On the 25th of March 2022, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Ordination to Diaconate of Br. Jeff Miller was celebrated at St. Joseph's Church, Collingwood.
Many Salesians, as well as Jeff's family, relatives, and friends, attended to pray for him on the special occasion. The ordaining minister, Bishop Anthony Ireland, mentioned in his homily that the Annunciation marked a change for Mary, Joseph, and the whole of humanity, through the unconditional "Yes" of Mary to God’s call.
The Bishop highlighted that in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Father shows God's unfailing love to all creatures by offering God's only begotten Son.
As a deacon, Jeff was also called to be a sign of that unfailing love: to be the heart and hands of God to the poor and the suffering. The major function of a deacon is service, at the table of the Lord and in works of charity.
After Mass, during the festal supper, the newly ordained Deacon shared about his first encounter with the Salesians of Don Bosco: as a young boy, Jeff regularly attended the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Brunswick, where he first met Fr. Peter Rankin.
One day, while he was sitting on the bench waiting for his turn on the trampoline, the bench suddenly fell apart from the wall; all the other children began howling with laughter, and Fr. Peter immediately came rushing over to see what all the fuss was about.
The young Jeff thought that Fr. Peter would surely punish him for the unfortunate accident, and while Jeff began frantically apologising, Fr. Peter replied: "Jeff, I'm not worried about the bench, I'm only worried about you." These words touched the young boy's heart deeply, and he described it as the first time he felt genuinely cared for by an adult.
Jeff recognised this as the moment the seed of his Salesian vocation was sewn; the seed would go on to be watered by Mr. Ashley Trethowan during Jeff's 10 years as a leader at Dromana Camp, where it was eventually harvested by Br. Stan Rossato who simply said, "You'd be a good Salesian, why don't you join?" - and Jeff said "Okay."
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2022 edition of the Salesian Bulletin, which is available here!