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‘Our mission is to proclaim reign of God in justice’


SPECIAL MASS: Cardinal Robert W. McElroy celebrated a Mass to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy on Jan. 14 at Christ the King Church. He was accompanied, from left, by Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano, Michael Pham, Father Tommie Jennings, Deacon Robert Booth and Father Emmet Farrell. (Credit: Aida Bustos)

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SAN DIEGO — Cardinal Robert W. McElroy called on all disciples of God to work to transform the world, particularly on the social justice front, just like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had once done.

He celebrated the Sunday morning Mass on Jan. 14 at Christ the King Parish in San Diego, where it was standing room only, on the day before the national holiday honoring Dr. King.

The Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics organized the Gospel Mass. Father Tommie Jennings, the parish’s pastor, served as a concelebrant, along with Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano and Michael Pham, Father Emmet Farrell and Deacon Robert Booth.

Reflecting on the day’s reading (Samuel 3:3-10,19) in his homily, Cardinal McElroy said that Dr. King understood that his faith called him to try to transform the world, particularly on the issue of racial justice.

“And so, he spent his life and lost his life because of his dedication,” the cardinal said.

“And we know in our country, sadly, the issue of race and racial division, which has torn our country asunder from the beginning, is still with us in various forms that are very corrosive, very damaging.

“And we are called to proclaim the reign of God in justice, racial justice and social justice. And that’s a major part of our mission as disciples. We cannot leave that to others.”

He said two visions are competing in the nation.

“We can either believe we are called to be one family of God in our country, or we can believe every group should be out for itself,” he said. “And God’s vision is for one human family, in solidarity.”

After the 8:30 a.m. Mass, many of those on hand attended a reception in the parish hall, which featured information and photos of Dr. King.

Rick Stewart, the commission’s chair, said the Altar Society and Pastoral Council of Christ the King Parish, the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver, and leaders from St. Rita’s Church, had collaborated to organize the Mass and reception. The parish’s Gospel Choir, led by DeShon Hall, joyously accompanied the Mass, receiving several standing ovations.

To read the cardinal’s homily, visit

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