According to Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar, the Sept. 8 ordination of its three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles “is a praise-filled moment, as we all gather together in prayer as an archdiocese.”
“We pray together for our bishops … asking the Lord to continue to pour the gifts of the spirit into their lives, that they might continue the work of the apostles in our own midst,” an enthusiastic Bishop Salazar recently told The Tidings.
Bishop Salazar, who has served in the Los Angeles Archdiocese since his priestly ordination more than 30 years ago, makes every effort to do exactly that in his dual roles as vicar for the Office of Ethnic Ministry and as director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace. Part of his mission, he explained, is to “try to find God’s unity among the diversity of various cultures in the archdiocese.”
As head of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace, it is important “to speak about justice and peace, realizing that in order to achieve true justice and true peace, we must always begin by respecting life in all of its forms,” stressed Bishop Salazar.
A native of San Jose, Costa Rica, as a youth Bishop Salazar migrated to the Los Angeles area, where he attended St. Thomas the Apostle School, Daniel Murphy High School, East Los Angeles College, California State University Los Angeles, Immaculate Heart College and eventually St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. In 1984, the late Cardinal Timothy Manning ordained him to the priesthood.
Following his ordination, Bishop Salazar served in numerous parishes across the archdiocese: as associate pastor at St. Gregory the Great in Whittier, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pasadena, the Cathedral of St. Vibiana and also at St. Teresa of Avila in Silverlake, where he was the pastor for 10 years.
In addition to his parish assignments, Bishop Salazar was also elected as dean of Deanery 14, and has served on the Council of Priests, College of Consultors, Clergy Pension Board and the Archdiocesan Personnel Board. In 2003, he was appointed vice chancellor and served on the Archdiocesan Leadership Team.
According to Bishop Salazar, his devotion to his faith and his dedication to serving the people of God were further solidified almost exactly 11 years ago — on Aug. 25, 2004 — while on a trip to San Antonio, Texas, with Msgr. Gabriel Gonzales to visit their mutual friend, Father Joseph Roelke, provincial of the Missionaries of the Holy Family, who had taken ill and was in a coma at the time.
“I received a phone call from Cardinal Mahony informing me that Pope John Paul II had selected me to be auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles,” he recalled. “My life, no longer mine, changed forever. How mysterious the change that is explained in the words of St. Augustine: ‘With you I am a Christian, for you I am a bishop.’”
Thankfully, Father Roelke eventually recovered, and both he and Msgr. Gonzales were Bishop Salazar’s chaplains at his ordination as a bishop on Nov. 4, 2004. Cardinal Mahony appointed him as episcopal vicar of the San Pedro Region, where he served for five years.
“How blessed I feel saying ‘yes’ to the Lord and thanking the many family members and friends for sustaining me with their prayers through these past 11 years,” said Bishop Salazar. “It has been a wonderful experience. … Deo Gratias!”
Regarding Bishops Joseph V. Brennan, David G. O’Connell and Robert Barron, Bishop Salazar said he believes that “God has chosen these three wonderful priests from a diversity of backgrounds, to work together … so that we may continue to move forward in proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”