Boston, Mass., Aug 11, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).
Pope Francis appointed to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles four new auxiliary bishops on July 18, one of whom is assigned to the San Gabriel pastoral region filling the role following the tragic murder of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell earlier this year.
Bishop-elect Brian Nunes, the archdiocese’s vicar general and moderator of the curia since 2020, said he could never “replace” O’Connell but wants to do everything possible to bring Christ to the region’s diverse population.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is the ethnic and cultural diversity of the San Gabriel pastoral region,” Nunes, 58, said in a statement to CNA Wednesday.
“The entire archdiocese is blessed with a great diversity of cultures and languages, and I call that one of the ‘jewels’ God has blessed us with overall, and especially in the San Gabriel region,” Nunes said.
Ordained in 2008, Nunes is a native of Los Angeles. He has served at both Mary Star of the Sea Parish in San Pedro and St. Gregory the Great Parish in Whittier, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference.
From 2015 to 2019, he served as priest secretary to the archbishop, and he served as the archdiocese’s vice chancellor from 2018 to 2020.
Nunes said he is “keenly aware” of the visibility of his position serving as an auxiliary bishop.
“Even more, I’m moving into the region of the late Bishop O’Connell, who was so well loved. Given his own experiences, his personality, and his tenure in ministry, there is no way I’m going to ‘replace’ him,” Nunes said.
“I do, however, want to continue, as best as I can, his efforts to constantly make Jesus present to individuals, parishes, and schools. I want to be there with them in their celebrations and their challenges, to listen to them and to walk with them as our Holy Father is asking us to do,” he added.
Referring to the ethnic diversity in the region, Nunes said he was “blessed” to serve as the vicar for ethnic ministry in the archdiocese, adding: “I want to continue to highlight the great gift of our ethnic communities by being present, as much as I can, with them at their different celebrations within this region.”
News of O’Connell’s Feb. 18 murder shocked the nation, and the local and wider Catholic community mourned O’Connell, who was remembered as a man of peace dedicated to serving the poor and immigrants.
The man who was charged with the murder of O’Connell is 61-year-old Carlos Medina, the husband of the woman who was O’Connell’s housekeeper.
Medina pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in court March 22, but Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a Feb. 22 press conference that Medina admitted to the murder.
The investigation is ongoing.
Since O’Connell’s death, Monsignor Jim Halley has temporarily been serving the role in the San Gabriel pastoral region.
Also appointed by Pope Francis are Bishop-elect Albert Bahhuth; Bishop-elect Matthew Elshoff, OFM Cap; and Bishop-elect Slawomir Szkredka.
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez announced that Bahhuth will serve as episcopal vicar for the San Fernando region, Elshoff will serve the Our Lady of the Angels region, and Szkredka will serve the Santa Barbara region.
The four new auxiliary bishops will be joining the episcopal vicar for the last remaining pastoral of San Pedro, Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau.
The bishop-elects will be ordained Sept. 26.
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