It was a most joyous day at Our Lady of the Angels in Nuneaton as parishioner Philip Bracken was ordained deacon in front of his ‘home crowd’.

The ordination by Archbishop Bernard Longley took place on Sunday 9 July and was followed by a reception.

Philip has been a parishioner at Our Lady of the Angels since the early 1990s and over the years became increasingly involved in parish life, taking on various roles and responsibilities.

His call to the permanent diaconate could be described as a ‘slow burner’, rooted in his Catholic upbringing and education, gradually taking shape over the years.

“At one point we had two deacons in the parish, and one of them asked me to consider the permanent diaconate,” said Philip.

“When he mentioned it, the thought I’d had for a long time grew. The little tug was getting stronger.

“Since I entered the formation programme I have been blessed with a a remarkable groundswell of support from my parish and neighbouring parishes.

“It has continued and being steady throughout. People have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging.

“So it is a marvellous feeling (to be ordained in the parish). Everyone is very excited about it.”

During his formation Philip has built strong relationships with fellow clergy. His Uncle is a priest and he has had the friendship, support and spiritual guidance of diocesan priests Fr Philip Harrop, Fr Simon Hall and Fr Michael Gamble.

But it is his wife of 35 years, Eileen, who has been key to this journey.

“Eileen is the most marvellous person. The best support, the best wife, best friend,” said Philip. “The journey of life and faith would have been very much poorer without her.

“My ordination to the diaconate would not have been possible without Eileen. She is central to it all.

“Being a deacon will mean balancing Church and family life. I have been blessed with sacrament of marriage and it will be important that I continue to honour that.”

Following his ordination Philip is hopeful of continuing his work in the parish. He is keen to further encourage participation from people in the parish, reach out and utilise their skills and talents.

“On this journey I realised there is so much I didn’t know or understand fully about the Church, Faith, God,” said Philip. “At first I felt embarrassed.

“But I now realise this is a very common thing.

“So I want to try and bring messages of hope and understanding to as many people as possible, and help demystify the Catholic faith – make it accessible and joyful.”

As well as the support of Eileen, Philip also has the backing of his two wonderful children - Andrew and Clare - family and friends as he walks this new pathway on his spiritual journey.

Becoming a Deacon

There are approximately 80 deacons serving across the Archdiocese.

The word deacon derives from the Greek diakonia, meaning "service," thereby indicating that a deacon is called like Christ to be a servant. The Order of Deacon has three essential functions: the proclamation of the Gospel, the service of the liturgy, and the administration of charitable works.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Ordination of a Deacon is similar in form to that of a priest – by prayer and the laying on of hands, as described from the earliest days of the Church – but the beautiful Prayer of Consecration emphasises the essential nature of the diaconate, a call to service.

Permanent deacons are mature men, aged 35 or over, married or celibate, who by virtue of their ordination are members of the clergy. The majority are in secular employment or retired.

If you would like to find out more, please contact the Director for the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Deacon Leo Poole: [email protected]

Explore the Diaconate

Photo Gallery

Ordination of Philip Bracken to the Permanent Diaconate