Sunday, March 21, 2021


The Covid 19 pandemic has unleashed terrible discrimination and verbal/physical attacks upon our Asian American brothers and sisters.  States, cities, and communities are examining their consciences on how our Asian community has been treated over the years.

Here in California, we deserve no better than an F.  Here are three examples of how Asians came to our State, and how their success led to punitive legislative measures:



Chinese workers had been imported to work on the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s. 

When it was completed in 1869, many Chinese were drawn to the Sacramento area and the Gold Rush.  Unlike typical gold miners who squandered their gold earnings on liquor, gambling, and women, the Chinese wisely saved their money and soon moved into agricultural.   

They were successful farm workers and even bought small farms.  Their success brought the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to block their economic gains in agriculture.  Even 152 years ago we began to stereotype and punish Asians who became successful.




Between 1898 and 1900 many Japanese were brought to California to work in the fields.  It was not long before they gave up working for farmers and ranchers and set out on their own.  They were extremely successful, saved their money, and formed collectives to benefit from many families owning and operating collective farms.  

 This success brought the passage of the Alien Land Law in 1913 which forbade Japanese from owning and operating farms and ranches.  Again, 108 years ago, the fury of California was unleashed on the hardworking success of our Japanese brothers and sisters. 




Filipino farm workers came in three waves: the first wave of 100,000 "manongs"took place in the time between 1920 to 1930.  They were permitted to come to California because at that time the Philippines was a Territory of the USA, not a foreign country.  Most of them began working in the great Delta area in and around Sacramento, working in the agricultural crops of this region.  

The State and local jurisdictions passed misogyny laws forbidding Filipino workers from marrying anyone except a Filipino.  The problem was that Filipino men outnumbered Filipino women 14 to 1.  Few women came during these years.

The second wave came in 1946 right after the Second World War.  Many USA servicemen married Filipino women while stationed in the Philippines and brought them back after the war.  Immigration laws then permitted the soldiers to petition and bring many other family members to the USA.  Large numbers of these Filipinos centered around the Delta region and became very industrious farm workers. 

 The third wave come in 1965 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Many more Filipinos began arriving, but this time many were trained in the medical field:  doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and the like.  But also, many more came to work in California’s fields and orchards.

Since most Filipinos spoke English they were not treated as badly as the earlier waves of Japanese and Chinese immigrants.




Between 1942 and 1945, some 120,000 Japanese across the country were rounded up and confined in ten different relocation camps in several States.  Two of those camps were here in California:  Manzanar Relocation Center along the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Tule Lake Relocation Center in northern California. 

These Japanese, many USA citizens, were presumed to be "pro-Japan" during World War II.  These camps were fortified with no opportunity to depart, a veritable prison setting. 

Following the end of the war in 1945, those in internment camps were allowed to return to their homes.  These Japanese were often met with suspicion and hostility for years to come.

After the fall of Vietnam in April of 1975 to the Viet Cong, thousands of Vietnamese refugees were housed in many countries across southeast Asia.  Many were permitted to come to California under the auspices of the Catholic Church acting as partner with the government to help resettle so many refugees.  The Catholic Church played a very important role in this resettlement process.

Since Cambodians and Hmong people had collaborated with our country in trying to repel communists in Vietnam, our government had to bring many to our State to avoid being imprisoned or killed.

There then followed a large influx of Koreans to southern California.  Next, people from throughout Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific began arriving here.  

Many people from all of these groups brought with them their Catholic faith, and many special Centers sprung up to serve them.

Despite our best efforts to inculturate our many Asian brothers and sisters into our society in California, the Asians continued to be subject to verbal and physical insults and attacks.  The naming of Covid-19 as a Chinese or Asian flu created renewed hostility and attacks upon all Asians because most Caucasians cannot distinguish the various Asian peoples and their varying countries.

The Catholic Church had a strong presence in many of these countries, and many priests and Sisters came to assist them in spiritual and pastoral ministry.




Sadly, so many aspects of hateful discrimination live on in our State--from the 1860s until today.  

Our road forward is rooted in our Catholic teaching of the equality of all peoples God has placed on our earth.  There are none "better" or others "worse."  We share our resemblance to God's spirit and share this journey forward.

