While celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of our Diocese, July 19-22, 2012, it is paramount not only to commemorate the building up of our Diocese, as it has developed in its basic features during the past years, but also to look forward in total obedience to the Lord, which is to be done in the historic current context of the life of the Church, as wanted by him. These are the main achievements of our diocese in the past decade:
1) A spiritual awakening based on Scripture and Liturgy: Our Diocese has prized itself, in season and out of season, with so many different groups organizing retreats, seminars, lectures, pilgrimages, vigils…etc. whose topics and goals were the spiritual formation and enrichment of the participants. In all of these encounters, the core reference was the Scriptures and the liturgical treasures and worship expressions of our apostolic Chaldean heritage. St. George Monastery proved to be an ideal host for so many memorable gatherings; our clergy and dedicated nuns and seminarians were pivotal factors of organization and guidance.
2) The establishment of Mar Abba Seminary: While providing buildings and facilities for new parishes and missions is an urgent need, it is much more paramount to prepare qualified ministers to shepherd the faithful. Thus the establishment of Mar Abba Seminary should be considered as a major and most vital diocesan project, to be given all needed support and care. In six months, four seminarians will finish their undergraduate education and initiate the most challenging period of their formation: theology and character for priesthood.
3) The founding of Workers of the Vineyard Diocesan Convent is the other institution of major relevance for the future of the Diocese, which entails preparing and forming souls fully dedicated to the Lord, to channel the evangelical doctrine and the healing of the Savior to our communities, mostly through the weekly teaching of catechism in parishes and the proclamation of the Gospel through the media.
4) Youth Gatherings and Convention: Responding to the call of the Shepherd to a biannual youth convention, an average of 400 young-adults participated already in the past diocesan conventions. In a couple of months a 5th convention is scheduled to take place at the Cathedral. Our seminarians and nuns will lead its organization and programming, interacting with their generation of peers and guiding them to human and spiritual maturity, fulfillment and joy.
5) The establishment of Episcopal Vicariates: Our Diocese has been transformed in the past ten years: from 30,000 faithful we became 65,000; from 7 priests, we have now 21; from 7 churches, we have currently 14 parishes and missions, in addition to several major institutions. Given the enormous geographic distances between the administrative diocesan center and our communities, it became needed to distribute the administration into three Vicariates: Southern, in San Diego; Northern in Turlock; Eastern, in Phoenix, in unity of Faith, of ecclesial ministry, of common administrative policy and as well of sharing in resources.
May the Risen Lord attract and confirm our hearts, to be anchored in Him and His Church, perpetually.