A COOKSTOWN man is set to make history by becoming one of the first permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Armagh and in Northern Ireland.
Andy Hegarty will be ordained at the end of September along with four other men and he has been assigned to the Parish of Dungannon to carry out his work.
Speaking to the Mid alongside his wife Mary before his ordination on 29th September, Andy spoke of how he felt drawn to become a deacon after reading an information leaflet on it out of curiosity.
“It had been given out in the parish for several weeks and I didn’t pass any remarks on it and one weekend myself and Mary were away on a break and coming out of the church I lifted a brochure on the Diaconate just out of curiosity. As I read it I became magnetised to it and there was something, I just couldn’t pinpoint it but I really wanted to hear more.”
Andy said: “I must say from I started the process I never really doubted that this was something I really wanted, I felt as if God was calling me to the Diaconate. So there was a four year course of study which involved pastoral work as well, so I took up a position in Maghaberry prison as a chaplain firstly on a voluntary basis and then I was asked to join the team which I must say I enjoy.”
Andy’s wife Mary, talked of how initially she was shocked and didn’t know where Andy would have the time to fit this into his already busy schedule, “It was a very big shock at the very beginning because he has been involved with the church for years, we both have and I thought is this going to be more? It wasn’t until we had a curate here Fr Garret Campbell and I expressed my fears and he explained to me that the Diaconate would take a priority and he could drop a lot of the other work. When he explained to me somehow or other I got a peace in it all. I just thought well this is God’s call not my call and I didn’t want to stand in the way of what God was calling him to do.”
Andy said the support he has received already from Dungannon parish and from his five children has been great, “The response I have received has been massive, to put it mildly. I was very impressed with Dungannon and the people that I have met already from speaking these past few weeks at the masses. Myself and Mary went out after I spoke and shook hands with the congregation and I was so impressed. Dungannon is a beautiful parish and I am delighted to be assigned to there.”