Life and Faith
Deacon Ken Bissen: Gifted to give and called to serve.
Deacon Patrick ConstantinoOn February 27, 2021 Deacon Kenneth Bissen, Jr. was a presenter at the international virtual conference “Prophetic Ministry and Impartation,” hosted by St. Clare Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group in Kenya.
Deacon Kenneth Bissen, Jr. is assigned to Christ the King Church in Kahului. He is the Spiritual Director of the Charismatic Prayer Group. He assists Fr. Gus and performs weddings, baptisms, funeral services and preaches at Masses—and anything he is called upon.
Deacon Kenneth was ordained in 2007. He is a graduate of California State University of Dominguez Hills, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and is currently employed by the Department of Water Supply, County of Maui as a Purchasing Specialist.
Deacon Ken’s maternal grandparents are from Naguilian, La Union, Philippines.
With his permission, Deacon Ken’s presentation is reprinted here:
The year of 2020 came with the challenge of the pandemic and a new normal. Those challenges, opened doors to evangelize in real time throughout the world with the assistance of technology. My diaconate ministry needed to make a shift to this new normal. This new normal also brought joys. One of those joys is hearing my son verbalize his thoughts in his own unique way and its connection to me becoming a Deacon.
I will share with you my story of challenges on enhancing my journey to become a Deacon in the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Honolulu. I was ordained a permanent Deacon on January 20, 2007 in Christ the King Catholic Church on Maui.
In 1995, my journey to becoming a Deacon was planted with a seed when my family moved to Maui from O‘ahu. I had an opportunity to transfer from my State of Hawai‘i job to my current position which is a Purchasing Specialist with the Department of Water, County of Maui.
This was not an easy decision to make to move my family. My beautiful wife Dr. Charmaine, accompanied me with our very young children. Lokahi, our son, was going to turn three and Julia was only about nine months old. We also brought my elderly parents who lived with us for seventeen years. One of our major concerns was the medical coverage for our son. Lokahi was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Coffin Sins Syndrome which we did not know at the time of his birth. He wasn’t walking and our concern was will he ever walk and talk. He had many neurological medical issues and was missing part of his brain, a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum. Our specialists were on O‘ahu which meant we would have to travel to O‘ahu several times a year. This would be an additional financial challenge with needed time off from work.
In the fall of 1995, I was informed by my Filipino maternal aunt who was attending St. Elizabeth Church in ‘Aiea, about this priest who conducts healing masses. My aunt knew about Lokahi’s fragile health and told us that the priest was coming to St. Anthony Church in Wailuku, Maui in a couple of days to do a healing mass. I was coming home from work and praying to God while I was driving. I remember that conversation with God and I said “just think if he starts walking.” I was thinking and imagining that he would start walking while this priest was praying over him.
When I entered my home, I couldn’t wait to see Lokahi. I opened the door of the house and there I saw Lokahi sitting next to my Mom while she was standing. We expected Lokahi to crawl to me and give me a hug. While I was waiting at the door for that hug, I received something better than a hug. Lokahi gingerly started to stand up, holding unto my Mom and started to walk.
We were so astounded by this event that we could not say a word seeing a miracle happening right in front of us. Charmaine was not home at the time, she was at the doctor’s appointment so I took Lokahi to meet her. When Lokahi walked toward her, words could not describe the expression of joy on Charmaine’s face. Days later we still went to the Healing Mass at St. Anthony in Wailuku. When the time came to go up so that the priest would pray over him, I introduced myself and my son and spoke about my aunty who knew the priest very well and explained to him that we came for prayers so that my son can be healed and walk someday.
When the priest noticed that he was already walking, without saying a word, he looked at me with his hands open gesturing like he is already walking. I looked at him and said, “I guess God beat you to it.” We both started to laugh, it was a laugh of joy.
I would say that event started me to believe that God has a plan for all of us. We are not just born to be born but born to serve one another and be a member of one body in Christ. St. Paul said in Romans 12:4–5: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.”
