'Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.' (From the Rite of Ordination)
On the feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli ordained Alexander Chow as a deacon for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. It was a unique celebration, with just five people present at St Patrick's Cathedral due to COVID-19 restrictions. Deacon Alex is currently in his fourth year of studies for the priesthood at Beda College, Rome, where he will return following his ordination.
During his homily, Archbishop Comensoli explained the significance of the ritual and prayer for those ordained to the diaconate.
'While the grace of the diaconate is ours, it needs to reside in someone. Hence, we ask God to grant it a specific individual; in today’s case it is Alex who is to be favoured with this gift. But this part of the prayer makes it very clear that it is not an entitlement his is being favoured with. Rather, it is a responsibility, as the prayer asks for the diaconate to be granted to him who is a servant of it.
In other words, we ask God to favour us with someone who will dedicate himself to being at the service of God’s people. ... A deacon has work to do among God’s people, and he will need the strength to carry it out. That is what the Holy Spirit gives – the spiritual strength to take up the work of diaconal service, for and among God’s People. We want our servants to be strong in spirit and bold in mission, capable of persevering and focused on the work to be done.'
Alex thanked the Archbishop and the local church for enabling his ordination to take place during these unprecedented times. He also sent his gratitude to his family watching online – his sister Priscilla in Melbourne, his mother Cecilia in Brunei and his twin brother Albert watching from New Zealand.
'Thank you for your support and love as I journey towards priesthood ... I'd also like to thank the parish that I was baptised in, the Parish of Our Lady in Brunei, Darussalam. Thank you for mentoring me and for forming my faith back when I was in Brunei.'
COVID-19 restrictions have also meant the postponement of other ordinations due to take place this year. 'We have three permanent deacons to be ordained as soon as we can,' Archbishop Comensoli said. 'We also have five or six priests to be ordained and some transitional deacons... so a great crop of ordained ministers to be a part of our local church here in Melbourne. I encourage you to keep your prayers going for them.'