Now is the time for us to reach out to all our Asian brothers and sisters with a new sense of welcome and to diminish hateful speech and actions from our hearts, from our lives, and from our communities.



Sunday, September 27, 2020



The information below is quite startling and we are in danger of basically eliminating our USA refugee resettlement program.

 This week, the Trump administration could make the unprecedented decision to “zero out” the US refugee program.  In other words, the president could close the door to any refugees resettled through the US refugee program in the United States in FY 2021. This decision could take place despite the presence of nearly 25 million refugees worldwide in need of protection, of whom less than one percent are resettled to third countries annually. 

Since the formal advent of the US refugee program in the 1970s, the nation has resettled, on average, 95,000 refugees per year.  Since then, 3 million refugees have been resettled through the program and have become contributing members of our nation.

Under current law, the president must issue a presidential determination each year designating the number of refugees the United States will resettle in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts October 1st.  Last year, the administration set a refugee ceiling of 18,000, the lowest amount ever.  Even so, only about half that total will be resettled this year in the US, a trickle compared to earlier years. 

If the president delays the issuance of a determination until past the beginning of the fiscal year, refugee resettlement halts.  If the president issues a determination with zero as the number—an unprecedented act—the program could stop for the entire fiscal year.  Many of the refugees resettled in 2020 were fleeing religious persecution, including Christian refugees.

The US refugee resettlement program, operated out of the US Department of State, has been a model public-private partnership serving the most vulnerable persons in the world for decades.  Nine non-profit resettlement agencies, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in conjunction with Catholic Charities programs around the country, receive refugees and help them integrate into local communities across the nation.   The refugees are expected to become self-sufficient within a year, and many do. 

The program is also safe, as refugees are vetted thoroughly, undergoing multiple security reviews and interviews before arriving in the United States.  Despite the claim by opponents that the program brings in security threats to our nation, there has not been one refugee who came through the program involved in a terrorist attack on US soil.

I have traveled to Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world to visit with refugees, and by and large I have found them to be resilient and hard-working people who simply want a chance to live their lives in safety.  They have been forced to leave their homelands because of persecution and wars and have survived horrific situations.  They deserve the protection of our nation, which has been built on the backs of immigrants and refugees.

The Trump administration has done everything it can to weaken the US refugee program and now they want to kill it, despite its success.  This is contrary to President Trump’s pledge to protect Christian refugees during his 2016 campaign.  

Let’s pray that President Trump and his administration do not continue down this road and instead allows this program to keep performing its live-saving work. 

Monday, March 2, 2020


Ash Wednesday is a really busy day for all of us priests because "God's magnet" draws them to Church for ashes.  It's incredible year after year, and regardless of why they are there, the point is they are actually there.  And God's grace, compassion, and mercy reaches all of them in different ways.

Ash Wednesday 2020 was an extraordinary day, and God's compassion and mercy were poured out in ways I have never experienced as a priest.

As with every parish, we had Masses and Services for Ashes from early morning until late at night.  I was at the early Mass helping, and I celebrated the 12:05 pm Mass.  Afterwards, I went to my rooms at the parish and was going to catch up on some desk work before going back later in the afternoon for ashes and Mass.

I sat down at my desk, and quickly this message began coming into my mind:  "Go hear confessions."  I ignored it, and went on with the desk work.  "Go hear confessions" kept coming back.  After a while I went to get a Parish Bulletin to see if we had confessions on Ash Wednesday afternoon.  We did not.

Back to my desk, but this message kept coming:  "Go hear confessions."

Finally, since I couldn't get anything else done, I made up a small sign that said:  "Confessions 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm."  I picked up a spiritual book to read and went over to Church.  Since Ash services were continuing all afternoon, I put on my alb and stole, and went to Our Lady's Chapel where we have a free standing confessional--for anonymous and face to face confessions.

I sat down and picked up my book since I thought no one would be coming.  And that's when the Holy Spirit went to work.

Within five minutes a person came to confession who had been away almost 30 years.  I was astounded at such a sincere and humble confession.  I asked the person how they got here.  The person responded that they had come "to get the ashes," and on the way out saw my small sign.  The Holy Spirit took hold of this person and brought them to confession.

