Father Paul Spellman’s Story on The Rozman Experience

Father Paul Spellman’s story

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As you may know, I am the Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Los Angeles, on Jefferson Boulevard, between Arlington and Western.

My journey to the priesthood has been a bit of a winding road, but each turn has filled me with many of God’s graces.  I grew up in a Catholic home in Memphis, Tennessee with my Mom and Dad, my older brother and two younger sisters.  In 1977 I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Accounting and came to California to work as a Certified Public Accountant for Price Waterhouse, an international accounting firm.  For the next four years I continued to attend Mass each Sunday, but never got involved in my local parish.  I guess I was just too busy to give God anything other than one hour per week of praise and worship.

In 1981, at the age of 26, I entered graduate school at the University of Southern California, and got involved in the Newman Center (Catholic Center) on campus.  Two years later, in 1983, I graduated from USC with an MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) with the idea of becoming a financial consultant and then working my way up the corporate ladder.  While at Mass one Sunday at the Newman Center, I saw a notice in the bulletin regarding the Catholic Chaplains’ Program at Central Juvenile Hall in East Los Angeles.  I thought I would go and check it out, and from the minute I stepped in to their small chapel, I felt God working in my life.  Through the priests, sisters, and lay ministers, I began to experience my faith on a much deeper level.  And through the incarcerated youth I had an experience of Jesus in ways that I had never dreamed of.  We celebrated Mass each Sunday morning, met with the youth in small groups, and then came back on Wednesday evening to meet with them individually.  As a result of these discussions, I began to read the Bible more, especially the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, in which Jesus says, “When I was in prison, you visited me.”

 

Six years later, in 1989, I began volunteering at Covenant House in Hollywood, driving around the streets in the Covenant House vans and reaching out to the homeless adolescents who were living on the streets and under the freeways.  Again, I saw the face of Jesus in those whom society considers, “the least of our brothers and sisters.”  Three years later, in 1992, I was appointed Treasurer for the House of Ruth in East Los Angeles that provides shelter for homeless women and children.  All this time I kept working at my day job as an accountant, and volunteering at Juvenile Hall.  For twelve years Juvenile Hall was my home parish, the center of my faith community.

During this time I began to really ask what God’s plan was for me in my life, and I took it to prayer and began meeting with a Spiritual Director. I was spending so much time at work, earning money, but it was my time at Juvenile Hall, Covenant House, and the House of Ruth that really energized me.  Could God be calling me to change my time commitments to truly serve Him?   Finally I began to realize that God was calling me to the priesthood, and after a long series of interviews, retreats, and applications, I entered Saint John’s Seminary in 1995, at the age of 40.  And six years later I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, on June 2, 2001.

You can see why I say that my faith journey has been a bit of a winding path.  And throughout my six years in the seminary, I continued to follow that trend.  During our summer breaks I would travel to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico, in an effort to see what the Catholic Church was doing to help the poorest of the poor, and to see if I could learn a bit of Spanish.  In the spring of 1999 I traveled to Bolivia and lived and worked in an orphanage as part of a program with the Maryknoll Missionaries. Once ordained I joined a group of folks with Catholic Relief Services and went to Cambodia to get a first-hand look at how the Church is helping the people of this impoverished country in Asia, and four years ago I went to Uganda in East Africa to visit two friends of mine from my seminary days who are now priests in this poor African nation.  It was an incredible experience, especially when we went to the outlying villages to celebrate Mass.

My first assignment as a priest was as the Associate Pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption parish in Claremont, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.  It is a wonderful parish and there I met a lot of fabulous people.  We expanded our Saint Vincent DePaul Society, and began a Side-by-Side Ministry to help people navigate the system of social services and help them get the assistance that they need.  I was the celebrant at each Sunday’s 5:00 afternoon Youth Mass, which is aimed at reaching the teens of the parish, and that was very rewarding.  This was a blessed experience for me as a newly-ordained priest, and I had a wonderful four years in the parish.

I am now in my eighth year as Pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Los Angeles (South Central Los Angeles, in the Jefferson Park community).  The area is much more impoverished than Claremont, but the people of the parish have been most welcoming!   There is a lot more gang activity, drug abuse, and violence, but the people of the parish have a great sense of spirituality in them.  I have really enjoyed getting to know the people and walking with the people of God on our Journey of Faith.  We have shared our stories, and have walked together in the Light of Christ.  We have a school, Kindergarten through 8th grade, and I visit the classrooms each Tuesday and teach the children about the Good News of the Gospel.  I am blessed to be able to share our faith with our school children, and on Saturdays I meet with the students of our Religious Education program.  We also have a Soup Kitchen that serves soup and sandwiches to the homeless of our area, and our St. Vincent DePaul Society is quick to help anyone who may be struggling financially (or otherwise).  Each Friday I join the Eucharistic Ministers as we take Holy Communion to the sick and the elderly, especially those who have been long-term members of our parish but are physically unable to join us for the celebration of the Mass.

