Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Séamus Cunningham

Journey to the Permanent Diaconate

Tony Turner was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in June 2015 and writes about his journey to Ordination:


“I’m not old enough, and I certainly couldn’t afford to give up my job”

These were the thoughts that flashed through my mind when I read up on the Permanent Diaconate. That document that had been sent to me to read up on was forwarded by Fr Simon Lerche after I had had a long discussion with him on how I serve my parish community more effectively.

In the previous 5 years I’d tried the social committee, the Pastoral Parish Council, School Governorship and various other voluntary roles. All of these groups and the wonderful people who serve them so diligently had provided a degree of personal satisfaction but I just had this “niggle”, if you could call it that, which just wouldn’t go away. So I asked for Fr Simon’s advice and a few days later I received the pamphlet on the Diaconate. My instant response was that above and that is pretty much where I left it.

It wasn’t until around 18 months later when my father-in-law, Harry, lost his battle with cancer that I was in a position to recognise that perhaps the Diaconate was calling me again. I volunteered to pull together the crematorium service for my mother-in-law Isobel and in doing so offered to do a short eulogy. The response and feeling that I got from doing this had a profound effect and from that moment I knew that this was something that God wanted me to try and do a bit more of.
So I embarked on the journey that is due to end, God willing, on 27th June 2015 when I will hopefully be ordained for Hexham and Newcastle Diocese.

I was never really an academic at school and last embarked on any kind of study around 8 years ago when I sat a Health and Safety exam, so the thought of 4 years of Theology and Philosophy, along with learning about the History of the Church was a bit daunting to begin with. As the years have gone on I have found that, although hard work and sometimes challenging with regards my personal time, it has been very rewarding. As I am constantly told by my spiritual director, “God will never lead me up a garden path” so by developing my trust in God’s plan I have been able to strike a great balance between work, diaconate and home and it is a balance that will continue to be struck through prayer and focus on the important things in my life and the life of my family and parish.
I am an Engineering Manager in my work life with a fantastic and very supportive wife, Maxine, and 2 very lovely children, Megan and Sean, all of whom make me intensely proud on an almost daily basis. Their response to my journey has been inspirational. Always there when I need them and always there at each milestone.

As for work, I didn’t really publicise my path, choosing only to reveal it to a close few, but as it has gradually become more widely known I have been left speechless by the positive response with no exceptions. Until recently the word “Evangelisation” brought to my mind images of Billy Graham and Baptist Churches in the USA, filled with congregations singing and dancing in the aisles cheering “Praise the Lord!” How wrong could I have been?

My Diaconate journey has positioned me so that I am being asked about all things to do with “God” and I find myself talking to Engineers, Scientists, Atheists, who all know me and know me as a level headed kind of person. Simply talking about my faith and beliefs has raised an eyebrow or two. “But you’re normal”, “I’d never have thought you’d been into all that” are just two responses that have surprised me.

Turns out that without knowing it I am an Evangelist! These people are hearing things that, without knowing me, may never be exposed to this kind of discussion and I can only hope are left with a seed of curiosity as a result of our chats.

I have enjoyed the journey so far, and am looking towards the day and subsequent time after ordination when I can serve my Church, Parish, Community and Diocese in the way that God has always intended for me to do. My late Uncle, Fr James Dutton, who was a missionary priest in Fiji, and originated from Easington Lane, wrote a book about his experiences, it was entitled “God will find a way” in my case it has been an interesting and exciting journey but as the title of the book says, God will find a way and I hope that I will continue to listen and respond to that call so that my way will be God’s way.

 Tony Turner 2015