By Father Anthony Dao
When I was in the seminary, one of the teachings from St. Thomas Aquinas I liked very much is “In medio virtus stat,” which means “virtue stands in the middle.” Virtue is in the moderate, in the balance.
I dreamed to see a person of real vision. Of course, all people, especially the leaders, have their own vision. Saying that these leaders have vision does not make them special, they are supposed to have a vision to plan, to lead, to fulfill and to live.
I also dreamed to see someone with Asian virtues. The greatest virtue of the Asian is called “the virtue of charity.” Love is the measure to value the character of that person. The person without love, though he could be good in administration or in management or in raising funds, is not considered great in Asia. The great man should love people, look at all people as brothers and sisters, open his heart to welcome the poor people and the people who are truly in need.
When I was growing up, I hoped to see the leaders who have strong faith and trust in the co-workers, delegate people to do their job, and do not need to control everything. Meanwhile, these leaders also need to know what is going on around them.
Then I moved to the Diocese of San Bernardino. Like many other people, I love to see its growth. Somehow, at times, I felt overwhelmed when I saw the fast growth of the Catholic people in this area. According to the July 1978 edition of the Diocese of San Diego’s Southern Cross newspaper, “this new Diocese of San Bernardino had 85 parishes and 235,665 parishioners.” Today, the Catholic population is more than 1.7 million people. Of course, though it is a good problem to have, but more people, more needs, more demands and more challenges. Does the reality of this diocese reflect the reality of the universal Church?
The shepherd of this Diocese, Bishop Gerald Barnes, opens his arms to welcome all these people. Though he has a Hispanic background, his love for the other ethnic groups is visible. Meanwhile the Anglo-Saxons are not forgotten. All races share the same blessing according to their needs. All individuals have a chance to serve and to lead.
As a former rector of the seminary, he loves education and formation. PMFP, CMFP, all different kinds of workshops on liturgy, on safe environment, on management, on ministries, on faith formation, on advocacy and outreach, and other topics have been offered.
Many priests who come from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America have been welcome and feel at home in this diocese. More young seminarians have been ordained to the priesthood. With these candidates, Bishop Barnes looks at their commitments and will to serve more than anything else. Clearly, 2,000 years ago Jesus demanded the same virtues from his disciples.
A good leader does not stand alone. He needs the co-workers to minister to people in the same vineyard of God. A great man does not live the life of charity alone. He needs other people around him to fulfill the dream. All of us are called to share with him this dream. Are you ready?
Father Anthony Dao is the Pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Temecula.