Inducting men into the priesthood
For churches all over it’s the season of ordinations as candidates for the priesthood complete their studies. In Southern California, at least 20 men are joining the clergy in solemn and joyful ceremonies in this week.
The ordinations began Thursday night in Hollywood as Vahe Abovian and Mayis Shahbazyan were welcomed into the priesthood by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.
Following custom, Derderian gave the men new first names upon ordination -- Avedis for Abovian and Khajag for Shahbazyan. “Grant them to keep the priesthood pure with holy heart,” he said.
The elaborate ceremony, conducted mostly in Armenian, was held at St. John Garabed Armenian Church. These were the first ordinations in the diocese in 10 years because many clerics serving in the region are from overseas.
Today, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will celebrate the ordination of 12 men, the largest ordination class since 1998, when 14 took vows. Mirroring national trends, the new priests reflect a variety of ages -- 29 to 49 -- and nationalities. Six were born overseas, three in Vietnam.
The Diocese of San Bernardino today will ordain six priests. It’s a significant number, said spokesman John Andrews, noting that the diocese had ordained only seven priests in the previous 10 years. He said the diocese has seven fewer priests than when it formed 30 years ago -- even though the number of Catholics it serves has increased by 1 million. On June 7, two priests will be ordained in the Diocese of Orange County.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this month released a report on trends in priestly vocations. The report, based on data collected in March, found 401 potential ordinands nationwide. Of those, 335 responded to the survey.
In keeping with recent trends, many of the men are in their 30s and one-third of this year’s new priests were born outside the United States.
The report can be found on the conference’s website, www.usccb.org.
Mediterranean Jewish program
Andrew Viterbi enjoys a distinction few others can claim: He can trace his family’s Italian Jewish roots to 1588.
The onetime UCLA engineering professor and co-founder of cellphone giant Qualcomm Inc. can tell you that his ancestors lived in a town 30 miles north of Rome more than 400 years ago.
He can explain, with the finesse of a history scholar, how the Mediterranean region has been home for centuries to vibrant Jewish culture.
Now the wireless communications magnate and his family have taken steps to preserve that history: They have established a $1.4-million endowment to create a program in Mediterranean Jewish Studies through the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.
Starting in the fall, the endowment will pay for visiting scholars to teach one quarter a year about Mediterranean Jewish history or culture. It also will pay for quarterly lectures and seminars on communities in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Israel, North Africa and the Balkans.
The gift, announced earlier this month, is the latest to a university from the renowned engineer, who pioneered technology used in cellular telephones. In 2004, Viterbi and his wife, Erna, donated $52 million to the school of engineering at USC, his alma mater.
The new UCLA undertaking follows a pilot program in Italian Jewish Studies launched three years ago, also with support from the Viterbi Family Foundation.
Robert Kennedy remembered
To mark the upcoming 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, two of the region’s leading religious figures will preside over a ceremony at the hospital where Kennedy died.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, will lead the ceremony Tuesday in the All Soul’s Chapel at Good Samaritan Hospital. Kennedy was taken to Central Receiving Hospital, which no longer exists, before he was moved to Good Samaritan, where he died at 1:44 a.m. on June 6, 1968.
The hospital has long been affiliated with the Episcopal Church. It was founded in 1885 by Sister Mary Wood, an Episcopal nun, as the nine-bed Los Angeles Hospital and Home for Invalids. Two years later, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church assumed control of the facility, largely through the efforts of women at the parish.
Walking for Darfur
Jewish World WatchGood Samaritan Hospital reports that about 1,000 people have signed up to participate in its second annual Walk for Darfur, a three-mile walk to be held Sunday to raise awareness about the ongoing violence in Sudan.
In recent years, a number of Jewish groups and congregations have tried to call attention to violence against non-Arab black Africans by mostly Arab militias in Darfur, in western Sudan.
The walk is scheduled to begin at Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk at 9 a.m. More information is available at www.jewishworldwatch.org.