Installing, confirming and campaigning

Last week I made a quick trip to San Diego for the installation Mass of their new bishop, Most Rev. Robert McElroy, formerly auxiliary bishop of San Francisco.  I was able to see some of my former students who are now priests of the diocese of San Diego.  Here I am with Bishop McElroy.
Bishops Barber and McElroy

Procession, Installation of Bishop McElroy, Diocese of San Diego

Procession, Installation of Bishop Robert McElroy, Diocese of San Diego  Photo:  The Southern Cross

divider bar for blogOn Thursday the 16th I was invited to celebrate Confirmation at Holy Spirit Newman Center in Berkeley.  Great group of young people who responded enthusiastically during the service. There was an atmosphere of joy, respect, reverence, and communion-with-the-Church.

The Paulist Fathers are doing a very good job taking care of the Newman Center and parish, which has been in their care since 1908.  Here’s the “Official Photo” of the Confirmation class:

Holy Spirit officialHere’s the more fun selfie:

Holy Spirit selfiedivider bar for blogFriday, I visited two parishes at opposite ends of the Diocese.  I celebrated morning Mass at St. Michael’s Livermore, followed by a Capital Campaign reception.

Afterward, the pastor, Fr. Van Dinh, showed me the ceiling of the parish hall, which is collapsing inward.  St. Michael’s is going to use their return on the Campaign to make necessary repairs to the historic hall.

divider bar for blogI then went from Livermore to St. Anthony’s in Oakley.  Arriving at the parish hall for a lunch Campaign reception, I found the pastor, Fr. Ken Sales, in the kitchen, personally making a “Maja Blanca” dessert.  Fr. Ken takes our Lord’s words “Feed my lambs” seriously.  He even made an extra dessert for the bishop to take home.  Here he is with Deacon Alan Layden, putting last minute touches on the cake.

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St. Anthony campaign reception

St. Anthony Campaign Reception

Giving me a tour of the grounds before our reception, Fr. Ken showed me where the parish would like to build an Adoration Chapel with the proceeds of the Campaign.  I am sure God will bless this undertaking.

 

 

 

divider bar for blogOn Saturday morning at the Cathedral I confirmed over 125 young people from St. Paul’s in San Pablo, St. Monica’s in Moraga, and St. Ignatius in Antioch.  Again, it’s thrilling to see the Cathedral filled with young people and their families, celebrating such a special day in their lives. I spoke to the congregation about Jordan Spieth, the 21 year old golfer who just won the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  The young man is so impressive, not only for his golfing abilities, but for his humility and care for his younger sister, who has autism.  And he is a graduate of Catholic grammar and high schools.  You can listen to my homily here:

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Photos:  James Scolamieri

divider bar for blogThat evening I celebrated a Vigil Mass at Santa Maria parish in Orinda, followed by a Campaign Reception in the parish hall.  They have a special choir at Santa Maria, composed not only of adults, but of children and teenagers.  One outstanding young fellow came to church literally right off the baseball diamond.  Jack sings in the choir with his sister and mom.

divider bar for blogOn Sunday morning I was back in Livermore, this time to visit the newer parish, St. Charles Borromeo.  I celebrated the 11:30 Mass and administered Confirmation.  Fr. Mark Wiesner, the pastor, is very tech-savvy.  He live-streams Mass on the internet every Sunday.  During his remarks at Mass, he mentioned how St. Charles’ Easter Vigil Mass had the second most hits on YouTube for an Easter Vigil after the Holy Father’s Mass in the Vatican. I would have gotten a haircut if I’d known he was going to broadcast my Confirmation all over the world.

I almost drove right by the parish.  The outside of St. Charles church looks like a Chinese restaurant.  The inside looks like a gym (the original purpose for the building).  Yet the liturgy was very beautiful.  There was enthusiastic participation at the Mass, especially from the Confirmation candidates.

Fr. Mark has done a great job here as pastor.  You can watch all or parts of the Mass here:

.  Here are the young people that were confirmed.

