The tradition of service and mission continues...

On Saturday I was blessed to witness the continuation of Pentecost in our own time. Seventeen men for the Oakland Diocese were ordained permanent deacons. Four of the them worked with us at Maryknoll during their formation as part of their charity and justice internships. Two of them, Deacon Herb Casey and Deacon Clement Chen, will be assigned to ongoing ministry with Maryknoll.

These men stand in an unbroken chain going back almost 2,000 years ago when the young Christian community took a radical step of laying hands on seven men to respond to a systematic injustice in the community. (Acts 6) Minorities in the community, Greek speaking widows, were getting the short end of the stick in the distribution of the community goods. These men were commissioned to be visible signs and reminders that we are all called to service and mission. One of these early deacons, Philip became one of the first Christian missionaries reaching out to the Samaritans and then the Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8)

Both Herb and his wife Peggy, and Clem and his wife Gladys, are Maryknoll Affiliates. Herb will work with us as a mission promoter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He will give presentations on mission to school and parish groups and preach at mission appeals. Clem and Gladys will spend up to three months a year in short term mission in Southeast Asia working with Maryknoll missioners. During the rest of the year Clem will also give presentations and promote mission in Northern California and his home country of Singapore.

I've accompanied Herb, Peggy, Clem and Gladys through most of their formation and I must admit I'm hardly objective in thinking what an incredible gift they are to the Church and the people whose lives they will touch. But as I witnessed their ordination on Saturday, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of the Spirit on them and their classmates and felt not only a connection dating back to that early Christian community, but a profound sense of hope that the mission will continue through these new deacons and their wives.