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One step closer to priesthood

Vocations

Pasquale (Pat) Lopresti has moved a step forward on his journey to the priesthood following his ordination to the diaconate in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral last month.

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With family, friends, clergy and fellow seminarians present, Pat was ordained deacon by Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, on April 27.

The former Adelaide lawyer was in his fifties when he finally decided to pursue a religious vocation and since 2016 has been studying at the Pope St John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts, USA.

However, the seed was planted back in the 1980s when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the family visited Lourdes in France. So impressed was he by the spiritual healing experienced by pilgrims, including his mother who lived for another five years, that he began volunteering during his annual leave.

While pursuing an academic career and further legal studies in Sydney, he began making inquiries about the priesthood and decided it was his calling.

“Your vocation has been a long search, Pasquale,” said Bishop O’Kelly.

“You have come to it through other means of God’s revelation, your concern for justice and the rights of others.

“Your living profession of the law as a means to enact justice, and the concern and involvement with the plight of the homeless, especially those on the very edge of society, the people to whom Pope Francis constantly points, the homelessness of youth, and the charity of those engaged in foster care.

“Through your concern for the care of others, which showed itself both in your practise of the law and your involvement with homelessness, and with your care of the sick at Lourdes, you grew to understand that you may be called to serve God’s people through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, especially of the Eucharist.

“You wanted to share your faith journey with others, and grew to see this as a calling to be an ordained minister, and hence we are here today.”

Deacon Lopresti described the ordination as very moving, particularly when he prostrated himself in front of the altar before Bishop O’Kelly, the ‘laying on’ of hands and then serving as deacon of the Eucharist at Mass.

“The reality of what had taken place sunk in, particularly at the preparation of gifts,” he said.

A “joyful” reception was held in the Cathedral Hall after the ordination, followed by a celebratory dinner with his family and guests from interstate and overseas.

They included Father Paul Ghanem OFM, his former parish priest from St Joseph’s, Edgecliff, and St Francis of Assisi, Paddington, who guided Pat through his discernment process while he was living in Sydney, and fellow seminarian from Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary, Deacon Bruce Barnett, who served as Deacon of the Word.

Darwin Bishop Charles Gauci was a surprise attendee and Deacon Lopresti said he was touched by the presence of so many priests, particularly Fathers Philip Marshall and Dean Marin, all of whom had guided him along his journey.

“The presence of extended family and friends added to the solemnity of the occasion and impressed upon me how much priesthood is valued even at this difficult time in the Church,” he said.

Deacon Lopresti will complete a pastoral placement in the Adelaide Archdiocese during the American summer break, returning to the USA at the end of August for his final year of study before being ordained to the priesthood.

Deacon Pasquale (Pat) Lopresti with his family and Bishop O’Kelly.

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