LOS ANGELES — Despite heightened fears of mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, the country’s largest Catholic diocese paid tribute to the immigrants in its community in celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month.
Home to some 5 million Catholics representing some 70 countries, the Los Angeles Archdiocese has held the annual Celebration of Cultures Mass during Immigrant Heritage Month every year.
For Filipinos, it’s a chance to share the altar with other cultures.
“It’s been an amazing experience especially with the our faith and culture intertwined,” said Giselle Victoria.
“This mass is important because it shows despite all the craziness in the world, we can all still unite despite our differences we can still come together because of our faith,” said Erica Guico.
The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Jose Gomez and co-celebrated by recently-ordained Filipino American Bishop, Alex Aclan.
This cross-cultural celebration of faith comes at a time when the president of the United States has put immigrant communities on high alert.
In the days leading up to the mass, President Donald Trump threatened that his administration would deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
He did eventually backtrack on it, saying the deportations would be delayed.
“This is a country of immigrants, and it works when have an immigration law that welcomes people — so I think that’s what we have to pray for and as I said during the celebration of Mass, our mission is to bring that sense of unity to this country,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez.
For Bishop Alex Aclan, whose pastoral region includes the San Fernando Valley, where several Filipinos have been deported under the Trump administration, he believes this is a call to action for the faithful.
“We have to do our best to reassure people and to make them feel God’s presence and that God is with them, and there are people who are going to support them and who are going to be supporting them in what they’re going through. That’s what we do as priests as ministers of the church.”
In the last several years, while church leaders have been vocal about immigration reform, churches in the area have been giving aid to families affected by immigration issues.
It’s one of the ways the LA Archdiocese stays committed to serve its diverse parishioners.