St. Charles Borromeo Confirmation 2015 GroupAbove Photos from St. Charles:  Clare Kalantar

Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Serving the Immigrant

In the midst of the political complexity surrounding immigration in this country I am very pleased that the social service arm of our diocese, Catholic Charities of the East Bay (CCEB), is fully engaged. They have attorneys, law students, accredited paralegals, teachers and counselors providing legal, resettlement and employment services to very needy refugees and immigrants, our neighbors.

On Ash Wednesday I was happy to hear their fine work highlighted on a national NPR news broadcast.  Listen to that here. Parishes can reach out to CCEB to connect parishioners who need that help by calling Maciel Jacques, Legal Services Program Coordinator, at (510) 768-3137.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is co-chair of the US Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.  He reminds us, “Immigration is not primarily a political problem, but rather a deeply human and profoundly moral challenge facing our nation.”   Catholic social services provide one of the refuges for those grappling with these very human challenges.

These challenges are world-wide. Speaking on the Italian island of Lampedusa, at the borders of Europe, Pope Francis said “We have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters.  We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the Priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road and perhaps we say to ourselves, ‘Poor soul’ and then go our way.”  His words resonate in our part of the world as well.

I invite all to join voices with the California bishops: “We call on Congress and the President to work together toward a more comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis of a broken immigration system.  We will work with the California Congressional delegation and the President to accomplish that goal.”

Last week: Ash Wednesday and beyond

p1010689Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, and I was glad to see the Cathedral packed for noon Mass. I spoke about the need to do something for Lent, and not just put off making a resolution. I also encouraged us to do our Lenten sacrifice out of love for Him, who first sacrificed for us.  You may read the text of my homily here.  I was pleased the Oakland Tribune featured a prominent photo of our Ash Wednesday Mass the next day. They also had a very fine article recently on Father Jay Matthews appointment as the new Rector of the Cathedral. See it here.  Nice to get some good publicity for the Church from our local media.

p1010704Photos:  Al Pacciorini/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogIn continuing my visits to our parishes for our Capital Campaign, I went to Queen of All Saints in Concord.  Fr. Michael Cunningham and Fr. Enrique welcomed everyone for a totally bilingual reception.  It was good to see such a large turnout from both language groups in the parish.  We are one family in Faith.

Photos:  Jose Felix

divider bar for blogI spent last Friday morning at the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco for the annual Memorial Service for over 120 deceased service members from Northern California.  This non-denominational service, sponsored by the “Blue Star Mothers” is held to help the parents of the deceased find support and help in their grief.  There were a number of parents present from our Diocese.  Here I am with Elsie Silva from St. Anne’s in Union City, who lost her son Lance Corporal Andrew Silva, USMC, last year.  Please remember the souls of our deceased service members, as well as their families, in your prayers.

Photos: © Michael Mustacchi; courtesy

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The horrific murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya a week ago came as we began the Journey of Lent.  The next week on Ash Wednesday throughout the Diocese we wore the ashes of Penance on our foreheads, the sign of the Cross and of our faith visibly proclaimed to the world.  Those Christians in Libya were killed simply because they confessed Christ and his Cross.  Please join me standing together united with all Christians in prayer for our brother Copts, the newest martyrs.

20150220_151216_resizedAnd so last Friday I went to visit Saint Antonius Coptic Orthodox Church in Hayward to express condolences on behalf of everyone in our diocese on the murders in Libya. Fr. Ramon Gomez and Fr. Alex Castillo accompanied me and we were greeted very warmly by Fr. Bishoy Ray Ibrahim. I assured him that the Catholic  clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Oakland stand one in faith and in solidarity with the world Coptic community. We prayed together for the protection of religious freedom and of practicing the faith, and I asked Fr. Bishoy to deliver a letter from me to his patriarch His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria.  He agreed to do so and then invited me to read my letter to his congregation assembled for the Friday afternoon liturgy. You can read my letter here.

