The love I have for the Lord deepened and was reanimated the day I decided to come back to the church after a brief hiatus when I was in my early 20s.
As I continued my faith journey, I knew in my heart that I was called to a deeper relationship with God through the diaconate. Through spiritual direction, and my wife’s full support, I began a new journey that would deepen my faith even more and enkindle a fire and zeal to proclaim the Word of God. As a faithful lay person, we can share the Word of God and be very active in the church, but my love to proclaim the Gospel was a true calling from God to speak from the pulpit.
During my years of formation, I learned the true responsibility of a strong prayer life and to continue deepening my knowledge of God’s Word so that as I proclaim his Word, it becomes transformative and healing in someone’s life. The ardent love I have for our Lord encourages me to share the exciting news of hope that we so desperately need. Becoming a deacon is not a tithe for me; it is a lifelong commitment of sacrifice to be available for all of those in need. It goes without saying that as a married deacon, my family comes first, but I am blessed that my wife of 22 years and children are very supportive and active in ministry by my side.
As an ordained minister, I am held to a higher standard and responsibility for the souls I minister to. God holds me accountable and I take that very seriously.
As a retired police detective of 25 years, I was held to a higher standard by man’s law and I served with honor and respected my badge. As of May 21, 2011, I was ordained a deacon in the Diocese of Camden and I am proud to wear a different badge of honor. To be able to put on a different armor, the armor of God, and having complete faith that he walks before me and behind me while battling the spiritual enemy.
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said that as our work increases, so must our prayer life in order to combat the enemy. I cannot agree with her more. My prayer life is mandatory but lovingly disciplined in order to fill my soul, so I may feed others God’s message. But as a minister of charity and service, should we go beyond the pulpit and get involved in social justice issues? Of course!
Many of us are reluctant to get involved in sometimes difficult social issues or unpopular ones such as immigration for fear of backlash from the people we know or the ones we do not. It can be unpleasant hearing or reading comments that can almost keep you at bay from becoming a catalyst for a sensitive cause. However, as a lifelong minister of service, deacons are called to step outside our comfort zone, be men of courage and the good Samaritans God calls us to be. Just like a family I am currently helping. I am listening to Jesus when he said to love our neighbor. He called us to righteousness in accord with moral and divine law.
So here I am today, I wear many hats, business manager at Parish of the Holy Cross (five churches), in charge of three cemeteries, work in three hospitals, and a champion for the undeserved and forgotten! How do I do all I do? I start and end my day in prayer, put on my many hats and an Armor of God which protects me each and every day as I face new challenges.
It is my deepest prayer that all faithful Catholic men who have a calling to the diaconate take that leap of faith and let our awesome God draw out your talent and fill you with many graces. May God bless you all.
Deacon Arnaldo Santos is assigned to Holy Cross Parish in Bridgeton.