On Palm Sunday morning I had the blessing of being able to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. The joy of the capacity crowd was evident inside and outside the church. This was a scene repeated all across the diocese all weekend. St. Polycarp Church in Stanton, like so many of our parishes, had great processions and festivity. Later on in the afternoon, there was another procession that I was part of in the neighborhood of St. Joseph Church in Santa Ana. When Father Christopher Smith was pastor of the parish, the custom was begun to have a Eucharistic procession and to bless the streets, homes and families in the neighborhood around St. Joseph that was subject to so much violence. This tradition continues, and a great group of us prayed, carried the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and sang and blessed all who passed by. We were accompanied by singing in Spanish, English and especially by the beauty of the Samoan choir! Last year, and this year, we also stopped at two locations where individuals had died and we blessed these areas, and visited and prayed with the families.
The violence these days is much less, thanks no doubt to the presence of the Eucharistic Lord who is carried through the streets, and the prayers and ministry of all who walk in procession.
We also were also blessed this Palm Sunday weekend to have a major gathering, for the first time in many years, of the young people of our diocese on the Christ Cathedral campus. More than 700 young people were present for Mass and reflections and talks. It was certainly a time that I enjoyed. After the opening Mass, I had a question-and-answer session with the young people, took a lot of “selfies” and jammed on the keyboard with the Francis Cabildo band!
At this same time we were blessed to have Leonardo Defilippis back on campus with his drama about the life of Saint John Vianney, presented in the Freed Theatre of the Cultural Center. This production is captivating and powerful. Another example of how the Christ Cathedral campus is a home for all who come, and evangelizes through music and drama, which can draw so many to God.