Women in Ministries of Lector and Acolyte: Some Background

Pope Francis has responded affirmatively to the recommendations made through the Synod of Bishops that women be admitted to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. In an Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio titled “Spiritus Domini” [The Spirit of the Lord], published yesterday, 10 January 2021, the pope modified the Code of Canon Law (c. 230.1). Now, all qualified persons may be admitted to those ministries. To put this decision into perspective, several points need to be understood.

  1. Prior to 1972, ministries were seen as the province of the ordained, and “the ordained” in the Latin Church consisted of seven ranks of ordained ministers. This was known as the cursus honorum, the “course of honors” by which a man “rose through the ranks” to the Order of Presbyters. A man became a cleric through a rite known as “first tonsure.” This liturgical rite was not itself an ordination, but it opened the door to subsequent ordinations; it made a man capax — capable — of receiving ordination. The orders themselves were divided into four minor orders and three major orders. The minor orders were porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte; the major orders were subdeacon, deacon, and presbyter [priest]. This system was in place for many centuries. It is important to recognize that the minor and major orders were, in fact, ordinations.
  2. In 1972, St. Pope Paul VI responded to the recommendations of the bishops of Vatican II (1962-1965) that the sacrament of Holy Orders be streamlined to better meet the needs of the Church. The fact is, the various orders, except for the priesthood, had become little more than liturgical rituals celebrated in the seminaries before a man was eventually ordained a priest. No parish, for example, had the ordained ministry of a porter! Pope Paul, after considerable consultation with the world’s bishops, issued motu proprio the document Ministeria quaedam in 1972. This was tied with an additional document, Ad pascendum, which addressed some aspects of the newly-renewed order of deacons, which Paul implemented in 1967. Ministeria quaedam did a number of things.
  • Tonsure and Subdeacon were suppressed. A man now became a cleric upon ordination as Deacon.
  • The minor orders were also eliminated. At the same time, Pope Paul recognized the practical need for lectors and acolytes in parish life. However, rather than continuing as ordained ministries, he established these two ministries as rightfully lay ministries. So, they were no longer to be conferred through ordination but through installation by the bishop as lay ministries. It is significant to note that that these two installed ministries were open to men alone. This is what Pope Francis has now addressed.
  • Pope Paul further required that those in formation for ordination (to the diaconate and to the presbyterate) were to be installed in the ministries (not ordained) prior to ordination as Deacons. This was practical: these lay ministries offer valuable ministerial experience, and that is why the pope established this norm.

There are several things we need to keep in mind about the action taken by Pope Francis.

First, being installed a lector or acolyte is much more than just “reading at Mass” or “being an altar server.” We already have men and women who do that on a regular basis in our parishes. Being installed by the bishop into these ministries carries additional responsibilities, as outlined in Pope Paul’s Ministeria quaedam. Installed lectors and acolytes are diocesan ministers; one is not installed simply to serve in one parish.

Second, there is an expectation of leadership by these installed ministers. They are to assist in training other ministers of the Word and the Altar. They are to be knowledgeable of all aspects of their ministries and of the sacramental life of the Church. In fact, Pope Paul wrote that the responsibilities formerly assigned to Subdeacons could be assigned to these installed Lectors and Acolytes. [Ed. note: My fingers got away from me in the original post and said that the functions of the Subdeacon could NOT be assigned to installed Lectors and Acolytes; sorry for any confusion.]

Third, why have these lay ministries been experienced largely as liturgical steps required only for those on the road to ordination? The answers are complex, but many bishops did not see an immediate need to install lectors and acolytes formally because pastoral needs were being largely met by the ad hoc lectors and altar servers already serving in most parishes, and which involved both men and women. Many bishops were also reluctant to install lectors and acolytes formally because they could not admit women as well as men. Now, they can.

This is a good move, and one that should be applauded, not feared. It is consistent with what Pope Paul VI began, at the request of the world’s bishops, back in 1972.

