thanksgiving for the san gabriel mission

i just returned to seattle after the weekend in LA. it had been since november 2019 since i had physically seen my claretian brothers. there were many graces for me in this visit.

upon landing at lax, i immediately went to eat at in-n-out burger near the airport. the double-double with fresh onions is fast food heaven to me!

i visited my 96 year old aunt in lake elsinore. she was the only sibling of my mother that came to the usa.

friday and saturday nights gave me the best uninterrupted sleep that i had since i last visited california. it felt odd to wake up and not have to do anything. pure grace.

yesterday morning before mass, i strolled through the san gabriel mission.

those mission bells summoned countless people to worship over the centuries

that grapevine– planted in 1774– provided the wine for thousands of masses for the los angeles region for not only the mission but for all the future parishes that began as little chapels. the placita that was the birthplace of los angeles included

that crucifix in the middle of the cemetary that has permeated the minds of those who have gazed upon the ultimate sacrifice of jesus.

all of these symbols have renewed my faith.

these headstones as well:

the san gabriel mission is the final resting place for us claretian missionaries usa-canada province. as with all headstones, the dates mark the earthly life of a child of God. these have been my brothers– many with whom i have lived and worked over the years and have touched my journey of life and faith. not perfect men but men who had dedicated their lives to God’s service.

when will my final assignment to this cemetery be?

i am always inspired by the san gabriel mission since it is where my vocation to the claretians was cultivated. i cringe when i reflect back on the “inexperienced art” and the various mistakes i made as the youth minister here from 1986-88. where there is sin, indeed grace abounds… i pray that i added something positive to some of those young peoples lives.

might i be assigned to the san gabriel mission as a priest someday? only God knows. but i would be more than open to it at this point in life– just NOT as pastor. this parish is more complex than any parish that i have seen: a tri-lingual community of faith, a grammar and high school, two worship spaces– the mission as a historical landmark and mother church of LA, museum, social services/pantry, cemetery and gift shop. it is very difficult to harmonize the activities of this massive parish.

i would not mind being an associate pastor and mentoring a new pastor here. and maybe working part-time in detention ministry for the LA archdiocese. time will tell.

for now i just give thanks for this community of faith in my personal journey of faith. at the morning mass yesterday, i cried just thinking about how blessed i am because of the san gabriel mission and all the good people here over the years.

let us pray:

St. Gabriel, the glorious and powerful messenger of God,

We thank you and praise you for your role in bringing salvation to a sinful world.
You helped the prophet, Daniel, to understand and proclaim God’s word.

You foretold the birth of John the Baptist, and announced to Mary the birth of her Son, Jesus,
who came to save the world.

You showed the shepherds the way to the cradle on that great night when Jesus was born,
and sang His praises to the world with all the choirs of angels.

You stand before the throne of God and proclaim His greatness to us ceaselessly, and you reveal to us the great mysteries of His Divine Life.

You pray for us unceasingly and lead our souls to heaven. May God be ever praised and glorified through your name, Oh St. Gabriel, now and forever, Amen.


  1. DC says:

    We’ll stated.


  2. beccamac2001 says:

    What a lovely visit and respite you had.
    I was fortunate to be able to attend Fr Richard De Tore’s funeral mass there with Fr. Ralph Berg and Carmen Smith.
    This was before the fire in the old mission and I feel blessed to have seen it.
    Fr. Ralph gave a lovely mass for his life long friend , it was touching beyond belief.
    Carmen and I were asked to attend the luncheon following and we chatted with Fr. Val, Fr Darren stopped by.
    It was a wonderful experience.
    We spent quit a while walking through the cemetery picking out all the priest we knew. Carmen knew more than I of course.
    Fr. Ralph was kind enough to be the driver , of course he loves to drive .
    Carmen and I stayed at a hotel very close and he stayed at his Brothers home who just recently passed.
    They took us out for dinner that night and invited us for breakfast before mass.
    I will never forget it.
    Have a beautiful day
    Big hugs to your mama


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