By Kaelanne Jordan
There’s a saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’; it took a “global village” to produce three deacons last Saturday. Newly ordained deacon Omaris Jenner Valmond shared this sentiment, as he, along with fellow ordinands, Peter Clinton St Hillaire and Moses Kabuga Gikandi were ordained to the diaconate on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saturday December 12 at the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Sangre Grande.
Ordaining prelate Archbishop Jason Gordon called the occasion an “international event” as the congregation—both physical and virtual— comprised of persons from Paramin (Trinidad), Barbados, Kenya and the US. St Hillaire was ordained for the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, while Kenya-born Gikandi and Dominica-born Valmond were both ordained for the Diocese of Bridgetown, Barbados. Commenting on the deacons’ journey to ordination day, Archbishop Jason Gordon, in his homily, opined, “It is no little bit of grace that got us to this day”. He observed one commonality among the trio—the pre-eminence of grace working in their lives. “That the way was long and crooked at times, with many a twist and a turn that you could not understand or even interpret at times, but you got here ….” Saturday’s ordination, the Archbishop said, was a moment not to be missed, even amidst the present pandemic.
He highlighted that COVID-19 has created a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) where the “veil” has been torn apart and persons are now able to see the fragility of humanity. “Before the veil got torn apart, people believed that we could chart the next 50 years or 100 years; that we knew, and that we understood that science will solve every problem and that the human was preeminent in our rationality and getting us where we need to go.” Now that the veil has been “torn apart”, the volatility and complexity of the world has thrown humans into a “new space” of recognising there must be a meaning bigger than the pursuit of money, wealth, power, pleasure. “We have to see in this new space that there’s an incredible opportunity of grace if we have the eyes to see it and the heart wide open to Christ to embrace it,” the Archbishop said. It is in this context, Archbishop Gordon asserted, that the three newly ordained have been drawn into the diaconate by saying ‘Yes’ to God.
The day’s readings: Revelation 11: 19a; 12: 1-6a, 10ab, Luke 1: 26-38, which gave two versions of the birth of Christ were “incredible” readings, large and cosmic in proportions. The first narrative about Jesus’ birth speaks of the angel Gabriel telling Mary she is to conceive a son. Like Mary’s ‘yes’, Archbishop Gordon beseeched deacons St Hillaire, Gikandi and Valmond to become sons of Mary by always saying ‘yes’ to God, “no matter the cost, inconvenience or price….”
The Archbishop further illustrated that the reading [from Revelation] went on to speak of a dragon “terribly upset” with crowns and horns, seeking to destroy the Christ child. “That image carries us back to Genesis where the Protoevangelium (Gospel) [talks of] the prophecy of the feet of the offspring of the woman crushing the head of the serpent….” He continued, “And this is important in the context of which you are being ordained deacon.
Many times, I think we have fooled ourselves into believing that we are playing on an even playing field…that all in the world is okay…but this reading reminds you at this moment of your ordination that there are forces and powers that are huge and big, that are out not for obedience to God’s will but to fight against the Kingdom of God and to destroy it….”