A Servant’s Heart

Today, my daughter sent me a link to a video from an unlikely source: Arnold Schwarzenegger. She said the thing that struck her immediately was the Governor’s use of the phrase, “a servant’s heart.” I think she is absolutely right. I am passing along his video, not as a political act, or to condemn or criticize anyone. But as a career Naval officer, I watched with horror and growing anger the events of last Wednesday — the feast of the Epiphany of all days! — as our US Capitol was attacked and sacked. Like all military officers, I swore an oath that never expires, to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” And here was the secular temple of that Constitution being ransacked, with innocent staffers, visitors, members of Congress and even the sitting Vice President, assaulted and terrorized for several hours by fellow Americans. How can begin to move forward — together — as Americans?

As we all consider our next steps, the Epiphany reminds us that, whatever our perceived grievances, THIS is not the way to address them. This is not how a People, under God, treat each other. For Christians especially, who believe that God took on human nature in Christ out of love for us, what we saw was the antithesis of God’s will for humanity. At a Catholic Mass, the deacon adds a little water into the wine which will be consecrated and offered to God, and says, “Through the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” What happened on Wednesday was the farthest thing from sharing “in the divinity of Christ.”

Instead we need to heed the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. . . .” (Philippians 2:3-5). Imagine if each and every one of us took these verses to heart and acted on them! Not in conceit and pride, but putting the interests of others ahead of our own. These are not only religious truths: they apply to many forms of servant-leadership. In my years of Navy service I served with many such women and men. As a deacon I continue to serve with many such women and men, who constantly put themselves and their own needs last. That is the heart of the servant, the heart “that was in Christ Jesus,” the heart that should be in each of us.

The Governor is correct: what is needed now is a servant’s heart. Think what you will of the rest of the video. Don’t fixate on the cheesiness of using Conan’s sword as a prop. Rather, listen to his insight about a servant’s heart. On that, he is right on point.

Advent, Deacons, and the Humility of God

Advent begins in less than a month. The Deacon magazine is preparing for this holy season. Here is my contribution.

The themes of Advent come to us every year and find us in a different place. Just think back to last year’s Advent when most of us had never heard of COVID-19. This year, Advent and its themes resound in new ways. Not only is the world different this year, we ourselves are different. This fact is true every year, of course, but for most of us never in such a dramatic way.

Advent focuses our attention on the humility of God. We don’t often think of God as humble, but consider it closely. Think of what our God has done. We sing during Advent “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” Our God is not only with us, our God has emptied himself into our human nature.

St. Paul reminds us to imitate Christ and to “do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:3-8).

Humility (from the Latin humus, “earth”) means being “grounded,” knowing who we are, with no illusions of grandeur at one end or a false, groveling humility at the other. Humility means being in relationship with “the other”; as St. Paul said to the Philippians, we are to see others as more important than ourselves and tend to others’ needs before our own. This, too, is a participation in the humility of God. God is always about pouring forth: God brings life; sustains and provides; heals, restores, and saves — all so we can share that life with God forever. The Son of God tells us often that he came not to be served but to serve: again, this reflects the humility of God.

What does that mean to us deacons during this year’s Advent? First, the Son of God teaches us that humility means not clinging to things, things that might even be ours by right. Therefore, for us who are baptized into the life of the Trinity and ordained into the servanthood of Christ, we must be similarly kenotic: no honor, glory, reputation, status.

But why did Christ pour himself out like that? To what end? And why should we?

Christ emptied himself so as to use that humanness to connect with us, to have human hands to touch us and heal us, human eyes to see us, even a human heart to burn with love for us. He uses that emptiness to elevate us, to fill us with his own mercy and compassion. He shows us how we, even in our own human weakness, can lift up others and bless them. Those who have strength give that strength to those who are weak. Those who have resources can raise others out of poverty. In short, whatever skills, strengths and gifts we may have, through the grace of God, are to be used for the good of others. Gifts received are gifts to be re-gifted to others.

The first week of Advent calls us to be on watch, to be alert to the actions of God. We watch for God’s presence in our lives and in the lives of our people. Our God is coming to us and does so not with trumpet blasts and military parades welcoming the conquering hero; we must be alert to God’s coming in a manger, in the powerless form of an infant. Around us are people who are themselves struggling due to depression, illness or loneliness. What can we pour out for them?

