Message to new deacons in Rome: Follow the example of Francis of Assisi

Message to new deacons in Rome: Follow the example of Francis of Assisi October 5, 2019

Pontifical North American College / Diocese of Portland

On October 3, the day before the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland ordained 32 young men from the Pontifical North American College in Rome as deacons — and he used the saint as the centerpiece of his homily.

It’s a message we all need to hear:

“The world is a different place” than when St. Francis lived in the 1200s, Deeley said, “but the kinds of problems Francis encountered are still the same in the Church.”

“Within the Church, Francis experienced the careerism which so marred the face of the Gospel. Those charged with ministry of the Church were often taking care of themselves, rather than helping those they were called to serve to know the saving love of Jesus Christ,” Deeley said.

Outside the Church, St. Francis faced the “continuing and ongoing rivalry and conflict ravaging families and villages in the Umbrian valley,” he said.

Both today and in the time of St. Francis of Assis, Deeley said, the antidote to corruption and division is the choice to rise above any politicking, careerism and polemics, and to focus on what’s essential.

“Francis learned something very important from his prayer and his time with the Lord Jesus. He believed firmly that the Gospel was the answer to the difficulties of both the Church and of the world,” Deeley said, noting how St. Francis in his ministry traveled the world, bringing his message to popes, emperors and sultans alike.

“He certainly had a powerful influence on his time,” he said, adding that “the Gospel he preached and followed continues to be the answer to the difficulties of the Church and of the world.”

St. Francis’s calling to love and service began where the new deacons themselves were sitting, Deeley said, insisting that the task of St. Francis and deacons are the same: “Service to the people of the Church.”

This is not merely a “mechanical distribution” of the Church’s sacraments, he said, but a divine calling to be carried out with genuine love and commitment.

“Our mission as Christians is to…show one another the love we have received from God, to serve one another as a way to ensure one another of the worth that each has,” Deeley said, explaining that the deacons have been ordained “so that in your service to the Church, you can be leaders, bringing Christ’s mission to life.”

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