Members of the Roman Catholic community in the San Gabriel Valley welcomed a new bishop to their area on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The installation Mass of new Auxiliary Bishop Brian Nunes for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was held at the San Gabriel Mission Catholic Church.
Archbishop Jose Gomez led the Mass, joined by more than 100 parishioners and other members of the archdiocese, as Bishop Nunes filled the role once held by the late David O’Connell.
“I am humbled by the Holy Father’s trust in naming me a Bishop and honored by the decision of Archbishop Gomez to appoint me to the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, a vibrantly diverse area of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” Nunes said in a statement.
The region includes East Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, with 66 parishes, 14 high schools, and Mission San Gabriel Archangel – the first church founded in the Archdiocese in 1771. Liturgies are celebrated in English, Spanish, Chinese, and a variety of other languages.
“Of course, the region has its challenges too, most notably the need to heal after the shocking death of Bishop Dave O’Connell earlier this year,” he added. “So I ask for prayers for myself and for all the Catholics of the region during this time of transition.”
During the Mass, Archbishop Jose Gomez asked for prayers for the new bishop as he continues his ministry. Gomez said he is confident Nunes will be able to do help fulfill the mission of the church in the region.
“We pray for bishops especially today, for you Bishop Brian, we pray that you always give your best and speak of Jesus and follow his example and we pray that you lead us in his humble way and service to others,” Gomez said during the homily.
The deans, regional office staff, regional pastoral council, deacons, and lay ministry leaders who will be helping him serve the pastoral region were also introduced to Bishop Nunes during the installation.
Parisioners welcomed Nunes with open arms.
“It’s a blessing,” Hilda Espinosa, from La Puente, said in Spanish about having a new bishop in the region.
“What I hope is the best for our new bishop and also to continue the work that (Bishop O’Connell) was doing in our community, and hopefully (Nunes) will have new ideas to share with us parishioners,” Espinosa said, “because we need help moving forward after the tragedy that we experienced with the loss of O’Connell.”
For many, having a new bishop was bittersweet.
Memories of O’Connell, who was slain at his Hacienda Heights home in February, are still fresh. He was a popular local leader, whose death echoed all the way to the Vatican.
At the same time, parishioners and leaders were hopeful about Nunes’ willingness help the community heal.
“We started to see the excitement of getting a new bishop,” said Sylvia Woodson, executive assistant to the regional bishop. “Being around Bishop Brian and just getting to know him is a wonderful thing and glad it all came together. He is a good addition because he wants to help us heal and he knows the needs in the region and he wants to do that, like wanting to meet all the priests, working with the schools and talking with the students.”
Auxiliary Bishop Brian Nunes grew up in the Archdiocese, attending Catholic schools and working as a business writer before becoming a priest in 2008.
His past assignments include St. Gregory the Great Parish in Whittier and Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro. He also worked in the archdiocese as priest secretary to the Archbishop, vice chancellor, and most recently the vicar general and moderator of the curia, succeeding Bishop Bahhuth.
“It’s a huge honor,” Nunes said after the Mass. “It’s very humbling but it’s exciting and I need to count on everyone’s prayer, it’s the only way this is going to work.”