Friday, December 4, 2015

Padre Junipero Serra, A New Saint for All Seasons


On September 26, 2015, Padre Junipero Serra joined the family of saints in a beautiful family celebration at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  This beautiful event was celebrated by Pope Francis in a fitting tribute to this holy friar.  Much is already known of Padre Serra who was ordained a priest in 1737 and eventually left his beloved homeland of Spain to serve in Mexico and California.  He is most known for being the first Pastor of California and establishing nine of the California Missions.

There has been some controvesy of Padre Juniperso Serra being established as a saint in America and thus, there is a need for people to have a greater understanding of this holy friar and his great love for the people he served.  It should be known that many times he was a strong voice to fight the military leadership of the day on behalf of the Indigious native people of California.  He was a champion on providing the best ways for the military to relate to the Indians.  He opposed the manner in which the military treated the Indians and constantly stood up for them.

In addition to the difficulties with the military of his day, Padre Serra with his friars, instructed the Indigious native people on building missions, farming, harvesting, working as a community and religion.  He wanted them to be able to live an easier and more productive life and to know Christ and the great love of God.  Padre Serra had a concern for their physical and spiritural well being.   He and his friars guided them in living peaceful and holy lives.  He cared much!

Padre Junipero Serra, now Saint Junipero Serra, is a perfect saint for all times and seasons in America and especially in California.  Following in the steps of Saint Francis of Assisi, Padre Serra lived his life as a peacemaker and built the church up through the many missions in California.  His example of living a life of sacrifice and the greatest of faith, to bring the people he served in union with a loving, vibrant and giving God.  After years of many illnesses, a leg that never healed from an insect bite and various physical aliments, Padre Serra passed away on August 28, 1784 at the San Carlos Mission in Carmel.  With years of extensive research and discernment by the Catholic Church he was beautified on September 25, 1988.  His status as a saint complete on September 26, 2015.
As the wisdom of Padre Junipero Serra was great in his life, left us reflect on his words which are timeless:

“Let us make use of time.  Our steps should be in conformity with the vocation to which God has called us; let us work out our spiritual salvation with fear and trembling, and with a burning love and zeal seek for the salvation of our brethren and neighbors.  And may all the glory be to our great God.”.

Let us also remember to live these words:

                   “Always go forward
                       Never turn back!”  

Yes, Saint Junipero Serra who is now a saint for all seasons.


(Note, if you are considering a vocation to the priesthood please see 

 





Friday, May 8, 2015

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN COMMUNITIES - Fr. Toribio Gutierrez C.M.

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN COMMUNITIES –
Reflections on Fr. Toribio Gutierrez, C.M.






In the Archdiocese of Los Angles each year there are some pastors and associate priests that receive new assignments to new parishes. Such was the case for Fr. Toribio Gutierrez in the summer of 2014. From what I have witnessed, Fr. Toribio is truly a “bridge builder” between the English and Spanish speaking communities. Within a few short months he has made substantial progress on bringing together both these communities within the parish of St. Paschal Baylon. Fr. Toribio’s sincere, holy, and happy ways are enhancing both the English and Spanish communities while building a bridge towards greater participation in each others’ Masses, events and cultural experiences.


Fr. Toribio was originally from Mexico and named by his mother after the brave martyr Fr. Toribio Romo who died for his faith at the age of 27 in 1928. It should be noted that Fr. Toribio Romo is now a saint and considered a hero to millions of Mexican Catholics. Our current day Fr. Toribio, like Fr. Toribio Romo, has endeared himself to the people of his community. Fr. Toribio brings the life of Jesus, his holy works and sacrifice to current times through his homilies, work and humble manner. This modern and holy priest, is a reflection of the happiness he feels in his faith and the priesthood. For English and Spanish speaking alike, his homilies teach, inspire and enlighten all to live a stronger and more joyful faith.


In just a few short months at the parish of St. Paschal Baylon, Fr. Toribio Gutierrez has shown his support of a number of parish ministries. These include the RCIA program, the Religious Education program that includes English and Spanish speaking teachers, the parish school and the events of the Hispanic community. With dedication and care, week by week his English improves and he is able to give meaningful and inspirational homilies for the English masses. During his first Good Friday at the parish, Fr. Toribio was able participate in the traditional lengthy readings.


