The diocese of Bridgetown held its first ordination of permanent deacons in over two decades on Saturday, September 2. There was loud applause for the new deacons, George Waithe and Stephen Foster, who were ordained by Bishop Jason Gordon of Bridgetown during the special liturgy at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Bridgetown. Vicar General Msgr Vincent Blackett and senior priest Fr Clement Paul were among the concelebrating clergy.
In his homily, Bishop Gordon made it clear that being a deacon was not a road to popularity or glamour. “Being a deacon is not the royal road to fame; it is the royal road to humility. It is the royal road to service. It is the royal road to the cross.”
“As we thank God for our two new clerics, please include them in your regular prayer that God will bless them as they live their diaconate each day. Glory to God in the highest! Glory to God for our deacons!”
The ordination of Waithe and Foster is the result of a strong effort by Bishop Gordon over the past five years to motivate men in the diocese to listen to God’s call to them for a life of vocation. The Bishop’s efforts resulted in the setting up of a diaconate programme that attracted five men into a process of discernment, studying the scriptures and the Catholic faith. The diaconate programme will soon have more ordinations as two more men will take vows in the not-too-distant future.
Before the final blessing, the new deacons addressed the congregation. Rev Waithe said “God called me to be part of his vineyard to serve His people. Four years ago I was approached by Fr Clement Paul and asked to join the diaconate programme. I prayed long and earnestly about it and consulted my wife who wisely pointed out that this was a call from God.
“I finally decided to answer God’s call and throughout the next four years embarked upon a journey that was extremely challenging but with the support of Bishop Jason, clergy and of course my loving and ever-supportive wife, I persevered and today I stand here before God and you my brothers and sisters ready to serve.”
Rev Foster remarked “The diaconate course has allowed the scriptures to come alive for me, through which I have been able to understand God’s plan of salvation for His creation and specific relation to His plan through His Son Jesus Christ and my response to this. I have come to the realisation that although I have faith, without knowledge and understanding, I have been simply short changing myself and settling for less. Faith without involvement and service is one sided and did not allow me to grow and mature into who and what God has created me to be. It is through service that the scriptures have come alive and the Word has become flesh. It becomes my personal encounter with living God.”
He was also very thankful to persons who helped him along his diaconate journey. He said, “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Jason Gordon for considering me for this diaconate programme and to my parish priests, Fr Andy Nyga and Fr Gregory for their continuous support. To my Coffee Club members, thanks for your love, support and encouragement. The rest of clergy and parishioners who have supported me not only in affirmation and prayers but financially as well as the programme has not been cheap, my sincere thanks and appreciation. To my brothers in the programme, I am indeed honoured to have spent these four years with you, and your love and support has been deeply appreciated. To all my family and friends thanks for your prayers.”