And then, one after another, for three hours the Holy Spirit brought so many people--all who had been away from confession for 10 years or longer.  One after another.  I was spellbound at the grace and action of the Holy Spirit who had obviously called all of these people to receive ashes, and then in a marvelous way, "hijacked" them to confession.

Grace upon grace flowed all three hours.  I was so humbled by God's incredible compassion and mercy to these people, and humbled to be an instrument of Jesus' welcoming forgiveness.

These graces were poured out for three full hours.  I never picked up my book because they never stopped coming.  Miracles of God's limitless love and mercy took place in one long continuum of grace.  

Not a single person came who had been to confession recently.  All had been away for at least a year or more.  

And then at 4:35 pm, the long line of God's grace and mercy ended.  No one else came.

I went back to my residence and directly to the chapel where I sat before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and lifted up prayers of praise and gratitude for the miracles of grace which I had witnessed over those hours.  I sat there for a long time in disbelief, which is the human reaction.  But then I realized this entire afternoon was in God's plan for all of those people, and this was his day to show his love through compassion, and his mercy through forgiveness.

I urge my brother priests to love the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  You never know when at an unexpected moment, the Holy Spirit will prompt you:  "Go and hear confessions."

As Pope Francis has reminded us, "The Name of God is Mercy."

Monday, January 27, 2020


Monday, January 27, 2020

We have just concluded an extraordinary three hour private visit with Pope Francis as we begin our Ad Limina visit to Rome.

All of the Bishops of California, Hawaii, and Nevada shared their own pastoral experiences, and had a wonderful of exchange with Pope Francis.  We shared our hopes, our challenges, our joys, and our anxieties as we serve our various Arch/Dioceses in this era of history.

Sitting with the Pope in this setting felt like being with a beloved grandfather, a beloved friend who himself had been through the same struggles and hopes as we had.  He was so open, warm, welcoming, and invited us to share anything that we wished with him.

Pope Francis had the ability to listen carefully, ponder our views, and to respond in a kindly manner.  His demeanor and thoughtfulness truly reflected the mode of discernment which St. Ignatius of Loyola taught his fellow Jesuit followers.  The movement of the Holy Spirit needs to be discerned and recognized throughout our ministry.       

His insights about the world and the Church revealed his profound knowledge of the complexities of life across the broad spectrum of countries.  He expressed sadness over the sufferings and pain so many peoples endure daily, while always lifting up the hope which Jesus proclaimed and called us to live out.

The Successor of Peter truly carried out his role of "confirming his brothers in faith" and giving us courage to continue forward despite difficulties and even opposition from the culture.

 It was not the list of topics that was so impressive; rather, the openness of Pope Francis to listen to our faith journeys, our pastoral hopes, and to gently offer his own insights from his long ministry in Argentina.  The topics included the best efforts to bring Jesus to people living in our culture which at times seems so hostile to commitments and to making sacrifices for others.  The longing of young people, the challenges of family life in a cyber society, how to create unity among our people in their parishes, and similar topics were met with openness and collegial response.

Pope Francis is fond of the idea of "closeness" in our lives:  first, our closeness with Jesus day by day, and our closeness with brothers and sisters to Jesus.

He urged us to foster deeply "four aspects of closeness":  our closeness to Jesus through daily prayer and reflection, our closeness to our brother priests and all who minister with us, our closeness to each other as those called to shepherd God's people,  and our closeness to brother Bishops around the world in a new and vital unity.

An extraordinary and memorable day with Pope Francis!!  Surely one of the finest Ad Limina visits I have ever experienced!!

Viva Pope Francis!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Nuncio to US Bishops: Reflect on gift of communion with Pope.

The Fall General Assembly of the Bishops of the United States opens with speeches by the Apostolic Nuncio, and the outgoing President of the Episcopal Conference.

Vatican News:

The Bishops of the United States are meeting in Baltimore this week for their regular Fall General Assembly, with the prelates expected to address numerous topics, including the formation of priests, the political responsibilities of Catholics, and the strategic priorities for the Church in the United States for the coming years. At the meeting, the Bishops will also be electing a new President and Vice-president, as well has chairmen for several committees of the USCCB.

