Dear Friends, Peace and all Good!
As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, we hear that Jesus promises his disciples that he will be with them as they become his witnesses to the ends of the earth. In the first reading from Acts today, two men dressed in white asked the disciples, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” I think it is certain to assume that the apostles were overwhelmed by what they had just heard and seen. In a few short weeks they had witnessed the torture and death of their beloved friend, whom they believed was the promised Messiah. They were trying to comprehend—and believe—that he was no longer dead after having seen him and touching him and eating with him! And today, Jesus tells them that he will send the Holy Spirit upon them and that they themselves will be his witnesses even to the ends of the earth! Then, Jesus is lifted up and disappears from their sight. I think it is understandable that they would be dumbfounded and left with their mouths gaping, looking up at the sky. But the message is clear today: Go down the mountain; you will receive strength and power from on high and begin to take the Good News to the world!
Jesus entrusts us too in this great missionary endeavor! He trusts us to believe that he is with us—always—until the end of the age! Traditionally the month of May is dedicated to Mary, Our Mother. I would like to thank our Filipino community for providing a beautiful sung Rosary and prayers this weekend. If you did not get to see it live-streamed on Saturday, you can still watch it as it was recorded. In union with our Holy Father Pope Francis who has asked us to invoke the powerful prayers of Mary to end the pandemic, we join our prayers to his and those of Christians throughout the world for health and safety and an end to this terrible disease.
This past week, our staff, the Liturgy Committee, and members of the Pastoral Council met to create a plan for the re-opening of public Masses. As yet there is no date for this but Bishop McElroy is asking each parish to be prepared for the joyful day. Even though no date has been set, we must make all the necessary plans so that we can begin to worship together in an orderly, safe, and prayerful environment. Our plan was submitted to the Bishop on Friday. Watch next week’s bulletin for more details about this as we move toward the celebration of the Eucharist united in church. I know that we are all anxious for that beautiful day.
In closing I have some happy announcements to make. Jesus says that he will not leave us orphans and so our Provincial Administration is sending three priests to serve this large parish of Mission San Luis Rey: Fr. Oscar Mendez has been named our Pastor and Frs. Sam Nasada and Fr. Alberto Villafan have been named Associate Pastors! Congratulations, dear ones! You have been assigned an excellent team of friars who along with an amazing staff and lay volunteers will give new and enriching life to this parish community. I myself will move to our new Formation House for Franciscan students in San Diego near USD. Please pray for all of us as we make these transitions. Thank you! Love, Fr. Vince