Many Catholic priests who have married say they have been treated like "non-persons" by church officials, but the Los Angeles archdiocese's St. John's Seminary has decided to break that pattern.
For the first time, the seminary, the final educational stage before becoming an archdiocesan priest, has sought out and invited former priests who are now married to take part in an event at the Camarillo campus--and even bring along spouses and children.
The occasion is an alumni barbecue Sunday afternoon celebrating the school's 50th anniversary at the Ventura County site. Invitations also went out to seminary students who dropped out before completing the four years of study.
"This is a moment of reconciliation," said Paul Ford, a layman who is faculty coordinator for the celebration. He said that of 600 ex-students located, 425 said by Thursday that they will attend.
"It is a time, I suppose, to look at past divergences of opinion to remember that at one time God was calling everyone (who studied at the seminary)," Ford said. "Not everyone becomes a priest or stays a priest, but the seminary has made a mark for good on these people."
Charles G. Ara, active in a national organization that lobbies the church for changes to allow married priests to serve again, termed the gesture "a positive step" to bridge the distance between the institution and men who still consider themselves priests. Ara works as a marriage and family counselor in Cerritos.
Holy Week for Eastern Orthodox Christians culminates tonight at midnight services. The traditional services at Greek, Russian, Antiochian (Syrian), Serbian, Romanian, Ukranian and Bulgarian churches use darkness and light to symbolize death and resurrection respectively in recalling the biblical accounts of Jesus Christ. Western churches observed Easter this year on March 26.
The World War II-era Holocaust in which millions of Jews and other minorities were annihilated by Nazi leaders will be remembered next week. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles will show the Oscar-winning documentary, "Genocide," 8 p.m. Sunday and has scheduled other events through Thursday. Club Europa, a group of Holocaust survivors, will have a 1 p.m. service Tuesday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park. The Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles is the principal sponsor of a service 3 p.m. May 7 in the Scottish Rite Auditorium, at which historian Henry Feingold of New York will speak.
Seventh-day Adventists will hold graduation ceremonies Sunday for nearly 500 people, mostly Latinos, who were seeking permanent residency in the United States under the second phase of the government amnesty program. Each graduate received 60 hours of required instruction in English, U.S. history and government at one of 14 teaching centers. Church officials estimated that the program cost about $40,000 to operate. The ceremony Sunday will be at White Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles.
A "hunger walk" next Saturday sponsored by Los Angeles' First African Methodist Church, whose senior pastor is the Rev. Cecil (Chip) Murray, may have more meaning for participants than a hike through hills or suburbia. The 10-mile route is through the inner-city area and donations from sponsors secured by participants will be used to help the homeless and hungry in the city.