In ordaining two new transitional deacons, Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, SM, expressed his gratitude and support for them, but also warned about the realities of their future ministries.
Deacon Peter Trung Nguyen of Palmerston North diocese and Deacon Anthony Tang Phan of Christchurch diocese
were ordained at Sacred Heart church in Ponsonby on September 21, the feast of St Matthew, apostle and evangelist.
Both new deacons originally came from Vietnam, and Bishop Martin thanked them “from the heart — I thank you on behalf of all us gathered here today, and the many
people in your dioceses who love you and who aren’t able to be here”.
“You have embraced a great adventure of faith in a remarkable and inspiring way by taking literally the call to leave home, country and family and move” in response to the Lord’s call.
But Bishop Martin told the deacons that “today’s sacramental action is not primarily about you, since this celebration, and in every sacramental action, it is Jesus Christ who is central. Today is about Jesus Christ, choosing
again to use weak, frail, vulnerable and sinful people as his instruments of divine mercy and love. And in the light of this mercy and love, we are able to see ourselves as we are, at times even feeling doomed. People of unclean lips, but no
longer defined by our deficiencies. Instead, from our lowly position, our eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts, and we stand, called and chosen, responding ‘here I am
Lord, send me’.”
Bishop Martin said that on this day the deacons have seen and heard and experienced support and love — a “tangible
acclamation of your vocations”.
“But not every day will be like this,” the bishop warned.
“Some days you might well wonder, what were you thinking, why did you take this step? In the years ahead, there will be times when you hear reports of your brothers in holy orders and feel embarrassment and shame. In the same way, you will see parishioners as they set aside the practice of our faith. And in these painful moments, remember that, while there is good and grace in every person, there is also pravity and sin. I’m speaking about myself as well within this.
“But this makes our decision simple. We are not the followers of human role models, fashions or ideologies,” Bishop Martin noted.
“We are followers of Jesus Christ. He is our model and he is our God. By your life and character you will give witness to
this [imperative] of faith, that God must be loved above all else, and that it is he that you serve above all.”