Annual Mass honors 'rich cultural diversity' of Los Angeles archdiocese

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Credit: David Castor/public domain.

With nearly five million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is not only the largest diocese in the United States, it is also one of the most diverse, with people from about 70 different countries and every continent, and Masses said in 42 languages.

To celebrate this diversity, the archdiocese for the past 14 years has held a Mass to honor the nearly 40 ethnicities that are represented among its people.

This year, the Mass will be held Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

The theme for this year’s Mass is “Do Not Be Afraid of Holiness.” Catholics of all ethnicities are invited to join the Mass in traditional ethnic wear.

“In Pope Francis’ Exhortation ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ (Rejoice and be Glad), he calls us to respond to holiness in own practical ways in today’s world. This is what inspired this year’s theme,” Maria Aguilar, member of the Ethnic Community Council of the archdiocese’s Office of Ethnic Ministry and organizer of the Mass, said in a statement.

“The Catholic Church recognizes cultural diversity as an important constitutive part of our society,” the Office of Ethnic Ministry states on its website.

“Faithful from throughout the Archdiocese gather each year to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Los Angeles and to recognize the unique gifts each of our communities bring to our Local Church.”

This year’s Mass will feature the Native American Prayer of Four Directions, a procession of 22 ethnic communities carrying a saint or a religious image, and a traditional Samoan story told by Deacon Maselino Alefosio, a representative of the Samoan community.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who himself was born in Mexico, said he looks forward to the cultural Mass every year because “it is like a family reunion - with all our brothers and sisters from every nationality and ethnicity coming together as God's family to worship and give thanks to our heavenly Father.”

“If you want to experience the power of the love of God, join us for this joyful celebration,” he said in a statement.

According to the archdiocese, some of the groups that will be represented at the Mass are Filipinos, Vietnamese, Lithuanian, Japanese, Indonesian, Chinese, Nicaraguan, Italian, Belizean, Persian, French, Igbo-Nigerian, Korean, Croatian, African-American, Portuguese, Polish, Salvadoran, Costa Rican, and Mexican.

Aguilar said Catholics of different ethnicities can draw inspiration from the Church’s diverse communion of saints and martyrs, as well as from “the Blessed Mother (who) through her many Sorrows is the foremost force of our courage to not fear holiness.”

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