Fr. Bishoy and I exchanged our blessings and then exchanged gifts as well.  In the name of the Diocese I gave him the pectoral cross of The Good Shepherd which is worn by Pope Francis.  Fr. Bishoy presented each of us with a warm loaf of  leavened altar bread (unconsecrated) used in their Eucharistic service.  Straight from the oven!

The next day during evening Mass at the Cathedral I recounted this visit during my homily, which is linked below in the section on the FACE benefit.

As our beloved Pope Francis said last week, “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics , Orthodox, Copts or Protestants.  They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same…”

20150220_151545_resized 2Photos:  Al Donner/The Catholic Voice; Fr. Alex Castillo

divider bar for blogThis weekend we had a special Mass and reception for FACE, Family Aid for Catholic Education, to thank our benefactors.  These generous people contribute to a scholarship fund helping our students pay tuition at our Catholic Schools.  Part of the funds raised in the Capital Campaign will go to creating an endowment for tuition assistance for Catholic Education. At the reception I was pleased to present Ron and Betty Courtney with the first Founders Award for their leadership and generosity.  You can listen to my homily here.

LQ3A0764divider bar for blogThis past weekend we had three large ceremonies, the “Rites of Election” to recognize Catechumens (those who are going to be baptized at Easter) and Candidates (those who, having been baptized are going to receive more sacraments, or those baptized in another Christian church who are converting to Catholicism).  When you see the Cathedral filled “times 3” it shows how alive and well the Catholic Faith is in our diocese.  In my homily I spoke about the witness of the Coptic Christian Martyrs in Libya.  You can listen to the homily in English or in Spanish.

Photos:  Darwin Sayo

divider bar for blogLast but not least we had our annual celebration of Mass for the Chinese Catholic community in honor of the Lunar New Year at St. Leo the Great parish in Oakland  They have a fantastic choir singing sacred music in Chinese.  St. Francis Xavier would have been proud to see how the Faith has taken root and continues to grow in China, in all of Asia, and in our Chinese community in Oakland.  Gung hay fat choy!CNY 2015 altarCNY 2015 bishops envelopes CNY 2015 bishops standing resizedPhotos:  Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice

Catholic Schools Week 2015 and More

Last Sunday (January 25) I began the observance of Catholic Schools Week with a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Fremont.  I had recently dedicated the new church in December, but this was the first time I could see it in daylight, and appreciate the stained glass windows.  The students provided the choir and music for the Mass, under the direction of Sister Janice, O.P., the principal.  In my homily I told the students how much Catholic education had done for me in my life.  Here I am with the Student Council.

BishopStudentCouncildivider bar for blogOn the same Sunday afternoon I celebrated a Confirmation Mass in Spanish in the Cathedral for 36 candidates.  Even though I often have five Confirmation Masses on a weekend, I never get tired of them.  It is thrilling to me to see the joy on the faces of the newly confirmed, as they glory in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (Si se habla español, se puede escuchar a la homilía aqui – Homily.)

Photos: Raul Ayrala/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogOn Wednesday we continued the celebration of Catholic Schools Week with Mass for all 800 students, and staff, of Carondelet High School in Concord. It was my first visit to the school.  The young women were exceptional in their respect and reverence during the Mass.  I could see how carefully their campus minister had prepared the servers and readers, and the wonderful music, for the Holy Mass.  Since it was the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of education, I spoke to the girls about the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom, and how the difference was portrayed in one of my favorite shows, Downton Abbey, and the film The Imitation Game.  The faculty and staff of Carondelet are doing an excellent job of forming young women to be friends and disciples of Jesus Christ. Here’s a selfie with a few of the Carondelet students.