The second week of Advent calls us to prepare the way of the Lord, and the first reading from Isaiah begins, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Only when this is done do we “make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” by filling in the valleys and bringing low the mountains. We are to give away, to pour out comfort to our sisters and brothers. The approaching holy days were challenging to many people even before the current pandemic and other crises that we face today. What will best give comfort to God’s people? What do we “have” that can be given for the comfort of others?

The third week of Advent focuses on John the Baptizer. Everything John did, even before his birth, pointed the way to Christ. His life and ministry was all about the One who would come after him. What a sublime act of humility: to constantly point away from oneself to highlight the Word of God! We are to do no less. John humbly surrendered his own ambition, family, even his very life to make sure Christ was proclaimed to the people.

Finally, the fourth week of Advent offers us the chance to encounter the humble young woman of Nazareth, Mary, as she receives the news about God’s plan. The great mystery of the Annunciation is that she could have said no! Salvation history hinged on that wonderful, humble fiat. Mary holds nothing back and pours everything she is into accepting that divine Will. Through her humility, the humble Christ comes to us.

Throughout Advent 2020, may we consider the humility of God. The disciple of Christ seeks to follow the Lord’s path, and this demands no less a kenosis on our part as deacons. In his reflections on Advent, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in “God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” (Westminster John Knox Press, $16): “Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness. … In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you.”

What would our Church look like if every member, from the newest neophyte to the pope, from bishop to novice, from cardinal to deacon, from curial prefect to parish staff volunteer, laid down “all power, honor, reputation, vanity, arrogance, individualism”? What if each and every member of the Church lived out St. Paul’s admonition to live “in humility, treating others as better than yourself”?

Have a Blessed and Humble Advent

Pope Francis and His Critics: Pastoral Perspectives

No one could have predicted the crises we face today, and they are slamming us all at once. Even before the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were challenged by the erosion of credibility of all institutions, including churches. Our national politics were continuing their toxic descent into entrenched partisan screeching, and no one has been left unaffected. Add the pandemic to the mix and we have entered a whole new reality, affecting each and every one of us. Just when we need to come together to help each other through all of this, safety demands we be kept apart.

All of this has had profound effects on how we are called to be “Church” today: how we gather (or not), how we pray (no singing), and how we continue our mission of spreading the Good News.

Threatening to pull us even further apart, critics of Pope Francis have been doubling down on their accusations against him and his leadership of the church. These critics are adding even more confusion, anger and uncertainty to an already chaotic time. I recently contributed three reflections to Where Peter Is. Here are the links:

Part One is The Spirit of Vatican II: Out into the Deep” was published on Wednesday, August 19.

Part Two, “Reacting to Archbishop Viganò: A Pastoral Reflection,” was published Friday, August 21.

Part Three, The Matter of Words,” was published Monday, August 24.

“Do As I Have Done”: The Eucharist Has Consequences

A Holy Thursday Homily During a Time of Pandemic

Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, Pope Francis said, “God saved us by serving us.” He recounted all the times in the liturgies of Holy Week that we hear of the Christ who serves: for example, Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant”(Phil 2:7); the servant who washes the feet of his disciples; the suffering and victorious servant on Good Friday, and Psalm 42:1, where God says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold.” God saved us by serving us. The Pope continued that while “we often think that we are the ones who serve God” it is God who freely chose to serve us, for he loved us first. Pope Francis said, “It is difficult to love and not be loved in return. And it is even more difficult to serve if we do not let ourselves be served by God — the lesson that Jesus taught Peter in the Gospel proclaimed tonight.

