Sometimes when I introduce myself to someone in California, I have been asked the question, “Why wouldn’t you stay in Los Angeles, instead of coming to San Jose?” I will often respond by telling them that there was just something about the area that has convinced me to stay. It could be the weather. It could be the people that I’ve met so far. Still, to this day, I’m not too sure. But I know that God wants me to be in Northern California.
Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, I never thought that I would have been led up north. Those who live in Southern California will sometimes think of our neighbors to the north as rivals! So it was very weird for me when I decided to move to the “South Bay” in 2015 to go to school at San Jose State University (SJSU). Little did I know when moving from the San Gabriel Valley to the Santa Clara Valley that I would fall in love with the area and want to spend the rest of my life there.
One of the things that instantly drew me to the Diocese of San Jose was the welcoming atmosphere. I started going to Mass regularly at the SJSU Newman Center, which is just off campus, and I was very happy to be there. While the community is still growing, I was able to take part in it and immerse myself into the culture of the community and the diocese itself. The people that make up the diocese are vibrant and eager to understand the relationship that they have with God and how He plays a part in their daily lives. We only have 50 parishes for about 600,000 Catholics, so some communities are small and intimate, whereas in Los Angeles, there are many more Catholics, so it might be difficult to get to know people as personally.
“I think our diocese reflects (St. Joseph) in many ways, but one of the ways I think that best reflects us to St. Joseph is our commitment to serving each other and to giving ourselves to the Lord, just like St. Joseph did in his commitment to raising Jesus to be the man that he became.”
It is especially exciting this year, as we are also celebrating our 40th anniversary as a diocese. Combined with the announcement of the Year of St. Joseph, we have begun to have special celebrations throughout the diocese. The diocese has also set up pilgrimage sites at various locations, and I hope to be able to visit them while I am serving this summer. I love learning about history, and one of my goals is to learn about the history of the diocese, and how it has shaped these faith communities into who we are today.
I think that one of the things that makes me most excited about serving in the Diocese of San Jose is that I get to interact and work with people who have a burning zeal for loving our Lord. We are a young diocese, so I think in some ways, we are still developing our identity for who we will eventually become. The parishioners of the diocese have some very good ideas and are always looking to expand their knowledge and to continue to increase their relationship with God. There is also a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and to St. Joseph. Our diocese is made up of people from all over the world, especially Mexico and Vietnam. The devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to Our Lady of La Vang are so beautiful to see!
The importance of St. Joseph also cannot be understated. He is the patron of our diocese, after all! I think our diocese reflects him in many ways, but one of the ways I think that best reflects us to St. Joseph is our commitment to serving each other and to giving ourselves to the Lord, just like St. Joseph did in his commitment to raising Jesus to be the man that he became.