.- Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and several hundred faithful from his archdiocese are nine time zones away from home this week to celebrate his reception of the pallium and the Feast of Corpus Christi.
On the first day of a five-day pilgrimage, around 100 people from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles joined Archbishop Gomez for Mass in Rome’s beautiful St. Ignatius of Loyola Church.
“On our pilgrimage,” he told those gathered, “we ask for the grace to have a strong faith, to really live the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, to find a way to receive Jesus in Holy Communion as often as we can and to find the time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.”
“I really believe that the allure of our Church in our country will be based on our devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said during the homily.
The archbishop noted Mother Teresa’s conviction that prayer before the Blessed Sacrament improves one’s spiritual life. The greatest moments at World Youth Days, he added, are the times set aside for Eucharistic adoration.
Gomez concelebrated the Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi with his predecessor Cardinal Roger Mahony and a dozen other priests.
More than 150 other pilgrims will join them in the next few days as the archbishop prepares to receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The pallium is a white woolen liturgical vestment emblazoned with six black crosses. It symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral authority and his unity with the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope.
More than 40 other new metropolitan archbishops from around the world will receive a pallium this week at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Archbishop Gomez asked for prayers for the upcoming ceremony.
Among the pilgrim group representing Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the U.S., were Art and Barbara Najera who raised their five children in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The couple, along with their son Fr. Art Najera, are showing support for the archbishop this week.
Mrs. Najera told CNA that she was “thrilled” for Archbishop Gomez, and happy to be “home” in Rome.
“This is the home of our Church. And for my son to be able to come, it’s a real thrill to be able to be here and see his boss, basically.”
“We’re here also to honor the whole occasion,” said her husband. “Our new bishop, Archbishop Jose Gomez, he needs our prayers because he has a huge job being the archbishop of Los Angeles.
“He has a lot of work to do there. And we just pray that God will give him all of the strength and health to persevere and get the job done.”
Wednesday’s Papal Mass and Imposition of the Pallium will be broadcast in the U.S. by EWTN.