At every stop he’s made throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — whether it was volunteering at St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights before he became a priest, or parish assignments at Holy Family Church in Glendale, St. Finbar Church in Burbank, or St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Santa Clarita — there’s something special about Bishop Albert Bahhuth that has won over parishioners.
Those who attended the new auxiliary bishop’s episcopal ordination described a man who’s happiest when he can be shoulder-to-shoulder with his parishioners and guide them through life’s ups and downs.
“He’s just provided such guidance for us and a very storied leadership,” said Oscar Jaime, a parishioner at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena, where Bahhuth arrived as pastor in 2021. “He came in and really took on that role and succeeded at it. We were really blessed to have him. To see him leave, at the beginning for us it was very sad, but to see what he’s been called to do, it was more a gift for us that we had a bishop from our parish and we were here to celebrate him.
“What a solemn, divine, uplifting, incredible moment,” Jaime added. “Once in a lifetime.”
Jaime’s wife, Cristina, was impressed by Bahhuth’s humility and willingness to help his parishioners.
“He’s been a guiding light,” she said. “I recently heard him talk to the eighth-grade parents because their eighth-graders are going to move on. His message was on point, on how us as parents can guide and be with our kids even when they go through times they don’t want to be part of Mass or be part of the religion at that place and time.
“Very humble man, very knowledgeable. He gives and gives.”
Michael Marasco and his wife, Cori, flew from Connecticut to attend the ordination.
Marasco was principal at St. Finbar Parish School during Bahhuth’s time there. They have remained close friends since both left the parish.
“He has a very unique mix of apostolic qualities,” Marasco said. “Some people have one of the different pillars of Christianity. He has them all: he’s prayerful, considerate, and humble.
“He’s probably going to stay in the closet for a month after (the ordination) — he doesn’t like attention. We were fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him.”
Marasco said he believes Bahhuth is going to miss parish life — something he acknowledged — but that he will work hard to maintain connections with priests and parishioners.
“I think he’s going to lead by example, and he’s a tireless worker,” he said. “I think these two things are going to inspire people.
“He can inspire people just by saying a confirmation Mass or visiting one of his parishes or schools.”
Back at St. Finbar, Bahhuth always strived to do better, Marasco remembered.
“He was never like, ‘Well, this is good enough,’” Marasco said. “He was always like, ‘What can we do better? What can we do differently?’ If enrollment went up 15% or 20%, he’d say, ‘OK, well, how can we get it up 30%?’ ”
Alice Harutunian attended the ordination with her husband, Deacon Serj Harutunian, who attend Holy Redeemer Church and St. James the Less Church in La Crescenta-Montrose. Being immigrants from Iran, Alice Harutunian was excited that Bahhuth, who’s from Lebanon, would be overseeing the San Fernando Pastoral Region.
She loved Bishop Alex Aclan and hoped Bahhuth would make the region even stronger.
“I haven’t met him yet,” Alice said. “I hope he’ll just be a good shepherd for the sheep and keep the faith and make the Catholic Church stronger. I’m sure he’s going to be great.”