At the end of the Mass, today, July 15, in Cucuyagua, Copán, Honduras, in which a young man was ordained a priest and I was ordained a permanent deacon for the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, I shared these words (in Spanish).
Sisters and Brothers, I want to greet you with the greeting of St. Francis: Paz y Bien – Peace and Good.
Today is a special day in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan. Monseñor Darwin Andino has ordained me as the first permanent deacon in the diocese as we celebrate the hundredth year of the diocese in this jubilee year of mercy.
To be a deacon is not an honor, nor a privilege, nor a prize, nor a matter of prestige or power.
To be a deacon is to be called to live, in a profound way, the call which we all received in our baptism: to be incorporated into Christ – prophet, priest, and servant king. In a special way, it is a call to wash the feet of others and to hand over my life with Jesus, even to the Cross.
Pope Paul VI said that the deacon is an animator – a driving force – of all the faithful for service. As a sign of Christ the Servant, the permanent deacon, ought to join the altar, the table of the Lord with the table of daily life, especially the table of the poor and marginalized.
The deacon assists at the altar in the Eucharist; thus I am called to give thanks, for the word “Eucharist” means “give thanks.’
First I want to give thanks to God for calling me, with all my weaknesses, to serve Him and the People of God in a new way.
I also wish to thank Monseñor Darwin Andino, our bishop and Father German Navarro, my pastor, who invited me to discern if God was calling me to the permanent diaconate. Despite not being worthy, God has called me.
I also wish to thank Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, our retired bishop, who accepted my offer to help in the diocese and helped me when I arrived in June 2007. I also thank Father Efraín Romero for inviting me to work in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
I thank God for all those who have inspired me to serve God and His People, especially the poor. My parents were examples of love of the neighbor and of those in need. Several teachers have sown seeds of diakonia – service – in me, from my days in high school. When I worked, almost 24 years, in the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames in the US, I worked with many parishioners, especially university students, who inspired me with their lives of dedication to the poor. In addition, a couple who served in Bolivia and El Salvador have helped me by their example and counsel.
In El Salvador and here in Honduras I have also encountered many people of faith who live a life of service. I dare not fail to thank them.
I wish to thank in a special way two communities of Franciscan sisters in the diocese who have inspired me and are my family – the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, especially Sor Ines and Sor María Jesús, and the Franicscan Sisters of the Holy Family (the Dubuque Franciscans), especially Sisters Nancy Meyerhofer, Brenda Whetstone, Pat Farrell, as well as Sisters Erika, Carol, and Mary Beth. Their dedication to the poor give me strength to go forward.
There are many more people I ought to thank. Pardon me for not mentioning you.
For all this, I am very grateful.
But we cannot live our baptismal commitments and I cannot live my diaconal promises without the help of God and the help of the Church.
Therefore, I ask you – pray for me.