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divider bar for blogLater on Wednesday I traveled to St. Patrick’s Seminary to deliver a talk during Compline (Night Prayer Service) for the Order of Malta.  I spoke to them about Pope Francis’ devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.  I have never heard of that particular devotion in the USA (it originated in Bavaria, Germany).  Here’s a photo of the painting of Mary taking the knots out of a Bavarian marriage ribbon.  The story goes that a couple who had been considering divorce went to a Jesuit priest for counseling. They brought him the ribbon which had been used to join their hands in the German custom during their nuptial Mass. The priest prayed to Mary to help them, and as he untied the last knot in the ribbon, it suddenly glowed white. They took it as a sign from Our Lady, and the couple stayed together.  Archbishop Broglio brought a copy of the painting from Germany to Argentina, and the devotion spread. May Our Lady, Undoer of Knots help us undo the knots in our lives.Mary

divider bar for blogOn Thursday I visited the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and celebrated Mass for them.  The Fifth Grade designed a virtual cathedral on their class computer which they delighted in showing me.  They also designed a ship and named it the USS Barber.  I told the teacher to give them each an A+!

Madeleinedivider bar for blogI then went over to the UC Berkeley campus to do something I’ve wanted to do ever since becoming bishop. I wanted to stand with the Catholic students in Sproul Plaza, heart of the campus, and witness to the Catholic faith.  St. Paul himself preached in the central marketplace of Athens on behalf of Jesus.  Our “Catholics at Cal” regularly set up a table, hand out brochures with Mass times, give holy cards, and most importantly, present a friendly and welcoming face on behalf of Christ and His Church. I am so proud of these students, and their Paulist chaplains who support them.  It was fun!

Sprouldivider bar for blogOn Friday I was invited to a reception to meet the new mayor of Oakland, the Hon. Libby Schaaf.  Fr. Jay Matthews, our new Rector of the Cathedral, accompanied me.  Leaders of all faith groups in Oakland were invited. The mayor is very personable and told us of some of her priorities: affordable housing, reconciliation in the community, improvement in education – especially for Pre-K children.  It was also one of the first opportunities I had to meet representatives of so many churches and faiths in Oakland. It was a very positive and hope-filled evening.

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Week in Review Part 2, Jan. 22-24

Last Thursday, January 22, we had a Kick-Off meeting for Block 2 of our Capital Campaign. I met first with the pastors of 40 parishes . . . then met with representatives and campaign leaders from all their parishes.  I was completely overwhelmed by the huge turnout. We had to open the walls of the Cathedral event center to keep adding tables and chairs.  The priests and lay leaders were very supportive of Christ, His Church, our diocese, and our campaign.  We had a lively Question & Answer session in both meetings.   I want transparency and honesty to be the hallmarks of our campaign, and our whole diocesan administration.

DSC_0639I found our priests and people alive with faith, and strong hope that we can — together — carry on Christ’s mission.  I felt the Holy Spirit with us that evening . . . because the campaign is not primarily about money, but about our Faith.  It is a spiritual mission we have been given.  As I mentioned in my address at my consecration as bishop in 2013, if we do God’s work, He will provide what we need to do it.  My sincere thanks to the priests and lay leaders who turned out last week, and who are working diligently to support us. I am looking forward to my next round of parish reception visits in the months ahead.

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DSC_0736On Friday I was invited to pastor Walter Hoye’s fundraising dinner for his pro-life ministry, Issues4Life.  Rev. Hoye is well known to Bay Area Christians, as he has been one of the strongest Protestant leaders in support of life.  Our St. Margaret Mary parish hosted the banquet in their hall, and many of our fine young people acted as waiters.  This dinner was important as it was truly ecumenical, and had a very large attendance from the African- American Baptist churches in Oakland.  United to defend the defenseless, we are truly united in loving and serving Christ.  I have never felt closer to our Protestant Christian brethren.  I like that our fellowship took place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

divider bar for blogThe next day, Saturday January 24, I attended the annual Mass for Life at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.  This year, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó came from Washington, DC to join us.  We had another fantastic turnout for Mass.  I was so proud to see a large group from St. Edward’s parish in Newark — with their noticeable yellow t-shirts.

