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Bishop Evelio Menjívar among delegation making pastoral visit to his native El Salvador

An expression of authority very common among fathers, mothers, children or parish priests is “I am in charge here,” leaving aside that only the one who serves and the one who sacrifices is in charge, Bishop Fabio Colindres of San Miguel, El Salvador said during a Jan. 28 Mass he celebrated at the Cathedral of San Miguel on Jan 28, 2024

During his sermon, Bishop Colindres added more details and explanations while reflecting on the authority of Jesus.

“The topic of authority is very current, because human beings dream of having authority," Bishop Colindres said, adding that "only he who loves rules, he who sacrifices himself to the point of giving his life as Christ Jesus did, who is the only one who rules in the life of the world."

The Mass in El Salvador was offered during a pastoral visit to that country late last month by officials from The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington; the Archdiocese of Baltimore; the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA; the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia; the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia; and Catholic Relief Services.

Among those representing The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington were Washington Bishop Evelio Menjívar, a native of El Salvador and the first native of that country to serve as a bishop in the United States; Father Anthony Lickteig, Vicar for Clergy and Secretary for Ministerial Leadership; and Wendi Williams, executive director of the Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach.

Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan, a former priest of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, was also among those making the pastoral visit.

Acknowledging the visiting delegation, Bishop Colindres thanked the two bishops, priests and lay people for their visit to El Salvador and for their mission to work and assist the Salvadoran community in the United States.

“They are the ones who care for our relatives, their parents, and their children abroad. They are the ones who announce the Good News to them,” the bishop told the congregation.

During the Mass, Bishop Menjívar and Bishop Brennan shared their own stories. Bishop Menjívar spoke of being an undocumented immigrant who, after working in construction, and later embracing the priesthood. Bishop Brennan recounted that he is the great-grandson of Irish immigrants who emigrated because of war and famine.

In his homily, Bishop Colindres emphasized that an authoritarian style of governing does not work and that that “the pope and bishops, like priests, do not command, they serve. The faithful and committed laity are not leaders to command either, they are leaders to serve the community.”

The bishop pointed out that Jesus taught with an authority that the people had not seen before.

“Jesus does everything he says, everything he announces, he does it… He has come to give us life in abundance and to teach us to overcome evils in our lives, family and marriage,” the bishop said. “Jesus is a man who lives, proclaims, preaches, and serves… What He proclaims, He does. That, and no other, is the only way to serve in the Church.”

A huge crowd filled the Cathedral of San Miguel, where before the Mass, Bishop Colindres blessed and presented two babies accompanied by their parents.

Bishop Colindres lamented that in our time “there are many men, women, young people and children possessed by the ‘spirit of the world’ that leads them to the conclusion that they do not need God to be happy.”

“They no longer go to Mass, they no longer confess and they take lightly their marital fidelity, their example to their children, their commitment to the community of faith from which they have distanced themselves, without realizing that the worst thing that can happen to a human being is to try to be happy without God,” he said.