I arrived back home here in Chicago at about 2:00 this morning, flying in from Los Angeles.
On Thursday of last week, J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications held two seminars, one for bulletin editors and the other for RCIA ministers, at Good Shepherd Parish in Beverly Hills, California.
Here is a shot of the exterior of the church:
When I entered the church, I was, of course, interested in the baptism font, pictured here; it is to the left of the altar, in the sanctuary:
When I began to take photos of the beautiful stained glass windows, I was startled by the fact that there were people sleeping in the pews. This is a parish that takes outreach to the poor very seriously. Set amidst some of the most expensive and glamorous properties in the United States, Good Shepherd is a place where the homeless may go for food, respite, and outreach.
On Friday, we traveled to Saint Philip the Apostle Church in Pasadena, where we repeated the bulletin and RCIA seminars. Here is a shot of the exterior of this beautiful church:
The baptism font is confronted as soon as one walks through the main doors. It is situated in the center aisle, at the entrance.
There are swinging glass doors on either side. One presumably enters from the back, walks in, and is baptized in the baptismal pool within. Then one goes through the other doors, which head right up the main aisle to the altar. This type of arrangement makes a great theological and liturgical point: baptism leads to the table of the Eucharist.
Here is a shot looking the other way:
Once finished in Pasadena, I headed to Indian Wells, in the California desert in the Palm Springs area, for some rest and relaxation. On Sunday, I attended Mass at the beautiful Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in La Quinta, California. The setting for the church is one of the more spectacular I have seen. It is built right at the base of the mountains in La Quinta:
This is a very large church, the size of which is not captured well in this photo. Here is a photo of the interior:
And the font (obviously no immersion of adults in this font). This was my view from where I was sitting at Mass on Sunday:
The parish grounds are simply lovely; lots of porticos and outdoor spaces where people can chat and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Here you can get a better sense of just how close the church is to the mountains:
The statue of saint Francis on the grounds is quite stunning:
So, this was a bit of a pilgrimage to California churches for me last week. The weather was wonderful the entire time, with abundant sunshine and breezes.
It is always a privilege to experience the church in the United States in different places around the country. One thing is for certain: Pope Francis is having such a positive effect on the Catholics I continue to meet on my travels.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.