It’s been a busy week. We had a great turnout at St. Isidore’s in Danville for our capital campaign reception. The pastor, Fr. Gerald Moran, filled his parish hall with parish leaders who responded very positively to our appeal for 100% participation by all families. After all, doesn’t Vatican 2 teach “The people are the Church”? Kudos to Tanc Agius, the parish chair of the Campaign, for his leadership.
Last Friday I hosted a consultation with teacher representatives from our nine Catholic high schools in the diocese. We discussed the issue of Catholic Identity in the schools from their perspective, and how we could best work together to strengthen that identity. It was a very honest and fruitful meeting. Most of the teachers chosen to represent their schools have been teaching for twenty years or more. We are going to have another session soon, this time with representatives from our Catholic elementary schools.
Saturday morning I attended the Magnificat Prayer Breakfast in Concord. There were about 500 Catholic women present, along with some spouses, priests and seminarians. We sang and prayed, and then I was invited, not to give a lecture, but to “share my testimony.” There is a big difference. I spoke about the “Cross and Resurrection” in my life — actually more like “crosses and resurrections” : ) You can hear the talk here (may take up to a minute to load, be patient).
I hesitate to talk about myself publicly. Doesn’t scripture say “Not to us Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory”? But we do need to share with others the story of God’s love and grace, and how He has always been present in our lives – even in times of trial. I found the Magnificat members refreshing. They take their spiritual lives seriously and — happily — they are providing the means for many women to grow closer to Our Lord through the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend the Magnificat ministry.
Saturday evening I celebrated Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo is the neighborhood where the 580 connects with the 880 freeway. Fr. Michael Lacey welcomed me and gave me a tour of the church and grounds, while his able parochial vicar, Fr. David Mendoza-Vela heard confessions. It was wonderful to see the new hospitality patio they built under the eaves of the church, as well as a fountain and well.
It was my first visit, and the church was packed: standing-room-only. I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and diversity of the parish: not only folks from different nationalities, but all age groups were represented. Many people complain when children cry during Mass, but I take it as a sign the Church is growing. There were many young families present. Kids should grow up being at home in their Father’s House. The St. John’s School children presented me with a basket of hand-made cards and posters. If you come to my office in the Chancery, you’ll see them, together with cards and letters I receive regularly from children of our schools. (Just like you put your kids’ and grandkids’ art works on your refrigerator.) St. John’s has a beautiful, charming, church, built in 1949. Happily, most of the original art and architecture has remained. I immediately felt at home. And the people were so warm and friendly. Makes me proud to be Catholic.
Sunday morning we celebrated the Vietnamese Martyrs together with the Solemnity of Christ the King (the Martyrs’ actual feast day being on Monday). St. Anthony’s Church was filled to overflowing. The youth group put on a short spiritual skit before Mass began in which they re-enacted the coming of the missionary priests and nuns, and the martyrdom of the saints of Vietnam. It was very cleverly and reverently done, with costumes — but in total silence. The teens had practiced well, and the message was clearly communicated, as all eyes were on them.
We then reverenced with incense a large reliquary containing remains of the holy martyrs, and processed with the relics around the neighborhood. People stopped their cars. Others peered from behind their curtains as we processed, blessing the neighborhood with the presence of the holy saints.
Vietnamese Catholics are a solid rock of faith in our Diocese. They provide vocations of priests and sisters, and hundreds of faithful Catholics to the life of our parishes. In my visit to Vietnam last February I met elderly priests and laypeople who had suffered by years of imprisonment for the Faith. The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians! Thanks to Sr. Rosaline who organized the celebration, as well as Fr. Juan Franco and Fr. Mark Hoc from the parish, and all the priests who concelebrated the Mass. Special thanks to Bishop John Cummins whose presence adds so much to these holy celebrations.
(Thanks to Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice for the photos from the Vietnamese Martyrs Mass, and for members of Magnificat and St. John’s parish for the others.)