Archbishop Gomez prepares to receive the pallium
Archbishop Gomez preaches in St. Peter's Basilica on June 28, 2011
Archbishop Gomez preaches in St. Peter's Basilica on June 28, 2011
By David Kerr
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.- Corrected June 29, 2011, 9:04 a.m. MDT. Changes list of American archbishops set to receive the pallium.

On the eve of receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said the mission of his archdiocese should be “to bring the mercy of God to the people of our time.”

“We’re called to be messengers of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s peace. That’s what we have to continue to make the Archdiocese of Los Angeles -- a place where we can witness God’s love for us and for all his people,” the archbishop told a congregation of Californian pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica, June 28.

The pallium is a white woolen liturgical vestment emblazoned with six black crosses. It symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral authority and his unity the Pope.

More than 40 other new metropolitan archbishops from around the world will receive a pallium from the Pope tomorrow at St. Peter’s.

Among the U.S. bishops will be Archbishops Paul Coakley from Oklahoma City, J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, Gustavo Garcia-Siler of San Antonio, and  Archbishop Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez is being joined by 250 fellow pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the U.S. diocese with the most Catholics.

“It’s very special to be able to be here in Rome accompanying the archbishop and the pilgrims of the archdiocese,” Luciane Urban, the Executive Coordinator for the Archbishop, said after today’s Mass.

“It’s also a great privilege to see all these archbishops from all over the world that are going to be here. It’s going to be beautiful to see the diversity of the Church and it’s very special.

Los Angeles priest Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik reflected on the significance of the trip to Rome.

“Being here in Rome is a wonderful opportunity for all of us as Catholics from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to connect with the universal Church and to again express our affiliation with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, especially as our new archbishop receives the pallium," he said.

Archbishop Gomez says he sees tomorrow ceremony as a special moment for both himself and the people of Los Angeles.

“It’s a great honor for me. The pallium, as you know, indicates the unity between the archbishops and the Holy Father. So I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s a blessing too, and it’s a moment when I feel especially my responsibility as a bishop in the Catholic Church.”

The sentiment is shared by his family, many of whom are in Rome for the occasion.

“What could be more important than to come with him - the archbishop - in this very important day for him, because it is very important work that he has been charged with by the Pope - being the Archbishop of Los Angeles,” said his niece Maria Carmen Celaya.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will have a special poignancy for Pope Benedict as it also marks the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

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