July – August, 2015
On July 13, 1985, Bishop George Hunt ordained the first class of vocational Deacons in RI. This was the beginning of the revival and resurrection of the vocational Diaconate in our Diocese. Deacons focus on enabling the church to serve the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely, helping us serve the helpless, as in doing so we are serving Christ himself.
Deacons are one of the three orders of ordained ministry in our church, along with priests and bishops, and in both the early church and today deacons come in two “flavors”: vocational and transitional. All priests are first ordained as deacons and must serve as deacons for at least six months before being ordained priests—they are what are known as “transitional” deacons. Others feel called specifically to the distinctive ministry of deacons; they are “vocational” deacons; currently there are 27 canonically resident vocational deacons in RI.
In the May newsletter we published the good news that Bishop Knisely is assigning the Rev. Mary Ann Mello, a vocational deacon, to serve at Good Shepherd beginning August 1st. Deacons serve at the specific direction of the Bishop and under the supervision of the priest of the parish. They serve in one parish for a few years and then are moved elsewhere. Vocational deacons receive no compensation for their ministry. Most deacons are employed full-time in secular fields and exercise their ordained ministry in hours over and above that.
Deacon Mary Ann has been serving at St. Stephen’s Church in Providence since she was ordained two years ago: At St. Stephen’s she participates in the campus ministry at Brown and RISD. Mary Ann’s ministries have included The Episcopal Chaplaincy at the ACI and at Eleanor Slater Hospital. In the past year, Mary Ann has participated in the startup of Rhythms of Grace- a church service hosted at the Church of the Advent (formerly St. Matthias) in Coventry that serves the needs of the autistic community, a ministry which she will continue.
Mary Ann currently resides in West Warwick; she has a daughter, Aimee in college. She works in human resources administration in a home-health-care agency. Her home church for over 15 years was St. Francis in Coventry, where she served as treasurer and taught Sunday school, and she is looking forward to returning to a smaller church.
She concludes her ministry at St. Stephen’s on June 28 and is taking some long-deferred vacation before beginning with us in August. She is incredibly excited to be joining us and we look forward to welcoming her to Good Shepherd!