Dear St. John Paul II Parishioners –
It is has been an honor for me to serve as a deacon at St. John Paul II Polish Center since August of 2018 when Father Zibi asked for my assistance. Since that time, I have been sharing homilies once a month at the English weekend Masses at 4 p.m. Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday. As of January 2020, I am now assigned here by Bishop Kevin Vann, as well as at St. Joseph, Placentia. I am humbled by this and ask for your support to be of service to your needs as Catholic Christians.
Though I have shared snippets of who I am in these last 18 months through homilies I have given. I thought you might want to know at least some basics of my background and my personal and faith involvements here, St. Joseph and the Diocese of Orange.
I was born on the north side of the City of Chicago two blocks from Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. The majority of my education through college was in Chicago, including a two-year high school stint at Quigley Preparatory Seminary for the priesthood. The longest job I held in Chicago was with the Chicago Tribune in various capacities, including as a writer/reporter.
My wife, Candi, and I met while performing in a musical theater near the famous Second City comedy club. After a six-month courtship, we married and started a family beginning with our son followed by his three younger sisters. After seven years of marriage, we moved to California, living in La Mirada for 21 years and now 24 years in Brea. Our children are grown, married, single and producers of nine grandchildren (a tenth one died in 2018 of illness). In the last four years, we have been blessed with three great grandchildren.
I was ordained April 30, 2005 by Bishop Tod Brown and served nearly seven years at St. Angela Merici in Brea. In 2012 I was asked to transfer to St. Joseph in Placentia and now in 2020 to serve in tandem at St. John Paul II Polish Center. My parish involvements have centered on Baptism, weddings, vigils, gravesides, Faith Formation, annulments and wherever needed.
My diocesan involvements are in the liturgical areas of worship as a Master of Ceremonies at Confirmations, ordinations, installations and other ceremonies. I also renewed by Advanced Master Catechist Certification for an additional 10 years in 2017 to teach theological and certification classes in the diocese.
Recently, I resigned as coordinator of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) diocesan board after 14 years. CCHD is the domestic social justice arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which distributes parishioners’ donations for non-profit organizations to empower the impoverished, marginalized and disenfranchised who have social justice needs.
Also, in January of 2020, I was elected to a three-year term on the Diaconate Personnel board, remain as a committee member of the God’s Servants’ Committee (a diocesan educational component of quarterly meetings for diocesan deacons) and spearhead a diocesan program I wrote for deacons to introduce, identify, develop and implement Gospel Justice that address root causes of social justice issues needed to be corrected and to make systemic changes while working in the seven deaneries.
My purpose for writing this is to be present to you as it pertains to my active participation as a deacon on parish and diocesan levels. To answer, as best I can, any questions you have about those areas in our Church and to share some of my involvements.
Please pray for me as I will pray for all of you.
Deacon Jim Merle