Rector's Message on Diaconate Day
On 13th August 2017, the St. Pius Community rejoiced because four young men have been ordained Deacons, in view of their priestly ordination later in April 2018. They have been following their programme of formation at St. Pius X College for seven long years, deepening their experience of being called by the Lord. Finally, they take another leap of faith on the road to discovering what it means to Follow Him.
Front (L-R) : Dn. Michael Rexon (Simla-Chandigarh), Dn. Savio Lobo (Bom), Dn. Joseph Valliampokayil (Bom), Dn. Joel Fernandes (Bom)
Back (L-R) : Fr. Stephen Fernandes, Bp. John Rodrigues, Fr. Aniceto Pereira
Their Diaconate brings a sense of joy and fulfilment to themselves, their parents, their formators and indeed to the whole church. As I spoke with them before the service, I could experience the deep sense of solemnity which was overshadowing them. They knew deeply and intimately that God has truly called them. Yet there was that nervousness in saying ‘Yes’ to God who often calls us to unseen things. As Dn. Savio Lobo relates, "I have a lot of mixed feelings. I am excited as well as feeling a little bit nervous, because I have realised that after receiving my diaconate there will be lot of responsibilities to take up. But God is also there. So I’m excited, nervous and a whole lot of other feelings I can’t express!”
The Order of Diaconate is an important leap towards the Priesthood since seminarians now move from the lay to the clerical state. They put off their training boots and take on ministerial ones. This leap involves four important aspects, symbolized in the four symbols of the Cross, the Book of the Gospels, the Divine Office and the Dalmatic. Each of these underscore important ministries that the deacons are called to engage in.
Dn. Joseph Valliampokayil expressed this succinctly when he said, “Out of the four symbols, I would focus on the Cross. For me, during the time of my weakness, struggles and hindrances, I look up to the Cross and draw my strength from it. The Cross is a saving grace; though we have scapulars and rosaries, the Cross is a sign that God is walking with us.” Dn. Joel Fernandes chose the Divine Office saying, “The symbol close to my heart is the Divine Office, the Prayer of the Church. The average person gets up every morning, gets ready and goes to work; but our daily work is to get up every morning and pray. Pray not for ourselves but first for the people.” Dn. Savio Lobo says, “The Book of the Gospels has two purposes, teaching and preaching. It helps me read, reflect and share my reflections with people, those who are going through so much in their lives.”
The Order of Diaconate is also a time when they sign three Declarations, these are The Profession of Faith, the Oath of Fidelity and the Promise of Celibacy. In a world where the ‘I’ has become so important, to the world what these young men are doing may seem foolish or even untenable. Yet what enables them to offer their freedom and sexuality is grace and faith. They have faith that God will mould their will into His own, and they hope that His grace will channelize their sexuality for the building of the Kingdom of God.
As I also spoke with their parents I was amazed at their faith too. As one of them so beautifully put it, “We were scared and apprehensive when our son joined the seminary; but seeing him walk the aisle towards God we now feel no fear; just wonder and gratitude at the work of the Lord. It seems like we are up there getting ordained with him.”
We pray for the newly ordained deacons and their families that they may have fruitful Diaconate ministry and be ready for the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Fr. Aniceto Pereira