San Diego, Calif., Sep 18, 2014 / 06:05 pm .- San Diego’s late Bishop Cirilo Flores was “a man of the Beatitudes” with a deep affection for the people of his diocese, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said at the bishop’s Sept. 17 funeral Mass.
“We thank God today for the life of our brother and friend, Bishop Cirilo. What a beautiful example he was for all of us,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily at Saint Therese of Carmel Church in San Diego.
“He showed us how to be a priest, how to be a bishop — and how to be a Christian,” the archbishop continued. “He tried to live with humility, simplicity and purity of heart. He tried to be a merciful man with a heart for the poor and vulnerable.”
Bishop Flores died Sept. 6 at the age of 66 at San Diego’s Nazareth House, a senior care facility. He had suffered a stroke in April and was still recovering from its effects. The diocese announced in August that he had also begun treatment for prostate cancer.
More than 1,000 people attended the bishop’s funeral Mass, including about 400 priests and 50 bishops.
Archbishop Gomez told the congregation that Bishop Flores helped teach Christians “the newness of life” even in his suffering and death.
“I think he was surprised by his illness but he took it well. His first trial came when he had the stroke during Holy Week and then, just recently when he learned that he had cancer,” the archbishop said.
“He was at peace when he learned that the cancer was terminal and could not be treated. He put himself in the hands of God,” he continued. “What a beautiful way to live and to die!”
Archbishop Gomez voiced sadness at the bishop’s death.
“We are going to miss him a lot. His smile, his peaceful way,” the archbishop said. “But we are happy for him, too. Because he has reached his goal! The goal that we are all striving for. The goal of Heaven, eternal life.”
“He wanted Jesus Christ to always be present to his people. So he went out to be with you, as often as he could.”
Bishop Flores was born in 1948 in Corona, Calif., 22 miles northeast of Orange, the child of Cirilo and Armida Flores. He has three brothers and two sisters, all of whom live in California.
He studied law at Stanford University and practiced law in Riverside and Los Angeles counties prior to entering St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 1986.
Bishop Flores was ordained a priest of the Orange diocese in 1991, at the age of 43. He served in several parishes of the diocese. He was then consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 2009.
In 2012, Bishop Flores was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Diego, becoming its head in September 2013 upon the retirement of Bishop Robert Brom.
Archbishop Gomez said that Bishop Flores’ last weeks “taught me to want to center my life more on loving God and loving others.”
He encouraged the congregation to focus on “bringing the joy of Jesus to others” and “getting to heaven and helping people to be with God – now and forever.”
“We entrust Bishop Cirilo to the welcoming arms of our Blessed Mother Mary. And we ask her to pray for all of us, that we might have the grace to follow his example and to always walk in the newness of life!” Archbishop Gomez said.