From sales to souls as real estate agent follows God’s call
Nothing short of a miracle could have brought successful Sydney businessman Raymond Hung to consider a call to serve the Church as a deacon.
And he is sure a miracle is exactly what happened.
“Anyone who has known me for a long time knows it, and definitely my wife,” laughs Raymond who was ordained in St Mary’s Cathedral by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP on 19 November in the presence of his wife Stella and their family and friends.
The newest of 14 permanent deacons for the Sydney archdiocese (there are two more currently in formation), the Hong-Kong born father of two and grandfather of two was encouraged to begin discerning a possible call to the diaconate by Father Joe Fernando at St Peter Julian church in Haymarket.
“I think what happened in me is a miracle because I can’t imagine how this has happened otherwise.”
But he can trace it further back to a 2007 visit to popular pilgrimage site of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Before that, raising a family and a real estate business alongside Stella, Raymond had “done all the normal worldly things” describing himself as having been “a Sunday Catholic at best”.
“I would spend that hour in church, but I’d more likely be thinking about what’s for lunch,” he told The Catholic Weekly. A midlife crisis in his mid-40s, coupled with a health issue, led some people close to him to suggest he make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
“Everything was going well, but I was unhappy with everything,” Raymond says, and despite being “more of the rational type”, he decided to make the trip.
He says what happened to him there was an experience straight from the story of the Prodigal Son. It was an overwhelming experience of God’s love.
“It was walking with my group, a priest was leading us in the Stations of the Cross and at the second station I broke down into uncontrollable tears,” he explained. “This has never happened to me before, and it’s not just that He came to me, but He embraced me in His arms. It was so overwhelming but also so embarrassing!
“After that I was like a 17-year-old, running around helping the elderly, helping with the prayers, doing things I had never done before. From that day I started to really pray for the first time. I came home and that’s when I started going to Mass during my lunch breaks, and things changed gradually but it was like I had a new life.
“People talk about miracles from Medjugorje, I never saw any spinning suns or noticed any special fragrances, nothing like that, but I think what happened in me is a miracle because I can’t imagine how this has happened otherwise.”
In his homily, Archbishop Fisher said that Deacon Raymond, who serves St Thomas More parish at Brighton le Sands, is now commissioned to be a much-needed missionary disciple as the world emerges from the ordeal of global pandemic.
“Conscientious and faithful, never drunk or materialistic, a faithful husband and father, your God-given task is now to be a man of the altar, word and charity,” the archbishop said.
“Everything I do as a deacon is about God. I’m just very happy for what I am now able to participate in.”
Four years of theological study and discernment were a challenge, but on the night of his ordination, processing into the cathedral behind a large cross, Raymond said he had an “overwhelming” sense that he now follows in Christ’s footsteps literally and spiritually.
He has certainly hit the ground running in his service within the Church.
Last weekend saw his first Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, first Mass assisting as a deacon, he prepared a young couple for a baptism, and celebrated his first baptism.
“It’s was a really joyful experience to baptise a lovely baby on Saturday and I thank God for that,” he said. “Now I’m just about to write my first homily. But it’s not about me, everything I do as a deacon is about God. I’m just very happy for what I am now able to participate in.”
Raymond says there is no conflict between the work of a real estate agent and his Christian values, and his years of experience of communicating with people from all walks of life will hold him in good stead as a deacon. He intends to continue to be what St Paul said, “all things to all people” and be a witness of the Good News to all.
The permanent diaconate
The Acts of the Apostles describes the work of the deacons in caring for the poor and proclaiming the Gospel. Deacons may be married men and assist at Mass, preach the Gospel and exercise a ministry of charity.
At the Second Vatican Council the permanent diaconate was renewed in the Latin Church, making available the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders: Bishop, Priest and Deacon.
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