Last week’s activities began on St. Patrick’s Day with an early Mass at St. Patrick’s School in Rodeo. I visited the classrooms as the students arrived at 7:30 a.m. There was a lot of buzz in the air, as everyone was dressed for St. Patrick. Some kids even had green hair. I found very happy children, yet reverent and focused during the morning prayer-assembly and later at Mass. They also have a full kindergarten, as well as preschool, and what looked like pre-pre-preschool . . . for babies!
Later on St. Patrick’s Day we held the funeral Mass for Father Seamus Genovese. There was a very impressive turnout of parishioners and friends, as well as diocesan priests. Fr. Seamus was my neighbor . . . just a twenty minute walk across the top of Lake Merritt. He always had a drink and a place ready at the table for guests who dropped in for dinner. May he rest in peace!
On the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, when many people are having “a wee dram of the dew” or at least an Irish Coffee, a couple hundred parishioners of St. Joan of Arc parish in San Ramon came to hear me give a talk on “Discernment of Spirits, according to St. Ignatius Loyola.” This is a method to discover God’s will in one’s life through following the influence of good spirits and recognizing the deceits of evil spirits. We had a lively discussion. I was glad to see a van full of teenagers attending, as St. Ignatius’s method is particularly helpful in deciding which of many paths to follow in life.
Photos: Dominique Ghekiere-Mintz
A large group of students from Holy Spirit School came to the evening reception and presented me with a Pledge for $2,500! That’s a lot of sacrificial Twinkies. As I go around the diocese, it is heartening to see children from many of our schools participating in our campaign to Reclaim Christ’s Mission Together. Thank you, Holy Spirit students.
In Pittsburg the parish has already achieved 25% of their goal, and I was touched by the number of people who approached me after our presentation to increase their pledges. Thank you for your love and generosity, Good Shepherd!
On St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, I was invited to St. Joseph’s Grammar School and St. Joseph’s High School in Alameda. We celebrated two Masses in the Basilica, one for each school. We could have had only one Mass, together, in the gym . . . but using the historic church is so much more conducive to prayer. The elementary school students sang a song at the end of Mass, complete with sword and shield, and hearts of love.
When I visited the Second Grade, the children presented me with a spiritual bouquet. Each “flower” represented a Hail Mary that the kids prayed, complete with a special intention. They read off their intentions. One of them said “We pray that Bishop Barber will be the best bishop in the whole world!” I think that role has already been filled by Pope Francis. But what a nice prayer. I’ll try and live up to that prayer.
These St. Joe’s High School students gave me a full tour of the campus. With 415 students, the school has a close community spirit. It is one of the very few remaining “parish high schools’ on the West Coast.
Fr. George Alengadan and his vicar, Fr. Thi, invited us for lunch — together with the members of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council. We took advantage of Father’s hospitality to have our monthly Council meeting. Thanks, Fr. George!
Photos: Marylea Battaglia
On Saturday I went to St. Mary’s Church in Walnut Creek to confirm 88 young people. Many family members and friends had to stand throughout the Mass, as the church was filled to overflowing. One young fellow, Ian Mannix, Seventh Grader at St. Mary’s School, waited patiently in the parking lot for some time, protecting my parking place. Thank you, Ian!On Saturday evening, our Hispanic Ministries division of the Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization sponsored a concert in Christ the Light Cathedral featuring Hermana Glenda, a nun from Spain. Meeting her beforehand, Sister Glenda told me that although she has a degree in Scripture from the Jesuit Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, God has called her to teach scripture through singing. She does this quite well, as concert-goers were led not only to listen to her music, but to pray. The event raised about half the funds needed to support the annual diocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage, Procession and Mass. Since meeting her, I’ve been listening to Hermana Glenda for free on Pandora.
In the morning I celebrated Mass and Confirmation at St. Margaret Mary’s parish in Oakland for 15 students. The Mass and Confirmation rite were in Latin, celebrated in accord with the post-Vatican 2 “Novus Ordo” Missal. The students responded to the renewal of their baptismal promises with a loud “Credo!” (“I believe”). St. Margaret Mary’s is known for celebrating weekly and daily Mass with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite. Since the group was small, I was able to quiz the kids about who they chose as their confirmation saint-names and why. A good number spoke to a packed church about the inspiration they drew from their new patrons.
On Sunday afternoon, I was invited by the Oakland Catholic Worker community to celebrate Mass in commemoration of the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero, which took place on March 24, 1980. This year was particularly special, as the Holy Father has just approved the Beatification of Archbishop Romero, which will take place in El Salvador on May 23rd. So many people attended, we had to have the Mass outside, under tents. Everything was in Spanish.
At the request of the Salvadoran Catholic community of our diocese, we will arrange a special Mass in our Cathedral in honor of the Blessed Oscar Romero (date TBA). I am very proud and pleased at the spiritual and corporal works of mercy offered by the Catholic Worker communities (Oakland and Berkeley) in our diocese. They quietly and faithfully house immigrants and refugees, shelter those who are in trouble, and consistently feed the poor. All this service is given with love for Christ and the Church, as exemplified in the life of their founder, Dorothy Day. I await with hope the day she will likewise be beatified by the Church.
Photos: Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice-El Heraldo Católico