By Matthew Lau
Redemptoris Mater seminarian Matteo Verdi hopes his Ordination to the Diaconate could be the spark for his family to return to the faith.
Deacon Verdi, who hails from Rome, was ordained alongside Perth’s own Liam Ryan on 7 December at St Mary’s Cathedral.
As one of four children, Dcn Verdi recalls attending Mass with his parents as a youngster. However, after his family became lapsed Catholics, he experienced a period of turmoil before joining the Neocatechumenal Way.
Although his family turned away from the faith, Dcn Verdi knew his vocation to the priesthood could not be ignored.
“All my family has left the faith; I am the only practicing Catholic,” he told The eRecord.
“I believe God is using me as an instrument, this is an action that God is doing [through] me for [my family]. God is using my life for them.
“I don’t know if they will come back to the Church, or to the faith, but I know they have many difficulties, and perhaps God is using my life to entrust me to them as a message of hope that God loves them as they are; that even in the sufferings that they go through, God is present.”
The 28-year-old said he was delighted to become a deacon after years of seminary formation at Redemptoris Mater, which included pastoral experience in Adelaide, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Darwin, and mission ad gentes in Baldivis.
Dcn Verdi’s discernment process began in Loreto 11 years ago.
“When I was 17, I felt for the first time this call to become a priest if God wills it. It was a time of sufferings, a time of turmoil because I come from a broken family – after my parents left the faith, their marriage [ended],” he explained.
“God gave me the grace to enter the Neocatechumenal Way, which has brought me back to the Church. I was a teenager who chose not to value Church, I wasn’t even thinking to do the Sacrament of Confirmation.”
His first couple of years in the Neocatechumenal Way were not easy – struggling both at home and school – and experienced an existential crisis.
During a time when he thought “everything was futile”, that his life was not worth living, he embarked on a pilgrimage in Loreto where he was taken by the words of Archangel Gabriel to Mother Mary: “Nothing is impossible to God”.
“From there I felt this call to do something with my life, that God was calling me out of this moment of darkness. I discerned that this was the call to enter a seminary, and begin to live a new life,” Dcn Verdi added.
“In the Neocatechumenal Way, if we have the desire to discern to enter into one of these seminaries in the world, we can make this gesture of ‘standing up’ [making oneself available]. That is what I [did] in November 2007.”
He spent two years of further discernment, finished school, and then was chosen for the seminary in Perth.
Dcn Verdi faced new challenges in Australia – such as blending in to a foreign culture and learning English – but he overcame the barriers and is pleased with his achievements.
“I am hoping that God gives me the grace to be faithful to Him and to be obedient to the Church, this is what I am hoping most above everything else,” he avowed.
“I don’t know about the priesthood [yet], I prefer to live day by day.
“As a person, I had to leave home and go on a journey – I think that has been very important for me. I’ve been the youngest child for 11 years, so I was always a little bit spoilt,” he joked.
“I was a very shy person as a child, very reserved. To be here with other people, coming out of my comfort zone, has been very important to grow as a person and an important development in my life of maturing.”
Despite a bumpy road along his pathway to the Diaconate, Dcn Verdi placed his belief in the daily providence of God.
“Trust in God is what I will carry always,” he concluded.
Dcn Verdi has been assigned to the Parish of Osborne Park until he is ordained to the priesthood next year.