Celebrations at St Christopher’s for Deacon Mark Ha
Ten years ago Mark Ha came from Vietnam to Canberra to study accounting only to discover the numbers weren’t calling him to a career in finance.
God was calling instead.
In the latest step in that personal journey the Vietnamese-born seminarian was ordained as a transitional deacon at St Christopher’s Cathedral last Friday evening.
The ordination comes after seven years of study at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Sydney and is the beginning of the last stage on the road to the priesthood for Deacon Ha.
The moment was an especially poignant one for the Archdiocese’s newest deacon with his parents Vinh and My Ha having flown from Saigon to be with their son.
Many other members of the Vietnamese community also participated in the celebration.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse was the ordination’s principal celebrant, concelebrated by over 30 archdiocesan and visiting clergy. They were joined by Deacon Ha’s fellow seminarians who had travelled from Sydney for the celebration.
In his homily, Archbishop Prowse paid special tribute to the new deacon’s Vietnamese heritage, thanking his family for “all that you’ve done to prepare our brother, your son, our friend Mark”.
He lauded Australia’s immigrant communities as examples to the Church of their “generosity and their belief” in promoting vocations to the priesthood.
Archbishop Prowse also outlined the Church’s expectations of the new deacon, including the importance of humility and a pledge to serve rather than being served.
During the Rite of Ordination, the deacon-elect participated in some of the Church’s oldest rituals, including the pivotal moment of ordination, the Laying of Hands, and the Litany of Supplication where the candidate lies prostrate on the floor in submission to God. He also committed to a series of “promises”: to faith and evangelisation, to celibacy, to prayer, to a Christ-like way of life, and to obedience.
In his remarks to the congregation, Deacon Ha thanked those who had helped and supported him on his journey so far including his family and friends, his classmates at the Good Shepherd Seminary, and the many other clergy and religious.
His mother Vinh Ha later told the Catholic Voice she was “very happy” to be able to attend her son’s ordination. Though she did admit the calling to Holy Orders for her youngest son had initially come as a “big surprise”.
Perhaps, looking back, it was a big surprise for her son, too. The First Reading at Deacon Ha’s ordination was from the Book of Numbers, a fitting nod to the path to the diaconate for this former accounting student.
“It’s all a very big thanks to God,” Vinh Ha said.
For the final year of his transition to the priesthood, Deacon Ha will assist Fr Jiss Sunny in a placement at St Mary’s Parish in Young.