09 Jun 2017

Daryl's kicking new goals

DARRYL HICKS pointer.jpg

The Southern Cross June 2017

Daryl kicking new goals

Continuing our series on the ministry of deacons, LINDY McNAMARA chats with Deacon Daryl Hicks about how he has evolved from being one of the State’s best footballers to helping those in need in the Elizabeth parish.

If you are a friend of Daryl Hicks, chances are you will at some stage receive a phone call “inviting” you to help someone who is down on their luck.

You might be asked to store their furniture in your garage, or perhaps put in a good word for them for a job… whatever the request you will know it is for a good cause – and you’ll probably end up coming to the party!

Such is the respect for the former star footballer and businessman who is now kicking much bigger goals in his ministry as a permanent deacon in the Elizabeth parish.

Ordained in July 2007, Deacon Hicks gives no apologies for calling in favours from his many friends in the northern suburbs, because he knows their efforts are helping someone in need.

“I know a lot of people in the community and you can always make a phone call and ask someone to do something – that’s a plus and that’s better than all the degrees I have or all the football games I’ve played,” he said.

A four-times premiership player for the Sturt Football Club and coach of Central Districts from 1978 to 1983, Deacon Hicks and wife Tricia have lived in the Salisbury/Elizabeth area for the past 38 years.

Over that time they have immersed themselves in parish life, became involved at St Augustine’s and Thomas More College where their five, now adult, children went to school, and were founding members of St Patrick’s Technical College. Their reach in the community also extended through their businesses, with Tricia owning several hairdressing salons and Daryl running three gyms.

However, it was when his businesses were winding down that Daryl, now a spritely 76, felt there was still much more to do in his life, particularly with his Catholic faith.  

The first steps to becoming a deacon began with a phone call from Sister Christine Burke who contacted Daryl to see if he was interested in taking part in a course she was running.

“I was 60 and I was really interested in theology and philosophy and it struck me as being a good idea,” he recalled.

“When I was finishing my first three units I was accidentally standing alongside the Archbishop and I said to him, ‘what can I do now?’. He said, ‘if you get serious, you could be a deacon’. I hadn’t even heard of a deacon before that, so I started investigating it and the last three years of my study were about becoming a deacon.”

He said his ministry in the Elizabeth parish was very fulfilling and a wonderful way to live out the strong Catholic faith instilled in him as a boy growing up on the family’s dairy farm at Jervois.

“I was brought up in a strong Catholic family. We went to Tailem Bend for Mass every Sunday and every Saturday night would pray the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour with my grandmother who lived with us. We also said the rosary around the bed with my grandmother on many nights.”

When he moved to Adelaide to study to become an agricultural science teacher and play football at SANFL and State level, his Catholic beliefs were unwavering.

“I never ever had any doubts about my faith and it was never an issue when I was playing football. In fact, when I was at Sturt there was a group of guys and from time to time we would visit each other’s churches,” he said.

As a deacon, he is just as committed and focused as he was on the football field, always ready to help Fr Pat Woods and Fr John Mbaraka with parishioners’ needs, and performing baptisms, weddings and funerals as required.

“I really enjoy the mixture of the people here and you can’t really say what you are going to be doing next.

“You are one of the people who is available to act. We’re there to help and discuss and make suggestions, but we don’t actually find the jobs or the house, but we can make arrangements and put them in contact with the relevant agency,” he explained.

However, he admitted there were times when he and Tricia stepped in to help out… like when a mother and daughter who had been kicked out of their house spent a couple of days with them while Deacon Hicks searched for suitable accommodation. Then there was an occasion when another family was forced out of their home and he called in a “favour” from one of his mates, storing their furniture in his garage for six weeks while they got themselves sorted.

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of his ordination next month, Deacon Hicks said he particularly enjoyed meeting with other deacons in the Archdiocese every quarter and attending the biennial conference of the National Association of Deacons.

“It reinforces that everyone has a different role – no two deacons are doing the same thing. My role is unique to Elizabeth… a parish that is changing dramatically as we have a strong African population now, but it still remains a place where everyone is accepted.”

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