Earlier this week, I celebrated the 33rd anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.My priesthood has been the profound joy and privilege of my life. I give thanks to God every day for this gift he has given me — to be a priest! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

I am grateful for all of your prayers for me. And I thank our Lord Jesus Christ every day for the privilege of being able to serve you. I hope you had a great summer. I certainly did. It was a very busy summer — but at the same time refreshing, renewing and inspiring. My summer started, as you all know, with our pilgrimage to Rome in June. There I received my metropolitan Archbishop’s pallium from our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. In his homily that special day, Pope Benedict talked about our discipleship as a friendship with Jesus Christ. He talked about how we have to live our friendship in the gift of ourselves in love to others. He said: “At a deep level, the essence of love … coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross.” This summer I found myself “setting out” a lot. I talked to people in many different settings about Jesus Christ. I tried to help strengthen and encourage them in their journeys of faith. And everywhere I went, I met people who are totally committed to Christ and the Church! What a blessing! What an encouragement for my own faith. This has been a summer I will not forget. I ordained new men for the permanent diaconate and celebrated the Eucharist for the solemn profession of vows for a new religious sister. These events were so inspiring for me! To be with such faithful men and women — all of whom have decided to consecrate their lives in a permanent commitment to Christ. I saw Jesus Christ alive also in our parishes this summer. How beautiful it was to join the good people of St. Ignatius of Loyola parish as they celebrated their church’s 100th anniversary. What a warm and generous faith I found there! I also had the privilege to celebrate Mass at the Divine Mercy Congress. This was a powerful experience to join with these faithful people in giving thanks for our Lord’s love! I came away filled with a new vitality.

The faith is alive in our Catholic Church — in Los Angeles and across the country! So many people are expressing their friendship in Christ through the gift of themselves.

Another blessing for me was to celebrate Mass with the Knights of St. Peter Claver at their national convention. I met many generous people — all devoted to fostering the faith of African American Catholics around the country. I was touched too by my participation in the annual “town hall” meeting of our local African American Catholic Center. These are men and women of such faith and dedication. I came with new ideas and new inspiration for spreading the Gospel in our community. I addressed the annual meeting of the Knights of Columbus and talked about the moral urgency of immigration reform. I also talked about immigration at the Napa Institute. And last week, I talked about the new evangelization at the annual meeting of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders. In all of these events, I was excited to be among so many faithful Catholics dedicated to living their faith in everything they do and to being leaders in the moral and cultural renewal of America. The faith is alive in our Catholic Church — in Los Angeles and across the country! So many people are expressing their friendship in Christ through the gift of themselves. I can never say this enough: The joy of our lives is found in Jesus Christ and in living the way of his Gospel. This was my message in blessing the young people from our Archdiocese who this week are attending World Youth Day in Madrid. And that was my message this week in celebrating Mass for our new seminarians and in leading a day of recollection for the faculty at St. John’s Seminary. I come away from this summer with my faith renewed. And I hope this has been a summer of refreshment and renewal for each one of you, as well. As we begin a new school year, I pray that this will be a year when you grow in your knowledge of the world and in your knowledge of Jesus Christ and your faith in his Church. Let’s pray for one another this week! And I ask Our Lady of the Angels to help guide you and your loved ones to always follow her Son in joy and love!. Follow Archbishop Gomez at: www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.