God serves us by giving his life for us. In the first reading tonight, we read of the first Passover, when God first saves his people and eventually leads them out of slavery into a new life. In the second reading, we have St. Paul’s account of the institution of the Eucharist, in which Jesus tells his followers that the bread they are eating is his body which is being given up for them, and that the wine is his blood establishing a new Covenant with God. And in the Gospel Jesus washes the feet of disciples, a task so menial and filthy that even a slave could not be ordered to do it. Jesus goes even further, and reminds them that this act of service is more than what it seems; that it is a sign of his own pouring out of his life for them — and for us. Jesus tells them that they must do the same: “as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Simply put: The Eucharist has consequences. The Body and Blood of Christ is not given to us simply to adore, as important as that is. Rather, the Eucharist signifies a whole new relationship with God, a relationship to be lived out in service to others. God saves us by serving us; like Peter’s mother-in-law, once we are saved, we must save others by serving them, in imitation of Christ. “As I have done for you, you should also do”: The Eucharist has consequences.

Tonight we are celebrating this Mass of the Lord’s Supper under circumstances none of us could have imagined a few months ago. Yes, we are celebrating Mass and we are doing what Jesus commanded us to do in the second reading: we are doing this in remembrance of Him. But something is missing tonight: YOU! Without you here, we are unable to do what we customarily do at our parish: wash each other’s feet, as Christ commanded. This day is sometimes called “Maundy Thursday”. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum”, which means a “mandate” or a “command.” Jesus commands his disciples to do as he had done: to wash feet, to pour out healing, comfort and care in service of others. In this time of “social isolation”, of “stay at home,” of being kept apart from one another, how can we follow Christ’s example in pouring out his life in such a concrete way as washing other people’s feet?

The Pope reminds us that during this time of pandemic we must be our most creative. In what concrete ways can we, in our “sheltering in place”, touch others in service? Some have suggested that maybe we could read this Gospel at home and then wash the feet of our family members. If you don’t want to wash feet, then perhaps wash each other’s hands instead. But maybe there are other ways, too, that fit your situation even better. Perhaps “wash feet” by reaching out to “clean up” or to “wash clean” a broken relationship, to “pour ourselves out” to a person who is isolated, or ill, or alone through a phone call or even something as simple as a text or e-mail. For example, speaking as a Grandfather myself, perhaps all grandchildren could check in with their poor old grandparents with a phone call, Skype, or even a text! Remember, the best way to overcome our own isolation is to reach out and serve someone else.

The Eucharist has consequences. THIS Eucharist has consequences. Tonight, those of you joining us through YouTube or Facebook will partake in the Eucharist through the proclamation of God’s Word and through Spiritual Communion. For all of us, this Eucharist here tonight has consequences no matter how we are celebrating it. No matter where you are, no matter how many of you are sheltered in the same space, no matter how confused, cranky, frustrated, or ill you might be, now is the time for us to imitate Christ and follow his command to reach out and serve someone else, in any concrete ways we can.

Go, wash some feet!

Palm Sunday 2020: Servants in a Servant Church for a Suffering World

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday in ways no one could have ever imagined, although there have been times in the life of the church when our ancestors had similar experiences. Pope Francis has given a wonderful Palm Sunday homily [here] to a world weary of illness, isolation and violence. His words remind us all of some very important truths, and for those of us who serve in the particular order of deacons: our service can only truly be understood against the more fundamental reality that the church herself is a servant. Indeed, peeling the layers back even more, we remember this Holy Week that we are a servant church precisely because our God — who is love — is Servant. As Pope France put it succinctly, “God saved us by serving us.”

Jesus — Second Person of the Trinity — “who came to serve, not to be served.”

All of us who are baptized disciples of Christ, are immersed into the life of God and are called to “the imitation of Christ,” who came to serve and not to be served. The Holy Father recounts how often, especially during the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week, Christ — the Second Person of the Trinity — is referred to as a Servant. Created in the image and likeness of God, we are to live as Christ did: pouring out his life for the health and salvation of others. In a moving passage, Pope Francis reminds us:

Dear brothers and sisters, what can we do in comparison with God, who served us even to the point of being betrayed and abandoned? We can refuse to betray him for whom we were created, and not abandon what really matters in our lives. We were put in this world to love him and our neighbors. Everything else passes away, only this remains. The tragedy we are experiencing at this time summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love. So, in these holy days, in our homes, let us stand before the Crucified One – look upon the Crucified One! – the fullest measure of God’s love for us, and before the God who serves us to the point of giving his life, and, – fixing our gaze on the Crucified One – let us ask for the grace to live in order to serve. May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.

