Missionaries of Faith Father Kuriakose Nadooparambil, pastor of Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 16, 2023 touches a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which still stands amid foliage untouched by the wildfire that scorched trees across the street and destroyed the entire town of Lahaina. (OSV News photo/courtesy Maria Lanakila Parish)

Hearing the Voice of God: An Urgent Appeal

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In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”

What makes the diaconate unique, what gives it its definitive character is to bear witness to Christ the Servant to those in need. It is to be his hands, his feet, his eyes and his ears and, in doing so, bring a frail human love infused with a divine love, a saving love. In this way, deacons serve, inspiring others to serve in their particular vocations.

Last August, wildfires ravaged the island of Maui in the Diocese of Honolulu. According to Deacon John Coughlin, director of formation, seven deacons reside in Maui along with two candidates. Fortunately, none suffered direct personal loss. Others, in that same area, were not so fortunate. Beyond the massive property loss, so many lost their lives, including children.

While reflecting on this tragedy in light of God’s still voice heard by the prophet Elijah (1 Kgs 19:9-13), Bishop Larry Silva wrote: “Strong and heavy wind, earthshaking events, fire, these are all realities with which you are very familiar because of the devastating fire. The voice of God was not in any of these things, because they were so destructive, destroying lives, homes, and livelihoods for thousands of people. And like the prophet Elijah, we are gathered here today, after having experienced these dramatic events, to hear a tiny whispering sound, the voice of God, who assures us of his love and care for us.”

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My brothers in the diaconate, there is still a great need in Maui. In this need, we are called to bear witness to Christ the Servant through our hands, feet, eyes and ears. While distance makes this impossible for nearly all of us, we can still do so by donating to the recovery efforts. I appeal to you in Christ’s name to prayerfully discern whether you may be called to give something of your treasure in exchange for your time and talents.

The Diocese of Honolulu has set up a donation site through the Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation. Please consider a gift. No donation is too small and this can be done online here. These, and your many prayers, are deeply appreciated.

As you may know, though the wildfires swept through the entire neighborhood of Lahaina, one building was left standing, that of Maria Lanakila Church. She stands proudly amid the devastation, reminding the people that, despite the tragedy, Christ is victorious. Like this Church, let us stand in the midst of hardship, shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity with Bishop Silva and the people of Maui so that they may know the power of God’s comfort and love across a vast ocean.

DEACON DOMINIC CERRATO, Ph.D., is editor of The Deacon and director of diaconal formation for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. He is the founder of Diaconal Ministries, where he gives national presentations and retreats to deacons and diaconal candidates.

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