Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Mass of the SSP Retreat

Monday was the first day of the third annual retreat of the Society of Saint Polycarp. The retreat is taking place this year at Holy Hill, a beautiful and scenic Carmelite monastery, just north of Milwaukee, and home of the renowned Basilica of Holy Hill & National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians. Many thanks to the Discalced Carmelite community of Holy Hill, for welcoming us to their home this week. Tuesday and Wednesday will both begin with the Holy Mass, of course, yet the opening Mass Monday evening was special, for within the context of this eucharistic celebration, I was consecrated & made a Deacon. My service to Christ's Church as a Deacon will take the form of the traditional diaconal role in the Mass on Sundays at my home parish, St. Stephen's, where I will serve under the authority of the pastor, Fr. Timothy May, and will also no doubt take other forms, which we will work out in due time. These various forms of diaconal service will depend upon the needs of the people of the parish, my abilities, always a proper consideration for the rightful authority of the pastor, and the limitations of my time and resources. In the course of time, though, I will explicate my diaconal service here more fully. Father Larry Beane, Dean of the Society of Saint Polycarp, administered the rite, and he has my undying gratitude for his support and part in all of this.

Check out these photos, already uploaded by my digitally competent wife.

The Godfather with Godson, young Master Joshua Pollock. Note also the picture on the right, of the Carmelite saint, Therese of Lisieux, an image that is probably a bit unusual for a Lutheran Mass.

With my wife, Ruth.

With my brother, Daut, and my sister, Bedull.

With Daut and my nephew Cyrus.

With Fr. May, my pastor, and the celebrant of the Mass. Please note the image of Saint Stephen, patron saint of our parish, pictured in the stole of diaconal ministry.

I include this one because it does feature, though not as clearly or prominently as I would like, Fr. Beane. I'm sure one of the other photographers captured better pictures of Fr. Beane, and in due time, when I get my hands of them, I will post one of them here as well.

From left: my good friend Fr. Michael Carter, who served as subdeacon and lector in the Mass (if I would have thought the other guys were going to bring their stoles we would have dug up one for Michael, but he is there, in proper choir dress); Fr. Larry Beane , fresh from an all night ride on The City of New Orleans; Fr. David Juhl , pastor, preacher, and ham; Fr. Timothy May , our token representative of Hispanic Ministry; the new deacon; Fr. Benjamin Pollock, husband, father, and triple duty pastor on the edge of the world-I mean the edge of Minnesota; the inimitable Fr. Shane Cota; and last but not least, Fr. Matthew Uttenreither, Tigerton's best preacher.

With a picture of Saint Therese of Lisieux. I couldn't resist.

A couple other notes for now. 1. I would have done a better job of keeping local friends informed of the time and place of this special consecration, but the details were late in getting nailed down, plus you know that my daily life lately, with my new job, has been at times almost incompatible with keeping properly connected socially. But you have my apologies. Please come to St. Stephen's this Sunday, though, for a special pot-luck after Spanish Mass (and bring a dish).

2. Fellow Polycarpian, Father James A. Roemke was in attendance this afternoon, but had to leave because his wife had a sudden medical emergency. She is in our prayers.

3. Fr. Beane preached an excellent homily for the occasion. It was a sermon so refreshingly evangelical, so unabashedly catholic, so powerful and unflinching, and so literarily astute, I will have to share it, surely at the blog of the Society of Saint Polycarp, and perhaps here as well. Thank you, Fr. Beane. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your gift.

4. I would like to see if someone got a picture of the rite as it took place; if so, we will post it here as well. Stay tuned.

4. A final thought for tonight. This week also the annual symposium of the Concordia Catechetical Academy, of Peace Lutheran Church, convenes in Waukesha. Some of our brethren will be there. I doubt I will be there, because my time and resources this year won't really allow it. But it is always a gathering worth while for those interested in teaching the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. The CCA symposium, which begins, I think, on Wednesday, is in my prayers, and would be worth checking out.


gnesio-lutheran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gnesio-lutheran said...

Congratulations, Latif!!

May St. Stephen's be blessed by your assistance at Mass and your prayers.

Father Robert Lyons said...

Dear Deacon Latif,

My congratulations to you on the occassion of your consecration to the diaconate. I am sure you will provide many years of faithful service to our Lord, and will be a blessed example of the kindness of our Savior, and of his mercy.

I will remember you in my prayers in a special way this coming Sunday at the Altar of our Lord.


gnesio-lutheran said...

Holy Hill truly is an awesome location for a retreat.

Did the good brothers there ever allow the SSP to celebrate Mass in one of the chapels of the Basilica?

William Weedon said...

Wonderful and congratulations, Latif. It's not like being with you all, but the next best thing. But the Lord knew what he was doing keeping me home this week - I lost a parishioner this morning and wouldn't have missed ministering to his dear wife (my second mom) for the all the world. We sang around his body the homecoming hymns of the people of God and it was a blessed end. But give my love to all the brothers and know that my heart is there with you all.

Richsheri1 said...


It's such a joy to see you now as a deacon, which is a much-revered position of service, epsecially in the early Church. It's a joy to see diaconal service being properly used, extolled, and exalted within Lutheranism.

If it wasn't for my diverculitis, I would have joined with you at holy Hill.

Perhaps, next year as brothers we can meet.

Fr Rich Futrell

Rosko said...

Deacon Latif,
Congratulations on your elevation to the Diaconate. May God grant you many many years of faithful and blessed service!!

In XC,

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...


Thank you. Christ Himself does have something blessed and great in mind for Saint Stephen's, I am convinced. Not because of me, but in, through and despite me.

We did celebrate Mass at Holy Hill, thrice, ie., once each day of the retreat, though not in the basilica. Rather, we used the meditation chapel in the guest house.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thank you very much, Fr. Rob, for your prayers, and sentiment. I rejoice and thank God for your growing family. And I want to pay you another visit again soon. Remember the day you and I spent together in Indianapolis? Two guys walking the streets of Indy in their cassocks. And then we encountered those seminarians. Men from three different churches, finding their common ground in Christ while in no way denying their differences. I'd call that ecumenical.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thank you Father Weedon. There are times, indeed, when the Lord shows that the complex course of events, mingled as it is with good and bad, with sin and blessing, is in His hands, and used by Him for good, through our very callings, in those who love Him. So while I consider your absence at the retreat to be not a good thing in itself, but unfortunate, I thank God that He chose to use this time to once again, as He so often does, stir up in you the gift He gave you by the laying on of hands, for the good of those under your care. And I do somehow sense that we will see you next year in Milwaukee.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Father Futrell,

Your thoughts are appreciated. Please know that you remain very much in our prayers.

Next year in Milwaukee!

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thank you, Rosko. Consider that you and I are closer, geographically, now that I am in Milwaukee. Perhaps we could rendezvous some time.

Rosko said...

Dcn. Latif,
May it happen, and soon. I have Mondays off, and a round-trip on AMTRAK is only $44. We'll see when i get the money what can happen, I'll be in touch.