Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PRIEST CELEBRATES HIS 100th BIRTHDAY

On Sunday, November 2, Monsignor Felix Diomartich celebrated his 100th Birthday and the 77th Anniversary of his Priesthood Ordination with a special Mass at St. Anthony's Croatian Parish in Los Angeles.

I could find no other Archdiocesan priest in the history of our Archdiocese who reached the age of 100 years.

Monsignor Diomartich is a native of Croatia where he studied theology and was ordained a priest.  He subsequently was sent to Rome where he obtained doctorates in both theology and in canon law.  Because of World War II he was impeded from returning to Croatia, and found himself in New York city where he worked as a young priest.

Then then Archbishop James Francis McIntyre was transferred to Los Angeles, he invited then Father Diomartich to come to Los Angeles to serve the Croatian Catholics living there.  He became an official member of the presbyterate of Los Angeles in 1963.

Over the years he served the Croatian community both in Los Angeles and in San Pedro.  He was pastor of St. Anthony's Parish for several decades, and greatly loved by all the people.

He also helped begin the ethnic ministry of the Archdiocese under Cardinal Timothy Manning, and served in the Tribunal and in other leadership roles.

He is retired at Nazareth House where he enjoys his sunset years with many brother priests.

In 2015, Monsignor Richard Murray, pastor emeritus of St. Bernardine of Siena Parish in Woodland Hills, will celebrate his 100th birthday.  Then a year later in 2016, Monsignor John Fosselman, pastor emeritus of Assumption Parish in East Los Angeles, will celebrate his 100th birthday.

Incredible:  three priest centenarians in the space of three years!

May the spirit and example of these wonderful priests inspire us all, and especially, young men who are listening carefully to the call of Jesus Christ to serve as a priest.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CALIFORNIA WATER ISSUES

Across California prayers are being raised up to God seeking adequate rains and snows for the State and for all of the Western States experiencing significant drought.

Even with a normal rain year, the drought has created such a water deficit that it would take years to make up for that deficit.

On the November 4 election ballot in California we have Proposition 1--a measure crated with full bipartisan efforts in Sacramento and sanctioned by Governor Jerry Brown.  Prop. 1 places before the voters a bond measure in the amount of $7.5 billion dollars.  The measure will provide for:

*     projects that improve water quality or help provide clean, safe, and reliable drinking water

*     grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects

*     integrated regional water management plan projects that respond to climate change and contribute to regional water security

*     new water storage projects to capture melting snow and other runoff

*     water recycling and advanced treatment technology projects

*     projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water

*     statewide flood management projects and activities.

An obvious example of what can help for the future:  almost all of the rainfall in southern California flows out to the Pacific Ocean.  Very few measures in effect to capture this water and to divert it to underground storage and to replenish water tables.

Personally, I intend to vote YES on Proposition 1 since it is an important broad-based effort to assist our State deal with water needs for decades to come.

As always, we continue to life up our prayers:

Let us pray:

Our loving God, we are in need of rain and snow.  We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.  To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!  We place our trust in you.  We are sure that you know our needs.  But you want us to ask you anyway to show that you that we know we are dependent on you.

Look to our dry hills and fields, loving God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain and abundant snows.  Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PRAYERS FOR RAIN AND SNOW

Here in the Western States we are experiencing one of the worse cycles of drought in our history.

However, our West has always seen periods of drought.  What is new is the population:  many years ago, there were 10 million people in California; today, there are 40 million.

The need for water for such a great number has increased dramatically, creating a real crisis across the State.

And who suffers the most?  As always, the poorest of our people and families.  A family in the San Joaquin Valley gets its water from a backyard well.  However, the water table has dropped tremendously, and the well is not producing any water.  To sink the well deeper would cost at least $10,000 and the well company cannot get to this assignment for at least two years!  Their backlog is tremendous.

The same is true of small towns in the Valley with water systems.  All of their wells are dry.

And so, let us pray:

Our loving God, we are in need of rain and snow.  We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.  To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!  We place our trust in you.  We are sure that you know our needs.  But you want us to ask you anyway to show that you that we know we are dependent on you.

Look to our dry hills and fields, loving God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain and abundant snows.  Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad.  Amen.

May our daily prayers reach up into the heavens, and may our loving God pour out rain and snow upon us!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IMMIGRANTS HELD HOSTAGE BY POLITICS

It is tragic that once again our immigrant brothers and sisters are being held hostage by purely political motives in Washington, DC.

The President and the leadership of the Democrats and Republicans share equally in the blame and for the total inaction in Congress.

For over 25 years we have been attempting update and fix our broken immigration system.  Many fine proposals have been made, good legislative efforts have been debated and discussed, and even a comprehensive immigration effort has been passed in the U.S. Senate.

But that's where everything grinds to a halt.

Our unauthorized immigrants are the ones suffering daily with this inaction.  Many millions live in fear that somewhere during the day they will be stopped and identified as being here without proper documents.  Their children, mostly USA citizens, fear the abrupt apprehension of their parents and their sudden deportation--leaving them all alone in our country without mother or father.

Now the political leaders in Washington acknowledge that nothing will happen during September or October.  Why?  Because of the national elections on November 4th.  One-third of the Senators and all of the House members are up for election, and winning re-election is their only focus and goal. 

The nation's business, and especially bringing justice, respect, and dignity to our immigrants, is all put on hold--once again.

