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.

St. Anthony dessert

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

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

A Very Diverse Week

On Sunday, February 1 I had the great opportunity of celebrating Mass for one of our Korean Catholic congregations, in Pleasanton.  240 families worship in an auditorium of a public school, and the parish rents the classrooms as well for religious education for the children.  With limited facilities, our Korean Catholics do a superb job.  The Mass was reverent, with 100% participation.  There was a choir singing sacred music in Korean and Latin, with cellos and violins.  Afterwards we had a Korean lunch in a warehouse, which the parish rents for their offices. I will be doing everything I can to help this thriving community find a more permanent home.bishop-2 cropped

Photos courtesy of Tri-Valley Korean Catholic Community

divider bar for blogLEMC tweetLater in the week I gave the Keynote address to the annual Convocation of our Lay Ecclesial Ministers (on Friday).  These good folks use their gifts and charisms in many essential roles: administration, youth ministry, religious education, evangelization, music and worship . . . to name a few. I shared with them my “take” on Pope Francis’ vision for the Church: that the parish be a leaven in the community, and not a self-enclosed community, and that we make every effort to grow our parish communities . . . and not be content to be just a “community of the saved.”  Using Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium” I encouraged our Lay Ministers to be bold and creative, and think outside the box.  We had a very lively discussion.  And it was apparently a Twitter sensation!

divider bar for blogBishop, Jack del RioAlso last week I was delighted to meet Jack and Linda del Rio.  As you may have heard, Jack is the newly hired coach for the Oakland Raiders.  They are coming back to the Bay Area from Denver, where Jack was coaching for the Broncos. On behalf of all of you (even 49ers fans!), I welcomed them to our diocese.  They are practicing Catholics, and now members of our family.  I am now praying to “Notre Dame des Victoires” (Our Lady of Victories) on their behalf.

divider bar for blogOn Saturday, Feb. 7 we had a double-header at the Cathedral.  First, the annual Mass for the World Day of the Sick. Begun by Pope St. John Paul II, the Order of Malta organizes the Mass near the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  I was joined by a dozen priests, and many Knights and Dames of Malta.  We administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick during the Mass. It was beautiful to see the faith of our people, in the midst of suffering.  With a bill pending in Sacramento promoting assisted suicide for the ill and elderly, I spoke about the Christian meaning of suffering.  You can listen to my homily here.

Photos:  Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogSaturday evening we began our observance of The Year of Consecrated Life, proclaimed by Pope Francis. This is to honor the consecrated religious: members of religious orders, congregations and institutes, in our diocese.  Holy Family Sister Mary Lange and Conventual Franciscan Father Robert Herbst organized the committee which prepared the Mass.  Being a member of a religious order myself for 41 years, I joined all the Sisters, Brothers and Fathers present as we renewed our vows. I was very pleased by the turnout of dedicated religious, who represent ministries in Catholic education, social work, hospital and detention ministry, evangelization, and care for the poor. I thanked them on your behalf for their contributions to our diocese.   Homily

Photos:  Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogThen on Sunday I was invited to join St. Peter the Martyr Parish in Pittsburg as they celebrated their Centenary.  The church was packed, standing room only. The hall below the church was packed as people listened to the Mass on loudspeakers. There was an incredible energy and enthusiasm shown by the parishioners for the Faith.  They have 7 Masses in Spanish each weekend, so I got to practice my Español.   Fr. Ricardo Chavez, whose parents were married in the parish, and who was ordained there in 1963, gave an historical account.  All our Latino seminarians served.  I am hoping for great things — especially vocations — from this vibrant parish. I am proud of the Pastor, Fr. Jesus Hernandez, and vicars Fr. Salvador and Fr. Leonardo.

 Photos: St. Peter Martyr Parish

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.

Carondelet

 

 

 

 

 

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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Christmas Week 2014

It is still a busy Christmas season in our Cathedral. I would like to share with you a few thoughts in my Christmas homily and published in the Catholic Voice as well.  Be the peace you want to see in the world. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!

My Christmas Homily [in Firefox, ctrl-click]

Catholic Voice — January 5, 2015  — With all the evil going on in the world this season, one can be tempted to despair: beheadings in the Middle East, kidnapping of college kids and their execution in Mexico, the murder of two New York police officers in cold blood as they sat in their patrol car, the wanton destruction and vandalism of stores and businesses in our own city of Oakland. Even our cathedral was not spared.

