Friday, January 2, 2015

CALIFORNIA DRIVERS' LICENSES

Today, January 2, 2015 over a million California undocumented residents will be able to legally apply for a Driver's Privilege card here in California.  Thank God!

Over the years I have heard the difficult stories of so many men and women who were forced because of job, school, or other need to get behind the wheel of a car without a license.  Their fears of being stopped, of possibly being deported, of suffering in many ways--all haunted them day after day.

Now, they must pass a written test, a vision test, and a driving test in order to qualify for a driver's licence in our State.  Some 250 of our parishes have been working with the possible applicants to prepare them to understand the Department of Motor Vehicles driver's booklet and to prepare for the tests.  It has been a long and important task for all of them, but they are anxious to become "legal" in at least this aspect of their daily lives.

It is possible that as many as 800,000 would be eligible here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for this driving privilege, and the Church is working diligently with many volunteers to help our people prepare well.

May this be a first step in a long journey bring our undocumented brothers and sisters fully out from the shadows so that they can participate fully in the life of our country where they have sacrificed and served for so many years.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

THE OUTCASTS AMONG US

As we celebrate once again the graces of the Incarnation of Jesus into our lives, we are always reminded with the fact that so many outcasts are the first to hear the good news of salvation.

It is the shepherds--the outcasts of that era--were the first ones to whom the angels proclaimed the good news.  And they responded with joy and disbelief.  They were the first ones to come to behold the new-born Jesus.

Down through the ages, the poorest and the outcasts have been the ones to whom God has spoken first.

In our own time, I am convinced that the immigrants, migrants, and refugees of our time are the ones to whom the new-born Jesus Christ is being revealed even now.

Blessings upon all during the coming New Year!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PRIEST CELEBRATES HIS 100th BIRTHDAY

On Sunday, November 2, Monsignor Felix Diomartich celebrated his 100th Birthday and the 77th Anniversary of his Priesthood Ordination with a special Mass at St. Anthony's Croatian Parish in Los Angeles.

I could find no other Archdiocesan priest in the history of our Archdiocese who reached the age of 100 years.

Monsignor Diomartich is a native of Croatia where he studied theology and was ordained a priest.  He subsequently was sent to Rome where he obtained doctorates in both theology and in canon law.  Because of World War II he was impeded from returning to Croatia, and found himself in New York city where he worked as a young priest.

Then then Archbishop James Francis McIntyre was transferred to Los Angeles, he invited then Father Diomartich to come to Los Angeles to serve the Croatian Catholics living there.  He became an official member of the presbyterate of Los Angeles in 1963.

Over the years he served the Croatian community both in Los Angeles and in San Pedro.  He was pastor of St. Anthony's Parish for several decades, and greatly loved by all the people.

He also helped begin the ethnic ministry of the Archdiocese under Cardinal Timothy Manning, and served in the Tribunal and in other leadership roles.

He is retired at Nazareth House where he enjoys his sunset years with many brother priests.

In 2015, Monsignor Richard Murray, pastor emeritus of St. Bernardine of Siena Parish in Woodland Hills, will celebrate his 100th birthday.  Then a year later in 2016, Monsignor John Fosselman, pastor emeritus of Assumption Parish in East Los Angeles, will celebrate his 100th birthday.

Incredible:  three priest centenarians in the space of three years!

May the spirit and example of these wonderful priests inspire us all, and especially, young men who are listening carefully to the call of Jesus Christ to serve as a priest.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CALIFORNIA WATER ISSUES

Across California prayers are being raised up to God seeking adequate rains and snows for the State and for all of the Western States experiencing significant drought.

Even with a normal rain year, the drought has created such a water deficit that it would take years to make up for that deficit.

On the November 4 election ballot in California we have Proposition 1--a measure crated with full bipartisan efforts in Sacramento and sanctioned by Governor Jerry Brown.  Prop. 1 places before the voters a bond measure in the amount of $7.5 billion dollars.  The measure will provide for:

*     projects that improve water quality or help provide clean, safe, and reliable drinking water

*     grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects

*     integrated regional water management plan projects that respond to climate change and contribute to regional water security

*     new water storage projects to capture melting snow and other runoff

*     water recycling and advanced treatment technology projects

*     projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water

*     statewide flood management projects and activities.

An obvious example of what can help for the future:  almost all of the rainfall in southern California flows out to the Pacific Ocean.  Very few measures in effect to capture this water and to divert it to underground storage and to replenish water tables.

Personally, I intend to vote YES on Proposition 1 since it is an important broad-based effort to assist our State deal with water needs for decades to come.

