On May 7 and 8, we will have the opportunity to help our brothers and sisters of St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights, whose church building was burned down by an arsonist in the early morning hours of April 16, as the world marked Palm Sunday.
The second collection at all Masses at the Church of the Good Shepherd that weekend will go directly to the parish community of St. John Vianney as they struggle to raise the estimated $8 to $10 million needed to rebuild their church building.
Cardinal Mahony was on the scene early the next morning, and Archbishop Gomez celebrated Palm Sunday with the St. John Vianney Community in the parish hall, as the church building was totally destroyed.
But as one St. John Vianney parishioner noted: “It is a building, and they did not destroy the church. We are the church.”
St. John Vianney parishioners provide a winter shelter program for the homeless in their community, providing not only shelter but also a medical clinic, dental services, flu shots, tuberculosis tests and counseling. They marshaled the Veterans Administration to provide services for homeless vets. Their food pantry is one of the largest in the county, serving more than 1,500 people every week. They operate a transitional housing program for recently homeless families.
We have much to learn from the dedication of our brothers and sisters at St. John Vianney, and it is our duty to aid them in their time of need. As we help them rebuild, let us learn from their example of service to the poor among us, that both of our parishes may bring good forth from this tragedy.
A web site has been set up by the people of St. John Vianney to record their journey toward rebuilding, to tell their story and to receive gifts. You can learn more and give online there and stay involved on their Facebook page.