VATICAN CITY — The Pope celebrated Mass with Archbishop José Gomez, the highest-ranking American bishop of Hispanic origin, on the feast of the Lord’s Annunciation.
“It was a very special Eucharist for me because we were celebrating the Annunciation, and I was ordained a bishop in Denver on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2001,” Archbishop Gomez said in an April 8 Facebook post.
“During the Mass,” the archbishop added, “I was praying for Pope Francis and the Church, but especially for our great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“After Mass I told Pope Francis that all the faithful of Los Angeles love him and that we are praying for him and his ministry and that he has our loyalty. He said that he is grateful for our prayers, and he asked for more prayers!”
Archbishop Gomez, originally from Mexico and the current Los Angeles archbishop, concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis at St. Martha’s House in the Vatican on April 8.
The archbishop is the head of the largest archdiocese in the United States, which also has the highest number and percentage of Hispanics in the country.
“Archbishop Gomez was extremely delighted and very moved,” said Mario Paredes in an April 9 interview with Catholic News Agency.
Paredes is the chairman emeritus of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, a group based in Los Angeles that aims to strengthen ties between Hispanics and the Church.
Around 50 people attended the Mass for the Annunciation of the Lord in the residence’s chapel.
“It was a very simple Mass, and after it finished, the Pope greeted every person individually,” said Paredes.
“I was very moved, and we never imagined we would be so close to him,” he added.
The group of 20 people, who attended the Mass alongside Paredes, is in Rome from April 7-12 to meet with Church leaders.
Interestingly, the delegation is staying at St. Martha’s House, the same place where the Pope has decided to live.
He said the group is “extremely delighted” to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with Pope Francis every day at the residence for Vatican employees.
Paredes said, “He is very affable, simple and very direct. And although he doesn’t speak much, he is very warm.”