It happened Saturday: Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on 12 men.
From his homily:
Our Second Reading today, Acts 6:1-7, explains how the first deacons were chosen. It also plunges us into the middle of a crisis, not a pandemic like the Coronavirus but about food. The problem was the result of cultural and language differences within the first Christian community of Jerusalem. When it came to distributing food, the Hebrew-speaking widows were well provided for, but the Greek-speaking were being neglected. So, how did the Apostles address this? They chose seven men to be deacons!
The solution had a few key aspects. First, they said the provision of food must not distract from proclaiming the Gospel. So, the Apostles themselves, whose first duty was handing on the Gospel and celebrating the sacraments, should not neglect their sacred ministry to feed the widows in need. Second, they called for the community to propose seven men to distribute food to the Greek-speaking widows. They needed to understand the Greek culture and be able to communicate without difficulty. This was a practical response to an “ordinary” kind of problem—distributing food. However, the qualifications that the Apostles required of the first deacons were “not ordinary.” They did not say the men had to be muscular and strong, so that they could carry baskets full of food. They did not say the men must be wealthy enough to chip in extra shekels when supplies ran low. No reference is made to physical, material, or financial aspects. The only requirements mentioned were that they be “seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom.” They needed to be deeply spiritual men, who had reputations for being wise not in worldly wisdom but in the Holy Spirit with whom they were filled.
Why was this so important? Because the Church never gives food alone. It serves the whole person as it provides food; it serves in a way that lifts up the dignity and worth of each person. People need love more than they need tacos and tamales. There is a kind of starvation that is much greater than food can satisfy. There are hungers that surpass what bread can provide. More importantly, when food is provided by followers of Christ, it is given in a way that helps the recipient to believe in Jesus and His life-giving word. It helps that person have greater trust in God’s love, not only when facing food problems but when facing other problems, especially those related to their dignity and destiny.
The first deacons to be chosen and sent in the name of Christ did an ordinary thing in an extraordinary way; it was a way that affirmed the words of Jesus, “Be not afraid; I am with you always.”
You can read about the men ordained here.
Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!