Friday, 27 April 2012

Other Vocations:Deacon Dave - My First Forty Eight Hours

Deacon David Turner on his Ordination Day
Although this weekend is specially focussed on vocations to the priesthood and religious life there are many other vocations that people are called to in the Church. One of those is to the Permanent Diaconate. Below is the reflection from one such Deacon in a letter to Peter Burholt:

In it newly ordained Deacon Dave Turner - from the Parish of St Paul, Haywards Heath - writes to Peter Burholt, A&B News’ special correspondent, on his first 48 hours as a deacon He is one of our new deacons, appearing with Bishop Kieran on the cover of the current Diocesan directory.

"My Dear Peter
Saturday was truly memorable and a day to be savoured. My daughter Clare’s future father-in-law, who is a non-Catholic, remarked that there was an incredible amount of good-will in the church. I called it love.

Anyway, I never really had time to chat to everyone at the reception and I managed to miss some priests and friends entirely. I ended up being the last one to leave, walking home alone with a balloon and gifts in one hand, and carrying a bottle of champagne in the other. A passer-by asked if I had come from a vicar and tarts party! I was still wearing my badge “I did it and did it good!”

My head was buzzing. To be honest, my head was scrambled and I was incensing all night long – I got up way too early and did a few loads of washing-up. Barbara had an awful night too.

Now it was Sunday and I needed to get to 8.30 am Mass. I was again greeted by more well-wishing parishioners, which was hugely uplifting. This led on to the beginning of 10.30 am Mass, when one of my young people from the liturgy group was making his first Holy Communion. I didn’t stay for Mass, but went home to prepare for Don’s ordination in Potters Bar. Barb said that she couldn’t come with me and would I be comfortable driving there and back? “Of course” I said “that would be fine”. Then I reflected on it and the M25, and saw the wisdom of pulling out. The spirit was willing, but ….

Then, according to Barb, I feel asleep! Waking at 4ish I realised that I hadn’t actually been to a full Mass. I shot over to the church and saw Fr Martin Jakubas. Rather surprised to see me, he said “What are you doing here?” Deacon Gerard was in church on a day off, so Fr Martin said “Come on, let’s give the parishioners a double-act!” and we dived straight in and hurriedly un-packed the spare dalmatic. Our parish priest was flanked by two deacons and told everyone that they were not seeing double! I proclaimed my first Gospel and the Mass community appeared to be delighted by this impromptu appearance of the whole “team”.

That evening, dinner with Fr Martin was superb and I think we got home some time after midnight. He had invited us to a combined celebration, as it was his 28th anniversary in the priesthood and Deacon Gerard Irwin’s 5th anniversary. Including my special day, all fell on the same date.

Monday dawned and I was about to say prayers in the garden. Instead, something told me to get dressed and go to St Joseph’s primary school, I gate-crashed the 9 am morning assembly. However, the head played a blinder and worked me into the assembly, with an off-the-cuff handing over to me – I gave the children a chat about being a deacon and the love of Jesus shining on all of us. At the end of the final hymn I gave them a blessing and, as I will be having a chaplaincy role, they promised to make me a badge. From here I managed to gate-crash Morning Prayers in the church and it was then up to the hospital to get inducted with the NHS chaplaincy team.

You know my Dad is unwell and could not come to my great day so, on Monday evening I spent a couple of hours tending to his basic needs in the East Surrey Hospital. He is quite poorly after his fall and with a weak heart. The medics have just started to treat him for a liver infection – he is 88 years old and they give him great care. Please remember him in your prayers.

Now it was to bed. Well, if all of this happened in my first 48 hours as a deacon, what is to come? Only the good Lord knows.
God bless
Deacon Dave"

Postscript – John Turner passed away three weeks after his son’s ordination. May he rest in peace in the knowledge his son, also, is now closer to the Lord.

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