Order of Malta member Deacon Adam Walk of Brisbane, Australia, recently completed his MA in Theology at CDU to meet the academic requirements for becoming a deacon in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He is also a financial economist with a PhD from Griffith University with a busy career that involves lots of travel.
Ordained in November 2019, he is nearing the end of his first year of service. “Being in the midst of a pandemic, it has been a very strange first year of ministry as a deacon,” Deacon Walk says. At this time last year, he wasn’t expecting to be assisting at online Masses without an assembly. His ministry is quite broad. He is a part-time police chaplain, he and his wife do pre-marriage and newly married ministry together, he is involved in governance roles within the Archdiocese that use his professional skills, and he serves at the parish where he is appointed assisting at Mass, as RCIA instructor, and as a member of the Pastoral Council.
When asked what he enjoyed most about CDU, Deacon Walk says, “There are several aspects. The first—and this might sound like a strange answer when talking about an online institution—is community. I have never met a single one of my professors or fellow students in person, but I can say that I felt like I was part of a community that is both faithfully Catholic and eager to learn.”
“This was encouraged by the professors—the second great aspect of CDU—who were passionate about their subject matter and committed to the learning experience of their students,” he continues. “As someone who has studied most of his adult life in one form or another—face-to-face and online, undergraduate to doctoral level—I can say that I have never had a better collection of teachers than I had at CDU.”
Deacon Walk appreciated the flexibility as well, which allowed him to fit in his study commitments around his professional work and travel schedule. “It was great to have so many teaching periods, because it allowed me to progress quicker than I otherwise could have,” he says. “I completed PHIL 508 Philosophy for Theology in five cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, London, Oxford, and Rome, with a lot of time on planes for reading!” he adds.
Deacon Walk was in his 30s when he entered the Church in the Easter season of 2006, receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and first Holy Communion. “From then I was quite intentional about formation because I felt I had a lot to learn,” he says. As he learned more about the Church, he became aware of the diaconate and the fact that it was open to married men.
In 2014, a Texan friend suggested he consider the diaconate. He prayed about it, discussed it with his wife, to whom he has now been married for 21 years, and decided to apply to the program in his hometown of Brisbane. He was accepted in 2015 and began searching for a theology degree program to fulfil the academic requirements for becoming a deacon. “I was on the lookout for a good quality theology program that was flexible enough to balance with my professional life,” Deacon Walk says. He began studying through a distance education provider in Australia but found that it was less a curriculum and more a selection of courses.
In late 2015, Deacon Walk learned about CDU when a podcast of The Catholic Café—which is a ministry of the Order of Malta hosted by Deacon Jeff Drzycimski of the Diocese of Memphis—popped up on his iPhone featuring CDU President Dr. Marianne Mount. “In the podcast, Dr. Mount refers to an Ordinariate priest from Brisbane – my home town – who had completed CDU’s MA. In any event, Dr. Mount was very convincing, and it was clear from the example she gave that I could study from here,” Deacon Walk says. “Once I learned that CDU is recommended by the Newman Guide, my decision was made.” Campion College—a Catholic liberal arts college based in Sydney of which Deacon Walk is a trustee—is also listed in the Newman Guide.
His discernment continued throughout the formation process. “I knew I was in the hands of the Church in terms of whether I would be ordained, so I just tried to do my bit and see where it led,” he says. “I was ordained on the Feast of St. Andrew last year, around six months prior to completing the MA at CDU.”
“I couldn’t imagine trying to fulfil my responsibilities as a deacon without the academic formation I received at CDU,” Deacon Walk says. He was attracted to the CDU program partly it culminated in a comprehensive exam, which isn’t common at universities in Australia. “I thought preparing for a comprehensive exam would force me to synthesize content from a range of subjects. So, in a way, it was the fear of having to one day give a homily that drew me to CDU,” he adds.
Deacon Walk’s professional work is divided between being an investment advisor to wealthy clients and small institutions, such as foundations, and fulfilling governance roles for a range of organizations. Earlier in his career, Deacon Walk taught economics and finance mostly to graduate students at several universities and published research in his field. He is an adjunct faculty member with the business school of the University of Notre Dame Australia currently, though his responsibilities in service to the Church preclude him from pursuing research with the same focus as a full-time academic.
“In my professional work, I am in a position of trust where I am required to act in the best interests of others, be they clients or, say, the beneficiaries of the pension fund of which I am a trustee director,” Deacon Walk says. “In this sense, there are some similarities with being a deacon, which places me in a position of trust where I am called to serve others.”