CCFW service a win-win for deacon candidates and clients
FORT WORTH — With the encouragement of Bishop Michael Olson, Deacon Rigoberto Leyva, diocesan coordinator of Pastoral Formation, and Juan Rendon, diocesan director of Permanent Deacon Formation, are connecting some of the 29 deacon candidates with service opportunities at Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW). The collaborative effort has been a great success, said Deacon Leyva.
“When the new class of candidates began in 2015, we began sending them to serve at Catholic Charities because this aspect is an important part of their formation,” the deacon explained. “Right now we have four of our candidates regularly helping at the agency in different areas. All of our candidates are saying that these experiences are invaluable on a practical level, and they are also finding joy as they seek to meet the needs of others.”
Steve DeLeon, director of Parish Relations for CCFW, agrees that the partnership offers obvious benefits to the clients who come to Catholic Charities in search of assistance. “Our clients benefit from the compassionate care that is given by the candidates, as trained volunteers,” said DeLeon.
“We also see the positive impact that is being made upon the men as they serve and gain first-hand knowledge of the needs within the community, and as they take that awareness back into their parishes.”
Candidate Ricardo DeLeon began serving at Catholic Charities in August of 2016. Having retired from a corporate career in 2015, DeLeon said he was previously unaware of many of the realities of poverty that he encountered while working at the agency’s main office, in transportation, and with CCFW’s Street Outreach Services, a program designed to assist the homeless.
“Each of us who sees the good work this organization does needs to be an advocate, and help to spread the (Catholic Charities) message,” wrote DeLeon, in a class reflection paper. “I pray for each of the people I have met, asking God to give all of us the ability to help them. I pray that my heart will be open to share my love for God with them. I pray that this experience is leading me closer to Him by serving others.”
Most significantly, said DeLeon, he is learning the value of just being present to others, in a non-judgmental, compassionate way. “It’s so important to let people know they are not alone,” he added. “I’m grateful for all that I’m learning at Catholic Charities. Sometimes, what people need, more than anything, is to know that others care.”
For more information, visit CatholicCharitiesFortWorth.org or call 817-534-0814.