In the South Bay: ‘The pursuit of priestly fraternity’
San Pedro Region priests gather for ‘a day of fellowship’ and words from the archbishop.
The involvement of the lay faithful in the Church was one of the “beautiful discoveries” Archbishop José Gomez said he made as he started his ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles two years ago.
That, as well as a summary of the L.A. bishops’ recent ad limina visits to the Vatican and efforts to increase vocations were highlighted by Archbishop Gomez during the third annual Clergy Day on May 17, organized by the San Pedro Regional Office.
The day started with a morning praise and Benediction led by San Pedro Region Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Solis, followed by the archbishop’s keynote speech.
“This is a day for fellowship,” Bishop Solis told about 100 diocesan and religious order priests, many of them dressed casually and some ready to play golf, scheduled after a luncheon. “The pursuit of priestly fraternity is a collective investment of every priest’s personal time and sacrifices.”
Archbishop Gomez struck a largely positive tone in his remarks. “We are very blessed in the Archdiocese in the midst of ten years of a challenging situation,” he told the priests. “This is still a very strong archdiocese; baptisms, marriages and all the sacraments in general are very strong.
“What happens here is unbelievable,” he continued. He praised the “striking generosity” of the laity, and the great “faithfulness of the people.”
He said that during the ad limina meeting with Pope Benedict XVI he tried to emphasize such strength --- “share good things.”
Archbishop Gomez said that although there are “wonderful things” happening at Juan Diego House of Formation for aspiring diocesan priests, there is a need for increased vocations.
Immigration was another topic discussed with the pope, said the archbishop. He said Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus, asked the Holy Father about the possibility of writing a new document on the issue (the last Pontifical document on immigration was written in the early 1950s). When asked by the pope to send him a draft, Cardinal Mahony handed him an envelope with the draft.
“That is how well organized Cardinal Mahony is,” he noted.
Difficulties with the new missal, marriage and family life, and the upcoming canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha were among other topics addressed during the ad limina, said the archbishop.
He urged the priests to “pay attention to what he [Pope Benedict XVI] says in his weekly addresses,” and to review Vatican II documents.
On other matters, Archbishop Gomez said he suggested to the archdiocesan pastoral council that the worldwide celebration of the Year of Faith (Oct. 11) include a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
In response to a question from one priest regarding new evangelization, he said he may write a pastoral letter on the topic.
“We need to learn how to say things so people understand what we’re talking about, especially about the culture of faith,” he said. “It’s about re-evangelizing, beginning with the clergy --- educating them in the teachings of faith.
“Proclamation of mystery goes together with knowing and practicing,” he added.
He encouraged participants to make an effort to attend deanery meetings and to visit the different deaneries in their region in an effort to improve priestly fraternity and avoid isolation. Despite his own busy agenda, he said he tries to be present for Morning Prayer at the Cathedral residence, and urged the priests to try to build community.
“Isolation is dangerous for us,” he told them. “It should be a main concern when we put ourselves in a situation of being on our own.” He suggested that priests attend retreats because they can be important for “our spirituality, sharing, and supporting each other in priesthood.”
The event was sponsored by the Serra Club, Knights of Columbus, Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Catholic Daughters of America and the archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.