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Christian courage in a secular age: the story of Deacon Tim Flanigan


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/06/16

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Thank you, Heather King, for sharing his story:

Dr. Tim Flanigan of the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, is a husband, a father of five, an infectious disease doctor and a professor at Brown University. In September 2014, at the height of the Ebola epidemic, he traveled to Liberia as a volunteer for two months to help organize the response. “Listen, I’m no good in a tsunami or an earthquake. I’m not an orthopedic guy; I’m an infectious disease doc. If I didn’t go during the Ebola epidemic, when would I go?” Everything you need to protect against Ebola, it turns out, can be bought at Home Depot. He packed seven hockey bags with supplies: suits, gloves, goggles. He and Sister Barbara Brilliant, FMM, made the last flight from Boston on August 31, before Delta stopped flying to Monrovia. …The heat was oppressive. The streets were dangerous by night. The fare was goat stew. Dr. Flanigan waves off all notion that his service was heroic. “No, no, I’ll tell you who were the heroes. The Liberian nurses, unheralded, unsung. The country was paralyzed by fear. And they showed up, day after day, for next to no pay and no glory.”

But then there’s this:

“My faith has always been important to me. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s, several years ago, that the Lord really made me stop. Something was wrong. I hungered for more. I was going to Mass on Sundays, praying a little here and there. But not fervent. Impatient, uneasy, restless, dissatisfied.” His dissatisfaction happened to coincide with his patients responding so beautifully to treatment. A nurse he was working with suggested that he talk to her husband. “So I did — and the guy was looking at the diaconate program. Read more on Deacon Flanigan: Deacon as Image of Mercy Something clicked. The diaconate was radical surgery. Five years of preparation. Classes every Monday night. The office morning and night. Mass daily, insofar as possible. “I’m an expert at getting things done. Organizing, delegating. Becoming a deacon showed me I’m really the Lord’s.” He was ordained five years ago. “The job description is very open-ended. You have to hang out, listen, discern, adapt, fit in. You become friends with folks you otherwise wouldn’t have taken the time to become friends with. It’s a kind of service not in the headlines. If it’s in the headlines, something’s wrong with it.”

Read it all.

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