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Three permanent deacons look forward to ministry

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All excited but nervous about new calling to serve the Church
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Patrick Dwan.

All three permanent deacons set to be ordained at Holy Rosary Cathedral this Friday say they are very excited and a little nervous about taking that big step.

“I’m wondering what’s going to happen next, but also excited to see which way the Lord is directing me,” said Patrick Dwan one week before his ordination May 26.

“I have put complete trust in him and what he has in store for me.”

The St. Francis de Sales parishioner said his faith has always been a central part of his life, but the thought of becoming a deacon didn’t really cross his mind during the 50 years he worked in the helicopter industry, as a mechanic, then manager, then international traveler.

It was only after Father Terry Bileski suggested Dwan look into becoming a permanent deacon a few years ago that he began to think about it seriously.

“He was the one who planted the seed,” he said. Deacon Dwan, who retired in 2008, said his gratitude to God for so many blessings is driving him to serve the Church in this new way.

“I have the most incredible life and the most incredible family,” said Deacon Dwan, a husband for 49 years, father of four, and grandfather of 17.

“Every time there’s been a need, the Lord has stepped up and shone brightly in my life and whatever I’ve required has happened,” he said. “It’s time to share. I pray to God that he will give me the gifts, the ability, to do that.”

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.

“I feel I am entering into a new stage of my life, a new vocation.” Deacon Chau became a Catholic during Easter vigil at Holy Rosary Cathedral in 2010. Seven years later, the RCIA coordinator is excited to dive deeper into his faith and into service.

“I am praying: Lord, what’s the next step now?”

Tony Gray has been a dedicated member of his parish communities since he moved from England, his birthplace, to Canada in 1967. He has been on parish councils, pastoral councils, and education committees. He even helped run a Catholic book club in Calgary, where he worked in the Catholic school system for 30 years, teaching at elementary and high school levels and working as a principal for 20 years. He and his wife moved to West Vancouver in 2011.

The new members of St. Anthony’s Parish had only been there for two months before they found themselves helping out in many ministries, including RCIA and adult faith formation.

“I’m really excited and a little overwhelmed,” said Deacon Gray about his ordination.

He said the full details of his assignment as a deacon haven’t been finalized, but he hopes to carry on with RCIA. He’s also interested in teaching altar servers and bringing liturgical celebrations to seniors at care homes.

“It really is important that we have multigenerations in our lives. We need young people and we need people older than us. It gives us a good balance.”

Deacons Dwan, Chau, and Gray are scheduled to be ordained permanent deacons at Holy Rosary Cathedral May 26, the second ordination to the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The first, Dec. 8, 2015, made history as the largest ordination ceremony in the cathedral’s history when 16 men were ordained.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 09:17  

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