Last week here on Life At 25 I wrote about the Eucharistic flash mob that we had in Market Square as part of a larger post about what turned out to be a real grace-filled weekend in the Diocese of Knoxville. I just returned from this month’s diaconate formation session and, as might be expected, the flash mob was an early topic of conversation since several of the people who participated in the event were present, including Deacon Jim Lawson, who was our narrator. was there. Everyone agreed that the entire event went better than even was expected, and the number of onlookers and even questioners was great enough to bear a positive witness to Our Eucharistic Lord. There were a number of people who just stopped in reverence and spontaneously adored Our Lord when they realized what was going on. If you weren’t there in person, you can join in virtual adoration through the diocesan video of Knoxville’s first Eucharistic flash mob.
For me, that wasn’t the only exciting happening of the last few days. While at formation this weekend, we received a very special gift from Deacon Tim Elliott and from Bishop Stika. This St. Stephen medal and holy card is one of 23 given to the members of our diocesan diaconate formation class. Since St. Stephen was one of the first deacons of the Church (cf. Acts 6:1-6), and was the Church’s first martyr (cf. Acts 7:54-60), it is both an honor and a privilege for any deacon to venerate St. Stephen or to wear his medal. However, these St. Stephen medals can’t really be called ordinary. It happens that when he went to Rome for the canonization Mass of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II, Bishop Stika took these medals along with him, and he had an audience with Pope Francis, who was kind to bless them for our diaconate class. In addition, Bishop Stika laid our medals on the altar with him as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the tombs of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, so they’ve also been blessed by the prayers of the Church’s two newest papal saints. It may seem like a small thing, but it is wonderful to have the prayers of so many people, and of such great saints, in our discernment and in our formation.
Our academic year has now ended, we just have to finish our respective deanery workshops. It is hard to believe, in one sense, that we have just completed three years of diaconate formation. It truly seems like only yesterday we had our first class with Father Reagan Shriver, but all of us have grown deeply in our relationship with God, and with one another. This summer, each candidate will participate in some service to the Church and in the ministry of charity so vital to the life of the deacon. All of us could use your prayers, and I know that all of us appreciate them, and I am not the least bit shy in asking for them, but not only for myself. Pray for everyone, wherever they may be, who are truly discerning their vocation.
Pray for the priests, deacons, seminarians, and diaconal candidates of the Diocese of Knoxville. St. Stephen, pray for us! St. John XXIII, pray for us! St. John Paul II, Pray for us!