Seeing Red

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In my short tenure as Director, I have noticed that an overwhelming characteristic of the Deacons in the Archdiocese is the reluctance to publicize or broadcast accomplishments in our ministry.  I believe these traits to be characteristic of the Deacon’s call to the humble service of the Archbishop. 

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In my short tenure as Director, I have noticed that an overwhelming characteristic of the Deacons in the Archdiocese is the reluctance to publicize or broadcast accomplishments in our ministry.  I believe these traits to be characteristic of the Deacon’s call to the humble service of the Archbishop.

 

Picture_002By Deacon Joseph Donohoe (deaconden.org)
However, as men who emulate this call to service, I think it is also important that we have an understanding of our obligation to “witness” to others the good work that we do.  This “witness” of our ministry should be done, not with pride, but with humility. That is why we wear the Cross with the red martyr’s (witness) stole.

A case in point was at the recent funeral of Deacon Bill Lee.  It was at the funeral that I heard all of the wonderful stories of the Deacon’s ministry.  These ‘stories’ enabled others to recognize the connection this man had to his vocation.  He loved being a deacon and it was reflected in his life.  Deacon Lee was active in liturgy and word at St. John the Baptist parish.  But during his ministry, little was heard concerning the hard work of the servant of Christ.  Very few of us knew that Deacon Bill was admired by the police and emergency service personnel of Longmont because of his work as a Chaplain. We also knew little of the work he did with the patients and staff at the local hospital.

 The same day Deacon Bill passed away, Deacon Jerome Kulinski was relieved of his suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Upon ordination, his parish of origin decided not to have a Deacon operating as clergy in their congregation.  As such, the Archdiocese assigned Deacon Jerry to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.  With a servant’s heart, Deacon Kulinski embraced this humble challenge.  He attended night school and learned to speak Spanish fluently.  While many other deacons were moving around to fulfill different obligations, Deacon Jerry remained at Our Lady of Guadalupe for 30 years, as this was the place where he was most needed. 

 Undoubtedly, these stories are tremendous in themselves.   Imagine the stories, that these deacon probably felt were ordinary, that haven’t been told!  In raw form, there is no doubt that many people can be inspired by the accounts of these two humble deacons.  If one could only fathom the impact of the many diaconal experiences we have been a “witness to” as a result of 186 Deacons! 

 Some of you may have noticed that I am particular about the red stole on the Deacon Cross that symbolizes the office of Deacon.  It is because we are not just servants; but, we are witnesses (martyrs) of service and of the Catholic faith.  Whenever we perform our ministry, whether in the fields of the migrant workers, in the homeless shelters or hospitals, or in parishes, we always give witness to our vocation with the red stole of the Deacon Cross. 

 How important is it to be a witness and tell our stories?  Imagine those that hear of the diaconal experiences or see us conducting our ministry in the wider range of the Archdiocese?  Think about the positive impressions that reflect the Church in our service as an “Icon” of Jesus Christ?  When you wear your clerics and the Cross with the red stole, look at yourself, as in a mirror and see what others “witness”?  What they should see, when they see the red stole is a reflection of Jesus Christ the Servant.  This witness is the kindling that ignites a fire of love for Christ in others.

 I recognize that pride can tarnish the armor plating of a Deacon. If you read into this message that way, I would suggest you take your stories to prayer.  In truth, I hope this message resonates as being able to accomplish all things in Christ and as ministers of the Archbishop’s diakonia.  So, don’t be afraid to let others “See Red” when you witness to them.  By telling your stories others will see you not just as an ordained minister of the Catholic Faith but as a living martyr for Christ.  Go boldly, in your proclamation of the Gospel; but, do so with the understanding that you walk in the footprints of the Holy Spirit who provides the words you need to be “Heralds of the Gospel”.

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