Thursday, April 05, 2018

Now Playing: “The Son of Hollywood” – Pope Taps Camarillo Chief as LA Aux.

As he emerged from a battle with cancer at the start of this decade, Msgr Marc Trudeau told a friend that “I have learned more about God's mercy since I've been sick than I ever knew when I was well.”

He might’ve had that insight some time before the current pontificate... but now, fully restored to health, he’ll get to share the result with the church as a “Francis bishop.”

As an ongoing flood of new deputies reshapes the US bench, at Roman Noon this Easter Thursday the Pope named the 60 year-old priest of Los Angeles, until now rector of St John’s Seminary in Camarillo – a dentist by training who first came to prominence as the soft-spoken yet indispensable priest-secretary to Cardinal Roger Mahony – as an auxiliary of the largest diocese American Catholicism has ever known, its 5 million members (70 percent of them Hispanic) now ranking alongside Mexico City, Kinshasa and Milan as the global church's principal outposts by size.

After a 15-month wait, Trudeau effectively succeeds Bishop Oscar Solis, the Filipino immigrant who became the first Asian ever to lead a US diocese last year on his transfer to Salt Lake City. With today’s move, per LA custom, the bishop-elect will leave the helm of the growing Camarillo house to oversee one of the mammoth archdiocese’s five pastoral regions: each of them home to roughly a million Catholics – and, accordingly, each a larger and more complex operation on their own than most Stateside archdioceses at large. While a final determination remains to be made, it’s mostly expected that the rookie will take Solis’ place at the helm of the San Pedro region – the juggernaut’s historically “vibrant” southern tip, anchored in Long Beach and comprising 67 mega-parishes, eight high schools and four hospitals.

On the broader front, meanwhile, today’s move marks an early round of the musical chairs set to shake up the Southland's church leadership again over the next two years. As Trudeau takes Solis’ place, yet another auxiliary seat opened on Tuesday with Rome’s retirement of veteran Bishop Thomas Curry, who aged out on his 75th birthday in January. And as the suffragan diocese of Fresno – now grown to over a million Catholics – enters the docket upon next week’s 75th of Bishop Armando Ochoa (himself a native Angeleno), given the distinct prospect of a current LA deputy being named there in due course, Archbishop José Gomez could well receive six auxiliaries of his choosing within the space of just four years. (A prior trio of auxiliaries were elevated in mid-2015.)

Of course, all this takes place against the backdrop of Gomez's own transition to the helm of the nation’s bishops. Currently halfway through his three-year term as the bench's #2 officer, the Mexican-born prelate’s election as the next USCCB President is virtually certain in November 2019.

Long known across the board as an unfailingly kind, low-key presence even for a spate of intense, high-profile roles, over time it’s been said of Trudeau that “if you surveyed the priests, he’d top the list” in terms of esteem – or, as another set the bar even higher, “Everybody thinks he’s a saint.”

For his part, however, the bishop-elect – who got his wish of returning to the trenches as a pastor on Mahony's 2011 retirement, only to be named to lead Camarillo three years later – is said to be in a state of "shock" over the news.

Developing – more to come.