Clara and Paul Tam await Paul's ordination to the diaconate on July 9.


Clara and Paul Tam await Paul's ordination to the diaconate on July 9.

June 27, 2016

Delay does not mean denial for Paul Tam in his journey to become a deacon.

Tam, 55, had felt a call when he saw an advertisement to become a deacon.

The ad perked his interest and he called Ron Woytiuk, Edmonton archdiocese's diaconate director at that time. Tam answered Woytiuk's questions and sent him the completed application forms.

"But the formation team deferred my application," said Tam. He makes that statement without any rancor or anger.

When asked if he was upset by this temporary rejection, Tam said no, that was the formation team's decision, and he accepted it.

Fast forward to 2012 and Tam received a letter from the archdiocese asking if he was still interested in becoming a deacon and if he was, here was the process.

Paul turned to spiritual director Margot Bilodeau for guidance and to decide what documents were still needed for him to proceed on the road to the diaconate.

Being a deacon impacts the life of the man's family.

When asked if she agreed with her husband's choice, Clara, a cradle Catholic, stated firmly, "Who am I to say 'no' to God?

"I have my own interests and life. I am an independent kind of person. I am OK."

Paul is the manager of security and compliance for Alberta Energy.

As a child, he took primary and secondary schooling in Catholic institutions in Hong Kong. "They were prestige schools at that time," he said.

While Paul never felt the pull to the priesthood, others suggested it might be his calling.

He extols the spiritual gifts missionary priests from Italy and France gave him while he lived in Hong Kong. They helped bring him to the door of God. "They helped me quite a bit."

Clara underlined the visiting priests' commitment to evangelization in Hong Kong by explaining their knowledge of the Chinese language was amazing given the Asian language's complex writing system.


When he came to Canada, Paul studied at NAIT and Concordia University. Clara is an advertising designer. They met at school in Hong Kong and have been married 26 years.

Paul, with a playful grin, explains their attraction. "She is left brain; I am right brain."

The pleasant couple say they hope their journey opens the door to other Chinese couples to consider taking the same path they are on now.

Once Paul is ordained a deacon July 9 he anticipates he will be serving in Mary Help of Christians, Edmonton's Chinese parish.

Paul also looks forward to helping the "poor, the marginalized, the sick."