In 2006, I attended the celebration of the episcopal consecration and installation of the bishop of the Diocese of Reno, in northern Nevada. Although the diocese (134,000 Roman Catholics as of 2010) was racially and ethnically diverse, the largest of which being European whites and Latin American Hispanics, the announcement of then-father Randolph Roque Calvo of the archdiocese of San Francisco as their new bishop was warmly received and with joyous exuberance, the parishioners and Catholics throughout northern Nevada immediately began to prepare for the ceremonies to follow.
You see (and I’m very proud to address him with the honorific), His Excellency was born on Guam—a Guamanian of Chamorro descent. To many still in the states, he could be an alien. “Guamanian? What’s that?” because to whites, he’s not white; to Latinos, he’s not of their flavor, although brown-skinned. It did not matter. We were all Catholics, after all—by definition, ecumenical, universal, all-embracing.
In the weeks prior to the consecration, I had the pleasure of mingling with parishioners over coffee after mass and joined in conversations with Reno locals about their soon-to-be bishop. Their respect, heartwarming approval, and loving acceptance were easily seen and felt.
Randolph Roque Calvo is my brother in Christ, a sentiment clearly shared amongst the attendees throughout the day of his consecration and installation. He was not seen as “other,” a “foreigner,” or an “outsider.” With great community pride, he was honored by an overflow of well-wishers.
I was not only proud of the ascension of a son of the Marianas but I was also made prouder to be a member of the Catholic faith. How I loved that community. I was reminded of a verse in the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:34, which reads:
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
I ask that we ponder on that for a moment and if you could indulge me, meditate on it. May the Holy Spirit warm our hearts, give us light for clarity, and instruct us on how to call upon our better selves so that we in turn can serve as a beacon of light—a shining example—to our children and heirs as well as to our community, that we are worthy to be called Catholics because we are unconditionally all-embracing. Be kind, be gracious—in the spirit of our lord, Jesus Christ, and our Holy Father Pope Francis.
Jean D. Sablan