Mass in La Puente opens National Association of Hispanic Priests’ annual convention.Authentic pastoral ministry and ecclesial discipline come from a genuine identification with Christ whose essence is found in the Eucharist, Hispanic priests were reminded during an Oct. 3 Mass at St. Louis of France Church in La Puente.More than 140 members of the National Association of Hispanic Priests attending the Oct. 3-6 annual convention in Los Angeles paid careful attention to the words delivered by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, the Vatican authority who oversees the general management of the training, formation and pastoral ministry of priests, among other responsibilities.“Spirituality, an authentic pastoral ministry and the ecclesial discipline come from having a clarity about the priestly identity, which is the key of formation in seminaries and throughout life,” Cardinal Piacenza told the assembly of parishioners, visiting priests and concelebrating bishops, including Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar. “Identifying with Christ is a guaranty of our realization, of our peace and the faith cultivated in our ministry, and together with prayer it’s the secret for vocations to flourish,” said Cardinal Piacenza in fluent Spanish. “The paschal dimension gets its always-renewed strength from the Holy Spirit,” he continued. “First and foremost, the Spirit is given to us so we in turn can take it to our brothers and sisters. It’s in this dynamic of strength that we are called to give expression to the Spirit becoming living images of Christ, the Good Shepherd.“This is what Our Lord expects from us,” the cardinal noted, “that makes His presence be felt in the world, as well as his salvation.”The prelate also mentioned the vows of chastity and obedience as ways of identifying with Christ, who “was obedient till death.”Citing Isaiah, the prelate said suffering and persecution are no strangers to a priestly ministry, and instead of feeling sad, he said, it should be taken as the strongest sign of “our familiarity with Christ and of being participants in his priesthood.”In alignment with the convention’s theme “La Palabra de Dios: Fuente de Constante Renovación” (The Word of God: Source of Constant Renewal), the cardinal reiterated the importance of the Scriptures and keeping the paschal mystery (life, death and resurrection of Christ) alive.“He [the cardinal] reminded us of the essence of priestly love through the Eucharist and through ministries that reflect our loyalty and passion,” said Father Jose Gonzalez, visiting from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. “It is good to be reminded about the importance of the word of God and the Eucharist, which are very beautiful signs of our Church,” added the Chilean priest.Msgr. Heberto Diaz, Brownsville-based president of the priests’ association and Moderator of the Curia, said the goal of this year’s convention is to provide tools for improved preaching.“We want to make sure that we become better preachers, by studying and internalizing the word,” he said.Msgr. Diaz said the association’s board decided to hold the annual event in support of Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, an association past president and a “great moderator for us as well.”Other priests, such as Father Leonardo Medina, from the Diocese of Tulsa, said other issues, such as immigration also needed to be addressed during the convention.“We need to improve and assume our role as leaders of a community that looks up to us,” Father Medina declared. “We need to be prepared, socially and in the doctrine. Our community wants answers and sometimes this requires addressing political issues in our preaching.”Parishioners also welcomed the cardinal’s message and the priests’ presence in their parish.“It is really a big deal for us the Hispanic community to have an event like this held at our church,” said Mary Alice Ellison, a St. Louis of France parishioner for more than two decades who sponsored one of the visiting priests. “We never had anything like this before.”For more information about the National Association of Hispanic Priests, visit or email [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1007/hisppriests/{/gallery}