Called to serve and love, three deacons prepare for priesthood

On Thursday 11 July at 7pm Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP will ordain Deacons Adrian Suyanto, Likisone Tominiko and Br Charbel Mary Francis FFI to the priesthood in St Mary’s Cathedral. 

Each of them heard God’s call as young men in Sydney. The Catholic Weekly asked them about their diaconal service in parishes and religious life, and their hopes as they approach their ordination day. 

Deacon Adrian Suyanto, 29 

The experience of being a deacon has been eye-opening for me. One highlight was when I first baptised a baby. It is just so humbling to know that through the action of my hands and the words of my mouth, God Almighty came down and resided in the baby’s soul. 

I also enjoyed the many pastoral encounters I have in the parish. It gives me life to journey together with people, to bring God into the midst of their good times and bad times.      

Meditating on the scripture is an opportunity to encounter my loving God, rather than seeing it as a text to be dissected and analysed.  

As I meditate on the scripture in preparation for my homilies, I often ask the Lord, “Lord, what is it that you want to share with me and with the parishioners?”  

I am excited about my upcoming ordination as a priest—this is something for which I have been preparing for the past seven to eight years.  

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

At the same time, I also feel comforted to know that I will be working together with and supported by so many great priests that are ministering in the Archdiocese of Sydney.  

I also look forward to serving the people of God and to offer up the Eucharist on behalf of them for the glory of God. 

In the future I hope to be a priest who is still on fire with God’s Love. I know that being a priest will not be easy—I pray and hope that God will continue to sustain me and bring me closer to him. 

Br Charbel Mary Francis, 36 

One of the greatest graces God granted me was to have my uncle who is a monk and priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order, as pastor of my church (St Charbel’s, Punchbowl) during my childhood.  

I had a great love for the Mass and sometimes would imitate the celebration at home and often chant the various traditional hymns of the liturgy. I had a strong desire to become a priest, but as is often the case, as the years went by I became much more interested in the things of this world. 

Thank God, when I was 22 or 23 years old, new people came into my life, and with them I began to deepen my faith. The more I learned and lived the faith, the more I became convinced of its truth and was fascinated by its beauty.  

Slowly I changed my lifestyle. I tried to live a more Christian life by praying more and seeking an intimate and authentic relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and our mother, Mary.  

Br Charbel Mary Francis. Photo: Supplied.

I entered the institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in 2012. 

The greatest gift I have received from these 10 months as a deacon is to truly understand how ordained ministry in the Church is a life for God and for others. In the new ways in which I have been called to exercise the tria munera [the three offices of priest, prophet and king], I have realised that truly at the heart of diaconal life is service. 

Now preparing myself for presbyteral ordination there is a sense of unworthiness and at times fear.  

But my experience as a friar has taught me that God’s grace never fails. No matter how big the challenge, he always gives the strength to fulfil well that which he asks of me.  

I am convinced that God has created and called me for this ministry and that this is the best way I can serve him and his people.  

So, aware of my unworthiness but trusting in his grace, I am very much looking forward to my life as a priest for the salvation of souls, my own sanctification and the greater glory of God. 

Deacon Likisone Tominiko, 31 

My experience of being a deacon has been joyful, humbling and a great privilege. Joyful in the deeper sense, not your regular surface joy that comes and goes but a deep and profound one that has Christ at the centre. 

I’ve had the joy of encountering and sharing in the joys of God’s people, whether it be engaging the students at Aquinas College and Holy Family Primary School in Menai in catechesis, or being asked to do house blessings, car blessings, or just a chat over lunch and dinner.  

The words of Our Lord from John 15:11, that his joy may be in us, and our joy may be complete, comes to me.  

sydney deacons - ordination - The Catholic weekly
Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

It has been a humbling experience because it is not what I want to do. It is not my church, or my way. It is what God has willed for me, to be present to his people and to share in their suffering, in their own woundedness while ever mindful of mine and the mercy of Our Lord Jesus. 

As my ordination approaches I feel a mixture of excitement, anxiousness and aware that this is a joyous occasion for the church in Sydney and Australia.  

It can also feel surreal because just a moment ago, I walked into Good Shepherd Seminary, and blinked and now I am preparing to be configured to Christ forever, loving our spouse the church and serving her faithfully. 

I haven’t given much thought to what kind of priest I might be in the future. But I hope that Our Lord grants me the grace to continue to be a priest, day in and day out.  

For now, I am looking forward to just being ordained to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. 

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