Monday, September 30, 2019


[I regret that there are no photos to accompany this article, but my suitcase has been stranded for days somewhere between the Frankfurt airport and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.]

You enter through a non-descript gate off a busy road, not knowing the vastness and the goodness of God which you will be about to witness.

This Center was established years ago by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and it reflects the broad sweep of her charitable works.  She visited often since this particular Center represents her charitable works from birth to death.

The Center is divided into several large sectors, and some of the 18 Sisters who labor here are visible in each sector.  The Sisters accept the poorest of the poor, from pregnant mothers to the very elderly waiting to exit this life.

Early on, the Sisters would have to drive around Addis Ababa searching for people living in misery and hopelessness.  Not any more.  Families and friends now bring many to the Sisters.  Even the local government which had been hesitant to allow this vast facility to exist now help in various ways with the Center and refer residents and patients here.

The section set aside for pregnant women and new mothers is so inspiring.  Here women about to give birth are cared for, and mutual support is offered to them by other mothers and nurses and doctors.  

Once a mother has been birth to her baby, there is a special residential care section for her and her baby.  They are allowed to stay a few months, but in the meantime, they are given various skills in order to work after their stay.  One of the small kitchens is used to teach these young mothers how to be cooks in hotels and other settings.  A skilled woman chef guides them through all of the various kinds of food they will need to prepare.  We were told that these women are usually hired quickly because of their skills.

Another sector deals with handicapped men and women--young and old.  Again, doctors work with them to enhance their lives and to make them ready to return to society.

Every aspect of the care given here is to enhance individual talents and to prepare them to return to the world and be self-sufficient.

While encountering younger children with orthopedic disabilities, we tended to feel sorry for them.  But they themselves were engaged in joyous play, their sights set firmly on a life of normalcy even with some type of hindrance physically.

The section with the old and those terminally ill was particularly difficult.  On any given day, one or two people die each day.  A week ago there were eight who died in one day.  The bodies are prepared according to Ethiopian custom, and set in a morgue until morning.  Then a vehicle comes from the government to pick up those who had died, and they are transported to a place of burial.

A special trait of Mother Teresa and her Sisters is joy in the midst of much human suffering and hopelessness.  Their eyes are raised well above the ills and downfalls of a particular life, and they see souls en route to the Kingdom of God.

Catholic Relief Services [CRS] provides most of the food for this Center, as well as several others all across the country of Ethiopia.  CRS is heavily involved in obtaining medical equipment as well as medicines for the Centers.  Early on, the government did not appreciate the tremendous contribution the Sisters were making, but officials now realize that if the Sisters were not here offering all of these services, these people would be out on the streets where lack of human dignity was so seldom regarded.

All of the left over bread products from the Addis Ababa airport are brought each morning to this vast Center where it is cherished and valued by the residents.

While most of the doctors and nurses are Ethiopian, often other volunteers from around the world come in order to work alongside he Missionaries of Charity.  

That original vision of St. Mother Teresa was to go out onto the streets, and to bring in the sick and the dying--with the primary vision being upon their dignity as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.  That vision and reality are truly palpable at this incredible Center where Jesus is brother to all!

Friday, September 27, 2019


Today I depart for Ethiopia in order to visit the many refugees and refugee centers in several areas of the country.

I am going with the superb staff of Catholic Relief Services [CRS] and will be posting photos and commentary during these days in Ethiopia.

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 to people on the periphery "closeness" and "accompaniment."  I hope 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.




R.I.P. Cardinal William J. Levada
September 26, 2019

Cardinal Roger Mahony

          Today we are all saddened as we learned of the sudden death of His Eminence, Cardinal William J. Levada.  He was well known to all of us here in Los Angeles, as well in the various Archdioceses in which he served, as well as his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
            Cardinal Levada was a dear friend and seminary classmate.  He joined our class at St. John’s Seminary following his graduation from St. Anthony’s High School in Long Beach, along with two other classmates from that school:  Msgr. Anthony Leuer, and Archbishop George Niederauer, both deceased.
            After finishing his seminary college courses, he was sent by Cardinal McIntyre to the North American College in Rome where he finished his theology courses.  Ordained in December 1961, he subsequently received his doctorate in Sacred Theology in Rome.
            He served on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the guidance of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
            He served in various roles in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as well as the Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference.
            Cardinal Levada was the essential Churchman.  His entire life was focused upon his life with Jesus Christ, and the good of the Church in every possible realm. 
            He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles in 1983, and served as the Regional Bishop in Santa Barbara.
            Then Bishop Levada and the late Bishop John Ward headed a special Task Force for me after my Installation in Los Angeles as Archbishop to develop our Regional System for the Archdiocese.  Their plan was adopted, and the five Pastoral Regions were created, along with four Deaneries in each Pastoral Region.
            In 1986 then Bishop Levada was named the Archbishop of Portland, Oregon, where he served for some nine years.
            In 1995 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco and succeeded to the See that same year.
            When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, he selected then Archbishop Levada to serve as his successor as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He also served as the President of the International Theological Commission, and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and later, as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.  After being created a Cardinal in 2006, his Titular Church in Rome was Santa Maria in Domnica.
            Upon reaching the age of 76 years, he retired from all of his Vatican responsibilities.  He then remained very active giving many learned presentations in various places around the world.  He was sought after for his knowledge and vast experience in all matters theological.
            Cardinal Bill was a dear and long-time friend, and I shall miss him greatly.  Our Ordination Class of 1962 remained very close over the years, gathering at least once a year formally, and at many other times as well.  Our class was blessed to have four Bishops over the years:  Cardinal William Levada, Archbishop George Niederauer, and Bishop Tod Brown, and myself.
            We always enjoyed each other’s company and priestly fraternity, and supported each other in our priestly ministry constantly.  Our Class believed deeply in the value of priestly fraternity, and lived it out fully.
            Cardinal William Levada, the eminent Churchman, devoted his entire life to the life and well being of the Church, nationally and internationally.  There was no issue involving the Church that eluded his care and concern—theological issues, ecclesiological issues, and any issue which touched the Church across the globe in any way. 
            May God open wide his arms to embrace our beloved brother, Cardinal Bill, as he enters the fullness of life in God’s Kingdom!