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Father Patrick Mullen - Pastor


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Fr. Patrick Mullen
Pastor, Padre Serra Parish


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July 24, 2011

Dear Friends,

On July 8th I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas to give five talks on difficult scripture passages to over one hundred leaders of Bible study groups and RCIA catechists. I missed being at Padre Serra that weekend, but I know it's important to share some of what I've learned with priests, parish leaders and teachers - there aren't many scripture scholars to provide answers to the everyday faith questions people are asking.

My first observation from the trip is that California and Arkansas are further apart than the miles that separate them. The weather there was HOT and WET. It never fell below 90 and yet still rained on me twice. Everything was green and flat, with enormous trees growing everywhere. The bugs were also big...and noisy...all night long. Our hills may be golden (I prefer "golden" to "brown"), but the price Arkansans pay for all that green in hot, muggy, bugginess is too high a price. Folks, we live in paradise here in Camarillo. A constant grateful lifting up of our voices in praise of the God who has led us to our own promised land seems right to me.

My second observation is that diversity in other places doesn't seem to have reached the level of leadership yet. Only two people in the room, besides myself, had any knowledge of Spanish. There was one African American and one person who appeared to be Hispanic. Everyone else was White. I'm so used to our multi-colored, multi-lingual, multi-cultural way of doing and being Church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that it seemed odd to me to be teaching a group that was so overwhelmingly like me. Again, I'm grateful for the rich gifts we have received, in the many faces of God revealed in the guise of varied faces, Vietnamese, Mexican, Filipino, Armenian (I am from Glendale), Korean, etc.

That having been said, for all the differences between suburban California and the rural South, I was deeply impressed by the rich faith of the people who gave up their weekend to listen attentively to the voice of God in the Sacred Scriptures. To travel so far, and to venture into a different, Southern culture, and yet to feel so quickly at home because of shared belief was a reminder to me of our universal, truly Catholic faith.

We are not all the same, and I like that. I agree with the French - Vive le difference! And yet I rejoice in a faith shared with so many - guiding and challenging, supporting and comforting.

My prayer of the moment is that, in your summer travels, you may be intrigued by the new and different, but find some way to be at home with others, everywhere you go.


Siempre adelante!

Fr. Patrick


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July 11, 2010

Dear Parishioners,

Eleven years ago, in Advent, when days were short and the sun had already set, I first walked into Blessed Junipero Church. It felt holy to me. I was moved by the place of the altar, right there at the center of things, an ascent to God, a place where a heart would beat, if a building could have a heart. I could sense God's presence between the pillars, by the doors, and within the many walls. I was there to hear confessions at a penance service, and God's people had gathered to be reconciled with God and one another. I quickly learned, even in that precious moment of self-revelation, how extraordinarily good the parishioners were and how much they strove to grow. I fell in love with the people and the place.

Many years have passed since that first encounter with you, the parishioners of Padre Serra. They were good years and intensely busy years, teaching Scripture at the Seminary next door, and doing continuing education for catechists and priests up and down the West Coast. As my Dad's health failed, I journeyed each Sunday to Glendale, where he lived, to preside and preach at Incarnation Parish and spend a little time with Mom and Dad. In a coming together of grace and what I believe to be God's will, my Dad died this last October, and no longer needed me, while, at the same time, Fr. Dolan received a call to minister at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. I don't believe in accidents. In this, my twenty-fifth year of priesthood, I felt compelled, in fact, "called," to seek ministry here, in Camarillo, at Padre Serra Parish.

Although Cardinal Mahony and the seminary desire me to continue teaching, they agree to allow me to take up this call, and even to make it my priority. Even though I will still do my work in the classroom, educating and forming future priests, my promise is that Padre Serra will be where my eye focuses, where my ear is most attentive, and where my heart lies. That is my pledge to you.

In today's Gospel, Jesus sent seventy-two of his disciples "to every town and place he intended to visit." In that troubled time, the willingness of those brave souls to venture into what was a dangerous world with uncertain receptions waiting for them, gives us a powerful witness to their confidence that Jesus would be with them, that His teachings would guide them, and that they had something to offer. In his own turn, Padre Serra, humble Franciscan, was also sent to these golden hills and plains, to this beautiful coast, to proclaim the Good News. Stalwart, and no less brave than those first seventy-two, he testified to the Chumash, and the Tongva who lived here then and now.

We, too, are sent, me to you, and you to Camarillo, Ventura and beyond. Jesus' teachings remain the backbone of our Catholic belief. We still have a marvelous gift of faith and love to offer to the world. The work is no less important now than it was two thousand years ago in Palestine. We can be every bit as brave and stalwart as those first seventy-two, as Padre Serra, since Jesus is still with us and in us. Shall we not seek him ourselves, together?

Some detail about me for the curious:

* I am a native Californian, born in Glendale, CA, only 53 miles from Padre Serra Parish.

* My parents are Joseph Mullen, an immigrant from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who died this last October (I miss him), and Frances Kavanaugh, also a California native, who grew up in Los Angeles and still lives in the family home in Glendale.

* I am the third of nine children: I have five sisters (two of them older than I) and three brothers.

* I was ordained in 1985 and served four years at St. Margaret Mary in Lomita and three years at St. John Vianney, Hacienda Heights.

* I studied for seven years at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, then taught these last eleven years at St. John's Seminary.

Sincerely,

Fr. Patrick Mullen

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