This holy priest continues to build that bridge and bring communities together. Many hope that Fr. Toribio continues as an associate of St. Paschal Baylon for many years to come. This priest wants to see good, happy and Christian values. He inspires both the English and Spanish speaking communities to seek just that, and to make a positive difference in their parish community.

May he continue to build this great bridge and inspire others as well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Vocation Within a Vocation: The Installation of Pastor Reverend Michael Rocha

A Vocation Within a Vocation:  
The Installation of Pastor Reverend Michael Rocha



          On the Solemnity of Christ the King, the parish of St. Paschal Baylon, in the Conejo Valley of Southern California, celebrated the Installation of their new pastor, Reverend Michael Rocha.  

This Sacred Mass Installation, under the direction of lead coordinator Confirmation/Youth Ministry Director Robert Batch, reflected the traditional church celebration.  

This celebration for the Installation of Reverend Rocha, included a full procession with the Knights of Columbus, choir with trumpet players, homily, sacramental gifts, the Installation Mass and more.  

The Very Revered Michael Jennett, who is the Regional Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, represented Archbishop Jose Gomez and con-celebrated the mass with the parish priests and deacons.  

During the Installation, key parishioners of  various ministries, along with the assistance of Robert Batch, each presented a sacramental gift to the new pastor, in the form of sacred oils, a liturgy book and blessed chalice.  

The liturgy and homily of this sacred event was enhanced with it being graciously presented in both Spanish and English.

          As the Installation of a priest to a new parish is a vocation within a vocation, as a priest, it is a reflection of their continued service at the “foot of the cross” to serve as Jesus would have served.   

The Installation of a priest as a new pastor, is a wonderful sacred event for that parish community to solidify their commitment to their new pastor and for that pastor to solidify his commitment to his new parish community.  

It is also a time where all gather to ask for blessings for their new pastor and for the blessings to be upon the community in which he serves. 

          With any Installation event with the mass and “Presentation of Faith and Oath”, it is also a time of prayerful praise.  In this time of prayerful praise, the cantor from Reverend Michael’s former parish, a Mr. Ennio Morricone, presented his song of “Gabriel’s Oboe”.  Mr. Morricone’s perfect gift of sacred song, as well as many gathered from Reverend Michael’s former parish,  seemed symbolic of the passing of the torch from one parish to another in a sign of unity and grace. 

          The Installation event concluded with the song, “Hail Redeemer, King Divine”.  All gathered for this event were then invited to a reception in the hall for light refreshments, faith and fellowship.  The reflection of this day of celebration was complete in the words of Reverend Michael Rocha as follows:

          “I give thanks to almighty God for all those who shared their gifts and talents during this special Installation Mass.  I also give thanks to all of you who have joined me on this momentous occasion.  Thank you Saint Paschal Baylon Community for  your warm welcome to this great parish.  Finally, a special word of gratitude to many family members and friends who have traveled from far and near, to join me on this day.  God bless you all."  


Monday, September 29, 2014

St. John’s Seminary: The Start of their 75th Anniversary Celebration


St. John’s Seminary:  The Start of their 75th Anniversary Celebration 

Amid the hills of Camarillo, are the beautiful and peaceful grounds of St. John’s Seminary which now, at this historical sitehas officially begun the start of their 75th anniversary celebration of events.  

On Saturday, September 28th, the seminary held its traditional Alumni Awards Dinner for alumni, benefactors and friends of St. John’s Seminary.  

This event started with Vespers in the chapel, where the Cantor lead the attendees in song and praise.   

Archbishop Jose Gomez. gave a tribute talk in celebration of the work of the seminary.  

An elegant reception followed with many priests, bishops, religious sisters and guests enjoying fine wines, excellent appetizers and great conversation, on a beautiful fall evening before the dinner. 

The dinner to celebrate the start of the 75th Anniversary was held for the first time outside in a movie-like setting with dozens of elegant tables, old-fashioned lights strung above and lighting to highlight the beautiful statue of Holy Mother Mary.  

In this wonderful setting, nearly 400 people were gathered to celebrate and to honor Michael M. Clements, Monsignor Helmut A. Hefner, Father Thomas J. Peacha and Bishop Gerald F. Wilkerson.   

The new rector, Reverend Monsignor Marc Trudeau, gave an excellent opening celebration talk and each of the honorees thereafter, had an opportunity to give their reflection.  

