Local

Archbishop celebrates Christmas Mass in county jail

Archbishop José H. Gomez gives communion to an inmate at Los Angeles County Jail during Christmas Day mass, Dec. 25, 2017.
Archbishop José H. Gomez gives communion to an inmate at Los Angeles County Jail during Christmas Day mass, Dec. 25, 2017.
Sharon McNary
Archbishop José H. Gomez gives communion to an inmate at Los Angeles County Jail during Christmas Day mass, Dec. 25, 2017.
Archbishop José H. Gomez offers the Eucharist to inmates who were not permitted to attend the Mass Gomez celebrated for other inmates at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail on Christmas Day 2017. Alongside Gomez is Sheriff Jim McConnell.
Sharon McNary/KPCC
Archbishop José H. Gomez gives communion to an inmate at Los Angeles County Jail during Christmas Day mass, Dec. 25, 2017.
Rev. George Horan, left, and Mary Bottum, center, sing to inmates at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail along with other volunteers from St. Agatha Catholic Church on Christmas Day 2017.
Sharon McNary/KPCC


Listen to story

01:26
Download this story 0.0MB

The head of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese celebrated Mass in jail Monday, sharing a message that Jesus Christ was not all that different from the 200 inmates gathered before him for the Christmas holiday observance.

"He was poor. He had not even a place to be born," said Archbishop José H. Gomez, adding that Jesus was also an immigrant, a refugee and someone who was imprisoned. "He really wanted to show us how to have a good life."

Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez and Sheriff Jim McDonnell shake hands of prisoners at the Men's Central Jail who were too dangerous to participate in a Mass that Gomez celebrated at the jail on Christmas morning.
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez and Sheriff Jim McDonnell shake hands of prisoners at the Men's Central Jail who were too dangerous to participate in a Mass that Gomez celebrated at the jail on Christmas morning.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Celebrating Christmas Mass at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles has become something of a tradition for Gomez, who was appointed to head the Los Angeles Diocese in 2010.

"As archbishop, he could spend Christmas anywhere, but he chooses to be here with you," Patricia Bartlett, a lay Catholic leader, told the inmates. She said his visit meant that the Catholic Church cared about the inmates and had not forgotten them.

A group of volunteers from St. Agatha Catholic Church in the West Adams neighborhood, who call themselves the "Men's Central Jail Choir," led some of the inmates in singing Christmas carols. Some of the carols were hymns, but others were bouncy secular tunes such as "Feliz Navidad."