With today’s appointment of Archbishop Jose Gomez as Coadjutor of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest archdiocese has, in a way. returned to its earliest roots.
Los Angeles was only created an archdiocese in 1936 (People from San Francisco, created an archdiocese in 1853 and from which the Los Angeles church was carved out, like to point this out). When Archbishop Gomez becomes its Fifth Archbishop, a majority of Los Angeles’ ordinaries will have been immigrants. Archbishop John Joseph Cantwell (1st Archbishop) and Cardinal Timothy Manning (3rd Archbishop) were both born in Ireland. And Archbishop Gomez (eventual 5th Archbishop) was born in Mexico.
But the ecclesial history of Los Angeles (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles) goes back much further than its creation as an archdiocese. Prior to 1936, the area was respectively the Diocese of Los Angeles – San Diego and the Diocese of Monterey – Los Angeles, both suffragans of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
But even before that, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all of what we now call California, as well as Baja California, were one unit called the Diocese of Both Californias – a diocese of Mexico. The First Bishop of Both Californias, and thus Los Angeles, was Mexican Born Bishop Francisco José Vicente Garcia Diego y Moreno, O.F.M.
Very few people lived in Los Angeles at that time. In fact, Bishop Garcia Diego y Moreno took Mission Santa Barbara, 100 miles North of Los Angeles, as his headquarters. Now Los Angeles is the largest archdiocese by far in the United States with nearly 5 million Catholics. 70 percent of them are of Hispanic background – dominantly Mexican.
Let us pray for Archbishop Gomez as he prepares to lead the Los Angeles church into the future, even as he recalls its distant past.
Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles Pray for Us.