This year the convocation focused on gaining a better understanding of Pope Francis’ spirituality and teachings, while grasping the challenges and proposals the Holy Father is asking of the Church.
“It’s a time of fraternity, coming together with the bishops to listen to Pope Francis’ ministry and our ministry in the world, especially when it comes to the New Evangelization,” said Father Benedict Nwachukwu, Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, Rancho Cucamonga. “It contributes to our formation by going back to the documents and teachings of the magisterium.”
In order to reflect on the teachings of Pope Francis, the clergy studied Franciscan spirituality and Jesuit spirituality, both of which have influenced Pope Francis’ approach to ministry.
The priests heard from three speakers throughout the week, Father Joseph Chinnici, OFM, president and rector of the Franciscan School of Theology, Oceanside; Father Allan Deck, SJ, chair of Catholic Social Values at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and Brother William Short, OFM, academic dean at the Franciscan School of Theology.
“This has been very insightful to see the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola in Pope Francis. They work so well together,” Father John Gunningham said.
Other topics included an analysis of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and Pope Francis’ proposals to the Church in areas of pastoral concern.
“Francis is calling for new attitudes, new ways of presenting the Gospel and serving the people,” said Dr. Jose Antonio Medina, director of the Office of Continuing Formation of Priests. “The Pope is looking outward by asking what is the reality of the world, and how can we, as the Church, serve?”
On Sept. 17, the priests gathered at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Temecula to celebrate the Anniversary of Ordination Mass held annually during the convocation.
Father Nwachukwu, like several of the priests, said he was moved by Father Tom Burns’ homily during the Mass.
“I was touched by what he said,” Father Nwachukwu said. “Our call to be perfect can only be realized in having a relationship with Christ and that the DNA of holiness is love.”
During the anniversary Mass, 25 diocesan and religious priests celebrating special anniversaries were recognized. Celebrating 25 years this year were Father Adrianus Budhi, MSC; Father Franklin Cubas-Ramirez; Father Felix Dnh Viet Luan, CMC; Father Eloy Trujillo-Contreras, CORC and Father Gabriel Vargas.
Father Donald Craig, Father James Moore and Father Gerard O’Doherty, SVD, celebrated their 40th anniversary.
Priests celebrating 50 years were Father Michael Barry, SSCC; Msgr. John Bunny; Father Tom Burns, MSC; Father Anthony Di Leo; Father Joseph Gaglione, CS; Father Donald O’Connor, SVD; Father Edmond O’Donnell; Father Juan Romero and Father John Wagner.
Celebrating anniversaries from 60 to 70 years were Father Francis Joseph Kichak; Father Norbert Rosso, CSSp; Father Henry Ruszel, CR; Father Genaro Coronado; Msgr. John Ryan; Msgr. Cornelius O’Leary and Father Santiago Merino. Msgr. Timothy Lawlor celebrated his 71st anniversary.