By Matt Lau and Eric Martin
Deacon Chris de Sousa CRS is set to make history once again as the first Somascan to be ordained to the priesthood in Australia on Saturday 11 May at his home church of St Jerome’s, Munster.
The ordination will be celebrated by the Most Rev Donald Sproxton, Auxiliary Bishop of Perth.
Dcn Chris became Australia’s first fully professed Somascan in the presence of then-Somascan Superior General Fr Franco Moscone CRS in August 2018 – three months later in November 2018, Bishop Sproxton ordained Br Chris to the Diaconate.
The upcoming ceremony, on 11 May, will mark the culmination of a journey to the priesthood that started in 2012, when Dcn Chris entered religious formation with the Somascan community in Spearwood before making his first profession of temporary religious vows in January 2014.
Before his decision to join the Somascans, Dcn Chris graduated from the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle) with a double bachelor degree in Law and Commerce.
He worked full-time as a lawyer for four years in Perth and later for nearly two years in Sydney, where he used his skills and passion for humanitarian law to represent refugees and migrants in legal difficulty and in 2007, he was admitted as a legal practitioner to WA’s Supreme Court.
In September 2011, Dcn Chris made his application to enter religious formation with the Somascan Fathers and on the Feast of St Jerome Emiliani (the founder of the Somascans) in February 2012, he commenced living with the Somascan community at Spearwood Parish while studying a Masters of Arts in Philosophy at UNDA as he continued working part-time as a lawyer.
The following month saw him enter his postulancy. After completing philosophical studies and resigning from the law firm, he travelled to Somasca in Italy to enter the novitiate in January 2013.
“Along with intense periods of prayer and religious instruction, I undertook apostolic works within our Somascan orphanages and communities that cared for the terminally ill, those with addictions and victims of abuse, abandonment and sex trafficking,” Dcn Chris said in an interview with The eRecord last August.
Dcn Chris entered the Somascan post-novitiate seminary in Rome and undertook a Bachelor of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, which he completed in June 2017.
His study was followed by mission work in Sri Lanka and India, in the lead up to his Solemn Profession of Vows and then Ordination to the Diaconate last year.
After being ordained to the Diaconate, Dcn Chris was sent to Mozambique, Africa to serve the community for several months before returning to Perth.
The ordination will take place at 6pm this Saturday 11 May during the Good Shepherd Vigil Mass at Saint Jerome’s Catholic Church, 36 Troode St, Munster. Dinner will be held for invited guests at the parish venue immediately afterwards.