My dear brothers and Sisters of The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Pasadena, may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I have just been assigned by Archbishop José Gomez to minister with and for you in this beautiful city of Pasadena. I am humbled by this assignment. I am excited and looking forward to it, but at the same time nervous. After all, the Bible tells us to work for our salvation with fear and trembling. I have every hope and faith that, with the grace of God, we will work together for the kingdom of God.
As a way of introduction, my full name is Fr. Ekwutosi Michael Ume. But you can address me in either of these formats; Fr. Mike, or Fr. Ume, or Fr. Michael Ume. I was ordained with fourteen other priests on June 5th, 1993 at St. Vibiana Cathedral by his Eminence, Cardinal Roger Mahony. Our class was called United Nations because it was made up of priests from different nationalities. My first assignment was at St. Genevieve in Panorama City. The assignment was for four years and I was there for four years. I loved the Parish. My second assignment was at St. Jerome in Westchester. Although this assignment was for five years, I only spent two years in that parish. After two years, I was re-assigned to the Vocation office as one of the Vocation Directors, I enjoyed that assignment.
When I left the Vocation Office, I went to Cochabamba in Bolivia to learn Spanish for two months. On returning from Bolivia, I was assigned to St. Brigid in Los Angeles. St. Brigid is administered by the Josephite community. Therefore, my pastor was a Josephite. It was my first time working under a religious community. It was a great experience. I also worked with our lovely brothers and sisters from Central America in that parish. Unfortunately, I only spent six months in St. Brigid, but it was a grace-filled six months. Next, Cardinal Mahony assigned me to St. Bernard Parish in Bellflower as Administrator. On July 1st, 2006, he appointed me the Pastor of the same parish. I have spent a total of fourteen years in St. Bernard. On June 9th of this year, I celebrated the 25th year anniversary of my ordination. This is who I am and this is what I am bringing.
One more thing. I do have a foreign accent when I speak. I hope it does not constitute a problem for you. I will speak slowly and you will promise me that you will listen carefully. Together, we will get over it and begin to understand each other.
One thing that gives me joy in this assignment is that I am following the footsteps of a great priest and a great friend, Fr. Gerard O’Brien. He has been a good example of compassion. He has done a great ministry at Assumption, and I am looking forward to continuing where he stopped. He has spoken highly of the staff and of the Parishioners. Everyone speaks highly of the city. I am humbled and fortunate to join Assumption today.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,