Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
The Pope has appointed three new auxiliary bishops to serve in the massive archdiocese of Los Angeles. One is Fr. Robert Barron, the wildly popular author, speaker, and founder of Word on Fire ministries. I'm not familiar with the second pick, Msgr. David O’Connell, but I do know the third, Msgr. Joseph Brennan -- "Uncle Joe" to us. He's my husband's uncle, and we are thrilled for Los Angeles.
Fr. Barron will move to LA from Chicago, but O'Connell and Brennan are both already based in Los Angeles, and are both known for their deep attachment to the communities they serve. Brennan declined to move to the cathedral apartments when he was appointed vicar-general, and instead continued spending as much time as possible in the relatively small neighborhood parishes, saying Mass on skid row where his flock deals with the misery of generational poverty and violence.
[T]he nods for Brennan and O'Connell – both fluent in Spanish and with broad experience in Hispanic communities – manifest the almost unique degree to which LA's Anglo clergy has proven fully effective at ministering to what's become the archdiocese's ethnic supermajority, the lead force behind its doubling in size over the last 25 years.
In The Angelus News, Msgr. Brennan said:
My job as vicar general has its own challenges. It has challenges everyday,” he said. “And certainly it’s a letting go. It’s a laying down of your life on a daily basis. I think this episcopacy will be the same.
I've spent a handful of days with Fr. Brennan at family events over the years, and he is a delightful man, witty and self-deprecating (his remarks about being "perplexed" by his appointment are sincere, I guarantee you), extremely warm and kind, well-educated, faithful to the core, and with a spine of steel. Like Fr. Barron, he is a happy, energetic man in love with his faith and in love with mankind. And, like most of the Brennans, he likes to sing:
Congratulations to Los Angeles! You can live stream the press conference with Archbishop Gomez at the Cathedral here at 10 a.m. PST. Let's all remember to pray for Fr. Barron, Fr. O'Connell, and Fr. Brennan, who will surely be under constant attack as they take on this new work. These appointments are, as Fr. O'Connell says, not
an honor or a title or even as a reward for good work, but ... a call to follow Jesus more closely and to serve His people with more fervor.
They will need our love and support as they put their shoulders to the wheel. With more appointments like these, I can imagine a day when the notoriously heterodox and unwieldy Archdiocese of Los Angeles becomes an example for the rest of the Church in the United States.