Bishops at prayer during the 2019
Fall General Assembly of the US Bishops' Conference

Nuncio addresses Bishops

After introductory business, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, took the floor to address the assembled Bishops. While recognizing the many challenges the Church faces, Archbishop Pierre also focused on the strengths of the American Church, including its defence of human life and religious liberty, as well as the rights of migrants and families, and its generosity in charitable works, especially for the most vulnerable.

In the face of an increasingly secularized culture, the Nuncio encouraged the Bishops to reflect on the missionary nature of the Church; how all members of the Church partake in her mission; collegiality among the Bishops themselves; communion within the Church, and especially with priests; and on how to address the shortage of clergy.

The gift of communion with the Pope

In view of the Bishops’ ongoing “ad limina” visits (taking place over the next several months), Archbishop Pierre suggested to the Bishops that “it may be useful to prayerfully reflect on the gift of communion with the Bishop of Rome”. He encouraged them to bring the Magisterium of Pope Francis to their people, focusing on the teachings of the Apostolic Exhortations Evangelii gaudium and Amoris laetitia, and the Encyclical Laudato sí, as well as the Holy Father’s recent teachings on human fraternity. “Our communion with the Holy Father”, he said, “can be expressed in the concrete actions that we take to make his Magisterium better known among the people”.

Renewed fervor for evangelization

Archbishop Pierre also invited the Bishops, when they go to Rome, to share with the Holy Father “good news” from their Dioceses, and urged them to a renewed fervor for evangelization, in order to fulfill the “Holy Father’s dream for a ‘missionary option’ in the Church”.

He concluded his address by acknowledging the “spiritual and cultural heritage” of the Church in the United States, as well as the “faith and devotion” of the American Bishops and their flocks. “I am confident”, he said, “that the Church in the United States will discover the right path for its spiritual renewal so that it can continue to be the Church that Christ calls it to be”.

Reprinted from Vatican News

Monday, October 14, 2019


Featured on Angelus News
Children in a Meki school. Education is key to the future of any people,
but especially so in the more rural areas of any country.

I recently returned to Los Angeles from a weeklong trip to Ethiopia, a place where the Catholic Church, with only 1% of the population, has an incredible impact across the entire country.

I went with a superb staff from Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The purpose of the trip was to help its local partners with their programs that help displaced and malnourished people, and to aid its overall efforts in alleviating a variety of problems within the community.

On the first day of my trip, we drove to a town called Meki, which is an apostolic vicariate (the last step before becoming a diocese). We visited the beautiful Our Lady of Perpetual Help Clinic. The clinic serves many children, and offers care to pregnant mothers, from pre-birth to post-birth.

Small children are in the care of the clinic's day care center
while their mothers are working.

The vicariate there is doing an amazing job to promote and aid the local community. The bishop of Meki, Abraham Desta, owns and operates a large farm outside of the city, where small farmers are trained to be more efficient while raising funds for the vicariate. A variety of food can be found on this farm, from crops to dairy cows, to even vineyards for winemaking!

Bishop Abraham proudly displaying a 2018 Syrah red wine.

This farm is a unique example of how the Church in mission lands can be creative in serving the people by bringing them new skills for their own livelihoods.

Day two brought a trip to an area where a Women’s Empowerment Project is underway. Centuries of cultural tradition have empowered men to be the absolute authority in each family, while the wives are often relegated to a diminished role.

The new initiative has been designed to create a new paradigm of family life, one where husbands and wives work together, sharing the authority of the family. There is a school in this area as well, teaching both young women and young men the mutuality of the role of husband and wife from an early age.

Students at the school, where young women learn the usual subjects,
but also a new formation in women empowerment.

Day three led us to Dire Dawa, where we met with the Catholic Secretariat of the Eparchy of Dire Dawa, who operates all the educational, social, and health projects in this large eparchy.

We then drove through more mountainous lands. CRS has pioneered the terracing of the mountains so that more land was available for food production, as well as to halt erosion of the soil. This initiative has had an enormous impact on the communities.

In Dire Dawa, our hosts prepared a special celebration bread which
is broken up into pieces and shared by all who are gathered.

