Father Perozich: “Once [sexual sins] become common, people see them as normal instead of the aberration that they are.”
  • Father Perozich: “Once [sexual sins] become common, people see them as normal instead of the aberration that they are.”
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St. Mary Catholic Church

1160 South Broadway, Escondido




Membership: 15,000

Pastor: Richard Perozich

Age: 60

Born: Clairton, Pennsylvania

Formation: St. John Seminary, Camarillo, California

Years ordained: 19 years

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Father Richard Perozich: I don’t write them out, but I begin praying them on Sunday morning. As I prepare for the first sermon, I read the readings for the next week as well because they always follow. I read them every day and pray them, and little by little they come together. We were taught not to write things out in seminary — but to stand and deliver our thoughts.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

FP: Jesus and the Eucharist. That’s the classic Catholic center of everything that we talk about. His promise of eternal life that begins with baptism is cemented in the Eucharist. The spirit lives in us when we do God the Father’s will. In John 6:51-58, Jesus says, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you do not have eternal life. But if you do, you will have it and I will raise you up on the last day.”

SDR: Which of the Ten Commandments does your congregation have the hardest time keeping?

FP: The Third Commandment. Not keeping holy the Sabbath day is a challenge for a large number of people. When we were kids, we learned it was a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday. I think that’s not being taught so much. The whole concept of mortal sin, in fact, has been played down — a deviation from God’s commandment that really cuts off the relationship between you and God, avenues of grace that give you true wisdom, and orders your desires according to his, and strengthen your will to do his will. The same thing has happened with the Sixth Commandment — the sexual sins. People have played that down as well with everything-goes contraception — abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation — all of these things that are so common. Once they do become common, people see them as normal instead of the aberration that they are.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

FP: Our mission is to bring all people to Jesus Christ through word, sacrament, and communion, the work of Christ…. We’re also not afraid to be political. If we see things that are not right in politics, education, or in the Church, I will speak without fear of condemnation. I try not to say people are bad, but that ideas and behaviors are bad. I wrote a piece back in 2009 for California Catholic Daily — “Abortion is our God and Obama, Pelosi, and Kennedy are his prophets.” The bishop didn’t like that, but it’s true — the prophet is one who speaks about his God — and that’s what these people are speaking about.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

FP: The soul goes immediately before God for a judgment, either for a deliverance or at least an accounting for what one has done in the flesh. With that first judgment, you will either be in Heaven or Hell or your soul will be purged in purgatory for a time so that you’ll be ready to go to Heaven. One has to have a pure heart to see God face to face.

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