LOS ANGELES (CNA/EWTN News) — Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles told a diverse group of new priests during their ordination Mass that they have a responsibility to make God known in a culture that has forgotten him.
“We have a special responsibility for the New Evangelization — not only for the New Evangelization of Los Angeles and California,” he said, “but also for the New Evangelization of our country, our continent and our world.”
Of the six new priests that Archbishop Gomez ordained at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on June 4, one was born in Mexico, three in Korea and two in the U.S. to immigrant families.
“We are celebrating this morning a special moment of grace and joy as we ordain our brothers — Augustine, Ernesto, Francisco, John, José de Jesus and Michael — to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.”
“This is a beautiful day for our great Church of Los Angeles,” he said.
In his homily, Archbishop Gomez referenced the day’s reading from the Gospel of John, saying that the disciples “rejoiced” when they saw Christ after his resurrection.
“This is the secret that every priest knows in his own personal way: There is joy in the Lord’s presence!”
The archbishop told the new priests that, fundamentally, “Jesus Christ came to serve, not to be served. He came to give his life as a ransom for many.”
“The priesthood is not about power or prestige,” he underscored. “It is not an office or an occupation. It is a sacrament. It is a response to God’s call to serve souls.”
And it’s because of this call that priests are needed now more than ever, he said.
“My brothers, the gap separating men and women from God is growing wider every day in our society,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Many people feel that God is remote from the concerns and cares of their lives. More and more people today say they do not believe in God or in any religion.
“This is so sad. And it is unacceptable to God.”
The archbishop noted that Archdiocese of Los Angeles in particular has been tasked as a “missionary Church.”
Archbishop Gomez then recalled the life of Blessed Junípero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan who lived in the 18th century and is called the “Apostle to California.”
“You are called to be missionary priests like him, my brothers. I hope you will study his life and look to him as an inspiration and an intercessor in your own priesthood.”
The Franciscan lived his priesthood with a “zeal for souls,” and took joy in his daily duties of preaching and teaching, hearing confessions, offering Mass, and saying his prayers, Archbishop Gomez said.
Blessed Junípero was also known for tracing the sign of the cross on people’s foreheads and saying to them, “Ama a Dios! Love God!” which became a form of greeting throughout the California missions.
“I believe this is a beautiful sign of what you are called to do in your ministry of service in our great city and archdiocese,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“Through your ministries, you must trace the sign of the cross on every person you meet. You must trace the sign of the cross, this great sign of God’s love, on our city and our world.”
“This is a mission for all of us who are baptized, my brothers and sisters. In everything we do, in all our words and actions, we must proclaim to our city and our world: Ama a Dios! Love God!”