Deacon Kevin J Pattison
I was ordained on October 2012 and appointed to my home parish of St. John the Evangelist parish in Frankston East. I am married with four children and four grandchildren. Until my retirement I had spent almost my entire working life in Catholic secondary schools.
Nearly thirty years ago my family joined St. John the Evangelist’s Parish in Frankston East. It was at Mass as I looked around the congregation and at our parish priest at the altar that I started asking myself the question, “As I consider retirement, how can I serve the faith community?” That question rested for numerous Masses. On the surface a simple question, but with a profound answer. It was answered when Archbishop Hart in April 2007 announced the restoration of the Permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I joined that first intake of inquirers and candidates for the permanent diaconate in 2008. We had no real idea of what was involved in the diaconate. It was a jump of faith into the mystery of Christ. All of us happened to be married men. The active welcome and concern for the wellbeing of our wives was a cause of joy. Without the support of our wives and families we could not have proceeded to ordination.
Service is key to the understanding the deacon’s role. The deacon’s ministry has to be Christ’s ministry. I was happily surprised to be attached to my home parish. It was unexpected. In November 2012 when I spoke to the congregation I spoke of my presence at the altar and continued presence amongst the congregation. I told them that as a family man there would be times I would be sitting in the congregation with my family. It was a challenge for the congregation. They were presented with a person, who had taught their children or grandchildren, whose wife and children they knew, now at the altar and giving homilies!
I do not recommend the diaconate for any person wanting a quiet, restful retirement. There is an impact on family and their support is needed. There is a joy, a special peacefulness, in assisting a person in a time of need. I know of no greater joy that when at a baptism, you ask the happy glowing parents, “What do you wish for your child?” Their clear response is, “The faith.”