Rev. Jesus Nieto-Ruiz during the consecration at his installation Mass as pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Behind him is Deacon Gus Roemers.
Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice
Applause and joy marked the formal beginning of Rev. Jesus Nieto-Ruiz as pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Union City.
Father Nieto-Ruiz, a native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, was installed as pastor on Dec. 3, replacing Rev. José León, who had served at Our Lady of the Rosary for 32 years, one of the longest-serving pastors of a single parish in the diocese. Father León retired in August, 33 years after his ordination.
About 150 people joined Father Nieto-Ruiz during the installation Mass. Rev. Geoffrey Baraan of St. Anne Church in Union City is the dean of Deanery 16 and presided over the installation.
Father Nieto-Ruiz came to Union City from St. Anthony-Mary Help of Christians Parish in Oakland, where he was the pastor. Other parishes he has served at include St. Elizabeth, St. Bernard and St. Louis Bertrand, all in Oakland.
Father Nieto-Ruiz recognizes that the challenges of a suburban community such as Our Lady of the Rosary differ from those he faced at St. Anthony, which is located in an area of Oakland known for violence.
"I am still involved in some ways, not on a day to day basis, but I will continue to help Oakland organizations working for peace. Although ... well, you have to cut the umbilical cord. Each community has its blessings and challenges. This is my new family.
"Part of what I have to do here is meet my parishioners, know where they are, begin to listen to each other and go develop the dream of walking together," Father Jesus said after the Eucharist.
The new pastor said he is the eldest of seven children and was born in a small town in the state of Aguascalientes. "My parents were farmers, and my dad later worked in construction," he said.
"I come to work with all the community," he said. "Here, part of the parish is of Chinese origin; there are Anglos, Mexican-Americans, Latinos ... there are a variety of people, both newcomers and many who have spent years living around here. I think most of all, in the end, we must recognize that we are all children of God, and with that premise, we can form a true family."
"I am yours"
|Our Lady of the Rosary|
Address: 703 C St.
Union City 94587
With that phrase in English and then in Spanish, Father Nieto-Ruiz reassured those at his installation Mass that he is completely available to his parishioners. "I want us to pray, to collaborate, to meet. This is an historic opportunity that God gives us all to work together at a difficult time in our nation [referring to racial tensions]. It is an opportunity to live the faith, not only through our words but also in action."
In this regard, Father Nieto-Ruiz said that from the perspective of a Catholic pastor, solving the American racial problem should "in part, recognize there is a great disparity between the haves and the have-nots."
"What happened in Ferguson, Missouri, is a sign that there is a structure that determines that the poor people remain so and that those who have more, will have more. This is not the process Jesus came to bring us. We have a duty and obligation as pastors to recognize that reality in our communities and to present a proposal: And the proposal is equality between one another."
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