Dear friends of CLINIC,
Like most of us these days, we are all faced with how to respond in a pastoral way to the humanitarian challenges in front of us with unaccompanied minors coming into our country. I recently visited with a number of these young people with some of our staff members of the Diocesan Pastoral Center here in Orange. The group of young people were from Honduras, a country that I knew something of from my time in the Diocese of Fort Worth where we had a long standing relationship with the Diocese of Juticalpa in the State of Olancho. Even when I was still in Fort Worth, I had to put a stop on mission and youth groups going there from the Diocese because of the escalating violence. When I was visiting with these young people, I asked them in Spanish where they were from, and they answered a certain city in Honduras, and replied: “Padre, it is the most dangerous city in the world!" This gives some idea of the challenges that were facing these young people and why their parents and they were taking these chances to come here. The attached statement (in English and Spanish) from the Bishops of California gives some of our response. Many people in Southern California have been working with Catholic Charities and other appropriate agencies to give a pastoral, humanitarian response.
This afternoon I attended a Mass for prayer for immigration reform for families at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez gave a beautiful homily, and one of the highlights of the Mass was a testimony by young woman (in English and Spanish) at the end of the Mass. This young woman had met Pope Francis recently at St. Peter’s.
There were over 5000 in attendance (inside and outside of the Cathedral) and I am proud to say that 2500+ were from the Diocese of Orange. Some of our parishes sent three and four busses. There were nearly 40 parishes represented, which is over 2/3 of the parishes of Orange! The accompanying picture is myself and some of the parishioners of St. Polycarp in Stanton before the Mass. These efforts were coordinated by the Respect Life/Justice and Peace coordinators of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of Orange and San Bernardino.
Special thanks to the staff of CLINIC and their dedication in the midst of all of these pastoral and life challenges. Our Lady of Guadalupe, ruega por nosotros!
God bless you always and thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of the “least of these.”
+Kevin W. Vann
*The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann is Bishop of Orange and the Chair of CLINIC’s Board of Directors.