How perfectly appropriate and timely!
Today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles details the very start of deacons in our Church. St. Stephen, who would be the first Christian martyr, is commissioned along with six others to serve community members who are on the margins.
Deacons are ordained ministers of the Church who are to reflect “Christ the servant” in our community.
The word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonia which literally translates to servant.
I am honored to be a servant to this community. I am so grateful for being able to stand before you to share the Gospel, help with efforts to live our Catholic Social Teaching by works of charity and justice in our community, especially to those on the margins, and to minister to the people of God right here in Everett.
I talked about the book and movie “Heaven Is For Real” in my last homily a few weeks back. There was a line spoken by Pastor Todd in the movie that really resonated with me. He talked about being called by God to serve people in their darkest hours of life so they would know they are not alone. That really hit home.
Hospice ministry has been, perhaps, the greatest gift of all for me. It is hallowed ground to walk with people in their final moments of life and remind them of the promise Jesus makes in today’s Gospel:
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you?”
These words give much peace and comfort to those about to make the journey home.
Being a deacon is a blessing I do not deserve. But it is one I will humbly labor at for the rest of my life.
But none of this would be possible without the Annual Catholic Appeal. This yearly Archdiocesan fundraiser pays to form deacons in our Church.
It paid for nearly five years of formation for our class, picking up the tab for two dozen college professors from top universities in our region to come and teach our classes.
Just so you know the return on investment, the Archdiocese got its money’s worth because those educators assigned and graded 130 written papers in 58 class topics, 248 total classes and 372 hours of class time.
In all, we put in well over two-thousand hours of study and work on our assignments to become deacons (In other words, it was a lot of work!). A far cry from how deacons were formed two thousand years ago.
The Annual Catholic Appeal paid for 46 weekend stays at Palisades, that’s 92 nights and 276 meals. It paid for everything.
In my class, 35 of us started the journey together -- 22 were ordained and are serving the Archdiocese, from Long Beach on the southern Washington coast, to Arlington, and all spots in between.
Needless to say, we were formed right. But at a high cost financially to the Archdiocese.
For this marvelous journey, I want to say thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you who gives and gives generously to the Annual Catholic Appeal.