30 years ago tomorrow I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I have been blessed to serve in a variety of parishes. After ordination I served for 5 years as Associate Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker (Canoga Park), then 2 1/2 years as Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hammel Street in East Los Angeles). I was then asked to Pastor another Our Lady of Guadalupe (Rosehill, near El Sereno in Los Angeles) where I remained for over 8 years. I was then sent to Sacred Heart (Lancaster) where I was Pastor for 11 years, followed by 1 year at St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Santa Clarita), 1 year at St. Anselm (South Los Angeles) and now Pastor here at St. Rita Church.
If we look in the Bible at how different people were called by God we notice one similarity those called by God felt unworthy. In our gospel today Peter responds to the call of Jesus with these words: Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man. In the first reading Isaiah said: Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips. In the second reading Paul said: I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.
A man once told me about how in college he was failing his classes and running with the wrong crowd. Then he met his future wife. Because of her love, his whole life changed. He cleaned up his life, they were married and now have three beautiful children. Love can and does change everything.
Advent has always been an especially sacred time for me. It is a time to start a new year focused on God. The focus centers on the God-man event, the incarnation. To me this is the most extraordinary event and most wonderful of gifts. Our God chose to become part of our lives, part of our world and part of our history. As I reflect on this event, I realize that it’s not simply a thing of the past – but also, and so importantly, a thing of the present. I witness God becoming incarnate today in many ways: in the outstretched hands of service, in the repentant hearts of those who seek forgiveness, in the grateful worshippers gathered in prayer and through the financial generosity of those who support our parish. God becomes part of our history (our story), as we allow Him to be born anew in the world through our good works and prayers.
Today has been designated as Priesthood Sunday. In our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews we hear: “Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness.” Please pray for your priests, who are your representatives before God yet are human and prone to error and sin.
Requiem for the Unborn—Saturday, January 20, 2018. As part of the OneLife LA celebration, we affirm and proclaim our believe in the sanctity of all human life through one of the most beautiful and moving liturgies celebrated each year. 5:00 p.m. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, 90012.