By Father Charles L. Fuld
I hope you took time to read the life stories of those who were recently ordained to the priesthood and to the permanent diaconate, and, more recently, the man ordained to serve as auxiliary bishop of this diocese of ours, all of which were featured in recent issues of The Southern Cross newspaper and on its website.
If you did, I’m sure you noticed the varied spiritual journeys that each of these men took. Many were amazed at the call they received — and by its persistence.
That certainly was true in my own life. As a widower with three grown children, I couldn’t have imagined being called to any such role. I found myself arguing repeatedly against the very thought, until I finally gave in, saying, in effect: “Well, if that’s what you want Lord, here I am!”
As a youngster, newly ordained Father Manuel del Río thought of becoming an inventor and an astronaut and ended up becoming a firefighter; it was years later, as a medical technician, that he realized that he really wanted “to help minister to the soul.”
Look at the life story of our new auxiliary bishop: He always wanted to be a priest, but never imagined being called to be a bishop and, at first, humbly resisted the calling.
Deacon John Patrick Roberts’ story of how he and his wife felt the call to the diaconate grow stronger only as their children grew up and left home sounded very famil-iar to me. And, yes, I think that recently ordained Deacon José Luis Maldonado was right on when he said, “God calls us in very interesting and amazing ways.”
Like I said, if you haven’t read their stories, make the time to read them all.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all of us are called to be bishops, priests or deacons. But all of us are called to some role in the life of the Church. Our Church is one body with many parts, just like St. Paul wrote in his Letter to the Corinthians [12:27-31]. His teaching to his newly formed flock was that we are all called to be part of the Body of Christ, each with different tasks to perform, including that of apostles, prophets, teachers, healers, assistants, administrators, and so on.
This is something that we mustn’t forget during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes, our Church needs bishops to provide sound leadership, and priests and deacons to minister to their assigned flock, but it also needs extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to help distribute the Eucharist at the Mass or to the homebound. It needs ushers to help seat parishioners within the limits of “social distancing” required during this pandemic. It needs support from all the parishioners to help pay the neverending bills of the Church. And it needs still others whom you might call “Church ambassadors,” people who will reach out to friends, neighbors and missing fellow-parishioners and help them to come back to the parish church once it becomes safe to do so.
Our Church community will need some rebuilding after this pandemic crisis has passed, that’s for sure, just as it needs help right now. Church, after all, is a commu-nity, a coming-together of God’s people. For now, watching Mass on your computer or television might make sense, but it runs a distant second place to attending the Mass at your parish church (be it outdoors for now) and receiving the Body of Christ, our Savior, in Holy Communion.
I suspect He is calling you, too — for each of us has a role to play in this Church and in its rebuilding.
So, put on your masks (and gloves, too, if need be) and get with it! The message for each of us should be, “How can I help, Lord?” I’m sure you’ll find an answer!
That’s what God does: He challenges us!