Once again, thank you for the prayers for all the priests that gathered for convocation. Last week I shared with you some of my notes regarding the presentation made by Dr. Matovina. Today I would like to share with you some of what Bishop Barron and Bishop Barnes shared with us.
Bishop Barron provided us with a small film on young people, the many, many former Catholics who have left the Church. In a very effective way, the Bishop was convincing in pointing out key elements that need to be in place in order to respond to today’s youth. Social Media takes a prominent place but it follows the insight that it is not about bringing them to us, but for us to go out to them. There needs to be a missionary discipleship focused on encounter. The I-thou encounter that in turn becomes susceptible to an encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord. It felt good to be listening to all of this, with no small amount of pride in the work that our “Youth Task Force” is working on. I also appreciated the Bishop’s counsel to the priests: Be mindful of your daily holy hour before the Lord, be at your best at the celebration of the Eucharist, Study – study the serious stuff. He summarized all this by saying, Stay close to the fire. The fire of the Lord’s presence will always sustain, nurture and renew.
The last day we listened to Bishop Barnes. I have often heard him say that the furthest distance is what is found between the mind and the heart. As we listened to him I felt that he had closed that gap. He spoke a word of thanksgiving to all the clergy and the many who serve the diocese so that the Gospel be preached and the poor be attended to. He spoke a word of encouragement with his trademark, “Siempre Adelante”. All was heartfelt, was as was his plea for forgiveness for mistakes and misunderstandings of his, especially heartfelt as he concludes his ministry as Bishop of San Bernardino.
Bishop Barnes also shared with us some of his concerns. What will we offer the people when we return? Faith Formation needs to continue, how it will be will depend on each parish. How will we foster community? Will we be able to see one another without face coverings or will we still need to keep distance for a generation before we are able to extend a handshake? He, also counselled, above all, let us not forget to be attentive to the goodness of God in our midst. And again, with all people of good will, following the commitment of the California Bishops, we must find a way to respond to the tragedy of racism and the demise of the environment and with courage be a source of unity and not polarizing discourse that has become the norm in politics.
And the microphone was passed on to Bishop Rojas. He very graciously remembered that he was terrified at becoming the bishop of San Bernardino, and the gentle nudge of Bishop Barnes that told him to “get over it”.
All of us too, as we face the turmoil at home, community and parish, know what it means to be terrified. Hence, the Bishop’s gentle nudge belongs to us as well, let’s “get over it”, there is much to do – Siempre Adelante.
Obviously there was much more, but I thought I would share with you at least this glimpse. Again, thank you for your prayers.