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Pentecost Mass is feast of faith and culture


JOYFUL: African Catholic community members played at last year’s Pentecost Mass, including Bibiana Jones, center, their leader, and Father Emmanuel Ochigbo. (Credit: David Maung)

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SAN DIEGO — The annual Pentecost Mass for All Peoples, which celebrates the rich cultural diversity found within the Diocese of San Diego, is returning for a seventh year.

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 18, at Cathedral Catholic High School.

Everyone is invited to the festivities, which begin at 10 a.m. with a Call to Worship, featuring traditional music from around the world. This will be followed by an 11 a.m. Mass with Cardinal Robert W. McElroy presiding and Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano, Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido as concelebrants.

Representatives from more than 25 cultural communities, dressed in the traditional ethnic attire of their ancestral homelands, are to participate. The Mass itself will feature readings and prayers in multiple languages. After Mass, around 12:30 p.m., there will be a festival featuring exhibits from the cultural communities, samples of their traditional foods, and musical performances.

Auxiliary Bishop Michael Pham, who was the one who came up with the idea for the Pentecost Mass for All Peoples, reflected on the significance of this Christian holy day which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, which emboldened them to spread the Gospel.

“The message of God’s work through Jesus was proclaimed to people from all over the world,” he said. “And so, when we, as Christians celebrate Pentecost today, we are celebrating our universal, catholic oneness as God’s people. Pentecost is the feast of belonging.”

“As you can see annually,” he said, “our diocese celebrates the gathering of all people from different cultures to express our oneness in Christ. It is beautiful to see God’s love being expressed in all ethnic groups.”

Prince Paul, who will lead the Indian Catholic Community’s delegation to the Pentecost Mass for All Peoples, recommends that every Catholic attend the celebration at least once.

“It is a joy to watch fellow believers, hailing from all over the world with their rich liturgical traditions, coming together to share in the Eucharist on one of the most important liturgical feast days of the year,” he said.

Paul said that the large crowd that gathers for the Mass is “a thing to behold.”

Diocesan Chancellor and Director of Pastoral Ministries Marioly Galván said that, for the second consecutive year, the Pentecost Mass also will serve as an opportunity for Cardinal McElroy “to recognize … and to welcome” the diocese’s neophytes.

Neophytes are those who received the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil and have not yet celebrated their one-year anniversary of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) recommends that newly initiated Catholics participate in a Mass celebrated by the diocesan bishop within their first year as Catholics.

Galván said that a special section at the Pentecost Mass will be reserved for the neophytes and, at one point during the Mass, Cardinal McElroy will acknowledge them and ask that they stand up and be recognized.

She said that the large-scale diocesan Pentecost Mass will remind them that they have become part of something much larger.

“To be able to witness 2,000 people coming together … in their cultural attire really is an expression of how rich, and diverse, and vibrant our Church is,” said Galván. “We look forward to (the Pentecost Mass) every year.”

More information about the Pentecost Mass is available at

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