Barely 24 hours after becoming the newest Latter-day Saint apostle — immediately shifting his full-time church job to a lifetime one — Patrick Kearon conceded he hadn’t yet had much time to reflect on the dramatic change in his status and service.
And, for that, he said he was “grateful.”
After meeting Thursday with Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and being ordained by the faith’s 99-year-old leader in Salt Lake City, the freshly minted apostle had to catch a flight to speak Friday at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
“Since the very moment of that call, I’ve been extremely engaged in other things that were already in place,” Kearon said in an eight-minute church video released Saturday. “...I’m actually very grateful, in many ways, for this [speaking] assignment to not let me get too self-focused.”
Even so, the 62-year-old British and Irish national acknowledged the “extraordinarily weighty” ecclesiastical load he now must shoulder.
“I have at least some good idea of what I need to become and how I need to be refined to be the kind of servant that you need to be in this kind of responsibility,” Kearon said, “and I know I have a long way to go.”
Under Latter-day Saint theology, apostles, who serve until death, are seen as “prophets, seers and revelators,” and join the line of men who someday could become president of the global church.
In their day-to-day duties, they help set policies, procedures and preachings for the faith. They travel the world, visit congregations, oversee a vast bureaucracy, deliver major addresses at General Conference, and testify as “special witnesses of Jesus Christ.”
“It feels exactly as you would imagine,” he said. “And I’ll leave you to wonder at that. But I’ve had every conceivable emotion, and I know this is far beyond me. But I will plead for help” — help he said he is “counting on” from the heavens.
He then told any viewers who, like him, may be feeling “stretched beyond your wildest imagination” that he is “right there with you. … May you find peace, and may we all find peace together.”
In the church video, Kearon, who joined the faith in his mid-20s, also discussed his conversion.
“I was introduced to it first by members, wonderful members,” he recalled. “... They were the embodiment of joy and sort of living manifestations of Christ’s love for the people around them. That’s what kept me going even as I found myself resistant to some of the things they were teaching and some of the things they believed.”
The church leader pointed to how the Utah-based faith and its members try to follow Jesus.
“When I think about the Savior’s example of looking after those on the margins, those who hurt, those whose pains are not understood, the hungry, the lonely, the downtrodden,” Kearon said, “I’m grateful to belong to the church that is feeding more this year than last, is clothing more this year than last year, is digging wells, finding children with malnutrition and people in war-torn parts of the world or fleeing from war-torn parts of the world. … This is following the Savior’s example. ... I salute our people, who in small personal ways and in the big institutional ways, go and find these people on the margins and beyond the margins, and do our best to take care of them.”