• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

By John Andrews

The priests of the Diocese made their annual journey to the Coachella Valley Sept. 12-16 for the Priests’ Convocation, enjoying time together in prayer, reflection, and fellowship.

The theme of the Convocation, held at the Omni Las Palmas Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, was “The Catholic Priesthood: A Joyful Journey.” In his message to the priests ahead of the gathering, Bishop Alberto Rojas encouraged them to support each other and remind each other of the gifts of the priesthood.

“I know it is not always easy, yet I have come to appreciate the journey,” the Bishop wrote. “Let us be more intentional about praying for each other.”

In the spirit of the Eucharistic Revival and the “Back to Basics” theme of the current Synod, the gathering began with a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Rojas then welcomed the presbyterate and invited priests present who were experiencing their first Convocation to introduce themselves and share a bit of their story.

Father Dennis Berry, ST, was this year’s guest presenter and offered six talks related to Joys of the Priesthood: Joy of the Story, Joy of the Encounter, Joy of the Word, Joy of the Eucharist, Joy of the Body of Christ and Joy of the Mission.
With less focus this year on administrative matters and contemporary issues facing the Church, the Convocation offered a chance to reflect on the identity of the priesthood, said Father Bonifacio Velasquez, F.M.M.M., a judge in the Diocesan Tribunal.

“It was for me, personally, like a retreat,” he said. “We were able to nourish our spirituality and also to share with our brother priests.”

The Convocation also serves as a time for the priests of the Diocese to enjoy recreation, fun and entertainment together. They played golf and ping pong, sang karaoke, shot pool and played poker, among other fun activities.

The priests celebrated Mass together on each of the final three days of the Convocation, including the Celebration Mass for Jubilarians on September 13. Father Henry Ruszel, C.R., was celebrating 69 years of priesthood; Father Paul Baseford celebrated 66 years; Father Joseph Collier and Father William Kiefer were honored for 65 years of priesthood; Monsignor Ray Kirk was celebrated for 64 years of priesthood; Monsignor Robert Howard, Father Charles Patron, and Monsignor Don Webber were celebrating 61 years of priesthood and Father Patrick Crowley, SS.CC., was recognized for 60 years of priesthood.

Father Jose Goopio, S.V.D., Father Alan Jenkins, S.V.D., Father John Kavcak, M.S.C., Monsignor Richard Krekelberg, Monsignor Micharl McCullough, Father James McLaughlin and Monsignor Paul Montoya were celebrating their 50th anniversary of priesthood.

Father Geoffrey Eboh, Father Recendo Herera, S.T., and Father Daniel Prado-Reyes, O. DE M., were celebrating their 25th anniversary of priesthood ordination.

The morning Mass of September 15, the final day of the Convocation, was hosted by the Vietnamese priests of the Diocese.

 John Andrews is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of San Bernardino.