In 1988 I was serving in the RAAF in Butterworth, Malaysia.
While chatting with Fr Peter O’Keefe, our Catholic chaplain, he mentioned that
there was some talk among military chaplains of opening up Catholic chaplaincy
to permanent deacons, and that started me thinking. Was this my vocation? What
would it mean for my wife, for our children? Thus began a process of
discernment, questioning and consultation – consultation with my wife Vicki,
with priests I knew and trusted, with friends.
I was accepted on to the diaconate program for the Military Ordinariate
in 1990, and after five years of spiritual, personal, theological and pastoral
formation was ordained by Bishop Geoff Mayne at the Holy Trinity Chapel of the
RAAF on 23 September 1995.
For the first 12 years of my ministry I was a full-time
chaplain in the RAAF, helping Catholic members and their families to maintain
and deepen their faith, and dealing with the spiritual, emotional, relational
and personal issues of Air Force members and their families of all faiths and
none. This included chaplaincy to Service hospitals, training schools,
operational units, and deployed chaplaincy to areas of conflict in the Middle
East and Timor Leste.
On leaving full-time Air Force service I returned with Vicki
to Melbourne, our home town, and am now part of the Melbourne Archdiocese. As
well as helping out in parishes at Rickett’s Point (Beaumaris & Black Rock)
and East St Kilda, from 2008 to 2017 (after a few months in school chaplaincy) I
was in full-time ministry with St John of God Health Care, as Director of
Mission at their Frankston hospital and then at their ‘Accord’ service
supporting disabled adults. After nine wonderful years in Director of Mission
roles, I resigned from St John of God Health Care, and now I minister full-time
within the Archdiocese as Diocesan Director for Caritas Australia.
After almost 23 years as a deacon, I am still exploring the
richness of this ministry. Ordained to serve the Bishop and the people, to
spread the joy of the gospel, to see the divinity present in all people and to
be for them, in a very inadequate way, the presence of Jesus Christ who loves
them and who came, not to be served, but to serve. I am still learning.