01 Jul 2017
Michael finds his niche
Deacon Michael Moore
“Luckily there is a fair gap between us kids so we weren’t all there at the one time, but I remember we would have to all squeeze into the one pew as Mum and Dad wanted to make sure they could keep an eye on us,” he laughed.
Of Irish Catholic ancestry, Michael, 67, said fortnightly confession, weekly Sunday Mass and an education provided by the nuns were all part of his formative years and his deep faith led him to at one stage consider becoming a priest.
“When I was in about Grade 5 and I was an altar server at the time, I remember then thinking that going on to be a priest would be a good idea. And even when I was getting towards the end of high school I spoke with my parents about it – but they said they couldn’t afford to send me away and that I needed to get a job.”
Fast forward half a century and after working for 40 years as a senior administrator in the courts system, Michael has found his niche serving God in a different way, as an ordained deacon in the Plympton parish.
His ‘calling’ came when he was nearly 60 – he had been retired for two years and after doing all the “painting and gardening” and with wife Jenny still working, he found he was “getting a bit bored”.
Someone had mentioned the Ministry Formation Program to him so he went to an information evening and found this was something he wanted to pursue.
“I was also chair of the parish council at the time, so I thought if I did some studies it would prepare me better to talk to others in the parish.
“One thing led to another and after about a year into ministry formation they started speaking to us about the diaconate. I didn’t know a thing about it so I followed it through.
“I wanted to work with people and after getting a bit of an understanding of the diaconate it made me think I could do more for them than through just having ministry formation.”
Ordained in November 2013, Deacon Moore is enjoying building on the work he has done previously in the parish as a reader and Eucharistic minister. He now serves as pastoral associate five days a fortnight, and coordinates the RCIA program. As a deacon he assists Fr Anthony Kain and Fr Kevin Taylor with baptisms, wedding and funerals.
However, it is his work with the sick that has really struck a chord.
Deacon Moore visits Ashford Hospital every Tuesday morning for about two hours, often taking two parishioners with him as there may be up to 40 people on the list wishing to speak with them.
“We take communion and a lot of what we do is listening. They tell me about some of the complaints they have about the Church and I can talk to people about that and how they can possibly look at it differently. A lot of the older people don’t get a lot of visitors so sometimes they really need just someone to talk to – and you never know what impact you may have on them.
“I think the thing that drives me now is I really love what I am doing, but I particularly get a boost out of going to the hospital and talking with the sick people. Because it is at Ashford, quite often we meet our own parishioners there and so when they are discharged we can find out how they are going and continue to support them,” he said.
Another aspect of his ministry he enjoys is his work with the parish school, St John the Baptist, which was also the primary school attended by his now four adult children.
“The connection with the school is really good. I like communicating with the teachers and the admin staff and all the kids now know me and say ‘good morning, Deacon Michael’.”
Recently, the school community was rocked by an incident in which one of its students died, a victim of a suspected murder-suicide.
Trained as a bereavement companion, Deacon Moore said he had spent much time over past weeks just listening to members of the community as they grappled with their grief.
“It’s been a very difficult time for them. I’ve been having a lot of students, teachers and mums from the school come and talk to me. A lot of the children just want to tell me how much they miss him,” he said.
Away from his ministry work, Michael has always been involved with sports and began umpiring netball when youngest daughter was about 10 and continues to blow the whistle during the winter months at ETSA Park. He was also a trainer for the Sturt Football Club for about 20 years.