GOD has more than one “first” in mind for Brisbane’s Paul Ninnes this year.
The engaging 30 year-old last month began taking over the reigns as Vocations Promotions Officer, based near St Stephen’s Cathedral, in a (currently) part-time role he said would be “a challenge”.
“That’s what attracted me,” Paul said.
“To do something different within the Church and be at the hub, the epicentre.”
Paul said he’s always seen the cathedral as “a place of mini pilgrimage” and “the spiritual heart of the local Church” and has enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of what (former Vocations Promotions Officer) Mark Lysaght has built up.
“Mark’s done an awesome job increasing awareness of vocations,” Paul, who grew up on the northside, said.
“I plan to build on what he has done.”
His personal vocation has come more to the fore in recent years, Paul spending “two years not dating”, including a year serving on NET (National Evangelisation Teams) in 2007 and discerning just what God had in mind.
“While I was on NET I prayed God would use me to bring men to the priesthood,” Paul said.
“During 2007 I made a complete surrender of my life to God … (and) I felt Him calling me to work specifically for Him.
While committing to ministry 10 years ago, Paul has been part of a core team of organisers of the popular Ignite youth conference for many years.
It was in this setting he met wife of just over a year Emma and they have just announced this year’s arrival of baby Ninnes – another “first”.
Within his work and ministry the former physiotherapist said he has a particular “passion in the area of sexuality”.
“I’m passionate about passing onto all people the awesomeness of God’s plan for our sexuality … of getting the most out of who they are as a person,” he said.
“Both Pope Benedict and JPII spoke of the joy that comes from following your true vocational call … whether than be priesthood, marriage or a single life.
“(And) I am as passionate about priesthood as I am about married life.”
Currently studying theology through the John Paul II Institute and working on materials dealing with chastity, Paul has often been called upon to speak publicly among young people and particularly young men about purity and God’s plan for a holy life.
One such event was a men’s gathering at World Youth Day in 2008.
On the journey towards Vocations Promotions Officer he has been inspired by “priests who are passionate about what they do” and is hopeful of making further inroads towards open communication with young people who are discerning their vocation.
“I feel called to see people experience the fullness of faith, to discover the fullness of who they are and they will find this in discovering their vocation,” Paul said, then fine-tuning his “open door” policy.
“If someone feels even remotely called to priesthood, even just entertaining the idea, I’d say to them it’s worth sitting down and talking about it,” he said.
“They owe it to themselves, to the Church and to God.
“Following our vocation brings about the complete joy God has in mind.
“I am looking forward to creating avenues for people to discover their vocation and enter into a deeper relationship with Christ.”
The Brisbane Vocations Office can be reached by phoning 1300 133 544.
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