On this Monday just after having celebrated Laetare Sunday, in this time leading up to Christmas, the diocese of Bethlehem got a new Deacon. Many members of the Bohlokong Church communities – where Tumelo was involved pastorally and where he will go on to fulfil his diaconal ministry – but also from other parishes, most of the Priests together with Permanent Deacon Vincent Mohlaping (representing also the other Permanent Deacons), and a number of Women Religious joined in the celebration. The Kgotsong choir really expressed that deep joy we all felt, myself and our new Deacon Tumelo included.
In my homily I recalled that Tumelo’s way to Diaconate has been much longer than usual. His discernment has been a long process but all along he felt in his heart this burning desire to serve the Lord and His people as a Priest. God’s ways are indeed wonderful. I am sure that his yes today to the questions I put to him came from the depth of his heart matured and enriched by a rich life experience not just enjoying life but caring for his younger brother. When I met with him the evening before his ordination he shared with me that he really wanted to live this God-given time to the full, not letting fall anything into oblivion.
In the readings I chose for this celebration I wanted to highlight that such a calling does not come from man but from God. We only have to discern and to receive the gift in good soil where it can bear fruit in due time. A true prophet as Jeremiah recognizes this with humility and trust being aware that he is called to proclaim God’s Word and not just his own opinion. I think that this struck a cord with Tumelo who is not that shy and does not have to search for words to express his opinion. God’s Word is surely Good News but it also cuts and challenges, first of all the proclaimer himself. In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and in the gospel taken from St. Matthew I emphasized that, more important than the kind of activities a Deacon can be involved in, is the way he does things. What is required are attitudes of humility, gentleness, patience, mutual support and service.
After the Diaconate Ordination, sharing a meal prepared by members of Vocation Prayer groups, who were already at work last night, people took time to share with one another: an experience of Church as family.
Bishop Jan de Groef