Speaking of journeys, it has been an incredible and fulfilling one for me since moving to Kentucky 13 years ago; becoming part of Catholic Charities here in the Archdiocese of Louisville for these past 12 years, and serving as a permanent deacon over 10 years as well. It is a journey where, for me, the table meets the road!
Retirements always provide a chance to reflect and look back on our lives, which I’ve been doing a lot over these past months in preparing to retire from Catholic Charities come the end of June. And it is this image of the table meeting the road that has most stuck with me.
For us as Catholics, the “Table of Eucharist” is the heart and center of our faith; one which many of us have missed in so many ways during COVID. But what we say and do at this table, which is the font and summit of our faith, only makes sense and is fulfilled when it is taken on the road by our individual and communal acts of charity and justice.
The Eucharist we celebrate must be realized in real, concrete, tangible ways that make a difference in our world and in the lives of God’s most vulnerable children. In fact, the very office of deacon is meant to help facilitate that connection with all of Christ’s baptized Faithful.
It is here where I have been so privileged to work at Catholic Charities, alongside some of the greatest people I have ever met. Here, through our programs and in observing our skilled and compassionate social workers, I have witnessed the table meeting the road.
I know you have read here in this very column and in other Record articles about the work of Catholic Charities; countless stories of lives touched, healed, and empowered — be they a struggling pregnant mom facing eviction, a lonely isolated elderly person in a long-term care facility, a survivor of the scourge of human trafficking, a refugee forced to flee their homeland due to persecution and violence, an immigrant family without funds to bury a loved one who succumbed to the COVID-19 virus, and the list goes on.
Having witnessed such encounters over my years at the agency has broadened my social awareness so much and transformed my faith.
It has also helped me to better understand my own role as a deacon; in fact, if it were not for Catholic Charities, I honestly would never have become one.
It has shaped my preaching, allowing me to put real flesh on the Gospel by sharing the stories from my work within the agency, and being able to invite those who gather around the table into practical action as we go forth on the road.
I also must add how much I have valued the relationships and collaboration with incredible archdiocesan staff in other departments, be it formation, worship, finance, administration, family ministries and Record staff, to name a few.
These have been true partners in our common mission as church. I would be remiss to not mention the great work of our 110 parishes that carry out ministries of outreach at their local levels, which I have learned so much about, especially during this pandemic crisis.
I thank all of you, my archdiocesan family, for being part of my faith journey as together through us, the table meets the road.
Deacon Caruso is the director of mission advancement for Catholic Charities of Louisville.