Seminarians were gracious servers with food placed to all that attended prepared by the gifted 5-Star Chef Alex.  One could sense the joy and pride that all had in participating in the first major event in celebration such a fine anniversary. 

It should be noted that this seminary has for 75 years provided the education, formation and nurturing of the men most of whom have been ordained to the priesthood.  

Father Thomas J. Peacha who has been a priest for almost six decades said, “In 1953, I entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.  

There I took my place among a fine group of young men who were also on the road to the priesthood.”  

This seminary for decades has been the main source for many holy vocations to the priesthood, religious and laypersons, who by their completed education enhanced their ministries in their parish communities. 

In addition, in the last 50 years the seminary has opened it doors to women from laypersons to religious sisters, for completion of theology and pastoral studies.  

These women, who have expanded their curriculum through the seminary, have greatly enhanced their vocation either to religious life, or their ministries, within their own parish.  

It is truly exceptional that women have had the opportunity for many years now to have a higher education through such an exceptional seminary. 

With the Alumni dinner event, Monsignor Marc Trudeau encouraged the attendees to participate in the campaign in honor of the 75th anniversary to financially assist in the dorm renovations project.  

In greater detail from the Alumni tribute book, there is an ongoing campaign called, “75 x 75 x 3 – The Campaign for St. John’s Seminary’s 75th Anniversary”.  

This is an opportunity for one to pledge an amount of either $75, $750, $7,500, $75,000 or $750,000 over a three year period.  Funds from this campaign will greatly benefit the much needed renovations of the dorms that started in 2013 as well as ongoing financial support to meet the needs of the seminary.  

Those who wish to be a part and give their pledge can go to the website of www.stjohns75th.com or contact the Advancement Office at (805) 389-2035. 

With the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of St. John’s Seminary now officially begun, there will be ongoing events in this year and the next.  

There will be special Masses, forums, “Wine & Wisdom” tours to the wine country and another Alumni Dinner Awards celebration in 2015.  

More information on these and other events can be found by visting their Facebook page at facebook.com/stjohnseminarycalifornia.  

In addition, to all the upcoming celebrations and those making donations, it would be exceptional for all to pray for the seminarians in formation, the staff, professors, priests and the holy work of the seminary.  

Let the 75th anniversary celebrations be a time for great reflection, prayer, thanksgiving and joy!  Congratulations to St. John’s Seminary and God’s continued blessings on the next 75 years! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

More Young Men Choosing Priesthood (Article reposted from Office for Vocations - Archdiocese Los Angeles)

Reader please note:  As more young men are finding their holy vocation to the priesthood, this article provides inspiring insight for those men who are discerning a vocation.  Please pray for men in your community who are considering their holy call.

Click this to watch accompanying video

FORT WORTH (CBS 11) - No sex, no money, and complete obedience. Not what you think the average 20-year-old guy would go for. But according to the Catholic Church, the number of men joining the priesthood is up.

In the Diocese of Fort Worth alone, the number of seminarians has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

And who is joining might surprise you.

Brett Metzler bench presses 250 pounds, squats 305, and can shoot hoops with the best of them.

But the former high school Athlete of the Year is not your typical college student.

20-year-old Brett believes becoming a priest is a better fit.

The Denton County native is preparing for the priesthood at Saint Joseph’s Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana–1200 acres of woods, water, and worship north of New Orleans.

He says his calling came during his freshman year at Texas A & M.

“Everything that everybody was telling me to do that was supposed to fulfill me, it just wasn’t working,” explained Metzler. “I was living in a house with four of my best friends from high school. I mean it was a blast. We’d throw the frisbee and play football every day. I just felt a feeling kind of like unfulfillment every night when I was going to sleep.”

He says it was the book, Fulfillment of All Desire, about the saints and their paths toward holiness that confirmed he must give his life to God.

“I was just reading it and crying, reading it and crying. Guys, at least me, I didn’t cry a lot. Stuff that she and other saints would say in talking about their love for God, you can’t read poems that beautiful. It really stirred my heart.”

Today Brett and 100 other Roman Catholic seminarians begin and end their day with prayer. They eat, attend classes, even hang out in their on-campus sports bar — all the while developing four Benedictine pillars of the priesthood: the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.

Father Gregory Boquet, the school rector, says it’s the human pillar at St. Joseph’s that’s changing the face of the future priesthood, drawing young men who may have never felt they fit in before.

