To all of you, my dear sisters and brothers,
I greet you and welcome you to this memorable celebration of our continued encounter with God who tells us: "I am never far from anyone of you".
How true these words from the Acts of the Apostles have echoed and re-echoed in this very historic Diocese of Monterey and have also echoed many times in the silence of my life and ministry.
A few weeks ago in the Liturgy of the Word for Christmas day Masses, we heard in the Gospel of St. John, chapter one, that : "from his (Jesus') fullness we have all received grace upon grace".
How moving and comforting are these words, grace upon grace. This wonderfully diverse and vibrant valley and coast have in times past and present encountered God's intervention in providing the people of this area "grace upon grace".
In my life as well, I have encountered God's "grace upon grace" even though I did not always fully comprehend or appreciate God's never being far from me.
We are so blessed to have had the great leadership of Bishop Sylvester Ryan and his predecessors in the original diocese of Monterey, then the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno, to the more recent Diocese of Monterey.
Historians will record a narrative of "grace upon grace" in this diocese for future generations.
And now in 2007, one hundred and fifty eight years after the foundation of the original Diocese of Monterey, we embark on this new journey in a spirit of collaboration and openness to God's providential care in giving us grace upon grace.
And as I begin this new ministry with you, I ask for your prayers for me that I may both recognize God's grace in all of you and lead us with the truth of the Gospel and the love of the compassionate God, who daily tells us: "I am never far from anyone of you".
We rejoice in this day in our history and let us pray for one another, for it is in Christ that "we do live and move and have our being".
God bless you!
With my affection and gratitude,
Bishop Richard J. Garcia