BURBANK, Calif. – The country’s largest archdiocese also has the largest Filipino number priests and every month. Some of Los Angeles’ 60 Filipino priests gather in fellowship to share their experiences and plan for future events.
This week is an exciting time for them with Pope Francis visiting the United States.
While the Pope is in the East Coast, these priests are hosting special masses, viewing parties and educational sessions for their students at their home parishes.
Fr. Mau Goloran of St. Martha said, “We have all these fliers, all these announcement, brochures let these people know he is coming for the gathering of families.”
They pray with the expectations that the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis has been promoting will also help their parishes grow.
“I hope that the year of mercy is a big rallying call to so many Catholics or maybe people who aren’t catholic maybe Catholics who haven’t been to church in 20, 40, 60 years, this is going to be the year the holy father will invite them back and really build parishes that will welcome people,” said Fr. Francis Mendoza, pastor at St. Finbar.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis made Blessed Junipero Serra a saint. Serra was a Spanish missionary who built missions along California. It’s a special time, especially for Filipino American priests who grew up and now serve in the Golden State.
Fr. Mike Prucho of Our Lady of Peace said, “Growing up, the mission is definitely something I’ve experienced throughout my life. 4th grade, Catholic school – that was a big part of building the missions and so forth and even just traveling from San Jose to Los Angeles, visiting those different missions was definitely a big part of history. So to have the pope come here in particular to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, to make him a saint, is wonderful for the church. It’s a great celebration for us as people of California.”
While their region is home to large immigrant congregations, these priests admitted that many of their parishioners will be keeping close watch on what the Holy Father does in regards to the country’s immigration issues.
For Filipino priests in the U.S, 2015 is a special year, as Pope Francis visited the Philippines in January and some nine months later, they now have the pride and joy of seeing the Holy Father visit their new home country, spreading his goodwill around the world.
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