Pope John Paul II on Tuesday named three Los Angeles priests to become auxiliary bishops in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The men, all longtime priests in the nation's largest archdiocese, will oversee three administrative regions within the 8,761-square-mile archdiocese and report to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who is archbishop.
They are the Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, 51, director of the archdiocese's ethnic ministries programs; the Rev. Msgr. Joseph M. Sartoris, 66, who has served as episcopal vicar of the San Pedro region since the death in September of Bishop Carl A. Fisher, and the Rev. Msgr. Gabino Zavala, 42, rector of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo.
"All three bring with them a deep love for Jesus Christ, proven service to the church and a vigorous commitment in their pastoral work here in this archdiocese," Mahony said Tuesday in announcing their appointments at a news conference.
In meeting the media for the first time as bishops-elect, all three said building unity in ethnically diverse Southern California continues as one of their primary tasks.
"It is a challenge of trying to affirm and recognize the gifts in diversity that we have and to come together as a people of faith," said Zavala, a native of Mexico who was ordained a priest in 1977 and has served on the Eastside.
Sartoris, a Los Angeles native whose father was an Italian immigrant, said building a "sense of unity and community" was foremost among his hopes. He also said he wanted to encourage men to enter the priesthood.
Curry, a native of Ireland, came to the United States in 1967, the year he was ordained a priest. "In ministering here as a priest, I have tried to combine my experience of immigration with the knowledge I have acquired of my adopted country," he said.
Mahony told reporters: "In a special way, the migration of two of our new bishops to serve the church in Los Angeles corresponds well to the history of California, where so many have come as immigrants and have made such exceptional contributions to the building up of both the church and society."
Zavala will become regional bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, succeeding Bishop Juan A. Arzube, who retired last year. Sartoris will head the San Pedro region and Curry will lead the Santa Barbara region, succeeding Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann, who became bishop of Santa Rosa.
At the same time, Mahony announced that Bishop Stephen E. Blaire will become the new regional bishop for Our Lady of Angels Pastoral Region, which includes central Los Angeles and extends west to the Pacific. He succeeds Bishop John J. Ward, who will work more closely with the cardinal's office and continue as pastor of St. Timothy's Parish until his retirement in 1995.
Blaire will be succeeded as chancellor of the archdiocese and moderator of the curia by the Rev. Msgr. Terrance Fleming, who has been vice chancellor and pastor of St. Vibiana's Cathedral.
The Rev. Msgr. John Rohde becomes the new pastor of St. Vibiana's Cathedral and secretariat director for church ministerial services, replacing Curry in he latter post.
Father Jeremiah J. McCarthy, now vice rector at St. John's Seminary, will become interim rector until a permanent successor to Zavala is named.
Bishop Armando X. Ochoa will remain as regional bishop of the San Fernando Pastoral Region.
The new bishops-elect are scheduled to be formally ordained to the episcopacy March 19 at St. Vibiana's Cathedral. Their appointments by the Pope followed a lengthy process of confidential consultations by Mahony with priests and bishops within the archdiocese, as well as with bishops throughout the Western United States and the Vatican ambassador in Washington. From these consultations, lists of candidates were developed and sent to the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, which makes recommendations to the Pope. The Pope makes the final choice of bishops.