At the weekend, the largest local church these shores have ever known -- the 5 million-member archdiocese of Los Angeles -- begins a new era as Archbishop José Gomez assumes its cathedra on Cardinal Roger Mahony's 75th birthday, the fulfillment of a year-long apprenticeship.
Of course, the handover isn't just a seismic one in Southern California. With Hispanics comprising an ever-growing half of the nation's 68 million Catholics (and no less than 70 percent of the mammoth LA fold), the succession signifies a reality both ancient and new -- a burgeoning Latino majority in our time finally come into its rightful place on the stage of national leadership... and three centuries since Spanish missionaries first built the church on the California and Florida coasts, a key point in Stateside Catholicism's gradual, yet ever bounding, return to the hands of its first founders.
Church, a moment of no small import is upon us. Ergo, Maestro Flaherty, raise the curtain (and given the low native volume on the file, readers, crank up your speakers)....
...and lest we be remiss at this milestone's approach, let's not forget the Stateside church's modern answer to the Lakers:
And, well, in her, you've got that rarest of things -- an LA champion even a Spurs fan can cheer.
While we're at it, as the eventual winner of the bench's Tourney of the Century was said to have enjoyed the exercise mightily (at least, after the fact), for history's sake, one last airing of last year's outbreak of Arch Madness couldn't hurt:
Sure, a low seed ended up playing a key part in settling the mix... then again, though, much like late March on the college court, just further proof that 'round here -- and especially in these days -- anything can happen.
And hard as it is to believe, that time of year is here again.
Full brief to come.