Sunday, June 16, 2024

LA’s 4 new bishops receive solemn blessing on eve of their ordination

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Hundreds of the Catholic faithful gathered for the vespers, or evening prayers, on Monday evening before the episcopal ordination of Archdiocese of L.A.’s four newest Bishops.

Archbishop José H. Gomez led the solemn vesper prayers, where attendees at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — and the hundreds watching online — offered prayers and blessings to the new bishops-elect as they prepare for their sacred roles, officials said.

The episcopal ordination on Tuesday, Sept. 26 marks a new chapter for L.A.’s diverse Roman Catholic Church, which serves over 4.3 million in 120 cities across the region.

“It’s a day of great joy for the Archdiocese of L.A., especially for the bishops-elect and their families. Let’s keep praying for them as they prepare for their ordination tomorrow,” the Archbishop said Monday night.

Rev. Brian Nunes will oversee the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, which covers East Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys — an area healing after the death of its beloved local Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell earlier this year. The region had been overseen by interim leaders.

Monsignor Albert M. Bahhuth will serve as Episcopal Vicar for the San Fernando pastoral region, which covers the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas. Rev. Slawomir S. Szkredka will oversee the Santa Barbara region, which also takes in Ventura County. Rev. Matthew G. Elshoff, a Capuchin Franciscan Friar, will serve in the Our Lady of the Angels Region, which covers downtown and central Los Angeles, and west to Malibu.

The new bishops-elect were first appointed by Pope Francis on July 18. The occasion marked the first time the Pope has appointed four auxiliaries at one time for any diocese, officials said.

The four leaders all have diverse experiences serving in different parishes, dioceses, and roles throughout the local Catholic Church.

During his homily, Nunes shared that becoming a bishop is “a little intimidating… but we are not in this alone.”

“I speak for all four of us bishops-elect in asking for the gifts of wisdom and insight,” said Nunes. “One of my seminary professors, Dr. Paul Ford, used to tell us seminarians that we were on a ‘collision course with Holy Orders,’ and the same is true of the four of us. In many ways, preparing to be ordained a bishop is like being shot out of a cannon, on a trajectory toward the Great Unknown.”

Family and friends of the bishops-elect joined the occasion, along with Catholic leaders including Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States who serves as a diplomat of Pope Francis.

During the solemn ceremony, the bishops-elect also signed a Profession of Faith and professed Oath of Fidelity. Archbishop Gomez blessed their pastoral staffs, miters and ring — gifts and symbols of pastoral office and pontifical dignity that will be presented during Tuesday’s ordination Mass.

Nunes, Bahhuth, Elshoff and Szkredka will be ordained at a special Mass at 1  p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. All those without tickets are encouraged to watch and pray online at olacathedral.org.

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