Seminarians, both new and returning, were welcomed to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Aug. 21 for a special Mass and luncheon with Archbishop José Gomez, who invited them to be mindful of the Gospel call of invitation to a closer relationship with God.
“We need to understand that God wants to be with us,” he told more than 60 men from St. John’s Seminary and Juan Diego House in his homily at the Mass celebrated in the Cathedral’s St. Vibiana Chapel. “God is always rooting for us. And that should fill our hearts with joy.”
The day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew — the Master’s invitation to a wedding feast — indicates that, “in the same way that God invites us to be with Him, we are called to invite others,” said Archbishop Gomez. “This is an exciting time to be a priest or a seminarian in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, for there are so many possibilities to invite people to live a life of holiness.”
After Mass, seminarians enjoyed a lunch prepared by the Serra Club, and several told The Tidings they were eagerly looking forward to beginning or continuing their formation process, with the encouragement of their families.
“Since I was little, I’ve felt the priesthood was a possible calling in my life,” said Zachary Beach, 18, from St. Rose of Lima Church in Simi Valley, who is beginning his first year at Juan Diego House in Gardena. “Seeing how much our parish priests at St. Rose can help people has inspired me to pursue this.”
Beach, whose parents encouraged him in his youth to “follow the priests’ movements” during Mass as he served at the altar, noted that his father, a firefighter, was in the business of healing lives “in the physical sense. I hope, as a priest, to do the same in the spiritual sense by healing souls.”
Sean Moreno, a 27-year-old pre-theology student from St. Paul of the Cross, la Mirada, said observing priests “live a life filled with love for others, especially in making calls to the sick,” encouraged him to become Catholic (in 2010) and consider the priesthood.
“It’s been a real grace for me to pursue this calling,” said Moreno, who credits his spiritual maturation to his time as a resident of Bethany House in Los Angeles. “And I have also seen how I can’t possibly do this without the help of God in my life.”