In a multiethnic liturgy featuring Hispanic, Vietnamese and English readings and hymns, Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell was installed as the episcopal vicar of the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s San Gabriel Pastoral Region on Nov. 22.

The Sunday morning Mass of Thanksgiving at San Gabriel Mission Church, celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez, also honored the canonization of St. Junipero Serra by Pope Francis during his recent trip to the United States.

Sister Mary Elizabeth Galt, BVM, chancellor of the archdiocese, presented Bishop O’Connell to the archbishop and the people of the San Gabriel Region. The region consists of East L.A. through the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys. 

“Today we give thanks to God for two great blessings that we have received here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” said Archbishop Gomez during his homily. After thanking Pope Francis for the appointments, he quipped, “I’m very happy. I needed some help, and I got three bishops to help.”

The archbishop spoke of the 17th-century Franciscan missionary who founded the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in then-Alta California. Pope Francis canonized the “Apostle of California” during his September visit to the U.S. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“For me the legacy of Father Serra helps us remember who we are and where we come from and what we are going to do,” he said. “The canonization reminds us that the history of America is part of the great narrative of salvation.”

After, during a brief ceremony in front of the sanctuary, Archbishop Gomez called Bishop O’Connell a missionary. “You were born in Jesus as a faithful instrument of God’s work,” he said, pointing out that the new bishop should be an example of “love and mercy to serve the Church’s people of faith.”

Bishop O’Connell then led the congregation that filled San Gabriel Mission Church in saying the Apostles’ Creed.

A day earlier, the bishop hosted a luncheon for religious at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Irwindale next to his regional office.

“We are starting the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis,” he said to the 200-plus sisters gathered at round tables in the parish hall, decorated with white, blue and yellow balloons. “And we’re all now being challenged by the Holy Father to do what you’ve been doing all these years, which is to go out to the periphery and to bring the merciful face of Jesus to children, to the sick, to the poor — those who are in need, those who are suffering.

“And that’s the memory many people have of their school or of their parish life — the kindness and compassion of the sisters,” said Bishop O’Connell “So thank you. And, hopefully, as we begin this holy year we will all follow you about that compassion and kindness and mercy to others.”