After a number of years running a well-designed and successful deacon’s formation process in the Diocese of Washington, diocesan leaders recognized there were people in our midst missing from the table, our Latino brothers and sisters. The vibrancy of our Latino congregations and the commitment of Latino leaders in the diocese were a divine sign that we needed first to recognize God’s work and calling to ordain ministry in our Latino members, and second to provide opportunities for clergy (deacon) formation in Spanish language.
The need was there. We heeded God’s call and responded faithfully by creating the Diocesan Latino Deacons School to provide academic formation for Latino postulants to the diaconate.
The Latino Deacons School launched last winter with the first three Latino postulants in the history of our Diocese: Adela Vázquez, Rosa Briones and Francisco Serrano.
As a way to honor Adela, Rosa, and Francisco’s stories and their individual calls, I invited them to respond to three questions:
How did you discern God’s call to become a deacon in the Episcopal Church?
How is your life being transformed during this time of formation in the Latino Deacons School?
How do you see yourself as a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington? Their words are more powerful than any review I can make, and I share them with you right now.
For Adela, the announcement of the formation in Spanish for Latino Deacons was “a surprise” that made her think about “God’s call to her.” Rosa and Francisco “never thought about ordination until their priest suggested they attend the discernment workshop.” That was the moment when Francisco “realized that he, too, was being called to be a deacon in the church” and that “the doors were being opened not only for him, but for all those who were eager to say ‘yes’ to God’s call” in the diocesan Latino community.
For seven months the three postulants have been involved in intense academic formation every weekend. They have finished three modules about the Bible: Old Testament, New Testament, and Movements of Resistance and Spirituality. During the rest of this year, they will study other subjects such as Church History, Systematic Theology and Ethics. This academic formation period “has been especially important and nurturing” for Adela, as it has helped her “discover herself as God’s servant in new ways.”
Rosa feels that during this time she has been “transformed radically in her journey of faith” and she recognizes that her relationship with the Scriptures has deepened. She is very thankful to “all the professors that have shared their wisdom in her formation process.” Francisco understands the formation time as Paul’s image of the “armor of God. Every soldier needs to be instructed for war… and we are Christ’s soldiers being instructed by the Word of God to be relevant in God’s work.”
Thinking ahead about how they see themselves as deacons in our Diocese, Adela sees herself as “a humble sower of the Word of God in the world.” Rosa dreams with “the opportunity to serve others in need in a deeper way, especially the suffering Latino communities around her.” Francisco hopes to “extend God’s work that others initiated in the diocese in the past.”
I hope that their voices and calls can be also an invitation to others in our congregations to wake up to God’s call for them.
The Rev. Yoimel González Hernández, Dean of the Latino Deacons School
with Rosa Briones, Francisco Serrano, and Adela Vázquez