CRS has developed a very creative project to make life easier for people throughout Ethiopia, creating wells and innovative water solutions to provide good, clean water to the local villages. No other project has had such an enormous, multiplier effect upon the local populations. Having clean water changes every aspect of local life — saves time finding water, fewer illnesses, sanitation, and more water for crops. 

The water points are managed by local committees.

Later, we arrived to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Deder. These people have been displaced due to conflicts involving territory and various groups.

After spending the night in Dire Dawa, we visited several projects in and around the city itself. We saw an orphanage that offers shelter to those children who otherwise would be on the streets at night. It provides a shelter for youth to gather, study, and play Ping-Pong.

Youth playing Ping-Pong at the shelter.

We also visited one of the 15 Ethiopian warehouses that CRS maintains, where there are fresh food items stored in preparation for any sort of disaster. I was especially impressed with CRS’ commitment to pre-staging items needed for various disasters, from typhoons and earthquakes, to displaced persons fleeing their homes.

A CRS warehouse filled with supplies. This is one of 15 within Ethiopia.

Our visit took us to Notre Dame School, one of the largest Catholic schools in Ethiopia, with more than 1,600 students.

We were fortunate to be able to make a brief visit to the Missionary of Charity Sisters community, where they care for the most neglected and needy people in the area. They provide medical and mental health attention to those in need. With the food supply from CRS, the sisters are able to accommodate and serve so many people.

As you know, immigrants and refugees hold a special place in the heart, soul, and ministry of Pope Francis. He always encourages us to bring “closeness” and “accompaniment” to people on the periphery. This trip allowed me to do that, in his name!

May God continue to inspire all of us, disciples of Jesus, to be alert for the most needy in our midst, and to reach out to them in his name!

This article was featured in Angelus News 

Saturday, October 5, 2019



After overnight in Dire Dawa, we visited several projects in and around the city itself.


This is a non-residential facility which deals with two types of youth:  those in homes with special needs, such as a single parent; and those on the streets with no place to stay at night.

The at-home youth are provided a place to gather, to play, and to study after school.  Simple facilities provide various things for the youth to do, such as ping pong.

Women in the community come together to learn how to create and operate small businesses.  One woman bakes very fine cookies and is selling them to various stores and food outlets.  She has received a loan from the Community Group, and repays it over a few months.  This woman is saving to purchase larger baking equipment so she can expand her business.  These many businesses give women a greater security for their families, and are able to provide more opportunities for their children.  

It is a real joy to feel the enthusiasm, interest, and commitment of all these women.  They support each other and learn different techniques from each other, as well as specialists who come in to work with them.  Really impressive to see their initiatives!!


One of the most impressive aspects of CRS activities around the world is their long-held strategy to station relief supplies in large warehouses in so many countries.  These are called Primary Distribution Points, and there are 15 of them in Ethiopia.  CRS brings in commodities from the port of Djibouti and stores, as in this example.
In order to keep the items fresh, they are brought in and stored for no more than 3 months, then sent on to local centers.

Over several years of seeing the CRS projects around the world, I have been so impressed with their commitment to pre-staging items needed for various disasters and needs:  typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, groups fleeing all kinds of threats, and the like.  In this way CRS can respond quickly when crises arise.


We had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame School, one of the largest Catholic schools in Ethiopia with some 1,600 students--from kindergarten to seniors in high school.  The quality education is provided for all these students who come from the surrounding areas.  Three Ethiopian Sisters serve in the school, along with a layman as principal.  A large and varied staff helps teach and form these young people.


Since our time was limited before having to fly back to Addis Ababa, our visit was very short.  Basically, these Sisters of St. Mother Teresa's Community care for the most neglected and needy persons in the community.  Almost all need medical attention through various clinics, as well as living arrangements for many until they are able to live on their own.

Medical and mental health issues are very prevalent here, as well as those in advanced age who are near death.  The Sisters benefit from various doctors and nurses who help out, but they are also able to send patients to the local hospital for more specialized care.

CRS is the primary food source for this enormous compound.  Without this food, the Sisters would never be able to accommodate and serve so many people.

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