Out in the parishes

Last Tuesday (Feb. 24) we had meetings of the Confirmation Program Coordinators/ teachers from our parishes.  I led the morning session at the Cathedral and Fr. George Mockel addressed the evening meeting in Walnut Creek. 20150224_191314_resizedThese folks do a fantastic job preparing our young people for the Sacrament. We all get to see a beautiful ceremony and the kids all dressed up, but our Confirmation teachers do a lot of work behind the scenes to get the candidates ready. We owe them a big “thanks!”

divider bar for blogThe next day I visited Transfiguration Parish  for a Capital Campaign reception. Great turnout, and good questions. Fathers Mario Borges and Terry O’Malley cooked a dinner for me beforehand.  Saved me from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I got home.  These evenings provide the opportunity for me not only to explain the mission and direction of our diocese, but to get feedback and answer all kinds of questions. I enjoy being able to have time to meet, pray, and share with so many people of our diocese.  Here are a few of my remarks:

divider bar for blogOn Thursday we had a Campaign reception dinner at St. Bonaventure in Concord. I went back on Sunday for two Masses, and two receptions: one in English and one in Spanish. Thanks to Fr. Mangini and his outstanding leadership staff for making all the arrangements.

Photos:  Anthony Arteaga

divider bar for blogWe had over 90 priests and deacons come together for a bible study day Friday, on the Lectionary readings for Lent and Easter.  Fr. Michael Castori SJ, serving at All Saints in Hayward, was our speaker and teacher. I’ve known Fr. Michael since the 1980s when he was working as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps lay missionary in Micronesia, and we’ve been friends ever since.  He has since become a Jesuit priest, and got his doctorate in Biblical Hermeneutics at Cal Berkeley.  It was absolutely enlightening to hear Fr. Michael open up the scriptures for us.

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Photos:  Fr. Gus Acob

divider bar for blogLater that day we had a lovely pot-luck dinner Campaign reception at Santa Maria in Orinda.  I met some very kind parishioners, many of whom have been in the parish since the 1940’s and built the present church and school. Fr. George Mockel pastors this parish, as well as serving as our Diocesan Vicar General.

divider bar for blogDSC00212Saturday morning I celebrated Mass for the Diocesan Confraternity of Eucharistic Devotion (CEDDO).

Knights in vestibuleWe had a full honor guard from the Knights of Columbus, and the Cathedral Children’s Choir sang the Mass, dressed in their new robes.  I have never seen choir members so happy to be singing at Mass as these young people.  Our CEDDO group, through  their prayer and adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, intercede for us all, and call down many graces from heaven on our diocese.  Thank You, CEDDO members!

Photos:  Courtesy CEDDO and Knights of Columbus

divider bar for blogThe next day, after the two Masses and receptions at St. Bonaventure, I went to St. Isidore in Danville to celebrate Mass for the Italian Catholic Federation.

Following Mass we had a wonderful (dare I say “Italian”) dinner: salad, pasta, roast pork, roast potatoes, green beans, and  for desert …………………… Tiramisu!  (I gave everyone a dispensation).  The ICF presented me with a Spiritual Bouquet which included over 2,800 Masses offered for my intentions, plus two checks for our Seminary fund.  Thank you!

ICF round tablePhotos:  Msgr. Daniel Cardellidivider bar for blogMonday is supposed to be my day off, but the Naval Order of San Francisco had repeatedly invited me to be the speaker at their monthly meeting. The Naval Order is composed mainly of retired Navy and Marine Corps officers and senior enlisted leaders.   I served on duty with many of the members who are from the East Bay when I was assigned to the Navy Reserve Center in Alameda in the 1990’s.

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I spoke about the changes taking place in the military to accommodate religious practices: e.g. Sikh members of the US Army now have permission to wear their turbans in lieu of berets or campaign covers.  Lots of heated discussion followed.

Photos:  Bill & Kathleen Mero

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

Sacrifice and Light

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting John and Wendy Hallett at a fundraising reception for the Archdiocese of the Military Services in San Francisco. We were raising money to fund seminarians who are preparing to become chaplains in the military.

Hallett parentsHallett 1

The Halletts’ son, Captain John Hallett III, died in Afghanistan, the victim of a roadside bomb. They told me how their son was able to receive Holy Communion from an Army chaplain just days before his death. The Halletts are members of Our Lady of Mercy parish in Point Richmond. Let’s remember their son John in our prayers and Masses, and the heroic sacrifice he made. At Christmas we miss our departed loved ones all the more.

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Photo: Sheila-Anne Flores

Last Wednesday we had the opening Mass for the Simbang Gabi Novena in preparation for Christmas. It is a longstanding Filipino Catholic tradition in which Catholics rise early before dawn and go to Mass in their parish church.  Simbang Gabi means “Dawn Mass.” Families carry brightly decorated lamps in the shape of stars, called parols.  We had a wonderful procession of parols at the start of Mass, which lined the walls of our Cathedral.  They are most appropriate for our Cathedral named “Christ the Light” as the Epiphany Star of Bethlehem is the symbol of our Cathedral and Diocese. I am so pleased with the faith, devotion and service of our Filipino Catholic community in the Diocese of Oakland.

Photo: Tess Morales

parol

Call to Veterans

Archbishop Broglio

with Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

I’ve written before on this blog and in the Catholic Voice about military service and the role I continue to fill as a Navy chaplain.  There are fewer and fewer Catholics in the Military Chaplain Corps these days. The need has never been greater to attract seminarians to this military ministry to provide pastoral care.

I would like to invite all, particularly Veterans in the Diocese of Oakland, to join me and Archbishop Timothy Broglio at a benefit reception next week to raise interest and support for this ministry.   The reception is on Tuesday, December 9 at 6PM at Marine’s Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco.  For more information click here.  If you would like to attend please RSVP here or to simply make a donation click here

On Duty with US Navy

This week I am attending the Senior Leadership Symposium for all the chaplains of Captain-rank in the Navy and Marine Corps. We’ve been briefed by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. We’re learning not just about world affairs and US defense strategy, but also how to better provide pastoral ministry to our sailors and Marines.

Naval Sr. Leadership SymposiumThe Armed Forces are very short of Catholic chaplains.  I am one of only six priests representing the Catholic Church at such an event, where 20 years ago there would have been around thirty.  It’s a good way, though, to catch up with old friends — from all denominations — as most of us have served together in the Navy for more than 20 years.