedicated to the first martyr and deacon Stephen.
“All of this is not without significance.
“Being dressed in the garment of your baptism recognises that you cannot be here seeking ordination without having been first immersed into the life of Christ through the waters of rebirth.
“Being here in this cathedral church recognises the local church that has nurtured your vocation and now calls you to serve in a particular way amongst the ordained ministers of the archdiocese.”
Bishop Howell said Christ gives each individual various gifts to build up the body of Christ.
“For you, the gift specially given, is to be pastors but not to do this alone,” he said.
“But to do this with the apostles, evangelists and teachers so that there is a unity in the works of service and all of this is to make strong the mission of Jesus through our using these gifts for the good of all the baptised and even beyond, to go out to the whole world.”
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