That means that all of us is a part of the body of Christ to do the work of the Father.
I feel in our own humble and special way my son, daughter and wife have been instruments of doing God’s work. One pastor from a Protestant church who knows us said that my daughter who was a young child at that time said that she has holy hands.
Today my daughter Julia has been working in the medical field for several years, at one time in physical therapy helping people heal, and now assisting people in hearing. Also, today I teach reconciliation class with Julia at Christ the King to high school students. My wife Dr. Charmaine is a retired District School Psychologist for Maui who worked with families and children. My son even with his multiple life long disabilities shows love and compassion for others, and taught us the meaning of patience as we wait for him to communicate with us in the best way he can.
The event of my son walking opened my heart to God which led me to a door that God wanted me to walk through. I would have to say attending a Charismatic Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Anthony Church in Wailuku made me walk through that door to think about being a Deacon in the Catholic Church. This journey did not start overnight. I had to grow in my spiritual life. I had a son who was very young and with medical needs. The medical professionals did not expect him to live past his first year of life. Lokahi had repeated hospitalizations.
We had a very young daughter who also had her needs. However, all the attention and resources in the family were focused upon Lokahi and helping him survive. On top of that I was adjusting to a new specialized field of employment.
Therefore, I trusted God and He has guided me and my family. It has been over fourteen years since I have been ordained and have met a lot of good people. There have been many happy moments like baptizing babies and young children, meeting with couples in the preparation of marriage and being a part of their journey even after their marriage. I enjoy being an instructor in RCIA classes and guiding individuals that are seeking to be part of the Catholic community through baptism and confirmation. Because of this new normal as the result of the pandemic, I am able to preach and share the Good News of Jesus Christ through the technology of ZOOM and Facebook to the people in Nairobi, Kenya and around the world as a member of the Hawai‘i Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (HCCRS). My wife Dr. Charmaine joins me for Couples for Christ using ZOOM which we participate with other couples in California, O‘ahu and Maui.
There also have been moments of sadness, comforting those who lost their family members and friends especially during the past year because of the pandemic. Even though there were restrictions in attending funerals, the service was being recorded for those who could not attend especially those families in the Philippines.
Being a Deacon has its many challenges and blessings. One of those blessings has been my mentor Deacon Pat Constantino who mentored me and others during our many years in formation before we were ordained. Deacon Pat is still mentoring all the Deacons on Maui.
It has been rewarding and has given me the humility which I would not have experienced. In 1995, I started this journey not knowing what to expect. I still don’t know what to expect in life. What I have learned during this journey is that I truly know who is in charge, it happened when I walked through that door that God opened for me and my family.
Thank you Deacon Ken for sharing and for your commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Every Friday until September 17, at 7 p.m., Deacon Ken will be one of the presenters for the Hawai‘i Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services titled “Life in the Spirit Seminar.” This is a free webinar via ZOOM. Go to www.hccrs.org to register for this free webinar.
Deacon Ken, you truly are “Gifted by God to Give,” with all your heart and soul.
You truly are Gifted to give Life and Faith to our people!
On June 18, 1987, Patrick Constantino was ordained as the first Deacon of Filipino ancestry for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i. For twenty-two years, he served as Administrator at Holy Rosary Church in Pāia, St. Rita Church in Ha‘ikū and St. Gabriel Church in Ke‘anae. Constantino is presently assigned to St. Joseph Church in Makawao.
Prior to his ordination, Constantino was in government—first appointed in 1966 as Assistant Sergeant of Arms by the Speaker of the House Elmer F. Cravalho. When Cravalho became Maui’s first Mayor, Constantino became his Executive Assistant—the first of Filipino ancestry. Later, Constantino became the first County Treasurer of Filipino ancestry and the first County Grants Administrator and Risk Manager of Filipino ancestry.
Constantino has served as a Deacon for thirty-three years and married to his lovely wife Corazon for fifty-nine years.