Many have learned what are called the “Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy” at some point in our lives, and the opportunities that the Lord gives us to live them are Providential. I would speak especially of caring for, and praying for the deceased, those “who have gone before us marked with the sign of Faith.” In that light, I would especially like to reflect on my good friend, Bishop Richard Garcia of the Diocese of Monterey, who just recently passed away.
He and I were graduate students in Rome during the same time period (1981 – 1985) at the Dominican University in Rome (The “Angelicum”) and lived at the graduate house of the North American College, which is called the Casa Santa Maria. We would walk to the university each day that was affectionately called “The Ange.”
I was blessed to be able to have that relationship as a friend all of these years, and one of the reasons I was most grateful for being sent here to our Diocese was that I knew that Rich and I would be able to be in closer communication. From him I learned about the history of California (albeit Northern California!), got to know his family, and went on vacation to Lake Tahoe one summer with him. He and I were close friends with one of the Italian families who were employed by the North American College – Angelo Valigi. From Rich (as from some of the other student priests) I certainly saw and learned what it means to be a priest who was in relationship with the people he served, and how to live the life of a priest in kindness and charity, while proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. He also helped me to learn some of my first words and expressions in Spanish. I was blessed (along with four other priests of our student days) to attend his ordination as auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento in 1998.
I am including with these reflections a picture that was taken of Rich and I together when we met Mother Teresa in 1982 (can you recognize us?) and his prayer card from when he was installed as the Bishop of Monterey.
Thank you Rich, for the example that you gave and taught me when I was a newly ordained priest years ago and for being an instrument of God’s Providence that helped prepare the way – many years prior – for my life here in the Golden State!
Vaya con Dios, and we continue to remember and pray for each other in our journey in the Communion of Saints to Eternal Life. Nuestra Senor de Guadalupe, Ruega por nosotros!