All of this applies to each and every one of us. What, then, can it mean to those of us who are deacons? It is a potent reminder to us that we are ordained, not simply to do what all of us are supposed to do as a result of our sacramental initiation (discipleship), but as a result of our ordination at the hands our bishop, to renew our commitment to be true leaders in service (apostleship). We are not ordained to serve so that others do not have to! We serve first as a result of new life in Baptism; we serve further as animators (to use St. Paul VI’s word) of that service by others. We share in the bishop’s own diakonia, a diakonia first lived through Paschal Mystery of Christ which we celebrate this week.

I encourage everyone, but especially deacons, to pray over Pope Francis’ wonderful homily today. May this Holy Week during a time of global pandemic be for all a time of renewal, of overcoming death, of new life in the Christ.

Deacons at Mass During the Time of COVID-19

Over the last several weeks, deacons and others have been wrestling with the notion of deacons assisting at the various live-streamed Masses going on around the country. Two major questions have emerged:

  1. Should deacons be assisting at all at these Masses?
  2. If deacons are present at Mass, should they abstain from receiving Holy Communion?

First, should deacons (or, really, ANY other ministers besides the priest) be assisting at a live-streamed Mass?

I would begin with a caveat. It depends! There may be logistical or other factors which would make the assistance by a deacon problematic. For example, if a sanctuary is so small (such as a private chapel in the rectory) that the deacon cannot remain some feet away from the priest, then perhaps he should forego assisting.

However, in general, it seems to me that whenever possible, the deacon should be present and assist at Mass. The liturgical witness of the deacon’s ministry at the Eucharist is important and a vital sign of the diaconal identity of the Church. As one of the bishops said at the Second Vatican Council, “The Church has a right to all of the graces given to her by God, and the diaconate is one of those graces.”

On a practical level, of course, the priest and deacon should be sure to discuss in advance the specifics of their liturgical “choreography.” As most of us realize, our normal positions vis-a-vis the presider can easily be adapted keeping “social distancing” in mind. Sure, we will temporarily be a bit closer when we hand the gifts to Father, but we can immediately return to a safer distance. On a personal level, I assisted and preached at last Sunday’s live streamed Mass from our parish, and Father and I were able to maintain a safe distance from each other while still carrying out our respective ministries. Given the layout of our sanctuary, it took very little adaptation to make it work.

Second, if deacons are present, what about Holy Communion? Should deacons abstain from receiving Holy Communion; in fact, CAN the deacon abstain?

Looking at these questions from a technical perspective, it is possible for the deacon to abstain from receiving Holy Communion. The only minister who MUST receive Communion is the priest-presider, since it is he who is offering the sacrifice in persona Christi — and the sacrifice must be consumed. This, however, is a minimalist approach to the Eucharist. For many years, many people did not receive Communion at every Mass for a variety of reasons. It was Pope Pius X who encouraged a greater reception of Communion by the people; this effort continued and was emphasized at the Second Vatican Council, so that now nearly everyone receives Communion at every Mass they attend.

But what about the Deacon, especially in today’s situation? I think we would all agree that it is best if the assisting deacon were to receive Holy Communion. This is true on many levels, including the sign value of seeing the deacon receive. Now, how might that be done safely today? It seems to me that one legitimate option would be for both priest and deacon to receive by means of intinction, with the deacon then consuming the remaining Precious Blood and purifying the sacred vessels. I realize that other deacons and priests are using the more traditional (at least in the Latin Church) approach, but intinction seems to offer the safest method, in my opinion.

I used the expression “sign value” above, and I think that’s an important consideration. Our sacraments are public; they are, as the Baltimore Catechism used to have it: “outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace.” Part of the outward sign of the Eucharist is the ministry of the ordained, which should be exercised in as complete and fulsome way as possible.

