Six and a half years of diaconate formation culminated in my ordination at St. Mary’s Cathedral on December 14th, 2019. Since then, diaconal ministry has been a whirlwind of activity and new challenges. I am blessed to be assigned to the parish my family and I have worshipped for over 25 years, the Church of the Littel Flower in Coral Gables, Florida. I am also blessed to have a new pastor, Father Manny Alvarez, who is an all-out supporter of the diaconate ministry. That support is also seen with our parochial vicar, Father Luis Flores and our great group of priests in residence. They include Fathers Fidelis Uko, Steven Saawuan and Juan Escamez. Our former pastor, Father Micahel Davis, was instrumental in my formation with his support until his re-assignment.
One of the pleasant surprises of my new ministry is the opportunity to preach. Sometimes I am allowed to preach two or three times during the week in morning Masses and every now and then at the 5:30pm Mass on Sundays, where I am assigned to. I believe with my whole being that preaching for me is a calling within a calling. Each homily takes a lot of research and prayer, but in the end, the Holy Spirit utilizes my ministry to reach the faithful via the spoken Word. Each opportunity to preach makes me nervous because of the unique opportunity to work with the Spirit to reach a person that may need to be reached that day. And on a personal level, it is incredibly enriching.
This coronavirus outbreak has turned the world upside down, including my ministry. My wife and I participate in Emmaus retreats in Cuba. It is a wonderful ministry bringing the Good News to those that have spent a lifetime without ever knowing about the Risen Christ. We have been to retreats in Havana, Camaguey, Santa Clara and Santiago. We were supposed to be at the third retreat in Havana this weekend but it was postponed because of the virus.
My ministry was also upended by the cancellation of Masses and other liturgical events. It was a prudent move by our Archbishop. I have to admit though I felt a bit lost the morning I woke up and did not have a Mass to serve at! A group of parishioners joined me in replacing 8am mass with the Holy Rosary. What a beautiful experience we had praying together this morning. We hope to continue that until normalcy is returned to our faith life.
In the days to come, I will periodically utilize this forum to offer a short reflection, on the day’s readings, as I would when preparing for a daily homily. It is a small token on my behalf to keep us focused on our walk during this special time of Lent. We need to stay united as we journey towards the most important weekend in mankind!
In these tumultuous times, we can count on one thing, Jesus Christ Has Risen! He has Risen Indeed! May the peace and blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ descend upon all of us. Go in Peace. Deacon Jorge