When more than 2,500 of the Catholic faithful gathered at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Chino Hills on Feb. 24 to welcome Coadjutor Bishop Alberto Rojas to the diocese there was a sense of both history and possibility in the air.
Bishop Gerald Barnes, principal celebrant of the welcome Mass for Bishop Rojas, quipped early on that the apostolic nuncio to the United States hadn’t visited the diocese since it was founded 42 years ago. But Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the current nuncio, was indeed one of the concelebrants and he offered words of welcome from Rome before reading Pope Francis’ apostolic mandate declaring Bishop Rojas as the coadjutor of San Bernardino. He specifically praised Bishop Rojas’ pastoral gifts, youthful energy and ability to empathize.
“I am confident that this flock will have an ardent and gentle shepherd for years to come,” Archbishop Pierre said.
After Archbishop Pierre read the apostolic mandate, he handed it to Bishop Rojas who made a brief procession through the church holding it in the air. In all, 28 bishops attended the welcome Mass as well as Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, under whom Bishop Rojas had served as an auxiliary bishop. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who currently serves as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was among the concelebrants at the Mass.
….Bishop Rojas talked about the division and acrimony roiling society and the Church, a chief concern expressed by Pope Francis in the recent ad limina visit. “Division comes from the devil, unity comes from God,” he said, adding that “it is our task as missionary disciples to help the world distinguish the good from the bad.”
The above comes from a Feb. 26 article in the Inland Catholic Byte.
The following from a March 1 Angelus News story gives more on Cupich’s role in the choice of Rojas:
“He understands the everyday concerns and problems of struggles of people, but he also is of the mind of Pope Francis, where he sees it’s important for people to encounter Christ,” Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich said in an interview at the welcome Mass.
Cardinal Cupich said he relied on Bishop Rojas from the day he arrived in the Windy City in 2014. Bishop Rojas provided translation help and welcomed and introduced him to the archdiocese’s Latino community. Cardinal Cupich has been Bishop Rojas’ boss over the last five years and, as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops, he was involved in identifying candidates for Pope Francis to select from in sending a new bishop to San Bernardino.
“We had a wonderful opportunity as a congregation to look at all of the candidates that were eligible for this see, and he obviously won the attention of everybody, including the Holy Father,” Cardinal Cupich said.