His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH’s remarks at the Groundbreaking of the new property for St. Raphael Mission
November 5, 2005
Palm Springs, California
The Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, and Beloved Faithful:
It is a joy to be with you today, as we come together to build on the foundation of Faith laid down years ago by many of you in this room tonight. Over time, the Palm Springs mission became an effort that has gone far beyond what a local parish typically is. Instead, I think of this mission as a ‘family affair,’ one that involves our brothers and sisters from all over the Archdiocese.
St. Raphael Mission is like a fountain rising up out of the parched desert earth, giving water to the resident and traveler alike. In many ways, this is not unlike the first Christian churches that were founded in Roman merchant towns as Christianity gradually spread through the Empire. Sailors and merchants, bearing the Gospel message, spread the word wherever they traveled.
And so, this parish is becoming just such a place. The community formed here has the opportunity to touch the lives of many who come through this town. Though they may be seeking the pleasures of this world, within the parish buildings we are undertaking the construction of, they will find the love of God which surpasses all things. Those who are suffering from sin will find a place to be washed from their afflictions and be healed.
Some might think that a parish exists only for its members, but the person who loves God knows that a parish serves all the people who surround it. This parish community has a calling to serve the entire community of Palm Springs by drawing them all to the Table of the Lord. Rich or poor, famous or humble, all men are invited to worship God and find His eternal truths lived out in the lives of the faithful who gather as one family in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though you are a new community, you bear the ancient and Apostolic Faith. You are inheritors of the Faith that has strengthened men to endure persecution even to death. No torture, no depravation, no humiliation could separate the martyrs from their love of God, and through their example the world learned of Jesus Christ and many came to believe. And, so all of you must endure your own trials so that this parish might be established with a good repute. You will bring honor to the name of God by your patience and hard work, laboring without grumbling and courageous in the face of adversity. In glorifying God, you will find your blessings.
As we minister to the world, let us remember that we must put into practice what we preach. It is our own personal lives that reveal the Faith. The people of the world have heard more than enough clever talking: they are looking for what is real. Day and night, men and women suffer torment because they know they lack something. If they see that something in you, they will come here and receive the blessings God has for them.
I would like to end my remarks with the words of the Holy Apostle Paul:
"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:9-21).
This was St. Paul’s view of what a parish community should be like. This is my hope for the Mission of St. Raphael.