Those are the words of an 86-year-old retired deacon, profiled in the Catholic Review from the Archdiocese of Baltimore:
When Oak Crest commemorated National Volunteer Appreciation Week recently with an award ceremony for the Parkville retirement community’s volunteers, Deacon Harry O’Neill didn’t want to attend.
Of the 100 recipients of the Presidential Service Award, Deacon O’Neill, along with two other volunteers, was particularly singled out for his tireless service to others.
“The award was a nice thing, but anything I’ve done is simply a part of my ministry,” said the 86-year-old retired deacon who was ordained in 1983.
That’s not quite how Oak Crest’s Catholic staff and volunteers see it. When he was honored for his 15 years of service during a Saturday evening Mass in May, his gift of a Luna holder (a glass and gilded metal container which holds the Host securely in place in a monstrance) was accompanied by a collective tribute: “We praise and thank God for this good man, Deacon Harry O’Neill.”
Nearly half of the 900 Oak Crest residents are Catholic, and it has been Deacon O’Neill’s job, as one Catholic staff member put it, “to keep us all on the right track.”
He is particularly recognized for his ministry to the assisted living residents of Oak Crest’s Renaissance Gardens, bringing them Communion and working with representatives of other faiths to make sure special services are available to those who cannot go to the community’s chapel.
And he always assisted the Oak Crest Catholic Chaplain, Sulpician Father Joseph J. Bonadio, at the community’s four weekly Masses.
A bad back and other health issues have severely restricted Deacon O’Neill’s mobility these days but, climbing aboard his electric scooter, he still manages to help wherever he can.
“Once a deacon, always a deacon,” he said, flashing his infectious grin.
Read more about his life and his vocation right here. Keep on keepin’ on, Deacon!