After Mass I walked down to the SFO Civic Center for the Rally.  What most impressed me were the quality of the speakers: women who spoke of the effect of having an abortion; another young woman who took the RU486 pill to try to end her pregnancy, then changed her mind and discovered doctors had found a new medicine to reverse the abortion pill.  She held up her curly-haired year-old baby boy in thanksgiving to God for the gift of life.  I was impressed by the age of the group.  KCBS put the attendance at 50,000 marchers.  CNN said “many thousands”.  The group was primarily YOUNG PEOPLE.  The future belongs to the young. And the young believe in life. Thanks be to God.

Here I am with a new friend I met at the rally:

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IMG_2412Later, after the Walk for Life, I attended a “Catholic Underground” event at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Berkeley.  This was awesome. Over 200 young people, mainly of college age, met for holy hour, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, and entertainment.  I spoke to the youth in the hall, noticing that through receiving confession, we come closer in friendship from Jesus.  It is there we receive his most intimate love.  The entertainment was a great party. We had a quartet of musicians from Cal called “I Celli”.  They were so good I invited them to perform during a Solemn Mass at our cathedral.  We also had Christian Rappers performing: especially Brother Victor from the Capuchin House of Studies in Berkeley.  It was such a blessed evening!

divider bar for blogLast but not least: a few weeks ago I visited Fr. Ken Nobrega for a tour of St. Joseph’s parish in Berkeley.  As we were inspecting the outside of the church, a man drove up and went into the church to pray.  Father introduced him to me.  Jay is from Sri Lanka, and visits the church at least 12 times each day to pray.  He told me the story of his life, and how blessed he is to be a Catholic.  He is a pizza delivery man, and every time he passes by the parish church, he stops in to pray.  He promised to remember all of us, and our intentions.  Meeting him made my day.  May I ask all of you to pray for our diocese, that we may be faithful to carry out God’s will, and He will give us the means to do it.  Thanks!

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Thanks to Fr. Alex Castillo and to The Catholic Voice for these photos.

Week in Review Part 1, Jan. 18-21

I had a pretty full week.  Last Sunday I celebrated two Masses at St. Clement’s Church, Hayward. The pastor, Fr. Ramon Gomez, was alone and had six Masses to say and needed some help.  His parochial vicar, “Fr. Bart” was in the Philippines to see the Pope.

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On Monday, Martin Luther King holiday, our diocese was blessed with a visit from Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, Germany.  He’s young, intelligent, and sits on the Pope’s “Council of Eight” cardinals who are drawing up a reform of the Roman Curia.  He was on a speaking tour of the West Coast, and gave a lecture at Stanford University.  He came to Oakland to visit the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose.  Our sisters were founded in 1875 from the Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse in Bavaria, Germany.  Recently the remaining sisters in the German convent came to Fremont to live with the “daughter house” community, and the original Motherhouse was closed.  Cardinal Marx came to visit “his” German sisters who are now happily living in California. We had a lovely luncheon of Mexican food and beer.  (I gave general absolution to all the nuns who were drinking beer for lunch . . . just kidding).

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Here we are: Bishop Cummins, Sr. Gloria OP, Prioress, Cardinal Marx, and two of the German Sisters

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blog 2bWhile visiting the MSJ Dominicans, I always like to stop in and see Sister Mary Henry.  She is celebrating her jubilee this year, 70 years of religious profession!  She has gone blind, and spends her days praying for the Church . . . and for me.  She is one of my “heroes of the diocese”, one of the spiritual pillars of our Church.  Her prayers guarantee the success of our capital campaign, and many other initiatives that will succeed only through prayer.  She is a lovely person, as you can see from the expression on her face.  When I visited with Pope Francis last September, he gave me a gift of a rosary, in a case with his coat of arms on it.  I gave it to Sister Mary Henry, as she prays so much for me . . . and for us.
 
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Thanks to St. Clement’s church, Fr. Alex Castillo, and the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose for these photos.

The Fourth Week in Advent

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Last Thursday I was invited by Fr. Paul Minnihan, Pastor of Catholic Community of Pleasanton, to join in helping hear confessions for his parish Advent Penance Service.  There were about 20 priests who assisted, and we were treated to a generous dinner beforehand in the Rectory.  I was able to go to Confession myself.  There is no better way to prepare for the coming of the Lord than to clean one’s house – in this case the house of our souls.  Confession brings us to an intimate encounter with Jesus and  His overwhelming mercy.

