First ordination of deacon in St Martin de Porres Church
Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Deacon Victor Okafor, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo (Papal Nuncio) and Victor’s Family Antonia (Wife), children Emmanuel, Michelle and Leslie

First ordination of deacon in St Martin de Porres Church

THE first ordination of a deacon in St Martin de Porres’ Church in Aylesbury, Tallaght, took place recently with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Eamonn Walsh, while the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, was also in attendance.

The ordination of Kiltipper resident Victor Okafor last week was the first time a deacon had been ordained in the history of St Martin’s church. He is now the 34th permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The Mass marked the culmination of six years of study for Deacon Okafor, as the pandemic meant the usual four-year time frame from application to ordination for deacons was disrupted.

At Saturday’s ordination, Deacon Okafor had the full support of his family, his wife Antonia, and their children Leslie, 21, Michelle, 19, and Emmanuel, 15.

In recent weeks, Deacon Okafor graduated from DCU with a degree in theology as part of his training to become a deacon. He was ordained shortly thereafter.

Leslie and Michelle, who were previously altar servers in St Martin’s, gave readings during the service while Emmanuel served as an altar boy.

Over a dozen priests also attended the ordination.

When asked how his family felt about his ordination, Deacon Okafor said: “My wife is very happy. She supports me in all ways possible.

Deacon Victor Okafor with Ann O’Connor, Fr James and Fr Bill

“The kids were all supportive too. My family are very proud to have a deacon father and a deacon husband.”

The Okafors have been active members of St Martin’s Parish since 2008. Deacon Okafor decided to pursue the path to deaconhood after seeing an advert for deacons in a parish newsletter six years ago.

“I thought about doing it, and the parish priest, Fr Michael Hurley, thought it would be good for me,” Deacon Okafor told The Echo.

“I had done some volunteer work with St Michael’s House a few years ago, and this was another opportunity to volunteer.”

The father-of-three will now balance his new, part-time voluntary role as a deacon with his full-time job in Dublin Airport’s airport search unit.

“It will be a challenge, but with the help and grace of God, I think I can do it,” he added.

In essence, being a deacon means Deacon Okafor will be able to carry out a number of duties, such as baptising children, saying graveside prayers, assisting priests during Mass and being a minister of the word. However, as he is not a priest, he cannot say Mass or give Confession.

Deacon Okafor said his new role “means the world” to him, and that finally being ordained after six years still feels slightly surreal for him.

However, he is ready for all that being a deacon entails and has developed an ethos that will spur him on.

“It’s not so much about what you’re given, it’s about what you can give,” said Deacon Okafor.

“That’s my philosophy now. People always seem to see what they can get, but few people really think about what they can give.”

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