FAMILY man and teacher Clint McGoldrick is on a formation path that could lead to a first for Brisbane archdiocese.
If he completes his formation program he will be the first Indigenous man ordained a deacon for the archdiocese.
Mr McGoldrick, a program leader for ministry and service at St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe, was instituted into the ministry of lector at St Joseph’s Church, Bracken Ridge, last Sunday.
That’s the first of three ceremonies along the formation path to being ordained a permanent deacon, with candidacy and acolyte being the next two steps.
Mr McGoldrick’s wife Karley and their sons Nate, 10, and Levi, 7, were among those there to see Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell officiate at the ceremony.
The 42-year-old, who spent four years in the military as a combat engineer before moving into education, is aware there is a way to go before any decision about ordination.
“I’m in God’s time … but I’m looking forward to what each day brings in Christ and sharing that with my family,” he said in the days leading up to last Sunday’s ceremony.
“I’ll just take each day as it comes; I’m not trying to get too hopeful but I can’t wait for that day that I’m ordained.
“That will have a lot of meaning to it, because … I would be the first Aboriginal deacon in this archdiocese so there’s a lot of enjoyment and a lot of celebration; a lot of people are very happy for me in regards to that.”
Leading into last Sunday’s Mass, Mr McGoldrick received messages of prayer and support from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, and from Townsville Bishop Tim Harris, who is a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
NATSICC promoted the livestreaming of the Bracken Ridge Mass across the states and territories of Australia.
NATSICC’s Queensland representative Uncle David Miller, a Bracken Ridge parishioner, gave the Acknowledgement of Country, and Brisbane archdiocese’s Reconciliation Action Plan officer Cynthia Rowan attended.
Quandamooka elders Aunty Rose Borey and Aunty Evelyn Parkin sent messages of prayerful support, and Aunty Rose’s daughters Bernice Fischer and Margaret Grenfell represented the Quandamooka people at the Mass.
Representatives of Murri Ministry, St Patrick’s and St John Fisher college’s, St Joseph’s Primary School, and the parish pastoral council also attended.
Mr McGoldrick is an Aboriginal descendant of the Worimi people, of Forster Tuncurry in NSW, who grew up in Brisbane.
He said he first started to feel a calling to ministry during his 13 years teaching in Roma and Mitchell in the Western Downs of Queensland.
“It got to the point where (as an ex-army man) I met a person who I used to serve with and I was moved by the amount of people who are struggling post-service or within the service,” he said.
“And I said, ‘I really need to do something about this; what can I do?’, and in my conversations with God I got called to want to be in service as a chaplain, and, as a Catholic, that meant I needed to be a deacon.”
That led him to contact with Columban Father Trevor Trotter, who was formerly running the archdiocese’s diaconate formation program, and former vocations director Fr Morgan Batt.
“Both of those fine men were influential in me taking the step to move into the diaconate,” he said.
Through Bracken Ridge parish priest Fr Gerry Hefferan and fellow parishioner Uncle David Miller as well as through his work at St Patrick’s Mr McGoldrick has become involved with ministry among Indigenous communities.
“I’m just making myself available just to listen to people and, I guess, with my skills set and my ability just doing the best I can to help,” he said.
He said he hoped he could eventually be involved in ministry among Indigenous people and ministry to the military community.
Mr McGoldrick said having participated in three silent retreats through the diaconate program and “having the opportunity to break the Word open and practise homilies, I’m convinced more and more each day that this is my calling”.
“I’m loving it and the family is very supportive; Karley’s very supportive … We attend Mass at Bracken Ridge,” he said.
“And my commitment through this program has made us as a family even stronger.”
During the ceremony for the institution of the ministry of lector Bishop Howell told Mr McGoldrick it was “a sign of the calling that you and the Church are discerning as you look towards being ordained a deacon”.
“This moment designates you as a minister of God’s Word,” he said.
“As a minister of God’s Word, your proclamation of this Word can never be limited to reading from the pages of the Lectionary; your life is to be a proclamation of God’s Word so that you can be an instrument of the Holy Spirit being sent by Jesus out beyond this worship space into the world.
“You will meditate on the Word constantly so that each day you will have a deeper love of the Scripture and in all that you say and do show forth to the world our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
At the end of Mass, Mr McGoldrick received gifts, including a message stick and headband, from Murri Ministry and Indigenous communities of South East Queensland.