29 Nov 2019

Ordination to Diaconate – Tee Ping Koh and Alfred Donat

St Patrick's Church, Adelaide

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My brothers Tee Ping and Alfred, in a few minutes you will lie prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary  of  this  church  while  the  People  of  God  here  assembled  pray  to  the  Saints  for  themselves and for you, as you undertake this step towards Holy Orders.  The prayer will be sung,  “bless  these  whom  you  have  chosen;  bless  them  and  make  them  holy;  consecrate  them for sacred duties; strengthen them in Your service”.

The prayer affirms for us that you are chosen, that you are called to be holy, that you are to be  consecrated persons, and that you are to give your energies to the service of the Lord. 

Hence the importance of the litany in this ceremony, whereby the Church here present on earth, and gathered in this church today, prays to the Church which has gone before us, the Church glorious in the Saints.

Mary Ann and Hellen, who have shared your life and love as your wives, and lived with you the vows of holy marriage, and as your other half, must also give their consent. The Bishop then  says  “we  choose  these  men,  Tee  Ping  and  Alfred,  our  brothers,  for  the  order  of  deacons”. It is an act of the Church towards you, a calling of you, it is a vocation in the full sense of that word, to be called by the Church.

With the bestowal of Holy Orders, your baptismal vocation will take a new orientation. All of us are baptised to ministry as Christians. We see lay ministry more and more active in the Church  today,  as  the  Holy  Spirit  awakens  this  realisation  amongst  us.  In  the  baptism  ceremony it says that we are all called to be priest, prophet and king. All the baptised have a priestly, prophetic and royal vocation.  It is the priest’s role to reconcile, to unite people with God, to bridge the secular and the Divine. It is the prophet’s role to show forth the Gospel  in  deed  not  just  in  word,  and  the  royal’s  role  was  to  care  for  the  vulnerable,  the  people on the edge who had no one else other than the king to look after them. Baptised Christians  are  baptised  into  the  priesthood  of  Christ,  as  both  Pope  John  Paul  II  and  Pope  Benedict  have  written  so  clearly.  All  the  baptised  are  the  Body  of  Christ  in  the  world,  as Saint  Paul  says. Being  Christ  in  the  world,  and  sharing  in  His  priesthood,  all  baptised  Christians are called to the ministry of Christ which was to preach, to teach, and to heal.

One of the key roles of the ordained ministry which you both now approach is to assist and enable the People of God in the exercise of their baptismal ministry.  The ordained minister is to work among and for the people of God, not over them.  The ordained minister is to serve his brothers and sisters in the Church and beyond, and to help them live their own vocation to preach, to teach, and to heal.

You are about to be ordained, Tee Ping and Alfred, into the ancient order of deacon.  Upon you is to be conferred Holy Orders.  We see in the Acts of the Apostles that the apostles appointed  “seven  men  of  good  reputation  who  were  with  the  Holy  Spirit”.  They  were  to  care for the poor and the widows. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a deacon, and thus  showed  that  the  role  of  Witness  must,  or  can  accompany,  the  office  of  deacon,  a  Witness to charity and the faith in deeds.   
In the early Church in Rome there were seven areas related to the seven diaconates. They were  places  of  the  deacons,  established  for  public  assistance.    The  places  of  the  deacons  fulfilled the roles of asylums, hospitals, hospices for pilgrims, and food distribution centres for  the  poor,  all  reflecting  the  vocation  of  the  deacon. Deacons  played  a  special  role  in  assisting the bishop, and in helping the administration of the Church. 

Your ordination, Tee Ping and Alfred, is enacted by the action central to the conferring of Holy Orders, the laying on of hands. As a symbolic gesture the laying on of hands goes back into the beginnings of Scripture, when Moses laid hands on Joshua who was “filled with the Spirit of wisdom” and was ordained to be a shepherd for the flock of Israel following Moses. Throughout  the  Old  Testament  prophets  and  kings  had  hands  laid  on  them  as  acts  of  consecration. Time  and  again  in  the  New  Testament  Jesus  lays  hands  on  people,  “…  and laying  hands  on  each  He  cured  them”. Consecration  and  healing  are  the  purposes  of  the  laying on of hands.  It is the most ancient act of dedication and blessing among the People of  God. And  Saint  Paul  writing  to    Timothy,  indicates  how  the  laying  on  of  hands  had  become the approved practice, where Paul writes “you have in you a spiritual gift which was given to you when the prophet spoke and the body of elders laid their hands on you”.  “You have in you a spiritual gift which was given to you.” You will have in you a spiritual gift, Tee Ping and Alfred, your identity and vocation as a deacon, “given to you” by the Holy Spirit in the Church.

When ordained deacon, Tee Ping and Alfred, your life is to focus on the three tables, the Table of the Word, the Table of the Eucharist, and the Table of Service. Those three tables are the diaconate vocation, the preaching of the Word of God, the service of the Table of the Eucharist, and the providing of the Table for the poor.  

As  a  deacon  may  you  draw  new  strength  from  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Spirit  that  will  be  bestowed upon you tonight. As a minister at the altar you will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice and give the Lord’s Body and Blood to the community of believers.  It will be your duty to bring the Word of God to the believer and the unbeliever alike, to preside over public  prayer,  to  baptise,  to  assist  at  marriages  and  bless  them,  to  give  viaticum  to  the  dying, and to lead the rites of burial.  Once you are consecrated by the laying on of hands, and are bound more closely to the altar, you will perform works of charity and mercy in the name of the Bishop with whom as a deacon you are especially associated.

Apart from the three tables, you are called to be men who pray on behalf of the Church, and for  the  Church,  as  you  commit  yourself  to  the  saying  of  the  Liturgy  of  the  Hours. The  commitment  that  you  give  links  you  with  the  whole  prayer  of  the  Church  throughout  the world,  showing  that  the  whole  Church  of  God  is  praying  with  you  the  prayers  of  praise  throughout the whole world.  It is part of your vocation now that you enter Holy Orders to be faithful to the Liturgy of the Hours, so that you praise God as part of the rhythm of your life, in union with the whole Church universally.   

The words of the prayer of consecration to be prayed over you tonight, Tee Ping and Alfred, have these exhortations for you

May you excel in every virtue: In love that is sincere; In concern for the sick and the poor In unassuming authority; In self-­‐discipline and in humbleness of life.

For this we pray as the People of God. Amen

Click here to read Adelaide welcomes newest deacons

Click here to see photos from the event on November 29, 2019.

 Homily - Diaconate Tee Ping Koh & Alfred Donat 29112019[1].pdf

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