Adrian Suyanto gained more than a degree at university, he also found faith and a vocation to the priesthood.
The 29-year-old also gained a “second family” in the Catholic chaplaincy community at the University of New South Wales after he moved from his family’s home in Indonesia to study chemical engineering.
“Many people say that they lose their faith at university, but for me it’s really where I met Christ and grew in my faith,” he said.
“It was just an amazing time. Especially as an international student without family around, that support from a community of Catholic friends was really helpful for me and for my faith formation.”
Bishop Daniel Meagher ordained Adrian to the Order of Deacons on 16 December at St Mel’s parish in Campsie.
He and his former seminary classmate Likisone (Sone) Tominiko are among the latest crop of seminarians from the Good Shepherd Seminary to be ordained deacons.
Both hope to be ordained to the priesthood next year for ministry in the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Adrian’s Buddhist parents enrolled him in a Catholic primary school and later made sure he went to Scripture classes every Saturday.
“For them it was very important for the children to grow up to be good people, my parents always told me that I needed to be a good man who knows what is right and wrong,” he said.
“They were really surprised when I said I wanted to go to the seminary but they’ve been very kind and understanding.
“They told me that while it’s not their preference, they would prefer for me to marry, that they will always support me in my decision because ultimately what they want is my happiness, which I am very grateful for.”
Adrian now looks forward to spending time with parishioners of St Aloysius in Cronulla and encouraging them in their faith.
“God has gifted me with a passion to serve the people,” Adrian said.
“I’m looking forward to baptising people, it’s just amazing to think that I’ll be able to bring Christ to other people’s lives through baptism.”
Bishop Richard Umbers ordained Sone, aged 30, to the diaconate on 2 December at Holy Family Parish, Menai.
Sone grew up in Bankstown after migrating from Samoa when he was around eight, attending St Brendan’s Primary School and then La Salle Catholic College Bankstown.
He dreamed of being a priest from a young age, inspired by his grandmother’s fervent faith and his adoptive parents’ example of generous service to the church community.
“My faith was really moulded by them,” Sone said.
“One of the main messages I took from the seminary is that we have to ceaselessly pray, and knowing that I can turn to Jesus with my own faults and failings.
“There are good men out there who have said ‘yes’ to God that I’ve been able to call brothers, who I been able to journey with and they’ve also helped to form me.
“I’ve also been deeply humbled and grateful to Archbishop Fisher who has been a great source of fatherly love and spiritual support to us, especially Adrian and myself.
“Because of him and his commitment to the church, we also have the hope that we may also serve him and the church as well.”
Adrian said that when he first thought he might be called to priesthood he “pushed it away.”
“I just wanted to be like everyone else, get married and have children,” he laughed.
“So that was quite hard, but the more I learned about priesthood the more I realised that it’s not about rejecting love—you’re loving in a different way.
“Priests are called to be fathers to others and when I look at it that way it’s easier.
“We sacrifice marriage and family knowing it’s for the greater purpose, for the greater glory of God.”