|Catholic hip-hop/rap artist Th0t performing|
I am currently on a business trip to Southern California (today I can be seen performing in court in San Bernardino), but this past weekend was a sort of homecoming for me, if you will.
For many years, I was a faithful parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Santa Ana, CA. No, I should say I still am, despite having relocated my family out of state. And I know this because of the reception I received when I spent some time this weekend at its annual fiesta.
Oh, I know the fiesta well. I had been an active member of the fiesta committee for many years, and for five days out of the year, I pretty much lived in the Parish Hall, as La Reina de la Segunda (the Queen of the Rummage Sale). My spot was Information Central, and during the days of set-up, fiesta, and clean-up, I was kept busy answering questions, collecting tickets and cash, and organizing people.
But, a homecoming - for a while, due to the actions of two people at the parish after I left, I felt as though I was pronounced anathema. Now, I realize that is a pretty strong word, especially when used as a Catholic, but that was the punch to the heart I got. Let the past lie. It is overcome by the number of people who greeted me as family when I walked into the fiesta. I really was overwhelmed by the hugs and handshakes that came my way. It was a step back to the happy times I spent at St. Joseph.
|Fr. Ed Becker and Th0t|
Ha! At one point, a pair of hands was needed in a booth and when the Parish Manager, Betty Spanel, asked me to step in, I did so happily. I had a couple of opportunities to catch up with the parish administrator, Fr. Ed Becker, who is an old friend and anyone who knows us would not be surprised to hear that our conversations went loooong (hey, we're both lawyers, and we had a lot to cover, from the new Bishop for the diocese to what is going on with mutual acquaintances to Prop 30 to the relevance of Humane Vitae today). I sang karaoke with Trish Schack and Connie Linnert (I'd like to think our rendition of Me and Bobby McGee could land us on "The Voice", but alas . . .). I specifically was there to photograph my friend, Alfonso Pedroza (aka Th0t), who was performing his dynamic brand of Catholic hip-hop and rap (and he was outstanding and on fire for Christ, let me tell you). I thought the bear hug from the chief of the Samoan community, Nive Brown, would crush my ribs. Jose Luis Padilla and I spent some time, engaging in s**t photographers say. Doug Bostrom - "Mr. Fiesta" - just laughed to see me working. And Rocio Perez' chilaquiles were as fantastic as ever.
St. Joseph Church, and its school, is facing some tough financial times. As Fr. Ed said, we cannot afford to be complacent and we have to work towards pulling ourselves up. I will continue to tithe to my Santa Ana church, where I and my family received the Sacraments for years. I do not want to see a chain link fence around the property as the diocese sells off the assets, and unfortunately that is not a far-fetched notion for the parish.
Tithing . . . and prayer. Because this is still my family.