The other day driving in to Santa Rosa with Padre German, he asked me how I was being a deacon.
My first response was that in many ways I’m not doing a lot more than I did before my ordination. I’m preparing catechists, working with youth groups, visiting communities, assisting at Mass with Padre German several times a week, consulting with people about preparing upcoming feasts. I am preaching occasionally and baptizing.
But most of all I feel graced to be able to serve the people in varied ways.
Yesterday I went to Santa Rosa on a few errands. On the way a young guy in Candelaria hitched a ride to Dulce Nombre. (My policy is not to give rides when the busses are running but I knew there were no busses at that a hour and the kid was familiar.) He told me that his grandmother had died and he was going to Dulce Nombre to see about a few things. We talked a bit. When I was driving back I noticed people around a house on the road in Candelaria and stopped to offer my condolences.
This morning I stopped in Dulce Nombre to see what was going on in the parish and to see how I could help Padre German. He had four Masses today, the first of which was the funeral in Candelaria. I accompanied him.
As he was preparing for Mass, he asked me to preach. I was hardly ready – but the Spirit inspired me (and I preached less than ten minutes). After Mass he had to see some sick persons and so I went to the cemetery and led prayers at the graveside. Sadly I didn’t have the ritual book and couldn’t pray my favorite prayer for those who had died – the “In Paradisum.”
"May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest."
Comforting those who are mourning and burying the dead are not easy, but I find these an important part of my ministry as a deacon.
I also find myself spending a bit more time just being with people – especially those who are on the margins of the church.
I have often noticed how young men will come to the church but will congregate around the church door. I often go and speak with them and jokingly call them the church’s bodyguards!
But in Plan Grande I have tried a different tactic. The municipality is putting in a sewer line and will be paving the road from the church up to the top of the hill. Males in town, especially adolescents, are working on this project.
I showed up the first day and did some work with the pick axe. Needless to say, I am not in shape and couldn’t do more than a few hours in the morning. It didn’t help that it was very hot and sunny. I didn’t work in the afternoon since I had to go get a homeless man living here in Plan Grande from the hospital in Santa Rosa. (He has no home but is well-cared for by the people here. )
But what I have been doing, when I’m in Plan Grande, is bringing the workers one or two three-liter bottles of pop (soda, for you non-Iowa folks).
Another way of serving – and trying to reach out to a group that is not always present in the church.
What else have I been doing? Proclaiming the Gospel at Masses and occasionally preaching, visiting the sick, connecting with various activities in the parish and in the diocese.
Last Saturday, I went with Padre German for the Mass in the Santa Rosa cathedral which was part of the novena before the canonization of Mother Teresa. Last Sunday, I participated in the special Mass in San Agustín on their feast day. Tomorrow I will go to Amigos de Jesús, a center for children about two hours from here, for the Mass of installation as lector and acolyte of a young man preparing for the priesthood who will be serving them. Next Sunday, there will be a special Mass in honor of the canonization of Mother Teresa. I’ll be there to proclaim he Gospel.
Next week is the Pastoral Study week for the clergy which I’ll attend. I’ll stay in Dulce Nombre each night (since I need to leave my car at the mechanic’s for three days to get the valves fixed.) And then, on Monday, September 12, we’ll celebrate the feast of the parish.
Such is my life as a deacon now. What it will be later, we’ll see.
But I continue to pray that God may use me to serve the People of God and give me the joy and courage I need.