By Kaelanne Jordan
As the Archdiocese of Port of Spain celebrated the ordination of 15 candidates to the permanent diaconate Saturday, January 22, Archbishop Jason Gordon thanked his predecessor Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris CSSp for the courage and foresight in calling forth new deacons to the Archdiocese and “doing what’s necessary to put the programme in place”.
“He sowed the seed; I get to reap,” the Archbishop said to applause from the congregation at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain.
In his homily, Archbishop Gordon reminded the deacons that the call to pastoral ministry is a call to martyrdom—it’s a call to give one’s life in ways never imagined before.
“To be a deacon is to be called to serve. And these are not nice, esoteric words we say and go and live a different reality,” he told the deacons.
Archbishop Gordon commented that in the New Testament, the order of the deacons precedes the order of the presbyterate. The presbyterate, he said, comes for another prudential reason.
“But the deacons are called forward for the work of charity and to be around the table. Their primary call is for the work of charity, to ensure those in need in the community are receiving what they need, but they also sit at the table of God ensuring people receive what they need.”
The Archbishop explained that the day’s readings, the First Reading (Numbers 3:5–9) and Second Reading (Acts 6:1–7) “traced the history of pastoral life and care from Adam straight to us”.
The first reading, he remarked, though short, is a “mighty and powerful” text that tells the story of the Levites being set aside to minister with Aaron and to guard and nurture the people of God.
“And the mark Jesus puts on pastoral care is a very significant mark. The ministry is not to laud it over others. That’s how the leaders of this world exercise power. Anyone who wants to be first must be last and be servant of all,” the Archbishop said.
This understanding, Archbishop Gordon continued, harkens back to Genesis 2:15 where Adam is put over the garden to till and to keep it.
“And that’s the Adamic task, the task of the first man who was the first priest—to nurture and to guard. To nurture by sowing the seed of God’s Word in the heart of the people of God, to nurture by pointing to conscience and reminding people of who this God is, to nurture by instilling the sense of the covenant within the people so the people remember that they are a people of a covenant, and that covenant has bond them and God close together in one bond that cannot be broken….”
He prayed that persons would remind the deacons of this “from now until the day you die”.
Archbishop Gordon reminded the deacons that they are now being called to minister in a synodal Church, a Church that listens, and in that listening, brings God’s love to all.
“By our listening, we also guard because as we listen, we might hear things people are saying that we might not have seen, and ways we have been arrogant that we have not seen….”
Among the 15 permanent deacons, three unwed/widowed deacons took a vow of celibacy: Justice of Appeal Malcolm Holdip, Curtis Cazeau and Donald Parris.