Los Angeles priests share racism experiences during Presbyteral Day

Father John Maria Vianney Image courtesy of slmedia.org

Los Angeles priests shared their racism experiences during Presbyteral Day on Monday, Sept. 26. 

Sharing Stories of Racism

When Father John Maria Vianney traveled all the way from his home country of India to the United States more than 20 years ago, he was met with a reception that was not necessarily a warm one. 

He recalled the day that his new pastor showed him the cleaning materials that were used in the lavatories, which was one of the first responsibilities he was given in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

According to the Angelus News, at the annual Presbyteral Day gathering on Sept. 26, priests who are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles spent the afternoon reflecting on racism in the Church. 

One of the experiences that were shared was Father Vianney's, which was one of several. The reflection was conducted by the Archdiocesan Task Force on Racism, which was established by Archbishop José H. Gomez in 2020.

Even though he was born to American parents of Latino origin in Southern California, Father Richard Vega, pastor of St. Frances of Rome Church in Azusa, spoke about the discrimination he suffered because of the color of his skin, dating back to his time as a seminarian. 

According to Vega, some people believe that the color of their skin conveys information about their way of life. A completely unrecognizable manner of life for others.

During the gathering, lay members of the task force and committee shared their perspectives with the priests there.

Padre Serra Church member Cynthia Jones-Campbell and her pastor, Father Patrick Mullen, spoke about how the chaos that followed the George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020 brought their congregation together to form a racial justice task group, as per the report. 

Parishioners initially convened through Zoom to openly discuss the difficulties of the time, including the stresses of family in an era of heightened instability and tense racial relations.

In addition to their new positions on the archdiocesan task team, Father Mullen and Jones-Cambell continue their anti-racism efforts at Padre Serra. 

The task force, led by Msgr. Timothy Dyer of St. Patrick Church provided clergy with a strategy for promoting tolerance and diversity in their local communities through teaching, conversation, and communal worship.

The Angelus News also reported that at the conclusion of the Presbyteral Day meeting, several dozen students from four local Catholic schools surprised the priests on the conference stage singing "We Are the World," a best-selling anthem that was initially produced as part of a 1985 all-star celebrity effort to raise money for African famine relief. 

Combatting Racism in Archdiocese of Los Angeles

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles asserts that racism, which they consider to be their nation's sin, is still having an effect on their country today. 

In the process of combating racism in their community, they are responsible for recognizing the pain experienced by their brothers and sisters, extending compassion to those individuals, and working toward the establishment of a peaceful means of moving forward.

According to the church's website, the unwavering devotion of American black Catholics, many of whom went on to become saints, has been a source of blessing for the Catholic Church in the United States.

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