Last Saturday was a day of great rejoicing for all of us at Salt + Light Television Network. Many of us spent a good part of the day inside St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, first taking part in the ordination ceremony of new permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Toronto, including our own Pedro Guevara Mann. After a brief break we returned to the Cathedral to celebrate the marriage of one of our stars, Cheridan Eygelaar to Matthew Sanders, who works at the Archdiocese of Toronto Pastoral Centre. I concelebrated both masses and preached at the wedding Saturday afternoon, presided over by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins.
It was a moment of deep gratitude and personal pride for me, as CEO of Salt + Light, to witness three outstanding young adults make such significant life commitments. One of the great joys of the past nine years at Salt and Light has been to take part in the priestly and diaconal ordination ceremonies, celebrations of religious vows of numerous young men and women, and to have witnessed at least 12 weddings of our young staff. I have also baptized several children born to our newly married couples.
First a word about Pedro Guevara Mann. As I watched Pedro come forward and kneel before Bishop Vincent Nguyen to promise obedience to the bishops and his successors, I could not help but recall my first encounter with Pedro back in the fall of 2000 as we were preparing for Canada’s World Youth Day. Meeting such a young, dynamic, committed Catholic who manifested a genuine desire to serve the Lord using his creative, artistic and theatrical talents, I hired Pedro on the spot that day in 2000 and put him in charge of the “Youth Festival” component of World Youth Day 2002. We worked closely together for those two years and my esteem and respect for Pedro grew by leaps and bounds. His creativity and fidelity to Christ and the Church, and his wonderful relationship with his wife and two sons impressed me very much then and now. Many will remember the Youth Festival component of Toronto’s World Youth Day to be one of the most successful Youth Festivals of all the World Youth Days combined over the past 27 years.
As World Youth Day was winding down in the fall of 2002, and I received my new assignment to found and establish Salt and Light Catholic Television Network, I remember thinking that Pedro must be a key player in this new initiative for the New Evangelization in Canada. I contacted him and he accepted immediately. The past nine years with Pedro have been a blessing. It was during this period that the idea matured in Pedro’s heart and mind to pursue the Permanent Diaconate. I strongly encouraged him to do so and we supported him and his family throughout the formation program for permanent deacons.
Jesus told his disciples that he had come “not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28). At the Last Supper, after reminding his apostles that he was among them “as one who serves” (Lk 22:27), Jesus washed their feet, a duty of servants, giving them an example to imitate (cf. Jn 13:1-17). Jesus himself was the first deacon, who left us a model of service in his Church.
Deacons share in the Lord Jesus’ threefold mission of teaching, sanctifying, and leading the People of God. Married deacons bring to the Sacrament of Holy Orders the gifts already received and being nurtured through their reception of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Deacons and their wives are eloquent witnesses to the dignity and sacredness of marriage.
They faithfully face the challenges of married life and the demands of daily living and help all of us – priests, consecrated women and men, and lay faithful – to live our baptismal call of building up the Body of Christ.
Permanent deacons teach by providing catechetical instruction, adult faith formation, and preparation for reception of the sacraments; by giving retreats and spiritual direction; and by counseling and reaching out to inactive Catholics in our community. Pedro has been doing all of that for the past 12 years of my association with him, first at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto, then at World Youth Day 2002 and now at Salt and Light Television. Last Saturday, the Sacrament of Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate signed, sealed and commissioned Pedro to continue doing what he has done so well for the past 12 years and then some.
When the ordaining bishop presented Pedro with the Book of the Gospels, he spoke these words to the new deacon:
Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.
Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.
What stirring and fitting words to describe Pedro’s new mission!
Together let us invoke the intercession of three holy deacons in our Christian tradition: St. Stephen, the Church’s first martyr “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55), who professed his faith in the risen Lord and forgave his persecutors; St. Lawrence, who affirmed that “the poor are the treasure of the Church”; and St. Francis of Assisi who, as a deacon, gave himself totally to Christ and his brothers and sisters by a life of humility, poverty and joy.
May these three saints bless this new herald, Pedro abundantly as he continues to proclaim the Gospel in our midst through word, creativity, action and loving concern for those he meets each day. Ad multos annos, Deacon Pedro!
Matthew and Cheridan
On Saturday afternoon, it was Cheridan’s and Matthew’s great moment as they were married in a solemn ceremony at St. Michael’s Cathedral. Cheridan is one of our stellar associate producers and Matthew is a very fine young man who has been working in the Spiritual Chancellor’s office at the Archdiocese of Toronto. One could not ask for two more joyful and competent young lay people than Matthew and Cheridan.
They carefully planned their wedding liturgy to the smallest detail, and their involvement of the Tallis choir in the wedding mass was a wonderful addition.
Cheridan and Matthew are members of a whole new generation of committed young Catholics who love the Church and Jesus Christ; who are serious about their faith, and truly willing to lay down their lives for their friends. The freshness, competence and charm that they bring to their workplaces are deeply appreciated.
They chose the Gospel text of the Beatitudes for their wedding mass and I shared with them in the homily the following thoughts:
“The Beatitudes are the foundation for Christian living and for married life. The Beatitudes turn the world’s ideas of happiness on their head. Ten years ago this summer, Blessed John Paul II stood not far from here, at Exhibition Place, and addressed the young people of the world who gathered around him for World Youth Day 2002. He spoke about today’s Gospel story and his words spoken then continue to resound in this Cathedral today at your wedding mass. Listen to the words of Blessed John Paul II:
Dear young people. People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. True joy is a victory, something that cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory.
…Dear friends, the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes. Blessed are you if, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit, good and merciful; if you really seek what it just and right; if you are pure of heart, peacemakers, lovers of the poor and their servants. Blessed are you!
…Cheridan and Matthew, the two of you are richly blessed and gifted individuals who love and serve the Lord and the Church so generously and faithfully and are role models to so many of your peers. Each of us here present looks to you with admiration and love, and promises our prayers and friendship for the days, weeks, months and years ahead.
…Marriage is a signpost so badly needed in our society today. Raise it high and maintain it for the rest of us and for the world. This giving of yourselves to each other is a sign of the reality of God’s love for us and Christ’s love for the Church. Thank you for allowing God’s love for us to shine through your marriage.”
May God bless abundantly Deacon Pedro and Cheridan and Matthew in their new commitments, lives and ministries in the Church. We are all richer because of what they bring to our lives and our mission here at Salt and Light Catholic Television Network and Media Foundation.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation