On Retreat

This past week Bishop Cummins and I have been making our annual retreat with 13 bishops of Northern California and Nevada. We make a silent retreat, with individual spiritual direction, at El Retiro San Inigo, the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos.  One of the benefits of being there is that one has a view of the East Bay from San Jose up almost to Oakland.  I prayed for you all every day. Here the sun is rising over the Diocese of Oakland.

Sunrise small

Chapel small
Here is a view of the “Rossi Chapel” at El Retiro. It was donated in 1928 by the Rossi family, founders of Italian Swiss Colony Wines. Their son, Fr. Carlo Rossi, became a Jesuit and taught for years at USF.  The Jesuit Retreat Center has retreats for lay men and women year ‘round.


As part of my retreat, I visited the Jesuit cemetery, which is located on what once was the grounds of Mission Santa Clara.  At one time each Jesuit got a full headstone, with the dates of our Birth (Natus), Entrance into the Society (Ingressus), and Death (Obiit) engraved in Latin.  Here you can see the tombstone of Father Hilary Werts (a priest: “Sacerdos”).  In the past twenty years or so we’ve been running out of room, and now multiple Jesuits are being combined in one grave.  It seems a little crowded, but then again, we’re not going to be in the grave forever.  We’re just waiting for the Resurrection on the Last Day.

Visiting a cemetery is a good way to prepare for Ash Wednesday “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”  It helps us live each day to the fullest and keep things in proper perspective.

Ignatian quote small


Last Saturday was an historic occasion for me. It was the first time I have been invited to attend and speak at a Jewish Synagogue for Shabbat (Sabbath) services.  I’ve attended Jewish services before aboard Navy ships and bases, but never with a full Temple community.  Fathers Sacca, Castillo, and Nguyen accompanied me, as well as Deacon McGowan, our Ecumenical Committee chair.   Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham had kindly invited me.  This Jewish Congregation is located very near our Cathedral parish in Oakland.  The service was conducted almost totally in Hebrew.

The next day I invited Rabbi Bloom to share his  reflections after Communion at our Cathedral Sunday Mass. The Rabbi gave an outstanding talk on the Book of Ezekiel passage we had proclaimed at the Mass.  Rabbi Bloom’s parents attended, as well as about twenty members of his Congregation.  Rabbi Bloom’s talk was very moving and I invite you to listen to it here.  Pope Francis has said “Inside every Christian is a Jew.”  I hope we Jews and Catholics can work together as witnesses to God’s loving presence in our city of Oakland.

Fr. Nguyen, Rabbi Bloom

Bishop Barber and Rabbi Bloom after MassRabbi and Bishop, Parish HallPhotos courtesy of Al Pacciorini/The Catholic Voice


Pit Stop

I was coming back from saying Mass for the Carmelite Nuns last week and was running out of gas. I passed a station where it was only $3.57 a gallon.  Never seeing it that cheap, I had to stop. I’m trying to save the diocese money every way I can!

Gas Station stop

World Cup Soccer!

Popes, flags

The last few days we have seen pictures like this one all over the place. I think they are great, especially because we know Pope Francis is a big football (soccer) fan. He even belongs to the San Lorenzo Football Club of Buenos Aires. On the other hand, Pope Emeritus is not a soccer fan, which makes the pictures even funnier!


But what is truly important is what Pope Francis tells us about the World Cup and sports in general: “It is not only a form of entertainment but also a tool to communicate the values that promote the good of the human person and help to build a more peaceful and fraternal coexistence,” especially in our world today.  I wish both teams all the best in the finals tomorrow.

Visit with Fr. Seamus Genovese

Jesus said: “When I was sick you visited me” (Mt. 25:36). Father Seamus Genovese, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland, has been ill with pancreatic cancer for over a year. It is a miracle he is still with us and we are very grateful to the Lord for that. It was a pleasure to visit him, and, as you can see from the photo I helped him take his medicine. He is doing great.

Fr. Seamus Genovese, pastoral visit

Fr. Seamus Genovese, pastoral visit