Five Minutes with…
The Catholic Voice recently spent five minutes with Fr Warrick Tonkin who retired from full-time ministry in December 2018.
‘What do you miss about full-time ministry?
Firstly, I would distinguish between full-time and active ministry. I have retired from full-time ministry but I am still active, especially sacramentally.
I particularly miss the day-to-day interchange with people within the context of a parish community – both the ups and the downs. Within this context I especially miss the Liturgy prayed with a stable community of faith.
When and where were you ordained?
I was ordained as a deacon in Ss Peter & Paul’s Old Cathedral, Goulburn, on 24 November, 1984. I was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Francis Carroll, in St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra, on 21 November, 1985. Before I entered the Seminary I taught at the then Marian College, Goulburn, for three years.
What do you remember most from your time in the Seminary?
I remember, in particular, the Seminary as a testing time. This was, and is, as it should be. I was engaging in a time of discernment. I was allowing the assumed call from God, to be tested. I was engaging in a host of new experiences: spiritual broadening, academic searching, varied pastoral encounters, and living within a diverse, gifted and challenging community.
What do you do in retirement?
My retirement was sudden and unplanned back in late 2018. At the time I was anticipating at least a further ten years in full-time ministry. However, health issues intervened, and I found myself retired. It has taken me almost three years to finally settle into the reality of who I am, a retired priest within the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, sometimes lost and at times feeling invisible.
But I have settled into a relatively stable routine. The foundation of this routine is prayer, centred on the celebration of the Eucharist and the Divine Office. I have broadened my scope of reading beyond Scripture and Theology (although not abandoning those interests), to explore biography and historical settings. I also hope to extend my routine to engage in some writing – but let’s wait and see.
Any advice for those considering the priesthood?
Advice – do not rush! God’s call involves “kairos,” the Greek word for ‘God’s time.’ We normally live our lives in the fast-lane, the land of “chronos” – clock time.
Secondly, find a priest mentor. This person is someone who will walk the journey with you. He will encourage. He will challenge. He will be alert to what God’s call actually is for you.
Any lessons about life or faith you might wish to share?
Whether someone heads down the road to priesthood or not, every member of the Church has the same challenge, but a uniquely personal challenge. This is to explore the giftedness we hold through the Sacrament of Baptism. The challenge for everyone is to live our lives, unwrapping the Sacrament of Baptism as God calls us, not once, but throughout our lives.
What makes you laugh? What makes you sad?
I especially laugh at good British comedy. I also laugh at the absurd – what other response is there?
Mistreatment of others makes me sad. Any time another human being is dismissed and treated as an object, as a something, and not respected as a person, as a “someone”, then my heart sinks.