First Permanent Deacons of the Diocese Ordained in 151 years
Bishop of Bathurst, the Most Reverend Michael McKenna, ordained Mr Charles Applin and Mr Terry Mahony to the diaconate on Friday, 5th February 2016, at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. John.
Charles and Terry, married men with many years as active members of the Church, have completed five years of preparation for this Sacrament. Terry, from Bathurst, and Charles, from Lisdale, were ordained as the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst’s first permanent deacons in its 151-year history.
The evening saw more than 300 guests witness the ordination of Terry and Charles. Bishop Pat O'Regan, Bishop of Sale, returned to Bathurst to be present at the ordination and was warmly welcomed by Bishop Michael, who said it was most fitting for Bishop Pat to be part of the celebrations given that he was the driving force when both Terry and Charles began their journey five years ago.
Their ordination as deacons is for life and will put them in a new and permanent relationship of service to the Bishop and Christ’s faithful. Although this relationship is with the whole people of God, they now belong in a particular way to the local church of the Diocese of Bathurst.
Their wives, Joan and Christine, have accompanied them on this journey of discernment and formation and given their consent for Charles and Terry to make this life-changing commitment, which they will carry out in concert with their commitment to the Sacrament of Matrimony.
When speaking about the preparation leading up to the ordindation. Charles said "This had been a wonderful five years of learning, discernment and answering the call to this ministry.Through our period of discernment and Candidacy, we have been enriched by working with those at the margins, the sick, the aged, the dying and the bereaved. It in this work that the ministry of the Deacon is especially significant".
Bishop McKenna said, “The new deacons are pioneers of this ministry in the Diocese of Bathurst. They and all of us will learn through trial and error what this call from God will mean in practice. However, we shall not be travelling without a map. The renewal of this ministry after the Second Vatican Council is based on a tradition that reaches back to the earliest days of the Church”.
“They will carry out their ministry across the Diocese in different places at different times, cooperating with the local priest, at my direction. Although sometimes their work may be liturgical (leading or assisting worship; baptising; celebrating weddings and funerals), this will grow out of their broader task of connecting with the disconnected”, explained Bishop McKenna.
Deacons directly help the Bishop in reaching out to people on the edges of Church life. These distances may be geographical (e.g. the smaller and more remote communities of our Diocese); or social and economic; or distances of the heart in faith and practice. They assist with works of charity, catechesis and coordination.
When asked about his new role, Terry explained, “It is a great honour, but it also has enormous challenges. What we do sets a permanent example for future deacons. We have to be aware we will be known as trailblazers”.
Charles said "This is a very exciting time for the Diocese of Bathurst as my confrère Terry and I make plans to travel the length and breadth of the Diocese, meeting parishioners, reaching out to those at the margins and discerning their needs".
Bishop McKenna said, “We pray that God will bless them, and those who have helped them on the journey, with generous abundance”.