Interfaith leaders gathered at San Fernando Cathedral on June 15 for the traditional Blessing of the May and City Council, hosted by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, and Father Victor Valdez, cathedral rector.
The archbishop told the mayor, members of the Council, their families and staff that it was a joy to come together with other faith leaders of the city to invoke God’s blessings upon them in their roles of leadership.
“When we have a new beginning, there is a special energy, an optimism and a renewed hope for bettering our future together,” he said. “Let us tap into this special energy and this renewed hope.”
Civic leaders across the nation, whether in large urban settings like San Antonio, or smaller and more rural settings, are all faced with daunting challenges.
“We have weathered, quite literally, many storms in recent years, and even the destructive power of a once in a century pandemic. There is much healing and rebuilding to accomplish. There exists an opportunity to correct some of the injustices of the past which these hard days have made so clear. And there will be new challenges coming our way of which we are not even aware,” Archbishop Gustavo stressed. “What can sustain us as we move forward is faith! Faith in the God who loves us and calls us to be a shining city on a hill! Faith in the ability of human beings to cooperate and collaborate for a mutual good. And faith in ourselves, that we can be moral agents for goodness, truth and beauty for one another.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stated that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Friends, we have a sacred duty to make our city a place where justice prevails, and where we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper,” he added. “May God guide you in your responsibilities!”
The San Antonio prelate emphasized that the mayor and Council, guided by their staff and citizens, are undertaking the serious and weighty responsibility of making important decisions for the life and health of the people of this city.
“Often, they will be facing crises within our city. It is precisely in this role that divine guidance will be needed,” he explained. “And you, members of the Council, will be faced with difficult moral choices. For this we need the direction of God’s Spirit of Wisdom.”
The archbishop prayed: “Send forth, O Lord our God, your Spirit of Wisdom and Right Counsel to fill the hearts and minds of these, our civic leaders. May their judgments be right, their consciences glow with goodness, and their dedication to justice and mercy be clear. Strengthen them when they feel weak. Enlighten them when they feel confused. Protect them when they are unjustly opposed. And above all, give them love for the people whom they serve.”
Among the elected officials present at the ceremony were Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Council members Mario Bravo of District 1, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez of District 2, Phyllis Viagran of District 3, Dr. Adriana Garcia of District 4, Teri Castillo of District 5, Melissa Cabello Havrda of District 6, Ana Sandoval of District 7, Manny Pelaez of District 8, John Courage of District 9, and Clayton Perry of District 10.
Offering prayers at the service were Patricia Castillo, executive director of the PEACE Initiative; Ann Helmke, faith liaison with the City of San Antonio; Erwin De Luna, president of the United San Antonio Pow Wow; Senior Rabbi Mara Nathan of Temple Beth-El; Pastor Les Hollon of Trinity Baptist Church; Sister Teresa Carter, CSB, of Bexar County Detention Ministries; Dr. Michael Passmore, senior minister of Central Christian Church in San Antonio; and Rev. Otis Mitchell, senior pastor of Mount Zion First Baptist Church in San Antonio.
Juan Carlos Paz, music minister at the cathedral, provided music for the gathering.