By Fr Jean-Noël Marie
The story of Patrick Toohey’s journey to becoming a deacon recently in Rome shows how the Holy Spirit continues to work at every stage in everyone’s life.
From a ‘Yes’ to God to studying theology at Notre Dame University, Fremantle beginning in 2007, Patrick’s story led him to a professor at Boston College in Massachusetts, USA, who suggested he consider priesthood as a vocation.
Patrick pursued this thought with prayer, discernment and dialogue that eventually led to him being accepted by the Archdiocese of Perth into St Charles’ Seminary in Guildford in 2010.
After some work in Northam and Baldivis parishes as a seminarian, the Rector of St Charles’ Seminary, Mgr Kevin Long, suggested he continue his studies in Rome.
Patrick was sent to the seminary for mature vocations in Rome, called the Beda Pontifical College, where Patrick has now been studying since 2011.
On June 18 at St Paul’s Outside the Walls Basilica, where the remains of St Paul himself are venerated, Patrick was ordained a deacon with 10 other men from around the world by Cardinal James Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica. Six countries are represented in this group of 11 men, three of whom are Australian.
The congregation at the ordination Mass consisted of all of the many other seminarians at the Beda College and the many guests of the newly ordained men.
The Mass was a particularly joyous occasion and the culminating ceremony of the Beda College for this year.
Patrick’s guests were the members of the ANZAC Group of sisters, brothers and priests who are either Australian or New Zealander who work for the Church in Rome.
The Australian Ambassador to the Holy See and his wife, John and Christine McCarthy, were delighted to be counted amongst these guests.
Following the Mass and ordinations, hundreds of guests returned to the College, which is only a few hundred metres from the Basilica, where a festive meal was generously provided by the teaching and domestic staff to celebrate the occasion.
Patrick’s incredible journey to the diaconate and eventually, God-willing, to the priesthood, has been a tremendous example of trust in the Lord’s providence.
It is also a story of perseverance and tremendous courage and generosity of spirit.
Patrick’s story shows that it is never too late to respond to God’s call to labour in his vineyard.
If you feel that the Lord is calling you to serve his people as a priest, then I would like to invite you to an Enquiry Evening for men aged 18 and over to be held at St Charles’ Seminary in Guildford on Sunday, August 17, starting at 4pm.
To register your interest, please call the Seminary on 9279 1310.
Fr Jean-Noël Marie is the Vice-Rector and first year formator at St Charles’ Seminary.