By Honore Onana Olah, SJ
“Some people translate the Greek word ‘diakonia’ simply as SERVICE. I prefer to translate it as SERVANTHOOD”. These are the words pronounced by Mgr. Pablo Virgilio Siongco David, Bishop of Kalookan, (Philippines) during the Mass of this October 27, 2018 in the church of the Gesù, Ateneo de Manila University, (Philippines), where he ordained as Deacon Hounguevou Barnabé, SJ among 15 Jesuits from various part of the world.
Indeed, for Hounguevou Barnabé, SJ, whom belongs to the West Africa Province (AOC), October 27, 2018, will remain a memorable moment as he became Deacon in the Catholic Church. During his homily Mgr. Pablo Virgilio Siongco invited the different candidates to serve and to live a humble life, following the example of the Master Jesus in order to live a “Servant Leadership”. It is only by this way that they will “learn the kenosis of servanthood” to become good leaders. For him, the Greek word “diakonia” which means “service” has to be translated as “servanthood”.
A Deacon has a “preferential option for the poor”
Evoking the role of the Deacon, the Bishop of Kalookan affirmed that: being a becoming a “deacon is to act in such a way that the Church becomes true to her ‘preferential option for the poor’. The figure of the Deacon is therefore there “to make sure that the Church constantly lives out its character as Catholic, that it will never degenerate into an exclusive club for a privileged elite, that it will never turn into pharisaical hub that welcomes only the righteous, clean and pure, that her heart will beat with the same mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ”.
Concluding his homily, Mgr. Pablo Virgilio Siongco David invited the new Deacons to never forget about the poor, especially the widows and the orphans, “who end up like stray dogs and cats roaming our streets”.