Thursday, March 19, 2009

An honor well-deserved

Last evening in The Cathedral of the Madeleine, at a vespers service on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Joseph, Bishop Wester formally conferred the honor of monsignor on five deserving priests of our diocese, including our Cathedral rector, now-Monsignor Joseph M. Mayo. There was another papal honor conferred by our bishop, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (i.e., For Church and Pope) medal. It was given to Deacon Silvio Mayo. Deacon Silvio was in the first class of deacons ordained for our diocese by Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal on 26 December 1976. Deacon Mayo is the very first permanent deacon in the U.S. to serve as chancellor of any diocese, a service he began when Bishop William Weigand, who recently retired from the Diocese of Sacramento, was our ordinary.

His career as diocesan chancellor followed his first career and the raising of his family. He said something to his wife, Mary, last night that struck me. He said, "I'd like to thank Mary who has sat down there in the pews for the last thirty-three years all by herself. I don't think she'd know what to do if I sat by her." I can tell you that wives of deacons make a lot of sacrifices, ones that they choose to make because a married man cannot be ordained a permanent deacon without his wife giving written approval to the bishop for him to be ordained. In addition, Msgr. Joe Mayo is his son.

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal

Silvio is a great mentor, he teaches by what he does and he does a lot without much fuss and without drawing attention to himself. In fact, when given the chance, he gladly deflects attention. I remember several years ago, after he had heart surgery, I was deployed to Iraq at the time of the surgery and did not arrive home until a month or two afterwards. The first time I saw him he was getting out of his car and he looked great. I told him so and asked him how he was feeling. He said: "I haven't felt this good in twenty-five years!" After the service, when we were in the vestry, I saw the medal sitting in its box on a chair. So, I asked Silvio if I could look at it. He said something like, "Sure and then you can write on your blog that you saw the real thing." Well, I did and it is not the medal. Thanks for all your dedicated service and hard work and for your wonderful example. I hope I am still going strong into my eighties

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