El Paso: A Diocese of Saints and Martyrs
I don’t know if you remember the first time you came together as a Diocese with me last July? What a great celebration! I told you in my homily that day that your new Pastor was very lost. Even now I am learning a lot about El Paso, but, thanks be to God, I do not feel as lost. Part of the reason is that I have had an opportunity to visit with many of you in your parishes and at other gatherings. How kind you are! I feel much more at home.
But I also don’t feel as lost because I have learned much about our history, much of which can be found in places like this historic Ysleta Mission. This history orients me. Here it is as if one can sense the deep roots that have endured for centuries, more than 400 years, through so many challenges and difficulties.
Without doubt we have experienced those who have not represented well either Christ or His Church; Conquistadors and civil authorities who have abused their power; clergy who have served themselves before the faithful. Even as we are gathered here we need to confess that we have not always been faithful in the way we have lived our faith. Aware of our own shortcomings we always need repentance. The Church is always in conversion.
At the same time especially today as we celebrate one hundred years since the founding of our Diocese we can look back through the years, as if from a mountain and see the sacred history revealing the divine presence of God walking with us throughout the centuries. And from this privileged point of view we can say that the Lord has never forgotten us—has always protected us and accompanied us, blessing our humble sacrifices. Never forget that we are a diocese of Saints and Martyrs! At least two canonized saints have walked this land, San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado and San Miguel Pro, not counting the thousands of saints known only to God.
Because of this we cannot do anything at this moment but praise and bless the Lord who has always offered everything that we the Church of El Paso could ever need.
Looking ahead we can see on the horizon many challenges; there is much work we need to do. In the life of a Christian the cross is never far away. But we will not worry about what we will eat or wear. Because we have a very dear mother near her people of El Paso in Our Lady of Guadalupe and her son our Lord Jesus Christ who has been with us in the past and will continue to walk with us in future, day after day, in good times and difficult times, until the day we arrive at the Kingdom of God! For this reason we shout:
Long live the People of God!
Long live all the Saints and Martyrs!
Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!
Long live Christ the King!