A deacon in the ‘hood

From the USCCB blog, Deacon Arnaldo Antonio Santos from the Diocese of Camden reflects on his unique ministry in the inner city:

As a new deacon, I received a diocesan assignment to work in youth ministry. I expected it since I felt called to youth work even before becoming a deacon. As a former civil servant and newly retired police detective, I had always felt the call to help lost souls who long for someone to understand them.

Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio called for a new evangelization, a new mission work to those who know about God and His mercy, even if they are not fully engaged in their faith. As a deacon, I learned different ways to evangelize through retreats, to reach out to separated brothers and sisters, to help and guide youth, and to reach out to gang members. Yes, I said gang members.

I find it’s easier to reach individuals involved in gangs as a deacon than it was when I was a cop. Why? When a grave sinner feels rejected, judged and condemned by us, then the sinner is less likely to repent and return to God.

I have seen individuals lost to the gang world return to the church, repent, receive the sacraments and be freed from the bondage of the gang world. It happened when I was able to guide them with prayer, patience, moderation and brotherly love. As a police detective I was respected, but the advice that I gave troubled youth was not as easily accepted. As an officer, I was judged by the persons feeling condemned. They felt I couldn’t possibly understand or sympathize with them.

Ordination changed my life.

Read it all.  Ad multos annos, brother!

New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan dies at 82
Who proclaims the Gospel at Mass?
Have they found Jesus’ childhood home?
Just in time for Lent: Bacon Soda

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X