A Shepherd's Message - Jan. 26, 2021

January 26, 2021

January is a month of important celebrations for us in the Archdiocese.

There is Epiphany, a day of many family celebrations and ethnic custom, the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord a week later when we bring many adults to confirmation — some 220 persons this year — and the observance of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a special observance at the Co-Cathedral on Jan. 17 even in this year of pandemic, where in person and virtual participation guaranteed a beautiful celebration.

By the time you read this, we will have marked the Jan. 22 infamous Supreme Court Decision Roe v Wade, legalizing abortion; we celebrate a special Mass for Life and pray for all the unborn and all those voiceless who so need our intercession.

I want to call attention in this column to another event that will happen later this month, the ordination of new permanent deacons for the Archdiocese. They have studied, prayed, engaged in pastoral work, and grown in their vision of service to this local Church. After six years of preparation, each of the 23 candidates has presented himself to me, and I have interviewed them all as well as each man’s wife. I found them to be humble, ready, anxious to serve, prayerful, studious and good conversationalists. I must really thank those who have formed them in these years, teachers and mentors, and especially Deacons Phillip Jackson, George Silva and Dominic Romaguera, who lead the Permanent Deacon Program for the Archdiocese.

I also want to thank the wives and families of the new deacons who have accompanied them, and in the case of the wives, have also been engaged in preparation work along with their husbands; they have been very generous with their time!

Of the threefold Office of Holy Orders, the diaconate is the first.

Priesthood is the second level of Holy Orders and the Office of Bishop is the highest grade in this Sacrament.

Deacons are ordained for service, for charity, for the Liturgy of the Word and preaching, and for willingness to go where the bishop sends them though most of them are sent to their home parishes, at least initially, which gave them the first impulse and the ongoing help as they prepared for the diaconate.

I would ask all our clergy, deacons and faithful to pray for and support these new men of service, “icons of charity” as they are sometimes called. One thing in particular I would ask all to pray for is that the treasury of God’s Word in the Sacred Scriptures, especially in the four Gospels, will be opened up to them that they will be first immersed in the unfathomable riches of Jesus’ words and then receive an overflowing river of peace and boldness to proclaim Jesus’ words in their teaching and preaching.

Our permanent deacons devote time to preparing couples for marriage, announcing the Good News to catechumens and candidates in RCIA sessions, leading small retreats or Days of Recollection and teaching by outreach in being conduits of charity, almsgiving and social justice. May they excel in every spiritual gift of instruction and encouragement.

I also pray that these new deacons will collaborate with their pastors, other deacons and other ministries. The deacon is known for being available in mercy at all times.

God richly bless all our new deacons and their families and ministries!