Archbishop Jose Gomez, who was recently named coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, presided over a farewell Mass on Sunday in Texas, giving an emotional goodbye to the Archdiocese of San Antonio, which he has led since 2005.
More than 1,500 faithful gathered to bid farewell and offer their best wishes to their shepherd at St. Mark the Evangelist Cathedral, often bursting into standing ovations in honor of the archbishop, reported The Houston Chronicle.
Presenting him with numerous gifts, including relics, bouquets and artwork, parishioners lauded the prelate for his five years of service to the San Antonio community.
“You have been an amazing, an amazing, simply amazing father to us all,” said John Nolan, one of the current 100-plus men enrolled at Assumption Seminary, who presented the archbishop with a relic of St. Anthony of Padua.
Among the archbishop's many initiatives in San Antonio throughout the last several years was addressing the low numbers of seminarians in the archdiocese. The Mexico-born prelate not only visited seminarians, learned their names, and played basketball with them but also spearheaded a multimillion dollar campaign to build a new space for the future priests. A record 18 seminarians graduated from Assumption Seminary this year.
The archbishop is also credited with having a strong relational presence in the Catholic community during his time there, utilizing TV and radio appearances, pastoral letters, weekly columns and homilies to connect with the faithful.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Archbishop Gomez was emotional throughout his homily on Sunday, in which he exhorted the faithful by quoting St. Paul: “Our lives are not our own, my brothers and sisters. We have been bought with a great price.”
“What must we do to repay such love?” he asked. “Nothing less than giving our lives.”
Archbishop Gomez asked the community for prayers during the farewell Mass as he transitions from an archdiocese of 700,000 in San Antonio to one of 4.3 million in Los Angeles on May 26.
In the congregation were Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann and San Antonio Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, retired Bishop Thomas Flanagan and Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores. They, in union with the entire community, stretched out their hands toward their beloved archbishop at one point to impart a blessing on him.
“I pray that each of you live lives always in joy and enthusiasm that comes from knowing you are a child of God,” Archbishop Gomez said afterward. “I will never forget you.”