CHULA VISTA – “Viva Santa Rosa de Lima!”
That is how Auxiliary Bishop greeted parishioners at a special Mass on Aug. 28 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of St. Rose of Lima Church on the saint’s feast day.
“Viva Lima, Peru!” he continued, noting the parish’s kinship with that capital city.
“Viva todas las naciones de América!”
“Viva Estados Unidos!” he shouted, highlighting the United States.
“Viva la Ciudad de Chula Vista!” he continued, ending his cheers with a reference to the parish itself, “Viva la Parroquia de Santa Rosa de Lima!”
The parishioners responded with a resounding “Viva!”
They jammed the 800-seat church on a hot Saturday afternoon, a multicultural congregation that clapped throughout the service. Brightly colored bouquets of roses adorned every corner of the church, including the beginning of each pew, and some flowers even hung from the ceiling.
An outdoor gala dinner held in the patio of the parish school followed the Mass. The day’s festivities capped the year-long centennial celebration that began last Aug. 28 with a drive-by event, given the COVID-19 restrictions at the time
Auxiliary Bishop Dolan is a familiar face at the parish. He served as its pastor from 2002 to 2014.
After his homily, Bishop Dolan took a few moments to wave to individuals who had been part of the parish’s history, including the grandchildren of some of the founding families.
“In over a century this parish has participated in God’s perfect design at least in some small portion in this vineyard. Who could have imagined a little church in 1921, then located on the corner of Third Avenue and Alvarado, with just 25 families, would be the amazing parish that it is today?” he asked, then briefly mentioned important points in its history.
“With eight Masses in English and Spanish and sign language, St. Rose of Lima Parish continues to serve God’s people in this corner of this world.”
He said that 100 years ago only three Catholic Churches served the South Bay, St. Anthony’s in National City, Sacred Heart in Coronado, and St. Rose of Lima.
“One hundred years later, 12 Catholic parishes serve the faithful of South Bay,” he continued, adding that five are in Chula Vista.
The city has four Catholic preschools, Mater Dei Catholic High School, and three grade schools, St. Rose of Lima one of them, he added.
“It’s interesting to note that this parish began on the heels of the 1918 pandemic, and is now addressing another pandemic,” he said.
The parish has existed under nine popes, eight bishops, and had countless pastors, priests, deacons and women religious, he added.
Several pastors who previously served in the parish were on hand, including Father Charles “Chuck” Fuld, editor emeritus of The Southern Cross; as were several priests from South Bay parishes, among them Fathers Efraín Bautista, Edmundo Zárate, Jay Bananal, Daniel Holgren and Bernardo Lara. Father Mario Vesga, in residence at the parish, served as one of the concelebrants, along with Father Miguel Campos and Father Eric Tamayo, the current pastor and associate pastor, respectively.
“I’m glad that for at least 12 years of my life I had the opportunity to be a part of this great parish, under the patroness of St. Rose of Lima, whose feast we celebrate today, and through her prayers I hope that you will always be blessed to know what a wonderful privilege it is to be a part of this magnificent parish,” the Bishop said.
He wondered what is in store for the parish.
“What will this community be for Chula Vista, our county, and the diocese a year from now, or a decade from now, or a century from now? God only knows, and last I checked, He’s not telling. But with faith, we will continue to roll up our sleeves as co-creators and participate in God’s perfectly perfect design.”