Catholic Vancouver Oct. 12, 2017

Archbishop ordains two deacons on Thanksgiving weekend

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, (left) with newly ordained Deacons Peter Gomes and Alan Cavin, accompanied by Msgr. Gregory Smith, head of the archdiocese's Permanent Diaconate office. (Photos by Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

VANCOUVER—Two B.C. families counted their blessings in a special way this Thanksgiving.

“It was a very emotional moment,” said Deacon Peter Gomes, who with Deacon Alan Cavin was ordained a permanent deacon  at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver Oct. 7.

Deacon Gomes approached the altar to pledge his life to God with the support of his wife Frances, three daughters, and dozens of members of the Sri Lankan community he joined after immigrating in 2007. Two of his brothers also made the trip from Seattle to support him.

“I’m really happy and really proud of him,” said the new deacon’s daughter, Sujani.

“He is quite spiritual. I think him wanting to do this is answering God’s calling. He’s very God-centred. It’s like the bishop was saying in the homily: it’s not about them anymore. It’s about Christ living through them.”

Deacon Gomes, a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish with a long career as an accountant, said he felt the power of intercessory prayer as he lay prostrate in the cathedral Saturday.

“I was feeling the saints and all the people were focusing on me and giving me power to do this ministry. It was a nice feeling. It is exciting.”

Deacon Peter Gomes smiles with his wife, Frances, three daughters, and son-in-law after ordination. 

Deacon Alan Cavin, also a business professional, said he fought tears when he saw his family watching his ordination from the front pews.

“They have watched me through this process and they have been a big support. I think they were glad to see: ‘Daddy’s finally there. Now he’s ready to serve.’”

Deacon Cavin, a member of St. James Parish, has always had a passion for service. His daughter, Michelle, said her father helped with the finances and ran Bible studies for children and teens in a community church where she grew up in Nanaimo.

After moving to the Lower Mainland, he became active at his Abbotsford parish. He also visits the sick at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver every Sunday and is in the process of becoming a prison ministry volunteer.

“My compassionate way was seen as a weakness in the business world,” Deacon Cavin told The B.C. Catholic before his ordination. “In the ministry, I think it will be one of my strengths. God uses our personalities and how we are for his glory.”

His wife, Lise, said his kindness and care for others will make him a good permanent deacon. “Alan has always volunteered in all kinds of ministries.”

Deacon Alan Cavin puts his arms around his wife, Lise, and two children.

She added that the last four years of formation leading up to his ordination have felt like a journey.

“I am very excited to see that all of the effort and sacrifice is paying off and we’re looking forward to the new beginning. It seems like we started on this road kind of fearful, not knowing exactly where we were going with this,” she said.

“Then, formation ended, and now I feel again that anxiety and excitement of a new beginning.”

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who ordained the two businessmen permanent deacons, urged them to rely on God as they give thanks and look forward to their new ministry.

“Like your Master, dear Alan and Peter, go out to the lowly, the rejected, and the neglected. As deacons, bring the poor to the Church, and the Church to the poor.”

Archbishop Miller presides over the ordination Mass of Deacons Cavin and Gomes.

He pointed out that the role of a deacon requires service of charity, service of the Word, and service in liturgy.

“You are visible signs of the profound relationship that exists between liturgy and service to the world," he said. "The intimate relationship that exists between your service at this table, from which the faithful are nourished, has to be reflected in serving the other hungers of the world.”

Deacons Gomes and Cavin celebrated the rest of the weekend by participating in Mass at their parishes and enjoying Thanksgiving meals with their families. Deacon Gomes said they are still unsure about their assignments as ordained ministers, but he anticipates he will reach out to the Sri Lankan and Charismatic Renewal communities, where he is already quite active.

Another permanent deacon is waiting to be ordained this year. Raul Solano, a member of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, will have his turn before the altar at Holy Rosary Cathedral Dec. 8.