On Saturday 31st October Westminster Cathedral was a scene of great joy as Bishop Paul McAleenan ordained three men to the Permanent Diaconate: Andrew Safo-Poku, Jonathan Chappell and Paul O’Connor.
Deacon Andrew Safo-Poku serves in the parish of the Five Precious Wounds in Stonebridge, Deacon Jonathan Chappell serves in the parish of Our Lady of Dolours, Hendon, and Deacon Paul O’Connor serves in the parish of St Bartholemew, St Albans South.
Deacon Paul and Deacon Jonathan are both secondary school teachers, while Deacon Andrew is involved in professional cleaning.
The Ordination Mass was a simplified ceremony with only Bishop McAleenan, the Director of Deacons and the Master of Ceremonies, together with the three ordinands, taking an active role. The ordinand’s wives also attended the celebration, bringing up the new deacons’ vestments to the sanctuary during the ceremony and helping their husbands vest.
Sr Bernadette Hunston, one of the diaconate tutors, read the first reading.
There are now 34 men serving as Permanent Deacons in the Diocese of Westminster and 10 men in formation for the Permanent Diaconate.
In his homily, Bishop McAleenan spoke about the theme of service: “Often it is asked, what can a deacon do? That is, what can he do in comparison to a priest. The Holy Father says, ‘No, I will tell you what a deacon is; he is one who protects the charism of service by living it and witnessing to it.’
“On the morning I was ordained bishop, I was in the sacristy preparing for the ceremony. I was handed a dalmatic, the vestment of a deacon, and asked to put it on underneath all the other vestments I was to wear. It was a reminder that as a bishop one is still a deacon, the dalmatic underneath a reminder that service is the foundation of ministry.”