Author : Deacon Michael O’Donnell Wayside Club chaplain from St Mary’s, Calton (original here)
It is every Baptised person’s duty to serve, but the sacramental grace that a deacon receives at ordination through the bishop’s imposition of hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit enables him to carry out the ministry of service with a special effectiveness. He is configured to Christ in his servant role and becomes a living sign of the servanthood of His Church. Deacons are considered to be helpers of the bishop and render assistance—on his behalf—to the poor and needy of the community.
Deacons have a special responsibility to identify to the church those who are in need, while also being an advocate for them within the Church. A particular emphasis is placed on the ministry of charity (Matthew 25:35-36). Through this, the deacon can be involved in serving in hospitals, prisons and schools, minister to those who are affected by issues such as addiction, discrimination or struggling in any way.
I am chaplain to the Wayside Club, which is served by the Legion of Mary and friends and is open every night of the year and provides food, hot drinks, companionship and prayer. While I am there I spend time with men and women and in an informal way, accompany them on their journey, while also giving them the opportunity to reflect.
I do this through greeting the men and women at the door, chatting with them at the table and generally just being available to them. At 9pm we have a period of Exposition where I give a short reading from the Gospel and I play some music such as the St Louis Jesuits, Weston Priory, Taize, Tom McGuinness SJ. Mainly we sit in silence, as their lives can be so noisy and chaotic that they actually value this quiet time. I end by giving them a blessing.
The deacon should be a driving force for the Church’s service and a sign of the Lord who came ‘to bring the good news to the poor…’ (Luke 4:18)—a witness of charity.
This will be my first Christmas as the chaplain at the Wayside.
As you can imagine any companionship at this time is special as being human people do feel low, isolated and question what has happened to them in life especially if they were once married, children and now have no contact at all with them or indeed any friends.
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