The World Youth Day celebrations (August 1-6, 2023) are concluding today. More than 28,600 young adults from 1,300 U.S. groups travelled to Lisbon, Portugal, to participate in this global event for young people that takes place about every three years, offering a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ through liturgical celebrations, networking, faith sharing, catechetical sessions, and prayer with the Holy Father. We are happy that our parishioners Emily Chavez, Mary-Frances Chavez and Jasmine DeLeon are there attending this spectacular event. I hope you have been watching some of the exciting and inspiring WYD programs.
“Mary arose and went with haste” (Luke 1:39) is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the World Youth Day. This quote from the Gospel of St. Luke opens the account of the Visitation (Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth), a biblical episode following the Annunciation (the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God). During their conversation of the Annunciation, the angel also tells Mary that her older cousin, thought to be sterile, is pregnant. It is then that Mary sets out for Ain Karim, a village near Jerusalem, where Elizabeth lived and was awaiting the birth of John, who would become St John the Baptist.
This week we keep the feast of St. Lawrence (August 10th ). The esteem in which the Church holds Lawrence is seen in the fact that his memorial day ranks as a feast. He is one of those whose martyrdom made a deep and lasting impression on the early Church. Celebration of his feast day spread rapidly. He was a Roman deacon under Pope Saint Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Deacon Lawrence and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian. The church built over his tomb became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a favorite place for Roman pilgrimages.
The feast of Deacon Lawrence naturally reminds us of our own wonderful deacons – John Radvanski, Russ Demkovitz and Ron Caimi – who have been ministering us for years.
The word deacon derives from the Greek diakonia, meaning “service,” thereby indicating that a deacon is called like Christ to be a servant. The Church teaching clearly states that the Order of Deacon has three essential functions: the proclamation of the Gospel, the service of the liturgy, and the administration of charitable works. Deacons may baptize, witness the exchange of vows and bless marriages, distribute Holy Communion, impart benediction with the Blessed Sacrament, bring Viaticum to the dying, read Sacred Scripture to the faithful and especially proclaim the Gospel, preach, officiate at funerals and burials, and administer the sacramentals. Besides, they should dedicate themselves to other charitable works, particularly within the parish community. (Confer the Catechism, No. 1569-70, and the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No 29).
This feast is a wonderful opportunity for our community to thank our beloved deacons for their selfless ministry to us all. Their life should be an inspiration for the men of our parish to consider taking their place as deacons. I invite our men to pray about it and speak with one of our deacons.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal