By Deacon John De Gano
As most of you know, the month of May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our mother in faith, who remained calm while the apostles cowered in the Upper Room following Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and death.
How was Mary able to do this while everyone else was falling apart? In Luke 2:19, we read that Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Through her unwavering faith in God and in her Son, Jesus, Mary did not succumb to despair but trusted in God to reveal his plan in due season.
How often do we stop what we are doing and reflect on our lives, our faith and, yes, our mortality? What might God be trying to tell us?
For example, as I write this column, it is May 20, the Feast Day of St. Bernardine of Siena, patron of the Diocese of San Bernardino. It also happens to be the 23rd anniversary of my dad’s death. And the June issue in which this column will appear just so happens to mark my tenth anniversary as a contributing columnist with the diocesan newspaper.
These three seemingly random facts or events somehow find a connection to one another through me. In a real way they represent roses among the thorns of my life. Some might even say they are steppingstones in my faith life/journey.
As a grandson of Italy (St. Bernardine’s homeland), I grew up in the Inland Empire (within the geographic boundaries of the Diocese). I have served in ministry, received formation and been called to the vocation of Permanent Deacon for the Diocese I live in and serve.
While unchurched as a youth, my parents lived the Beatitudes, modeling charity and justice even before I knew what it was. I am an alumni of the Newman community and, with my wife, Cheryl, we have tried to give back where we can, receiving the Amar es Entregarse Award in 2020 from Bishop Gerald R. Barnes for our work with the community.
Many people have served as mentors in my life over the years, and in gratitude for them and to God, I hope that I may return the favor and provide encouragement to others seeking to grow closer to God.
This column, Through Eyes of Faith, is dedicated to this effort.
I came to this position of writing for the Diocesan Byte newspaper, through my writing for the Office of Small Faith Communities, where I worked as a contributing writer for Steve Valenzuela’s Seasons of Faith publications. This multi-‘seasonal’ job led to being asked to blog monthly for the fledgling Diocesan webpage and later, concurrently for both web and print media.
This latter assignment came about with the sudden death on May 25, 2012, of my friend and promoter, Steve, who had also been a columnist for the BYTE. I was asked to take over his space in the paper and I have tried to live up to his trust and memory ever since.
In Steve’s memory, my first BYTE column entry was titled, “Called to Carry on the Family Business.”
And so I have endeavored to do so.
Like Mary, each of us has been called by Jesus Christ to live and bring the good news to our own part of the world and to pass on the faith to future generations – with great joy and hearts full of love.
Through prayer, reflection and, yes, eyes of faith, we have God’s assurance that he will equip us to weather whatever storms may befall us.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.