.- Following the Vatican's announcement of his new appointment this morning, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez says that he is “deeply grateful” for being named the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, California, the largest diocese in the United States.
Archbishop Gomez currently serves as archbishop of San Antonio, Texas and will now serve alongside Cardinal Roger Mahony in L.A., taking his position when he retires on February 27, 2011.
Archbishop Gomez's remarks for a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels were published ahead of the event. In those comments he says, “words cannot fully describe my feelings” but “I am very grateful to the Holy Father for giving me this opportunity to serve the Church with a mentor and leader like Cardinal Roger Mahony.”
“I’m especially grateful – very deeply grateful – to Cardinal Mahony himself and to my brother bishops, priests and deacons here in Los Angeles, for the warmth and good will they’ve shown me since learning of my appointment,” he adds.
“After I received the news of my appointment,” Archbishop Gomez recalls, “I went to the Chapel to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. I asked for the grace to be generous and to give myself totally to God’s call. But I also asked for the strength to accept this new task, which is undoubtedly overwhelming. My only consolation is the fact that God is calling me and He is merciful and will help me to be faithful and to serve His people in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
“I’ll never forget that as I finished my phone conversation with Archbishop Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the first thing I saw was a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the hallway and, as it has happened in every moment of my ministry, I felt Her love and protection,” he notes. “To Mary of Guadalupe, I would like to entrust my new ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
Speaking on the difficulty of relocating, Archbishop Gomez says, “I’m sad to be leaving San Antonio. I was born in Mexico, my sisters still live there, and I’m very proud of the Mexican love for life and family and faith that first turned my heart toward God. But my mother grew up in San Antonio and I first served as a priest in Texas. That’s where I became an American citizen, and I’m very proud of that, as well.”
“The people of San Antonio have a special goodness and grace that will always keep them close to me in my heart,” he underscored. “In their patience and generosity, they taught me how to be a bishop. I will never forget them, and I will never stop thanking God for the privilege of having served them.”
Looking ahead to where he will be serving, the archbishop comments, “When I was collecting my thoughts for today, I wrote down that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is one of the great Catholic communities in the United States.”
“But it’s really much more than that. It’s one of the great Catholic communities in the world. Los Angeles, like no other city in the world, has the global face of the Catholic Church,” the prelate observes.
“That fact invites us to do two things: first, to thank God for our diversity and the energy it creates; and second, to commit ourselves more deeply to the things that unite us – a zeal for Jesus Christ; confidence in the Gospel; reverence for the Eucharist; service to the poor; defense of the unborn child, the immigrant and the disabled; and a love for the Church as our mother and teacher.”
Archbishop Gomez concludes his press conference remarks, saying, “To the people and religious of the archdiocese, thank you for welcoming me into your hearts, and please never let me out of your prayers. A bishop can live with the criticism of the world. As every bishop very quickly discovers, it goes with the job description all the way back to the original twelve Apostles. But no bishop can live without the love and prayers of his people. So please, never forget Cardinal Mahony, my brother bishops or myself in your prayers.”