SAN DIEGO — An estimated 2,000 people gathered at Cathedral Catholic High School on June 4 for the fifth annual Pentecost Mass for All Peoples.
The colorful celebration of the many ethnic and cultural communities that comprise the Diocese of San Diego included a multilingual Mass celebrated by Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy in the school gym, followed by an outdoor festival, where the various cultural communities shared samples of their traditional cuisine.
“It’s a great joy to be with you to celebrate as communities of faith, which we are, and particularly in our cultural identities, which enrich our Catholic faith and enrich the society in which we live,” said Cardinal-designate McElroy, for whom this was one of the first public events since Pope Francis announced that he would be elevated to the College of Cardinals.
A pre-Mass announcement that the liturgy would be celebrated by the cardinal-designate sparked a standing ovation. Two more rounds of applause came shortly after the start of the Mass, when he briefly recounted how he had learned of his appointment and when he expressed gratitude that he would be able to remain in San Diego.
As a tongue-in-cheek explanation for why the pope had chosen him, Cardinal-designate McElroy said that San Diego is the U.S. city “closest to having the climate of Heaven,” eliciting yet another round of applause.
The Pentecost Mass for All Peoples commenced with a procession of about 25 cultural communities, including Filipino, African, Laotian, Panamanian, Samoan, Pakistani, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, African American, Chamorro, Tongan, German, Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, Brazilian, Irish and Italian Catholics. The Mass-goers also applauded the Ukrainian Catholic community members when they entered the gym.
The first and second readings were proclaimed in Ukrainian and the Indian language of Tamil, respectively, with the English translations for both appearing on large video displays above the altar. The Prayer of the Faithful was multilingual, including intercessions in Luiseño, Samoan, German, Spanish, Gaelic, Tagalog and Swahili, among other languages. The Eucharistic Prayer was bilingual in both English and Spanish.
In his homily, Cardinal-designate McElroy recalled the 2010 Chilean mining accident that trapped 33 miners underground for almost 70 days and how “the whole of the world came together” in the effort to rescue them. When asked after their rescue how they had endured the ordeal, the miners said they had been sustained by the love of their families and by the belief that God had been with them.
“This is the essence of Christian hope: The understanding that God is always at our side, particularly in times of suffering and difficulty in our lives and in our world,” the cardinal-designate said, explaining that the Pentecost story offers a similar message.
With the descent of the Holy Spirit, he said, the Apostles came to know “with utter certainty that God walks with them and is always going to walk by their side.”
The same men who had fearfully abandoned Jesus during His passion were empowered by the Spirit “to embrace every kind of suffering and hardship as they spread the Gospel,” he said.
“We live in a world where there are many problems, and we encounter many individual problems … in our family lives and our work lives,” he said. But Christian hope reminds us that, just as He was for the Apostles and for the Chilean miners, God is always with us.”
Aileen Oabel, a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Rancho Peñasquitos, was a first-time attendee this year.
Upon arriving on campus, she was taken aback by the colorful, traditional attire worn by members of various cultural groups.
“I was so amazed,” she said. “It’s just beautiful to see different cultures getting together in one faith.”
For Margie Carroll, a member of The Immaculata Parish, this was also her first experience of the Pentecost Mass for All Peoples.
“I think it’s just so important for cultures to come together more than ever in our world today,” she said just before Mass. “And I think Pope Francis is here in spirit, just cheering and praying with us.”