ARCHDIOCESAN PRIESTS CELEBRATE MASSES FOR UNACCOMPANIED MIGRANT MINORS HOUSED IN LONG BEACH AND POMONA
–Angelus News exclusive reports that Archdiocese secured permission to celebrate Masses for migrant children to recognize the human dignity that every child deserves and their right to practice their faith —
In an exclusive from Angelus News, the Archdiocese’s multi-media news magazine reports that Bishops and priests from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have received permission to celebrate Masses since early May for the hundreds of unaccompanied migrant minors housed at the Long Beach Convention Center and Pomona Fairplex. Archbishop José H. Gomez is also expected to celebrate a Mass at the Long Beach facility on Sunday, May 30, according to the story, “SoCal migrant shelters allow Masses for unaccompanied minors.”
“My heart breaks for what these children have been through, and I want to help them any way I can,” said Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell for the Archdiocese’s San Gabriel Pastoral Region (where Pomona Fairplex is located) to Angelus News. Bishop O’Connell, chairman of the tri-diocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, celebrated Mass on Sunday, May 9, for the then newly arrived children in Pomona.
“Many [of the youth] have been through difficult times. Jesus invites each one with a friendship with himself,” said Bishop O’Connell.
Isaac Cuevas, the Archdiocese’s director of Immigration Affairs, told the publication he is pleased that the Archdiocese obtained permission from authorities to hold the Sunday Masses at the federal government-run shelters.
It was important for the Archdiocese to make the request to “recognize the human dignity that each of the children deserve,” Cuevas told the publication. “To go through what they’ve been through takes a tremendous amount of courage. They can come together, celebrate Mass, and know that they’re in the presence of God,” said Cuevas, who also serves on the Southern California Immigration Task Force, which has spearheaded the annual Mass in Recognition to All Immigrants since its inception in 2011, and has sponsored unaccompanied minors’ Catholic education in previous years. “It’s a part of every person’s right to practice their faith. So it’s commendable that the federal government is acknowledging the need to practice their faith.”
The first Mass was celebrated at the Long Beach shelter by Msgr. Jarlath “Jay” Cunnane, pastor of St. Cornelius Parish in the same city, on Saturday May 1, followed by Mass celebrated on Sunday, May 2 by Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau for the San Pedro Pastoral Region, which includes Long Beach.
Several priests who have been trained to work with migrant children have officiated Masses at both shelters, including Father George Aguilera, pastor of St. Anthony Church in Long Beach; Father Budi Wardhana, pastor of St. Lucy Church in Long Beach; and Msgr. John Woolway.
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