Deacon Dick Scallan has found happiness and countless blessings in his vocation as a Franciscan and as a married deacon.
My wife, Jenny especially, and my sons and their families are a great support to me in my ministry as a Deacon and Secular Franciscan.
In addition, support comes from weekly prayer meetings at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Bunbury, the Bunbury Christian Minister’s Fellowship, the Parish Deacons Pastoral Team and the Parish Secular Franciscan Fraternity.
I am the appointed Spiritual Assistant of the Fraternity by Bishop Gerard Holohan and the Franciscan Order.
I was forty years professed in the Order of Franciscans Secular on the 22nd February 2012.
I am originally from South Africa. My Dad died when I was eleven and I was an only child.
He died fortified by the rites of Holy Mother the Church. His passing to eternal joy was a great consolation to my Mother and me.
We were left with a stronger faith in God. An on-going relationship with Jesus began in my life and I believed Jesus was calling me to follow Him as a priest.
In 1949, an emancipated missionary Franciscan friar, Fr. Columbanus Timmons OFM came to our Cathedral Parish.
The purpose was for his re-orientation having spent 20 years in solitary confinement in prison for the faith in China. Friar Columbanus was a deeply spiritual person.
To me, he reflected the love of our Lord and St Francis. From his example I felt God was calling me to become a Franciscan.
The Friars accepted me as a postulant. However, the major seminaries in the country were full at the time and there was a waiting list to enter.
I failed to obtain an essential reference from the Cathedral Administrator and the door to the priesthood appeared closed. I decided to join the army as a volunteer.
After receiving my diploma from the South African Defence Force Military Gymnasium, I went to work on the Gold Mines in the town of Springs as an underground Leaner Official.
My job required me to be involved with the establishing or restructuring of mines. In time, I met my future wife, Jeanette.
Jenny was received into the Church before we were married. We settled down to a married family life and were blessed by the Lord with four sons though we had hoped for seven children.
We were involved in Parish life wherever the company I worked for sent us.
A God given opportunity came to deepen my faith and relationship with Jesus by joining the Secular Franciscan Order through the example of a Franciscan Secular, Mona Smith who lived with us in this remote village called Bindura, in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Mona was a spiritual daughter of St Padre Pio and a deeply spiritual person herself. She reflected the light of God in a very special way.
A round trip of 240 km to Salisbury was required from Bindura to attend Fraternity meetings once a month. With God’s grace I persisted and was professed in the Order as Brother Paul in 1972.
The pressure of working in mining and the responsibilities eventually helped me realize that I needed to come closer to God. Joining the Secular Franciscan Order was a significant step towards this need. Jenny is also a member.
Some time after my profession my Spiritual Director, the late Friar priest, Francis Ryan OFM, a doctor of Divinity and a professor of Theology, suggested that I consider a vocation of service to the Church as a Permanent Deacon.
I was unable to contain my excitement. The life and example of St Francis had made a significant impression on my spiritual life.
He had a deep respect and love for Christ in the Blessed Eucharist so much so that he never wished to be ordained a priest and only desired to serve Christ and others as a deacon.
All I wanted to be was an instrument of God’s peace, love and service like him. Maybe I could with God’s grace follow Christ as a deacon as well? It was worth a try.
After prayer and discernment I decided with my wife’s approval, to apply for acceptance and commenced formation as a permanent deacon in 1974.
It seemed that God had not given up on me with His call serve Him in holy Orders but in a different way than I had originally envisaged.
Unfortunately, the hostilities of the Rhodesian Bush War escalated and I had to forgo the formation program as travelling became very dangerous owing to land mines and ambushing on the roads
Owing to my involvement in the Church and the Security Forces my company transferred me back to the Republic of South Africa a week before Zimbabwe Independence in 1980.
Our son Sean has severe spinal bifida. My wife and I wanted him to contribute to society to the best of his ability and there were limited opportunities in South Africa.
A job offer presented itself from Western Australia and we decided to immigrate in 1981 to give Sean the best chance possible. (Sean won the inaugural Pride of Australia Medal for “Fair Go” in 2005 for services to the handicapped and disadvantaged in the community. In addition, Sean was recognised as the Volunteer of the Year for Western Australia in 2010).
In 1985 I enquired to Archbishop Hickey, then Bishop of Geraldton as to the possibilities of recommencing studies for the permanent diaconate.
The request was considered somewhat premature. The chance came at last in 2001 when Archbishop Hickey invited men in the Archdiocese to apply for selection to the Permanent Diaconate and I was chosen, after a discernment period of some eighteen months, with fourteen others to commence the first formation programme in the
Archdiocese. I retired from the mining industry in 2002 after 46 years of managing mining, smelting and refining companies.
Following my retirement, I have been the non- executive chairman of an exploration company with interests in Western Australia and Sweden.
In June 2006 Bishop Gerard Holohan advised me that he would ordain me for the Diocese of Bunbury.
The journey and the dream became a reality on the 27 October 2006 after some thirty two years.
God’s call and timing as always is well worth the wait and the experience of God’s love is absolute joy.
My ministry as a deacon, besides being on the Pastoral Team of St Patrick’s Cathedral, is mostly amongst the aged and infirm, the ex drug addicts, ex alcoholics and shut-ins. My wife assists me with the liturgies in the nursing home.
Many years ago I was asked to choose between a career in the company and my religion by my superior.
I told him, I had made the decision a long time ago. I was a committed Catholic Christian.
My decision, in hindsight, has continued to pour down from God countless blessings for myself and the family.
Jenny and I have been blessed with 54 years of a wonderful marriage by the Lord. Our sons and their families all live in Western Australia.
We have eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild with two great-grandchildren arriving shortly, God willing.
Through my family and as a Deacon I am reminded to live out St Francis’ words to the brothers near the time of his death. “My Brothers, let us begin again, as yet we have achieved nothing.”