Archbishop José H. Gomez told parentless migrant children waiting to be settled in the U.S. to trust in God’s plan for their lives, during a Mass held at a federal emergency shelter in Long Beach Sunday morning.

The liturgy was one of several celebrated since Los Angeles priests were given permission a month ago to celebrate the sacrament on weekends for children at the temporary shelter in Long Beach and another at the Pomona Fairplex. Both are among the several set up by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) to handle the surge in unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.

Officials have described the shelters as temporary pit stops for kids awaiting custody of sponsors or family members in the U.S. Since the first children arrived at the shelter in late April, nearly 600 have been released and some 150 remain, HHS reported May 28

“We are very important to God. We always must keep that in mind, and even though we sometimes have difficult situations, we must trust God's plan for our lives,” said Archbishop Gomez in his homily during the Mass, celebrated in Spanish inside one of the Long Beach Convention Center’s exhibit halls May 30.

The children were accompanied by shelter staff and volunteers. Two Long Beach pastors who have been celebrating weekend Masses at the shelter over the past month, Fr. Budi Wardhana and Fr. John Woolway, as well as priest secretary Fr. Raymont Medina, two seminarians and two religious sisters assisted Archbishop Gomez at the Mass.

During the liturgy, rosaries were placed in front of the makeshift altar and blessed. Afterwards, Archbishop Gomez personally handed out the rosaries to the children.

In his homily, Archbishop Gomez explained to the children that the day’s readings for the feast of the Holy Trinity “tell us how God wants to be with us.”

“It is true that we are sons and daughters of our fathers, but we cannot forget that we are also sons and daughters of God, who is our Father in Heaven,” said the archbishop. 

“If we think about it,” he added, “it will always give us a lot of peace to know that God loves each of us as his favorite children.”

The archbishop encouraged the children to “go to [God] all the time,” and recommended praying the rosary given to each of them, citing his personal experience with the Marian devotion. 

“I always bring the Rosary with me. And I pray it every day,” said the archbishop. “And it has always helped me a lot.”