But we, as disciples of Jesus, never give up.  We intensify our prayers, we voice our care and concern for our immigrant brothers and sisters, and we continue to advocate on their behalf.  Like the prophets of Old Testament times, our voices may seem weak and futile.  But they are not.  We remain fully committed to this work of justice, and we will never rest until the rights of all are secured.

May St. Toribio Romo intercede for us before our loving God!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

IMMIGRANTS the VICTIMS of POLITICS

Yet once again, House of Representative members have abandoned "the least among us," and have refused to offer even basic humanitarian assistance to children fleeing impossible living conditions.  Just before leaving Washington for a five-week recess, they failed to pass any meaningful legislation to lift ever so slightly the burdens upon the unauthorized immigrants in our midst.

I am reminded of Jesus' frustration with the Pharisees who were very good at imposing burdens on people, but would never lift a finger to lighten those burdens:

They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people's shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.  [Matthew 23:4]

The vast majority of immigrants who come to our country do so out of desperation.  They are not able to feed their families back home, jobs are few and far between, health and education services are often non-existent, and new violence and terrorism by drug cartels and gangs threaten everyone.

They certainly don't come here to take jobs that other Americans are doing.  If low-skill, low-paying jobs were being snapped up by legal residents, then there would be no incentive for others to come to our country to fill those jobs.

Any mother or father would think seriously about fleeing such pitiful circumstances, and seeking new opportunities for their family.  During the Great Recession I recall hearing so many stories about fellow Americans who had been fired caught in similar desperation.  Many took daring steps to try to provide for their families.  Great suffering ensued across the land.

The slowly growing economy continues the agony for so many--jobs are not available at their previous salaries; many workers have had their hours shortened; far too many have lost benefits such as health care and pensions.

What is so sad is to listen to the hateful rhetoric directed towards these brothers and sisters.  Talk show programs vie with one another to see who can hurl the most hurtful accusations at our immigrant brothers and sisters.

And yet, a very hopeful sign is that a majority of Americans still state in most polls that they believe some kind of earned pathway to legal residence should be offered to these brothers and sisters.

Prayer continues to be an essential component in our Christian approach to all who are carrying heavy burdens.  We turn to Jesus to help us lift the burdens that weary and suffocate so many in our midst.

Santo Toribio Romo, pray for us!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

DON'T BLAME THE CHILDREN AT THE BORDER

I was embarrassed for us as Americans to watch throngs of angry and venomous people yelling and screaming at the three buses bringing women and children who had arrived at our southern border to a safe haven in Murrieta, CA.

The jeers and taunts were the kind normally hurled at those convicted of heinous crimes, such as homicide and assault.  But not at innocent children, and some frightened mothers.

Over many months approximately 52,000 unaccompanied children and youth have reached the border with Mexico.  Most came from the three most difficult countries in our hemisphere:  Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  Desperate parents paid large sums of money to get "coyotes" to bring their children from Central America, through Mexico, and to the USA border.  In these countries the only future for the children would be gangs, lack of work, meager education, no health care, and constant fear.  Any parent would want better for their children.

Sadly, these children have become political pawns in the unending national debate over immigrants and immigration reform.  The unwillingness of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation is a scandal creating waves of emotional and physical devastation across the country, and especially, at the southern border.  New levels of fear and fright have afflicted our immigrant brothers and sisters.

We desperately need the national debate on our broken immigration system, and the inadequate laws and regulations now on the books.  But don't put helpless children in the middle of it, and don't blame the children for the larger mess.

We must accept these children with the compassion of disciples of Jesus Christ, and we must offer them whatever assistance we can.  Many are seriously ill after having traveled long distances over weeks deprived of adequate food and drink.  We need to accept them as they are, help them restore their health, and treat them with respect as human beings--as helpless children.

Then, we can look at their legal status to determine what would be in their best interests:  uniting some with parents in this country, treating some as victims seeking political asylum, and possibly returning some back to their countries of origin.

Today Pope Francis marked the first anniversary of his trip to the island of Lampedusa in southern Italy to speak out in favor of desperate immigrants trying to reach Europe:  "I encourage the Christian communities and all people of good will to continue to reach out and lend a helping hand to all those who are in need, without counting the cost, without fear, with tenderness and understanding.  At the same time, I hope that the competent institutions .... might be most courageous and generous in refugee relief."

Great advice for all of us as disciples of Jesus and as Americans.

POPE FRANCIS TO VICTIMS OF CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE

[On Monday, July 7, 2014 Pope Francis celebrated Mass with six victims of clergy sexual abuse.  His homily follows:]
         
The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation…  Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps…  This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls.  I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons.  Today, I am very grateful to you for having travelled so far to come here.

            For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering.   So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking and others the same… and they set about to sustain that gaze.

And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin.  This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation.  It is something more than despicable actions.  It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence.  They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created.  Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith.  Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

           I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair.  Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction.  Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children.  Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide.  The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church.  To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow.  Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out.  He looks out upon one of his own, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep.  Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

            Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God.  Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God.  Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness.  Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

            Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you.  And I humbly ask forgiveness.
I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.  This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

            On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church.  There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not.  All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea (cf. Mt 18:6).

By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation.  I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures.  We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

            Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy.  The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross.  To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ.  By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God.  The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

            You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God.  I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

            I am grateful for this meeting.  And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: “You know that I love you”; and hear him say: “go back and feed my sheep” – and I would add – “let no wolf enter the sheepfold”. 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)