Meet new deacons Joshua Whitehead and Thomas Duncan

Prayer, study, reflection, work, serve.

After a journey that has spanned six years, Joshua Whitehead and Thomas Duncan have been ordained deacons.

Surrounded by family, friends, clergy and supporters Deacons Joshua and Thomas took a major step towards ministerial priesthood on Friday, 16 November at the Holy Spirit Chapel, Banyo.

Deacon Joshua Whitehead will be appointed to St Stephen’s Cathedral parish as a deacon for the term of his temporary diaconate. He praised his time at the seminary. “I’m just so grateful to the seminary formation staff and the students that I’ve journeyed with over these last six years. I’m looking forward to serving the cathedral and the parish and having lots of opportunities for preaching, Baptisms and ministry, and just being with the people.”


From mentor to friend. How retired priest Ellis Clifford is supporting Deacon Joshua Whitehead on his journey to the priesthood.


Deacon Thomas is preparing for the priesthood for the Toowoomba diocese, where he will serve as deacon and university chaplain.

Deacon Thomas said the Rite of Ordination to Diaconate was of paramount importance. “This, for me, is the big day,” he said. “They often see the priestly ordination as the big day but, for me, this is the big day – this is when we commit our lives to God. This is when we make our promises.”

Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin celebrated the ceremony with more than one-hundred clergy and faithful present. Bishop McGuckin said, “As deacons, Thomas and Joshua will be strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will help the bishop and priests in the ministry of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, showing themselves to be servants of all.”

Ordination of deacons

An excerpt from Bishop McGuckin’s homily:

“This demands a very generous response – to be open to what is asked of them – to be open to where the spirit leads us.

Pope Francis has said if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. The diaconate is a call to service, not one of our plans or wants. With the help of God, (the deacons) are to go about these duties in such a way that you will recognise them as disciples of Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve.

Joshua and Thomas, never allow yourselves to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel.

Now you are not only hearers of the Gospel but you are also its ministers.

Being a deacon is at the same time a privilege and a challenge – a challenge continually calling for self-sacrifice.

May we pray for Tom and Josh as they take this important step today.

I extend my thanks to Monsignor (John) Grace and the staff of Holy Spirit Seminary and to all who have been involved in Thomas’ and Joshua’s formation.

Joshua and Thomas, you are to be raised to the Order of the Diaconate. The Lord has set an example that, just as he himself has done, you also should do. May God abundantly bless you in your diaconal ministry.”