“The priesthood has stress involved with it,” said Boquet. “And if you don’t take care of yourself physically as a young man, you’re not setting yourself up for a very good foundation to build if you want to progress into the priesthood.”

Boquet, a Benedictine monk, first came to St. Josephs 30 years ago. He built an extensive weight room, has a fitness expert come once a week to the school, and has each seminarian’s physical fitness evaluated once a year.

Boquet, who happens to be legally blind, says the *church* is no longer blind either. Strict psychological evaluations are required to enter the seminary.

“If it looks like this man lacks some maturity and psychosexual development or in his ability to relate to other people, they’re not accepted into the seminary,” Boquet continued. “A good seminarian attract other good seminarians.”

The end result?

“Many of the guys who come here are so relieved. They want to be a priest and they see guys just like them! They’re normal. They’re regular guys who can really inspire people.”

Still, to commit to a life of celibacy, poverty, and service…especially at such a young age?

We asked Brett Meltzler if he has doubted wanting to become a priest.

“There’s a month when I was really excited to become a priest. And then just normal guy stuff kicks in. I mean you want to get a girlfriend. You’re in college and there’s thousands of beautiful woman everywhere. I mean you want to get a girlfriend, you want to get married. I thought I was going to have hundreds of kids for my family to play with when I got older. But the more you pray about it, the more time you spend in silence, the more God kind of reinforces that call.”

So unless he hears otherwise– Brett says he’ll continue to listen for God’s voice and guidance.

“It takes some discipline to sit down and listen to God, even if it starts with 5 minutes a day,” Brett added. “God can work with that.”

Silence he seeks in the woods of St. Joseph’s seminary, as he prepares to shepard his own flock one day toward an eternity of peace.

“I think that’s why so many people come into the seminary and so many of the youth is starting to go to church now. Because they’re realizing that fulfillment and happiness isn’t found in what the culture is telling them it’s found in.”

Becoming a priest requires an 8-year discernment process. At St. Joseph’s Seminary College, 75% of all seminarians graduate and go on to become priests.

- See more at:
http://www.lavocations.org/more-young-men-choosing-priesthood.html#sthash.ab72gpEl.dpuf




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Today’s Seminarians: Following the Right Path to the Priesthood


Today’s Seminarians:  Following the Right Path to the Priesthood

With the consistent increase of men entering the seminary, we find that today’s seminarians are following the right path of the priesthood.  

These are now men in many cases that have advanced degrees and established sound careers who give all that up in a calling to their vocation to the priesthood.  

They are the constant success story of young men who faithfully follow the right path of studies, prayer and formation, to become good and holy priests.  

These men have a long journey on this path as the process can take six to eight years before they are ordained.   

Yet, they know this is the right path.

During their studies and their formation, is also consent discernment. In this process, these men seek to listen to God.  

Seminarian Bret Meltzler stated, “It takes some discipline to sit down and listen to God, event if it starts 5 minutes a day. God can work with that.”   

Thus, today’s seminarians believe that God is working with them on their path.  They seek God in much of what they do.  

These men of God will be formed in the intellectual and doctrinal tradition of the Catholic Church, and they will be men of great prayer who embrace the service to the Church and their community as new priests.

It was in The Tidings that Archbishop Jose H. Gomez reflected on the priesthood as follows, “The priesthood is a gift and a mystery in God’s plan for the salvation of the world.  

Every priest receives a special calling from God.  This calling is an invitation to a great adventure of self-surrender and service to God’s plan.”  

On reflecting on his words, today’s seminarians hear this holy call and bravely enter their journey on the holy path to the priesthood and all that is expected of them. 

In an age of self-promotion through the Social Networks, Blogs, Tweets, etc., they find for themselves a better and more self-fulling path of self-surrender to God’s plan. 

Today’s seminarians will find that it is not always an easy path towards the priesthood, but it is a sacramental path that will bring so much to their lives and the lives of others.  

Newly ordained Fr. John Adrian Palmer states on becoming a priest, “As a priest, I hope to share in Jesus’s mission by helping people to know and experience God’s merciful love so that they, in turn, can help others to know and experience His love, and ‘so that they may all be one’ (John 17:21) with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”


In the years to come, may many other good men find this holy path to the priesthood and shine the bright light of Christ so needed in today’s world! 

For further reference see www.lavocations.org  or www.Facebook.com/la.vocations.