On Sunday, July 21st, eight busloads of faith-filled Catholics from the Diocese of Orange took off for Los Angeles for a time of prayer and solidarity with brothers and sisters from parishes throughout the southland. A gathering of over 4,000 hope-filled people joined together with Archbishop Jose Gomez at the L.A. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to celebrate a Mass for Immigrants, “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us”.
Parishioners from Our Lady of Guadalupe (La Habra), St Polycarp (Stanton), St Phillip Benizi (Fullerton) and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Santa Ana) were dropped off at its steps and processed into reserved seats of what became a packed cathedral. Bishops, priests and deacons joined the faithful with a lively festive entrance procession. The multi-cultural celebration was best expressed through the faces of so many people along with the varieties of colors, styles of music, readings, and languages in the prayer. This year’s primary purpose was to pray for our nation and the passing of a truly comprehensive immigration reform bill that we, as Catholics, can be proud of that reflects our Catholic Social Teaching and may bring us to greater justice, unity and healing.
Archbishop Gomez called each of those present to put their prayer into real action. The Prayer of the Faithful lifted up our hopes and thoughts for America, for those suffering at this time, for the 11 million aspiring Americans awaiting a resolution of their situation and for each representative leader called to help write, debate, amend and pass a legislative bill that heals our broken immigration system. Above all, it was a Eucharistic Sacrifice and Celebration of God’s outpouring love upon all who gathered.
Strengthened by the Eucharist, it was my particular privilege to distribute the Blood of Christ to many of the pilgrims from Orange. Both before Mass and Post-Communion we were treated with testimonies of families that will be most affected by a new law. It brought home once again that this is about people and families and communities and us. With the Final Blessing came the sending forth “Ite missa est.” The enlivened faithful spilled out of the Cathedral filled with the Holy Spirit. They rolled down the steps onto the sidewalks while awaiting their particular bus to whisk them back to their parishes and communities from which they came. It was a delightful and historic Mass for Immigrants, “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us”. And it left us with a lot of homework back home.
Rev. Edward Poettgen
Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church – Santa Ana
Vicar for Charities – Catholic Charities of Orange County