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Archbishop ordains 3 new permanent deacons

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Local men join 16 others in new calling to serve the Church
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Richard Chau, Patrick Dwan, and Tony Gray lie prostrate before the altar at Holy Rosary Cathedral during the ordination Mass May 26. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

Three more local men have left their old lives behind and stepped into a new way of serving the Church.

Richard Chau, Patrick Dwan, and Tony Gray were ordained permanent deacons at Holy Rosary Cathedral before hundreds of friends, family and well wishers May 26.

“When we were prostrate on the carpet, it was very humbling in an incredibly positive manner,” Deacon Gray said after the ceremony. “It really is like one life is draining out and you stand up into a new life. It was a very special moment.”

Archbishop J. Michael Miller laid his hands on Chau, Dwan, and Gray, ordaining them as permanent deacons for the local Church. They are among the second cohort of men ever ordained as permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The first cohort introduced the ministry to the archdiocese for the first time Dec. 8, 2015 with 16 ordinations.

“It is a gift to them that God has chosen them for this ministry, and it is a blessing for all of us that they have responded so generously, even enthusiastically,” Archbishop Miller said.

He called the men “living icons of Jesus the Servant” who are now tasked with fulfilling the ministry of word, sacrament, and charity as deacons.

“You are to work to strengthen the unity of the Church, so that all might believe, and by your example and ministry you are to help the faithful embrace their faith and their responsibility to share in the Church’s mission of spreading the good news.”

The wives of all three men said they feel blessed and excited to be part of a new adventure.

“I feel incredibly excited and just overwhelmed at the beauty of this experience, the true calling of my husband, and where we move forward in ministry together in this new part of our lives,” said Wendy Gray from St. Anthony’s Parish in West Vancouver.

Louisa Chau’s husband has been active in Christian churches in various ways, including as a non-ordained deacon in a Protestant church, since before the pair became Catholics in 2010. Richard Chau has been a deacon before. Born in Hong Kong, he became a Christian and was baptized in an evangelical church in 1973. He then spent decades serving in evangelical ministry in many roles, including as a deacon and as an elder.

“There’s a big difference” between deacons in Catholic and evangelical churches, he said. In evangelical churches, deacons are elected and serve in various ministries for a period of time. In Catholicism, permanent deacons are ordained by the bishop and carry the ministry, well, permanently.

“He’s been active all the time.”

The new permanent deacons’s assignments have not been announced yet, and that’s okay for Lynn Dwan. “I am very excited for whatever God puts in our path. We don’t know yet, exactly, but we’re excited for it,” said Lynn, who attends Mass at St. Francis de Sales Parish with her husband.

“When we lived in Montreal, they had deacons. People said to Pat: ‘You should be a deacon.’ He was a young man then. I think the seed was planted some time ago.”

Four more permanent deacons are scheduled for ordination later this year. Alan Cavin, Peter Gomes, and Peter Ho will be ordained Oct. 7, while Raul Solano becomes a deacon Dec. 8.

“I felt like one of them,” said Cavin, an aspiring deacon who attended the May 26 ordination Mass. “I was experiencing it with them, and I think they will experience it that way when we’re up there.”

He has spent the last four years in theological and spiritual formation with the three permanent deacons and was thrilled to see his classmates ordained. Now he’s looking forward to his turn.

“I’m not nervous, though I thought I would be. I feel confident. I feel ready. I feel humble because there’s this awesome weight on you when you realize you’re going to be ordained.”

A third cohort is currently in formation and preparing for ordination in a few years. More information about the program is available at rcav.org/permanent-diaconate.



Last Updated on Monday, 05 June 2017 10:38  

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