So, if at all possible, “it is good for us to be here” at the side of our priest-brother for the Eucharist, even while we remember to stay at a safe distance. And, if we’re there, we should receive Holy Communion, using the safest means available.

Just one deacon’s opinion.

Service of a Different Kind: The “Code Girls” of World War II and After

While in self-imposed quarantine, I have been enjoying Liza Mundy’s wonderful book, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Codebreakers of World War II. The book has particular relevance for me. From 1971-1993 I served as a US Navy cryptologist, and two of my tours were at the National Security Agency, where I had the privilege of meeting one of the ladies featured in the book: Ann Z. Caracristi.

World War II: The young woman on the right is Ann Caracristi

Ms. Caracristi had been an English and History major in college, and during World War II she joined the Army Intelligence Service (which would later become the Army Security Agency) and was a standout at breaking Japanese codes. After the war she remained “in the business” and when the National Security Agency was created she joined its ranks. By the end of the 1950s she was already a “supergrade” civilian official. I first met Ms. Caracristi in 1978 when I was taking US Navy cryptologic direct support teams to sea on combatants of the Atlantic Fleet. I was a young Lieutenant at the time and she was the Chief of what was known as “A Group”: the offices directly involved with the former Soviet Union. There were a couple of occasions, following particularly significant patrols, where my crew and I would be asked to brief Ms. Caracristi on the operation. It was always an honor and a bit intimidating to do this, given her staggering intelligence and experience. We were also always struck by her genuine concern for our own safety and welfare on patrol.

2012 Hall of Honor Inductee:
Ann Z. Caracristi

By the time of my second tour at NSA, this time as a Navy Commander, Ms. Caracristi had retired, having finished her career serving as the Deputy Director of the entire National Security Agency. Her name was still whispered with respect throughout the Agency.

So, if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, I highly recommend Code Girls. Who knows? You may find someone you know in its pages!

“Victory Gardens”: Deacons and the Pandemic

“The Deacon” (the-deacon.com) is a national magazine focused on the ministry of the Deacon in the Catholic Church. Formerly known as “Deacon Digest”, the name was recently changed by its publisher (Our Sunday Visitor) to parallel its long-running partner, “The Priest.”

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, “The Deacon” is offering a series of articles from a variety of authors with reflections and suggestions on dealing with the pandemic through the lens of the diaconate. I was asked to submit something to this effort.

It struck me that in dealing with our current crisis, we can find inspiration from some of the approaches our parents and grandparents took to meeting the crises of their times. One of these was the idea of the “Victory Garden” (sometimes called a “War Garden”) During this particular Lent, we too are looking forward to the Victory, both the victory over the Corona Virus, but ultimately the Victory of Christ over sin and death through His Resurrection.

You can read my entire piece here. Thanks to editor Deacon Dominic Cerrato for this wonderful series.

Thirty Years a Deacon: “How Can This Be?”

Fr. Tom Henseler, Deacon Harry Clyde, Fr. Jack Smith, myself, Cardinal Hickey

A couple of days ago, on 25 March, I celebrated 30 years as a Deacon of the Catholic Church, ordained on 25 March 1990 by the late Cardinal James Hickey, the Archbishop of Washington, DC. It was the Fourth Sunday of Lent as well as the traditional date for the Annunciation. Mary’s words, “How can this be?” resonate for anyone called to ordained ministry: each of us knows only to well our weaknesses, our sinfulness, our unworthiness.

The past 30 years have been filled with grace and blessing. In ways I never could have imagined thirty years ago, God has brought me into contact with God’s People in so many different places and situations. We have laughed and cried together (fortunately, I think the laughter has far outweighed the tears!), as together we try to walk the various paths we have been given, but paths that ultimately lead back to God.

With deep gratitude for these first thirty years, I thank God, my family, and the People of God, and I renew those promises made at ordination so many years ago, pledging to serve to the best of my abilities as long as God gives me strength to do so.

Holy Mary, Mother of Deacons, pray for us!

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