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ORDINATION TO THE DIACONATE: New Deacons called to be men of prayer


Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe (centre) with Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton (far right) and Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Mgr Harry Entwistle (far left) and the four newly ordained deacons, (from second left) Rev Konrad Gagatek, Rev Mariusz Grzech, Rev Tung Vu and Rev Joseph Laundy. Photo: Ron Tan

By Jamie O’Brien & Marco Ceccarelli

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe last week spoke about the importance of prayer as he ordained four men from St Charles Seminary to the Diaconate.

The four newly ordained, Rev Tung Vu, Rev Joseph Laundy, Rev Mariusz Grzech and Rev Konrad Gagatek, originally hail from Vietnam, Poland and Australia, having reached this important step of their formation through years of prayer, discernment, academic study and service within and outside of the Archdiocese.

Their ordination brings them a step closer to the ministry of priesthood and one of the three forms of the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In front of a packed crowd of some 900 people at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, 2 December, Archbishop Costelloe said no one can become the person that God is calling them to be, if they do not become a person of prayer.

“In mysterious ways which we cannot always understand or even notice, prayer shapes and moulds us, as a potter shapes the clay,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“And so, among other things, each morning our soon-to-be-ordained young men will recite the prayer we know as the Benedictus,” the Archbishop explained.

“It is a prayer which takes on special meaning in this time of Advent because it is the prayer prayed by the priest Zechariah after the birth of his son, John, who will grow up to become the man we know as St John the Baptist.

“He is a central figure in this time of Advent and is I believe, a very important model for anyone who wants to exercise ministry in the Lord’s Church.


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe blesses Rev Joseph Laundy, on the occasion of his ordination to the diaconate on Friday 2 December at St Mary's Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan

The Archbishop went on to say that because it is during this time of Advent that our four young candidates will become deacons, he wants to suggest to them that they might think of themselves as men whose call to ministry is and will always be marked by a special Advent spirit.

“As they pray it each morning from tomorrow onwards I hope that it will be a powerful reminder to them of all that God is doing for them, and asking of them, through tonight’s ordination. In reflecting briefly on this prayer tonight I hope we will all see that it is in fact a prayer for all of us.”

For 32-year-old Rev Tung Vu, who will continue assisting at Ballajura Parish, the importance of the role of the family in the spiritual formation of young people is held in very high regard.

Born and raised as the youngest of six children in the province of Ha Noi, Vietnam, Rev Vu recalls with fondness the ongoing efforts of his parents to transmit the Catholic faith to him and his siblings from a very young age.

Referring to their dedicated approach as “the planting of a seed of faith which gradually grew into a vocation,” Rev Vu decided to join the local St Joseph Minor Seminary of Ha Noi in his late teenage years.

In conjunction with his degree in Arts and Sciences, he spent four years of spiritual formation in St Joseph’s Seminary Ha Noi before working as a volunteer missionary in the northern diocese of Lang Son for a further three and a half years.


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe during the ordination to the diaconate of Rev Konrad Gagatek, Rev Mariusz Grzech, Rev Tung Vu and Rev Joseph Laundy on Friday 2 December at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan

“I believe that those initial years in the seminary combined with my time as a missionary confirmed the vocation to the priesthood that had been gradually growing within me,” Rev Vu said.

“It is after this experience that I decided to come to Perth, in 2011, to continue my studies for the priesthood at St Charles’ Seminary.”

Also raised within a Catholic family whose Sunday Church attendance inspired in him a desire to know God in a deeper way, Perth boy Rev Joseph Laundy was raised in the suburb of Floreat with his four brothers and two sisters.

Extremely fond of the beach and of coastal life, Rev Laundy grew up ‘on the move’ as he often travelled interstate and internationally with his family.

This inherited love for travel eventually led to an 18-month round-the-world trip that included Israel as one of the stop overs. As the trip coincided with his growing desire to join the priesthood, Rev Laundy found walking on the land which Jesus had walked truly inspiring.

“The highlight of my trip was walking through the Holy Land and experiencing the holy sites and places of the Bible. It was humbling witness the timelessness of the faith and it was there that I decided to resist no longer God’s subtle but persistent call,” he said.

Encouraged by this experience abroad, Rev Laundy applied to join St Charles’ Seminary in 2012.

Arriving to Australia from Poland at the age of five, Rev Mariusz Grzech first lived in Sydney before his family settled in Perth where he grew up in the suburbs of North Perth and Leederville.

At the beginning of a career in accounting which took him to Sydney, Rev Grzech felt that he was being called to much more than his nine-to-five job and, in late 2008, he moved back to Perth to discern whether he was being called to a religions order or to the diocesan priesthood. He eventually joined St Charles’ Seminary in 2010.

“Life as a seminarian has been a time of personal and spiritual growth as well as consolidation of the life experiences which have shaped me as a man, and person trying to live an authentic relationship with Christ.

“There have certainly been challenges but also many corresponding graces and what I would call ‘necessary purifications’ throughout my journey. I’ve made some great friendships and have gained many insights through the wisdom and guidance of my mentors, through living in community, and the pastoral experiences gained while on parish placement,” he said.

Having attended two World Youth Days, the most recent of which was in his country of origin, Poland, has significantly contributed to the deepening of Rev Grzech’s love for the Catholic Church, its youth and the rich Catholic heritage.


The newly ordained deacons embrace fellow priests from the Archdiocese during their ordination to the diaconate on Friday 2 December, 2016 at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan

As he looks ahead at his upcoming ministry, Rev Grzech feels that no task will be too big as long as he places his trust completely in Jesus Christ.

Also a migrant from Poland, Rev Konrad Gagatek arrived to Australia in 1991 with his parents and older brother and grew up in the Perth suburb of Maylands.

Among the fondest memories of his upbringing and schooling is that of time spent with Principal of Divine Mercy College, Adam Zydek – a man who greatly inspired Rev Gagatek and who contributed to his desire to become a priest from an early age.

This growing call to the priesthood followed Rev Gagatek to Sacred Heart College in Sorrento, where he undertook a final year of high school before completing a bachelor’s degree at Edith Cowan University and finding employment for two years.

“After completing my studies and working in Perth city, the persistent stirring in my heart which developed in high school wouldn’t leave me.

“I couldn’t help but feel that God was calling me to serve His Church as a Priest. I applied for admission into St Charles Seminary in 2011 and a few months later received an acceptance letter from then Archbishop (now Emeritus) Barry Hickey,” Rev Gagatek said.

Dwelling on his formation at the seminary, Rev Gagatek describes his time at St Charles’ as one of thoughtfulness, prayerfulness, team work and academic excellence in which he saw himself being formed as a priest while constantly discerning whether this was God’s will for his life. Without these years of deep contemplation, he says, he would never have reached the threshold of the diaconate before which he currently stands.

“I am extremely excited and nervous at the same time. I really do see being a clergyman more akin to being a husband or dad – a vocation, a Sacrament, rather than a profession. Accordingly, similarly to any husband-to-be, I am well aware of the treasure that’s being offered in ordination and the enormous responsibility accompanying it.”