Gomez to Begin Ministry in LA

Catholics will welcome the Coadjutor Archbishop today with Mass at 2 p.m.

The man chosen by the pope to succeed Cardinal Roger  Mahony as head of the most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese in the United  States will officially begin his ministry in the Southland Wednesday.

Coadjutor Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, head of the church in San Antonio  since 2004, will be at a gala  Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Gomez was chosen in April by Pope Benedict XVI to replace Mahony, who  will retire on his 75th birthday on Feb. 27.

At 2 p.m., Mass will mark the beginning of Gomez's work in the  Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which claims more than 5 million Catholics in Los  Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. About 4,000 invited guests are expected to attend the Mass.

"As an Hispanic bishop, we've worked together on committees and know each other well," said Bishop Gabino Savala. "He comes to a complicated, large, diverse archdiocese, so it's going to be challenging.

"If you can imagine the excitement among the Latino community, it's tremendous."

Gomez will serve as an assistant bishop until Mahony's retirement.

Wednesday's Mass will will include the rite of reception. After Mahony gives  his sermon, Sister Mary Elizabeth Galt, chancellor of the archdiocese, will  read a letter from Rome announcing Gomez's appointment as coadjutor archbishop.  Mahony will accept the letter and ask the audience -- expected to include about  4,000 people -- if they will support Gomez, and they will reply "We are.''

While Mahony will be the principal celebrant, the Mass will include six  other cardinals, 59 bishops and 411 priests.

Los Angeles native Cardinal William Levada, the highest-ranking American  in the Vatican, will attend, as will Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Rigali,  also a Los Angeles native.

Gomez, 58, will address the congregation after Communion, and he will  greet and bless people on the Cathedral Plaza following the Mass.

Church rules require archbishops to tender their resignation at age 75.  The pope can allow them to stay on, but he otherwise appoints a successor.

From Monterrey to LA

Gomez is a Monterrey, Mexico-born priest of the conservative Prelature  of Opus Dei. He earned undergraduate degrees in accounting, philosophy and  theology and was ordained in the Prelature of Opus Dei in 1978.

In 1980, he earned a doctorate in theology from the University of  Navarre's campus in Pamplona, Spain.

Gomez was the priest in residence at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church  in San Antonio from 1987 to 1999. During that period, he became a regional  representative to the National Association of Hispanic Priests and, in 1995,  was named president. In 1999, he became executive director.

As the archbishop in San Antonio, Gomez helped establish the Hispanic  Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which opened in 2000.

In 2001, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of  Denver, where he served in several areas, including outreach to Hispanics. He  also organized Denver's Centro San Juan Diego for Family and Pastoral Care, a  place for formation of lay leaders and a base to provide welcoming services to  immigrants.

A replacement for Gomez in San Antonio has not yet been named, and that  diocese is being overseen by an interim administrator, according to Los Angeles  Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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