Editor’s note: The following is adapted from the homily delivered by Archbishop Gomez for the Mass in Celebration of All Immigrants held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, July 17, 2016.
Today we are blessed to be praying in the presence of the relics of three saints — St. Junípero Serra, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Toribio Romo.
These saints, whose sacred relics we venerate today — tell us the story of America, the story of the New World. Our nation and all the nations of the Americas were evangelized by immigrants. By missionaries and saints.
We are praying today in the presence of the sacred relics of St. Junípero Serra, our newest American saint.
St. Junípero was a Guadalupano! We can never forget that when St. Junípero arrived in the New World — the first thing he did was to walk hundreds of miles to lay his heart on the floor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
He went there to consecrate his mission to Our Lady of Guadalupe. To promise his life to continue the work that she began on the hilltop at Tepeyac — the work of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ and the mercy of God to the Americas.
We can never forget also that St. Junípero was an immigrant to this country. He came to California from Spain and Mexico after living and working in Mexico for about 20 years.
This is a beautiful truth. The Christian faith was first brought to this city and to this nation — by immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and also from Europe and Asia.
And that is still happening. Through you and through me. America has always been nourished by the faith of immigrant peoples. And that is still true today.
To be an immigrant is to be a missionary. That means we have a great role to play in this country that we have made our home. You are the new immigrants, the new missionaries, the new saints.
We need to stay close to Jesus always and proclaim him! America needs the gifts of immigrant peoples. The gift of our faith in Christ. The gift of our traditions and values. The gift of our love for family. The gift of our strong commitment to work for the common good.
America needs our gifts and America needs our prayers. Because right now our country seems to be forgetting where we came from, forgetting what this nation was meant to be.
Again this year at this beautiful Mass for immigrants we are saying the same thing as we do every year. We are saying that too many mothers and fathers are being deported, too many children are suffering because of our broken immigration system.
We have been talking about the same things for years now. I think it is time for our leaders to stop talking and time for them to start taking action — for justice, for human dignity, for our children.
We need to return to the original vision of America’s founders. The vision of one nation made up of many people. A nation where people from every race and language can live in equality as brothers and sisters, as children of our loving God and Father.
This is the vision of America that welcomed St. Francis Cabrini, another saint who is with us today in her sacred relics.
Mother Cabrini was an immigrant who became an American citizen and then became a saint! And she is another saint who once walked the streets of Los Angeles! She came here first in 1905 and she built an orphanage not far from where we are today, and she named it for the Queen of Heaven.
Mother Cabrini knew that when we offer hospitality to the stranger, we are welcoming God into our lives. She knew that love we show to the immigrant, to the stranger — is love we show to God himself.
We also see that love of God for the immigrant in the third saint we venerate today, St. Toribio Romo.
Santo Toribio was a holy priest and a friend to the poor. I just had the blessing of visiting the Shrine of St. Toribio in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico, where I celebrated Mass and prayed before his relics.
We hear so many beautiful stories of Santo Toribio’s intercession from heaven, how he has rescued refugees stranded in the desert, how he protected immigrant women and children from exploitation.
These saints give us a powerful witness to what Jesus expects from us in our times.
Jesus is still calling our country today to welcome him as they did in the person of the poor, the prisoner, the sick and the immigrant. Prayer and service. This is our calling as immigrants and missionaries.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe give us the courage, the strength and the enthusiasm to continue her mission of making this country, and all the Americas, a New World of Faith.