'My heart almost skipped a beat' - Trevor Sargent on becoming a church deacon
Former Minister of State and Green Party Leader, Trevor Sargent said his heart "almost skipped a beat” with emotion, when he was ordained a Church of Ireland deacon in Co Wicklow yesterday.
Mr Sargent (57), told Independent.ie that the ceremony, which took place in Shillelagh Parish Church, Co Wicklow was very emotional for him on a personal level.
He said: “It was very emotional as I had to make a number of commitments that I would serve the community and be faithful. It’s a very specific call from the Holy Spirit and it feels like fate.
"The congregation were asked if they knew any reason that I should not be made deacon and when they accepted me my heart almost skipped a beat. To get that sort of affirmation from the community was incredible.”
The former politician’s faith stems back from his teenage days. He feels the different roles of parishioner, principal and politician that he has held throughout his life are “not a million miles away” from his new role of deacon.
“I was a parishioner for 30 years in St Georges Parish in Dublin and principal of St George’s National School in Balbriggan. It was always part of the calling and the legacy of it goes back to when I was in secondary school. Being a teacher always has a certain amount of pastoral element to it.
"Even as a TD and leader of the Green Party all these jobs require empathy and a willingness to serve the people. They’re not a million miles away from each other.”
Mr Sargent served as a Green Party TD from 1992-2011 and was leader from 2007. For him, his love for the environment and faith in God were always linked.
“The environment and religion have always been one of the same to me. One of the requirements in the Bible is that you nurture people and the earth. This speaks to me and motivates me,” he said.
He is currently entering his final year of a Theology Masters at Trinity College. He explained that he is looking forward to getting stuck in to his role as deacon and has no current aspirations to become a Church of Ireland priest.
He said: “I don’t have those aspirations or ambitions. I’m lucky that I’m able to do this and I’ve a very understanding wife who is great even though she has plenty other things going on in her own life. I can count my blessings.
"I’m looking forward to getting to know all the parishioners. They’ve been incredibly generous to me so far. They painted the church from top to bottom and laid on a feast. It was a great credit to them.”
According to the Dubliner, the role of a deacon is much like a “waiter in a restaurant”.
“It comes from the Greek word to wait or to serve. It involves reading the Gospel and helping the rector. I will assist them in the distribution of bread and wine and if they are not there I will do the Morning Prayer. I’ll make sure to help people, visit the sick and make myself available for youth events and weddings and baptisms," he said.
Mr Sargent’s wife, Aine Neville, extended family and former Green Party colleagues, John Gormely, Mary White and Dan Boyle were all in attendance at the ceremony yesterday.
“They all travelled from different parts of the country to wish me well. We’ve all travelled different paths but they were very happy for me. It was just the most incredible day and the weather shone.”