As always, we continue to life up our prayers:

Let us pray:

Our loving God, we are in need of rain and snow.  We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.  To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!  We place our trust in you.  We are sure that you know our needs.  But you want us to ask you anyway to show that you that we know we are dependent on you.

Look to our dry hills and fields, loving God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain and abundant snows.  Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PRAYERS FOR RAIN AND SNOW

Here in the Western States we are experiencing one of the worse cycles of drought in our history.

However, our West has always seen periods of drought.  What is new is the population:  many years ago, there were 10 million people in California; today, there are 40 million.

The need for water for such a great number has increased dramatically, creating a real crisis across the State.

And who suffers the most?  As always, the poorest of our people and families.  A family in the San Joaquin Valley gets its water from a backyard well.  However, the water table has dropped tremendously, and the well is not producing any water.  To sink the well deeper would cost at least $10,000 and the well company cannot get to this assignment for at least two years!  Their backlog is tremendous.

The same is true of small towns in the Valley with water systems.  All of their wells are dry.

And so, let us pray:

Our loving God, we are in need of rain and snow.  We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is.  To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!  We place our trust in you.  We are sure that you know our needs.  But you want us to ask you anyway to show that you that we know we are dependent on you.

Look to our dry hills and fields, loving God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain and abundant snows.  Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad.  Amen.

May our daily prayers reach up into the heavens, and may our loving God pour out rain and snow upon us!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IMMIGRANTS HELD HOSTAGE BY POLITICS

It is tragic that once again our immigrant brothers and sisters are being held hostage by purely political motives in Washington, DC.

The President and the leadership of the Democrats and Republicans share equally in the blame and for the total inaction in Congress.

For over 25 years we have been attempting update and fix our broken immigration system.  Many fine proposals have been made, good legislative efforts have been debated and discussed, and even a comprehensive immigration effort has been passed in the U.S. Senate.

But that's where everything grinds to a halt.

Our unauthorized immigrants are the ones suffering daily with this inaction.  Many millions live in fear that somewhere during the day they will be stopped and identified as being here without proper documents.  Their children, mostly USA citizens, fear the abrupt apprehension of their parents and their sudden deportation--leaving them all alone in our country without mother or father.

Now the political leaders in Washington acknowledge that nothing will happen during September or October.  Why?  Because of the national elections on November 4th.  One-third of the Senators and all of the House members are up for election, and winning re-election is their only focus and goal. 

The nation's business, and especially bringing justice, respect, and dignity to our immigrants, is all put on hold--once again.

But we, as disciples of Jesus, never give up.  We intensify our prayers, we voice our care and concern for our immigrant brothers and sisters, and we continue to advocate on their behalf.  Like the prophets of Old Testament times, our voices may seem weak and futile.  But they are not.  We remain fully committed to this work of justice, and we will never rest until the rights of all are secured.

May St. Toribio Romo intercede for us before our loving God!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

IMMIGRANTS the VICTIMS of POLITICS

Yet once again, House of Representative members have abandoned "the least among us," and have refused to offer even basic humanitarian assistance to children fleeing impossible living conditions.  Just before leaving Washington for a five-week recess, they failed to pass any meaningful legislation to lift ever so slightly the burdens upon the unauthorized immigrants in our midst.

I am reminded of Jesus' frustration with the Pharisees who were very good at imposing burdens on people, but would never lift a finger to lighten those burdens:

They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people's shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.  [Matthew 23:4]

The vast majority of immigrants who come to our country do so out of desperation.  They are not able to feed their families back home, jobs are few and far between, health and education services are often non-existent, and new violence and terrorism by drug cartels and gangs threaten everyone.

They certainly don't come here to take jobs that other Americans are doing.  If low-skill, low-paying jobs were being snapped up by legal residents, then there would be no incentive for others to come to our country to fill those jobs.

Any mother or father would think seriously about fleeing such pitiful circumstances, and seeking new opportunities for their family.  During the Great Recession I recall hearing so many stories about fellow Americans who had been fired caught in similar desperation.  Many took daring steps to try to provide for their families.  Great suffering ensued across the land.

The slowly growing economy continues the agony for so many--jobs are not available at their previous salaries; many workers have had their hours shortened; far too many have lost benefits such as health care and pensions.

What is so sad is to listen to the hateful rhetoric directed towards these brothers and sisters.  Talk show programs vie with one another to see who can hurl the most hurtful accusations at our immigrant brothers and sisters.

And yet, a very hopeful sign is that a majority of Americans still state in most polls that they believe some kind of earned pathway to legal residence should be offered to these brothers and sisters.

Prayer continues to be an essential component in our Christian approach to all who are carrying heavy burdens.  We turn to Jesus to help us lift the burdens that weary and suffocate so many in our midst.

Santo Toribio Romo, pray for us!!