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On Friday I hosted the annual luncheon for our chancery staff.  What a treat it was this year to be entertained by the St. Mary’s College High School Jazz Band, complete with a chanteuse!  I told the young people they played and sang so well, they could perform at the Fairmont Hotel or the Top of the Mark.  They were that good.  In addition the third and fourth grade violin class from St. Martin de Porres School came and performed some Christmas songs for us. I could not believe children so young could play such a difficult instrument as a violin.  They were amazing, and their talent brought smiles to all our faces.  It made me feel proud of these students, and grateful to them for sharing their talents with us.  It reminded me of the good work being done by our Catholic School teachers throughout the diocese.  I am also grateful for our staff at the chancery who support our pastors and school principals working out “on the front lines.”

St. Marys jazz ensemble Bill Ford and violinists

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Later the same evening I was happy to welcome our priests for our annual “Christmas Party with the Bishop.”  It gave us a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company, and to anticipate the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  As I looked around the room, I could see that there is no one “type” of priest: we are all different, yet all called to serve the one Lord in His one Church.  Like you, I am grateful for the service and dedication of our priests, who take care of you, our beloved parishioners, 24/7.  For their Christmas gift this year, I sent each priest a copy of one of my favorite books: “Saints Behaving Badly” (no, I wasn’t implying anything . . . ).  Stay tuned. You should hear some excerpts in homilies in the coming months.

Photos:  Rev. Gus Acob

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Then on Saturday, I was invited to celebrate an anticipated “Christmas Mass” for the inmates at the West County Jail in Richmond.  We were not able to come on Christmas Eve, as they did not have the staff available that day to accommodate us.

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I am grateful to the County Sheriff, David O. Livingston, for giving us permission and support in offering the Holy Sacrifice to the inmates.  Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis offered Christmas Mass to the incarcerated, as they were able.  It was very gratifying to me personally to see how much the men appreciated the Mass, and how much they wanted to be there with Christ in the Eucharist.  Some rose and offered testimonies of faith and thanksgiving to God for the gift of Christ, and how He was active in their lives

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After Mass we had some extra time before the men had to go back to their cells for the afternoon count.  When I asked if there were any questions, some came up to me and asked me to pray over them and bless them.  Those who need Him most, appreciate Him most.

Photos: Michele Jurich/The Catholic Voice

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When it comes to volunteering, one of my favorites is the Sunday morning breakfast served to the homeless by Catholic Worker of Berkeley.  For 17 years, Mr. J.C. Orton has gotten up early and cooked a hot breakfast which he loads into his period VW van.  Breakfast is served at 7:15 at People’s Park to those who have spent the night sleeping in the park and the surrounding streets.  He then packs it all up and takes it about a mile to King Park, near the Berkeley civic center, and sets it all up again.

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As always, this past Sunday I met kind and interesting people who have risen early to help out.  J.C. (above, second from left) always begins the serving by inviting everyone present to join in prayer. He then announces where meals will be served later in the day, which shelters will be open in case of rain, and where he will next be giving out free sleeping bags.  It feels good to feed people who are hungry in their body, as a sign of Christ’s mercy filling their souls with his love and goodness.  Then I return to the Cathedral or one of our parishes, to feed people with Jesus’ very own Body and Blood.

IMG_2288I think if someone in our diocese is a Eucharistic Minister, you should also help feed people at a soup kitchen, food pantry, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, or Catholic Worker.  Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy go together.  J.C. Orton is one of my heroes in the Diocese for providing this mission of mercy for so many years – rain or shine.  If you would like to donate, you can contact him at: Night on the Streets – Catholic Worker, PO Box 13468, Berkeley CA 94712-4468, Phone: 510-684-1892, Email: noscw@sbcglobal.net.  Or just show up at 7:15 a.m. at People’s Park in Berkeley.