The “Pandemic” Deacons and the Challenge to Serve
The Capuchin Philippine Province has been blessed the with the gift of five brothers who received the Sacrament of Holy Orders to the Diaconate last May 10, 2021 at the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Tagaytay City. The brothers who received the grace of ordination are Br. Ronald Allan L. Samson, OFMCap.; Br. Garry C. Andres; Br. Vincent Paul B. Bitong, OFMCap.; Br. Jasper G. Espaňola, OFMCap. and Br. Michael Angelo V. Flores, OFMCap. Br. Ronald Allan is from Marikina City; Br. Michael Angelo from Nueva Ecija while Brs. Garry, Vincent Paul and Jasper all come General Santos City, South Cotabato. The solemn celebration was presided by Most Reverend Reynaldo G. Evangelista, OFS, DD. , bishop of the Diocese of Imus.
After their studies in Theology, the brothers were assigned in different fraternities and ministries in the Province while undergoing the pre-diaconate program in order to prepare them for ordination. After the approval of the Provincial Commission on Formation and the Provincial Council last March, the preparations for their ordination commenced. All of these was capped with their canonical spiritual retreat which was held on May 3-7, 2021 at the Capuchin Retreat Center, Lipa City.
The Eucharistic Celebration and Rite of Ordination commenced at 9:30 in the morning. Ministering in the celebration are the brothers in scholastic studies (Philosophy and Theology) and Post Novices who served as acolytes and choir; Br. Dennis B. Jose, OFMCap as lector; Br. Roy S. Arasan, OFMCap. as cantor for the litany of the saints; Brs. Pio I. Clemente, OFMCap. and Jose Eduardo A. Mayo, OFMCap. served as deacons; Brs. John Rey P. Baalan, OFMCap. and Denver F. de Leon, OFMCap. as liturgical masters of ceremonies. Due to the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, attendance in the celebration was limited to the Capuchin brothers and formands only. This was facilitated with the help of the Social Communications team of the San Pablo Apostol Parish, Manila and media team of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Tagaytay. The celebration was also graced with the presence of Most Reverend Nolly S. Buco, DD., auxiliary bishop of Antipolo, Br. Edgar S. Martinez, OFMCap. provincial minister; Br. Eugenio Juanilo P. Lopez, OFMCap., parish priest, and several Capuchin priests, religious brothers and brothers in initial formation.
In his homily, Bishop Evangelista emphasized the three significant roles of the deacons – servants of the word, of the liturgy and of charity. He stressed the importance of service especially in a time where the world and the church are grappling with the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. He called the batch to be “pandemic deacons” and he exhorted them to be steadfast in the grace of ordination that they will receive and strive to serve faithfully even though the current situation is very difficult. Their service will be reflected in their ministry in the altar, in preaching and in social action where they are encouraged to take part in, especially in helping the poor.
Before the final blessing, the thanksgiving of the newly ordained Capuchin deacons was relayed by Br. Ronald Allan in which they acknowledged their families, Capuchin brothers and significant persons who helped them as they journeyed to this meaningful day. After the mass a simple agape was held at the Jardin di Padre Pio.
All praise and be glory to the good Lord for the gift of vocation and the grace of ordination for these five Capuchin brother deacons. May their ministries be fruitful and may they true to the identity of the order they have received – diakonia, called to serve even in the midst of challenging and difficult times.