Couple joined in a ministry of service
|Deacon Joseph Ledang and his wife, Trish. Photo: Alphonsus Fok.|
Catholic Outlook, August 2015
For Joseph Ledang the support of his wife, Trish, and their daughters is integral to his ministry as a permanent deacon. “Without Trish beside me, I would not have been able to walk this path,” he said.
Born in the village of Ke Van in central Vietnam in 1958, Joseph’s first vocation was to the priesthood. However, five years of seminarian studies ceased abruptly with the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon in 1975.
He fled to Cambodia where he was held captive by the Khmer Rouge for seven months until he was freed through the intervention of the Red Cross. From a camp in Thailand, he applied to the UN refugee program for asylum in Australia and settled in Western Sydney.
It was at the suggestion of priests who were family friends that Joseph first considered the ministry of the permanent deacon.
Permanent deacons are ordained ministers of the Catholic Church and most men ordained as permanent deacons are married men. In a ministry that extends well beyond the walls of the church, the deacon serves as the eyes and ears of the bishop and in practical ways as the heart and hands. He is a ‘go-between’ as it were between the secular and the Church.
As he discerned God’s calling, Joseph undertook study in theology. He and Trish were accepted into the permanent diaconate program and Joseph was ordained by Bishop Kevin Manning in 2009.
Joseph said the love and support of Trish and their daughters, Sylvia and Catherine, was crucial. “My children were very helpful and encouraged me a lot, editing my assignments and attending all ceremonies during formation. My wife, Trish, is the most important person in this journey.”
Wives are actively involved in the diaconate program. Trish studied the Certificate of Formation, which includes theological study, spirituality and group meetings. She said this had deepened her own understanding of the faith.
Joseph is a deacon assisting at Holy Trinity Parish, Granville, and a member of the Vietnamese community chaplaincy.
Trish is an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, looks after the young altar servers, and joins Joseph teaching SRE in state schools.
Joseph said the priests were very supportive of his vocation. “I am given plenty of opportunity to serve,” he said. “I preach once a month, and occasionally celebrate Baptisms and marriages.”
The heart of the deacon’s ministry is to serve others, especially the needy, the poor and the marginalised. Joseph and Trish are involved in charity work in Vietnam.
“In Vietnam, there are many people who need help: abandoned newborn babies, lonely elderly people, orphans, children with disabilities, and lepers,” Joseph said.
“Trish and I, and sometimes our children, travel to Vietnam to visit them. They are like our relatives and friends.”
A dentist with a busy practice, Joseph said performing dental services required a commitment of effort and care. “I am thankful that Trish works full time with me in the surgery where she makes the environment more friendly and helps me to be more relaxed.”
Joseph finds great joy in his vocation. “As deacons we submit ourselves to the transformative power of the Eucharist, the sacraments, the Word of God, prayer and charitable services. So we and our partners and families change and change together, and that is joyful.
“I am thankful to have so many good friends of similar mind and life circumstances; the other deacons and their wives and the priests of our Diocese. I am very proud when assisting the bishop during Mass.
“I am often reminded of something Fr Chris de Souza said: ‘It's not what we do Joseph, but who we are as deacons.’ I trust that God will make me a better server in the way He wants me to serve.”
Married couples and single men who would like to know more about the ordained ministry of the permanent deacon are invited to contact Rev Dr Arthur Bridge AM, Director of Vocations to the Permanent Diaconate, tel 0411 289 954.
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