Yet Isaiah prophesied: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” For those who love and follow Christ, the way is bright, joyful, and peaceful.

On Christmas this year, 2014, we celebrate one of the finest examples of the in-breaking of Christ’s light: “The Great Christmas Truce of 1914”. German and British soldiers were dug-in for miles in trenches. Snipers and poison gas took their toll. Yet on Christmas day, soldiers on opposing sides put up signs reading “Merry Christmas” on them. Then men from each side got up, unarmed, and walked toward each other in no man’s land. They shook hands, traded gifts, sang carols, ate and prayed together. They even played soccer with improvised balls. The truce spread for hundreds of miles and lasted up to New Year’s Day. When Pope Benedict XV heard about it, he asked England and Germany to extend the truce indefinitely. It took the threats of senior officers to force the men back into the trenches to resume the war.   But look what common love and regard for Christ’s birth accomplished. It is still possible.

In our liturgical calendar the Feast of the Holy Family follows on the Sunday after Christmas. I am one who believes that before there can be peace “in the world” there has to be peace “inside me” and then “inside my family”.   Yes you say, “But my sister did something really awful to me some years ago that really hurt.” Or, “My brother does not help support our aging parents, I have to do it all by myself.” Hurt is real. Pain is real. Yet so is Christ’s power to heal. When Christ went through his passion and death, he absorbed all the pain caused by our sins. Often when I go to the hospital to anoint a dying grandmother, I find the family – usually grown adult children – around the bed. Mother is usually unconscious. I ask the family to join hands and pray with me. I invite them, in their hearts, to forgive their mother for any sins she may have committed against them . . . and ask them to forgive any sins or hurts they may have inflicted on their mother. Many a family have been reconciled on their mother’s deathbed.

Christ’s overpowering love and sacrifice enable us to do the same.

I was impressed by how many parishes in our diocese held Reconciliation Services before Christmas – and how many people took advantage of them. I heard confessions at one of these Services in Pleasanton. But I knew I could not be a sign of reconciliation to others without going to confession myself first.

“His name will be called Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 6)

Be the peace you want to see in the world. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage

OLG float

Last Saturday, December 6, we had the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage and Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (held in advance of the actual Feast of Dec .12). I was thrilled with the turnout, as thousands of parishioners from all over our diocese converged on the parish of St. Louis Bertrand for the start of the march. I blessed all the parish floats, musicians, choirs, and folk dancing groups. We walked straight down International Boulevard all the way to the Cathedral of Christ the Light. It took five hours!

OLG procession

The cathedral was filled to overflowing for Mass in honor of Our Lady, with the plaza outside and the downstairs conference center also full of participants. In these days when there are protests and violence and destruction, it was beautiful to have a pilgrimage walk in honor of the Queen of Peace. I am proud of our strong Latino community in the Diocese of Oakland. May the Blessed Virgin, who appeared to St. Juan Diego at Tepeyac, intercede for all of us.

Thank you to Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice for the photos and video clip.

Link to Homily (Spanish) [in Firefox, ctrl-click]

 

Why Mission San Jose for our deacon ordinations?

Last Saturday (November 15) I had the pleasure of ordaining three new Transitional Deacons for our diocese: Michael Nufable, Peter Tu Nguyen, and Huong Van Le.

We held the ordination in the Mother Church of our Diocese: Old Mission San Jose in Fremont.  I say “Mother Church” because Mission San Jose was our first parish, started in 1797, where the first baptisms took place.  Although the current Mission church is a reconstruction, it is based on the original plans.  Many of the religious artifacts are from the original church.

I chose the Mission because I wanted the young men to have their deaconate in our oldest church, and their priesthood will be in our newest: the Cathedral of Christ the Light.  I also wanted the very building to remind the newly ordained of what Jeremiah said in the first reading of the deaconate Mass: “Don’t say you are too young!”  The founding Franciscan pastor, Fr. Isidore, was only 31.  His parochial vicar, Fr. Augustine, was only 23.  Look what they accomplished!

Having the ordination at Mission San Jose also highlights the fact that Spanish was the official language of California before English – and that the Ohlone Indian language preceded both.  The new priests had to first learn the Native Americans’ language before they could even begin to build their parish.  Same is true today in our Diocese.  New priests and seminarians come to us from abroad and need to master English — and increasingly Spanish — in order to minister to our people.

Thanks to Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice for these photos.