Throughout my twelve years of priesthood God has blessed me in so many different ways, and for that I give thanks to God!

This is my guest Show stars 4 pm pst 03/31/2013 on

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Rick Rozman’s A Simple and Spiritual Life: Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

A Simple and Spiritual Life: Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

Column by: Richard Rozman

Technology opens the world. Having a computer and connecting with anyone at any time is commonplace. I like the feeling of being

Rick pic 6 connected to the people and ideas of the world through technology. Learning about the world through technology makes me feel as if I am truly a citizen of the world. On the other hand, there are times when technology overloads me with all the possibilities. I want to know myself and my place in a world that is driven by technology. However, in order to do that, I need to know myself and my place in the world in a simple, spiritual, and connected way. I have found my way to connect and to understand a simpler existence, if only for a short time, and to experience a true connection to my spirituality. Each year, I make my own pilgrimage at Easter to a monastery known as Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity.

Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy

Rick Pic 5Trinity is the home of a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monks known as Cistercians. It is located in a peaceful valley hidden in the mountains of northeastern Utah. At Holy Trinity, fifteen monks, whose average age is 82 years with the oldest being 93 years old and the youngest 65 years old, presently live at the monastery which was founded in 1947 after World War II and at one time in the early 1950’s had a membership of over eighty members. The monks are currently lead by their sixth abbot Father David Altman who was elected by his fellow monks in 2007.

Each day at 3:15 a.m., the monks rise to begin their day of prayer and work. The monks feed and clothe themselves and earn their own living through farming and other industries

Rick pic 4and crafts. Guests of the monastery are housed and fed by the monks who are assigned duties of cleaning and cooking. As much as possible, the monks try to do their own maintenance and repair work in the monastery and in the guest quarters. The monks who have been serving and praising God at Holy Trinity for sixty-five years are willing to share their lifestyle in Utah’s setting of solitude and natural beauty with guests.

I will be a guest at the monastery Rick pic 3during the Easter weekend. I am staying at the retreat house at Holy Trinity which can house up to twelve adult men of all religions who seek a place of peace and quiet where they can reflect on their relationship with God, pray, and be renewed spiritually. There are no schedules at the retreat house. I will have time to read, exercise, rest, walk, and let the Lord Jesus speak to my heart. As a guest, I will share meals with the monks. Priests of the community are available for counseling and for the sacrament of reconciliation. My wife loves being at Holy Trinity. Women who wish to make retreats may use the family guest house at times when it is not in use by relatives of the monks. Retreats are usually limited to three days for people within the State of Utah. Someone coming from outside the State may make arrangements for a longer stay through the guest master. The abbey church is always open to guests for silent prayer and meditation. Guests are welcome to attend the chants of the monks and the celebration of the Eucharist. Guests make offerings to Holy Trinity to help with the costs of operating the abbey in lieu of paying fees for guest accommodations and services.

Due to new rulings and the aging population of the monks, the abbey no longer accepts novices. Consequently, a volunteer program which is open to unmarried, practicing

Rick pic 2Catholic men in good physical and emotional health between the ages of twenty-five and fifty was created. While living the monastic lifestyle, volunteers assist the elderly monks with the daily chores and duties of the monastery. Room and board are provided without charge, but volunteers are responsible for providing their own health insurance. On the spiritual level, volunteers at Holy Trinity Abbey have the advantage of attending daily Mass and chanting of the Psalms, participating in weekly Eucharistic adoration, and taking instruction in spiritual wisdom by the monks who have walked with God in the monastic life for more than fifty years. More details about becoming a volunteer, being a guest, or donating to Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity are found on the website (http://www.holytrinityabbey.org/).

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As this week marches on toward Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I prepared for my trip and think about Easter and all that is symbolizes. This is a very spiritual week in the Christian world and the Jewish world. Passover began on the evening of Monday, March 25 and will end in the evening of Tuesday, April 2. I look forward to spending this week in celebration of my spirituality and in reconnecting with my sense of self in a setting of solitude and natural beauty at Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity.

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