The Valley Catholic June 11, 2019 - Page 5 | June 11, 2019 COMMUNITY 5 Homily of Bishop Cantu’s 25th Anniversary Mass... Continued from page 4 This experience helped me to value all the more my own education. I am happy to support the recent creation of a diocesan-wide scholarship fund for Catholic schools. This fund is intended to benefit our families who desire a Catholic education for their children, but who need help paying the tuition, as my family did forty and fifty years ago. I will do all in my power to help the Guardian Angel Program to grow, so that we can help families have the opportunities that my siblings and I had so many years ago, and which have served us well – and the people that we now serve! As I look to the near future, I hear a call to action in three ways. A Culture of Vocations: While society has changed dra- matically over the past few decades, the human heart continues to seek God: to seek what is true, love what is good, and yearn for what is beautiful. God continues to knock at the doors of our hearts, even today. He calls us to a loving and graced relationship. Among the panorama of vocations, God calls most of the faithful to the beautiful and challenging vocation of marriage and family life. How important it is that we see this as a call – for our mar- riages and families are strengthened and deepened by the acknowledged presence of God. Yet, others are called to the single life, in which one can be engaged in a variety of opportuni- ties for service to the church and the wider community, sharing what God has given to them. And yet others are called to consecrated life, in a life of prayer and witness for the Gospel, while some are called to ordained min- istry as deacons and priests. My great desire is that we intentionally create a culture of vocations in our homes, in our parishes, in our youth groups, in our classrooms, and social gatherings. Let us all plant the seed of God’s call and water it with prayers. This new initiative, which I call, “Creating a Culture of Vocations,” will allow us not only to pray for vocations, but to dialogue as families and in classroom settings about the reality of God’s call, and how we might attune our hearts to hear and respond to his call. A Culture of Encounter: Pope Francis has called us to cre- ate a “culture of Encounter.” This is a call to go to the periferies of our experiences and to encounter those we don’t normally encounter: those of other cultures, other faiths, other socio- Bishop Cantú gives a crucifix to student representatives of Holy Spirit School. economic groups. It is moreover, a call to encounter the “small people,” the sometimes “invisible” people, begin- ning with the unborn, the homeless, the immigrant, the refugee, the troubled, the poor and the elderly – those who have no voice. As Pope Francis puts it, “They all have something in common with us: they are images of God, they are chil- dren of God.” When I was first assigned as a pastor in Houston, it was to my home parish, where I was baptized and grew up. My mother was still a parishioner, so I had the experience of having her correct my homilies on a weekly basis! As I was unpacking boxes in my office, a parishioner knocked on the door, entered and simply handed me an envelope, saying, “this is yours,” and then turned around and left. I was puzzled. I knew the gentleman, Mr. Gonzalez, a well-respected long-time member of the parish. I grew up with his children, went to school with them, played basketball with them. The envelope was yellowed from age. I opened it and took out the let- ter. It was dated, July 17, 1968. It was addressed to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Holy Name Parish. It was type-written, in Spanish. [I translate:] “To whom it may concern: By means of these lines we wish to express to you our gratitude, since recently and on two occasions, we have been blessed from that Society with the sending of groceries which have been of great use to us, since we are presently undergoing a period of stretching our resources, caused by illness and sur- gery, and your assistance as we already mentioned arrived in a most opportune moment and has resolved our present difficulty. May God continue to bless the mem- bers of this Society for the great work that you do.” I recognized the signature at the bottom: Ramiro and Maria Cantú, my parents. Fifty years ago the Church went to the margins to bring the Gospel mes- sage and work. It happened to be my family that was on the margin at the time; I was the most recent member of the family at 18 months of age. We never know who we are reach- ing when we go to the periferies, we can be assured that they will always bear the image and likeness of God. And some day, they may be serving us. Culture of Innovation: That brings me to my final challenge: a culture of innovation. Silicon Valley is known as a place of innovation. Once we have encountered each other as chil- dren of God, can we then challenge this Valley to put its ingenuity and skills of innovation to solving some of society’s most pressing problems? Learning little by little about the di- ocese, I read the news daily and weekly, and have followed with great interest and concern the housing crisis and its effects. I have seen a tremendous socio-economic disparity that hits at a fundamental level: the ability to sur- vive in this valley. Many families have been forced to move out of the county and even out of state. Along with many others, I am concerned about the val- ley’s ability to house teachers and fire- fighters, service industry workers and police officers. How can working class families survive in this valley? These are persons and roles necessary for the functioning of any society. I am concerned that for many, Sili- con Valley has become a “dark valley” of desperation. The Good Shepherd is most desperately needed here. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shares shepherd- ing duties with those in key positions: parents shepherd their children, teach- ers shepherd their students, public ser- vants can shepherd their constituents, the public can shepherd and help shape public policy, private industry leaders (especially in Silicon Valley) can use their ingenuity not only for technology but for humanity! I am anxious for a conversation at which stakeholders can solve this crisis and create a culture of innovation for the good of humanity, for the good of society, for the good of our families, for the dignity of the human person. We must also use our ingenuity to protect the first gift that God gave us: creation. With ingenuity and courage we can preserve and protect the natural resources that God gave us to care for and use well. This, in fact, was the first commandment that God gave us – to till the soil, that is, to care for creation. These specific initiatives and pro- grams are part of a wider concern and reach of the local church to witness to Christ in our lives, to preach in season and out of season. They are part of a wider effort that we might encounter Christ anew and fall in love again with our God. They are part of larger effort to proclaim the dignity of the human person from the womb to the tomb. We are concerned for children in the womb and children at the border, for mothers who are frightened, whether pregnant in the solitude of their apartment or at the border escaping violence in their countries of origin. We reach out to victims and their families and stand for the right to life and redeemability even of the guilty. We promote the availability of mental health services and the accessibility of health care. We are grateful for the tremendous and often quiet work of Catholic Charities, that helps to house the homeless, re- settle refugees and victims of traffick- ing, assist the immigrant, counsel the troubled, and feed the poor and elderly. They do this in our name: we are proud and grateful. In the past 25 years, I have dedi- cated my life to service in the church: preaching and teaching, leading wor- ship, guiding parishes and dioceses to walk humbly with our God. Today, I dedicate myself anew to serve you, the local church of this blessed valley. May we all help create a culture of vocations, participate in a culture of encounter, and embrace a culture of innovation for the good of humanity. May the Santa Clara Valley become, through the concerted effort of all of us, the Valley of the Soul’s Delight!