Deacon Sean Loone of Our Lady of the Wayside parish in Shirley used his time in lockdown to complete his latest book.

‘Only in the Crucified God – Questions and Answers on Faith, Hope and Love’ is available to buy now with all profits going to CAFOD.

Here Deacon Sean gives us an insight into his role as Deacon during lockdown…

"A deacon is a man called by Christ to be his servant in the world, after all it was Jesus himself who said, ‘I am among you as one who serves.’ (Luke 22:27) Traditionally the deacon is called to serve God and his people in three ways:

• As a servant of the altar
• As a servant of the word
• As a servant of charity

However, everything changed when lockdown happened. Deacons were not allowed to exercise their ministry as a servant of the altar, as priests were instructed to celebrate Mass by themselves.

For me my ministry as a deacon always had to have a practical element to it, so the first thing I did was to volunteer as a NHS responder. This involved taking patients to and from hospital as well as delivering much needed medication on behalf of the local pharmacy.

I also approached local supermarket Morrisons and asked if they would consider donating food to St Chad’s Sanctuary in Birmingham, which provides much-needed help and support for asylum seekers and refugees. Their response was overwhelming to say the least. Several times I literally filled my car with food, taking it to a couple in the parish who delivered it the Sanctuary. In this way I could fulfil that aspect of my ministry inviting me to be a servant of charity.

Lockdown also provided me with more time to spend with the Lord in prayer, study and reflection out of which emerged the second element of my ministry, the calling to be servant of the word.

My background is in education, both in schools and at St Mary’s College Oscott, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, where I lecture on a part-time basis, my area of special interest being God’s word, the Bible.

This gave way to the completion of a project I had been working on for some time, that being a book called ‘Only In the Crucified God – Questions on Faith, Hope and Love.’

To understand the nature of this project here is an extract, which summarises what the book sets out to achieve:
‘Where is God? What is God like? Does God love everyone? What is faith? Is Jesus God? What is the Trinity and how can it help me in life? Where is God when people suffer? I am afraid of death, how can faith change that? Where was God when I needed him most? These are just a few of the questions the author invites us to reflect on as we journey deep into the heart of the Christian faith. This is a book about having somewhere to turn when life gets hard. At its heart is the belief that ‘Only In the Crucified God,’ can the ultimate truth be found. Using God’s word and his own insight on life the author invites us to explore our own experiences in the light of crucified love. What emerges is something quite remarkable, a God who has never been absent from anything in life we have been through. This God is the God of crucified love, this God is the God of Jesus Christ and this book will deepen your understanding of his love for all people.’

I felt that such a book - given the dark and challenging times we were all living through - was much needed.

The book itself takes a series of challenging questions and sets out to answer them using only God’s word – the Bible. Such a task also allowed me to fulfil that aspect of my ministry inviting me to be a servant of the word.

In our parish I also took it in turns with the parish priest, each week, to write a homily or reflection based on the Sunday Mass readings, which was then sent to the parishioners through email as well as being on the parish website.

Finally, one day as I prayed something happened and I can only describe it as a revelation from Our Lord. I would publish my book and donate all of the profits to CAFOD – the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.

So I made direct contact with them and simply asked the question, ‘Would they be interested?’ Their response was an overwhelming ‘Yes please,’ especially in light of the devastating effect COVID-19 was having in the poorest countries on earth, amidst people least able to cope with it. This served to bring together those two aspects of my ministry I was able to exercise during lockdown - that being a servant of the word and a servant of charity.

I am now, thankfully, back in the parish and once again exercising my ministry as a servant at the altar, but I will be eternally grateful for the grace which guided me throughout my period of lockdown to serve God and his people as a servant of His Word and as a servant of charity."

Sylvester Mutsigwa, CAFOD’s representative in Birmingham, said: “We are enormously grateful that Deacon Sean has decided to write a book and donate all the proceeds of his book to CAFOD.

"In buying this book, people can deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith, whilst at the same time taking an action that will benefit our sisters and brothers in some of the world’s poorest communities.

"The proceeds will in some way help people to lift themselves out of poverty, so buying a copy is a wonderful way to show love for our neighbour.”