Today we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, and hence the beginning of the Church. A couple of weeks ago, Fr Sarfraz was explaining at the Saturday morning Bible study that from the very first chapter of Genesis, the Holy Spirit was present. The beginning of Genesis tells us that God’s Spirit was hovering over the waters. Just as the Spirit of God was present in the very first moment of creation, so also at Jesus’ resurrection, which is the beginning of a new creation, the Spirit was present as well, and fifty days later the Holy Spirit came upon the community of disciples gathered with Mary.
The Scriptures portray different accounts of the actual coming of the Spirit: Acts of the Apostles describes the gift of the Spirit with dramatic images of wind and fiery tongues, which are symbolic manifestations of power and new life. The Gospel of John shows another side of the Spirit, as the quiet and gentle breath of the risen Christ. The disciples must have experienced receiving the Spirit of God in various ways: just like we do today. There are people who during a retreat or a prayerful experience the warmth of the Spirit like a fire they can sense with their eyes closed, and then there are people who experience the Spirit of God in the quiet love of God they sense over time.
The latter experience was the one I had when I received the Sacrament of Confirmation as a 19-year-old college student. After receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, months later I could sense that I had received especially the gifts of piety and knowledge because the same questions I had about the faith no longer troubled me, but gave me an impetus to seek to better understand the faith. Also, I became more involved in my home parish back then, which later was part of the reason I discerned a call to the priesthood: I loved being at the parish and could see myself one day as a priest after several people started asking me if I ever had considered being a priest.
This past week the escalating unrest and violence Today at 5:30 PM, some of our High School students who have been preparing this school year will be receiving the sacrament of confirmation. This has been a stressful year for them, as for many of us. We pray that the Sacrament of Confirmation will be a refreshing touch of the Spirit of God, so that they will thrive in their faith. For those of us already confirmed, we pray that we be renewed in God’s tender and comforting love for us, and assured of God’s unfailing care.
I am especially grateful to our youth and adult catechists this year for the program of confirmation: Gina Perez, Inez Santos, Ben Ramirez, Dominic Ramirez, Elisa Ambre, Eneida Scoby, Patty Boland, Quintero Ramirez, Reyna Martinez, and Christina Chavez. Also many thanks to our logistical and liturgical coordinators for the Mass: Barb Mossinghoff, Roni Kleinhen, and Becky Lachtman. Many thanks to Barb also for coordinating the music as well.
As we pray for our confirmands, let us continue to pray for peace in our world, and for unity in the Church. Unfortunately Bishop McElroy is divided against other American Bishops over the understanding of the Eucharist as an expression of unity in matters of faith and morals, and the German Bishops are divided against the universal Church over the issue of gay unions.
Here in our parish, I am grateful to the Holy Spirit for answering our prayers for our next pastor, Fr Carlos Flores, OSA. A couple of people have asked me why an Augustinian from Panama is coming as the next pastor of our Parish in San Diego. It is unusual for us, so I understand the puzzlement, but the reason is simple: when the provincial and council were deliberating about who would be the best person available for St Patrick's, at first we were not sure, and then after here, at St Patrick’s, we started praying, providentially, Fr Flores was brought to our attention. The wide and successful experience in pastoral leadership, Fr Flores has had in schools and parishes, and because several of us in the provincial council know Fr Flores personally from Augustinian international gatherings, he surfaced as the best man to be the next pastor.
Unfortunately, due to the immigration process, it seems that the earliest Fr Flores could be here would be mid-September, but a few days ago I found out the good news that our parish will have two associate pastors during the Summer: besides Fr Sarfraz, Fr Thomas Davis, OSA will be assigned to St Patrick’s beginning on June 21st. Fr Sarfraz will be here part-time, since he’s also the chaplain at St John Paul the Great University in Escondido, but Fr Tom Davis, OSA, will be here full time. Fr. Tom Davis, OSA resides at Austin House, an Augustinian community in South Park, and he will remain living there as he ministers here.
God bless, Fr. Carlos