A large gathering of supporters, including a strong representation from the African Catholic community and Blackwood parish, attended St Patrick’s Church in Grote Street to witness the ordination of Alfred and Tee Ping by Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ on November 29.
In his homily Bishop O’Kelly spoke of the support the two men had received from their wives, Hellen and Mary Ann, in the long process to becoming deacons. He also commented on the ministry of the fastest growing religious vocation in the Church today.
“You two men come to this stage in your journey – coming from Malaysia, coming from Sudan –living a life rich in experience and seeing the finger of God tracing itself through the events and people of your lives, looking at why you are here on this Earth, why you are called and to whom,” he said.
For Alfred, his service to God started in the Minor Seminary in the diocese of Torit, South Sudan, and then the Major Seminary with the Augustinians of the Assumption.
“After leaving religious life I responded to the vocation of marriage to which I am committed. However, although I was married, the feeling of being called to serve God in a special way was incessant,” Alfred said.
“After discussing it with my wife, family and friends, the process started again in 2014. The initial call was to become a priest but now to being a permanent deacon.”
Alfred and Hellen have seven children and both offer support and counselling to families in the Madi community.
“Being a father who lives among his own people, mingling with them is one of the best added advantages to my ministry. Living among the people like one of them will make me know them better and let me share the love of God with them not just during Mass on Sundays, but all the time,” he said.
Leading up to his ordination, Tee Ping said he was feeling very calm and “sure of the decision”.
“I was also very excited, like it was my first day at university or the first day in your first job!”
The retired pharmacist paid tribute to wife Mary Ann and thanked the Ministry Formation team for their support throughout the process.
Now a deacon, the Blackwood parishioner said he would continue his hospital chaplaincy at the Flinders Medical Centre, bringing “hope and peace, to be present with the sick, dying and bereaved”.