This has been a busy summer. As I write to you this week, I am getting ready for the opening Mass for the new school year at St. John’s Seminary. I cannot believe the summer months have moved so fast!
We are celebrating the seminary’s 75th anniversary this year. In addition to our opening Mass, we are holding a special anniversary celebration on Sept. 12 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
I hope some of you will be able to join us for this beautiful night of celebration to help us raise money to support the continued good works of the seminary. We are going to be honoring three great supporters of the Seminary — Msgr. Craig Cox, the seminary’s past rector; Sister Edith Prendergast, RSC, who has just retired as director of our Office of Religious Education after more than 25 years of service; and Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of the Cathedral. We are also honoring the Vincentian Fathers (the Congregation of the Mission), who have been serving St. John’s Seminary for 75 years. You can find ticket information at www.stjohnsseminary75th.org.
I hope all of us will continue to pray and support the work of St. John’s Seminary. The seminary has been forming men for the priesthood since 1939. Our priest-graduates serve the family of God here in Los Angeles and dioceses and archdiocese throughout the Southwestern United States.
Some of our graduates have risen to the top ranks of the universal Catholic Church, to serve as bishops and cardinals. Through their ministries, our priests have touched the lives of millions of souls with the saving mercy of Jesus Christ.
Our proud legacy gives us a task for the future. We are called to build on those who have gone before us.
And our future here looks bright. We have many new seminarians studying at the Seminary and at St. Juan Diego House. Earlier this summer, I ordained eight new priests and just last weekend I ordained eight transitional deacons who are mid-way in their journey to the priesthood.
The ordination celebration this weekend was special for me because it was the feast of Mary’s Assumption and it was the 37th anniversary of my own ordination to the priesthood.
For me, my priesthood continues to be the joy of my life and I believe that every ordination is a sign of hope for the Church’s future. It is a sign that God is with us and that his Spirit still guides and leads his Church. And every ordination is a beautiful sign that the call of God’s voice is still heard in the hearts of his children.
So these are exciting times for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
We are all looking forward to the ordinations of our three new auxiliary bishops on Sept. 8. This week, in fact, I am announcing the following assignments for our new bishops:
> Auxiliary Bishop Joseph V. Brennan will serve as the episcopal vicar for the San Fernando Pastoral Region;
> Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell will serve as the episcopal vicar for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region; and
> Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron will serve as the episcopal vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region.
This is also a time of joy and expectation because we are preparing for Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to America and the canonization of the first Hispanic saint from our country, the apostle to California, Father Junípero Serra.
I just see so many hopeful signs and I feel that we are in a new moment of renewal and rededication here in the archdiocese.
As I told you last month, we have implemented a new organizational structure at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center. And in these past few weeks I have been meeting with every department to talk about their goals and challenges.
These meetings are continuing and they are rewarding for me. We are blessed to have so many capable and faithful men and women serving our parishes and people.
What we have been talking about is interesting. Because we’ve been talking about not only “what” we do here in ACC, but also “why” we do it.
No one starts working for the Church to make a lot of money or to have a lot of power and “perks.” We are all here to serve the Church and to serve people.
I have found myself thinking a lot about “work” — about what it means and what our work should be “for.” So in the next several columns, I want to reflect on the meaning of work and the spirituality of work. I will start these reflections in my column next week.
In the meantime, let’s pray for one another this week. And let’s pray for our new priests and our new transitional deacons. And let’s keep praying every day for vocations — in our homes and in our parishes.
I hope you remember the simple prayer for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life that I recommended some time ago, the prayer I prayed when I was young:
Lord, we ask You to grant us vocations.Grant us many vocations.Grant us many and holy vocations!
And may our Blessed Mother Mary help us to always hear God’s calling in our lives and to do all our work for the service of God and our brothers and sisters.