Mercy and the Holy Spirit

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Jake Martin, SJ, will be ordained in June

This past week I had an opportunity to meet with my Jesuit brothers at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. Sitting in a room with 17 men who are about to be ordained priests, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my own experience 30 years ago, when I was waiting to be ordained. These men have spent many years working towards this moment, an achievement that is just as memorable as it is sacred. May God bless them!

Photo courtesy of Rev. Thomas Massaro, SJ

divider bar for blogI also administered Confirmation for a group of students at St. Patrick’s church last week, a celebration I always enjoy. While I was there, I was blessed to meet a young man named Jesus Rojas. Jesus is currently battling leukemia; yet his spirit is so alive. Jesus is such a courageous boy, a warm, loving child who demonstrates all that God wants us to be. God is with him, as he is with us always. I pray the gift of the Holy Spirit will help heal him and carry his family through this difficult time. I have been also requesting prayers for him, so I would really appreciate if you can join me in praying for Jesus.

Photos courtesy of St. Patrick parish

divider bar for blogOn Friday, April 24, we had a National Congress on Divine Mercy at the Cathedral. It was a beautiful devotion arranged by Father Carl Arcosa, with help from the Marians of the Immaculate Order from the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. It was a delight to work with everyone and be a part of such a wonderful event!

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Photos:  Al Pacciorini/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogThe following Sunday I went to St. Margaret Mary parish to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. This new order has been serving the Extraordinary Form Latin Mass community of our diocese very faithfully these past 10 years. It was a joyful celebration, and a very well prepared and reverent liturgy. Moreover, the community was vibrant and full of life, and I was very happy to see people from all ages there.

divider bar for blogI enjoy going around meeting parishioners, speaking and answering questions about the work of our diocese at Capital Campaign receptions. I love events like these; being able to connect and engage with the public is one of the many benefits I find in my work. This last week I went to St. Mary’s in Walnut Creek, Our Lady of Good Counsel in San Leandro, and St. Joseph the Worker in Berkeley. It is always such a pleasure to meet members of the community and hear about their experiences in the church.

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Visit from Bishop Luke Kim Woon Hoe, Bishop of Chuncheon, South Korea

L-R: Terry Augustine Cho, Fr. Gabriel Kim, Bishop Barber, Bishop Luke Kim, Fr. Thaddeus Kim, Simon Peter Lee

This week, I also had an opportunity to welcome Bishop Luke Kim Woon Hoe, Bishop of Chuncheon, South Korea, for a courtesy visit last weekend. The bishop was in town to administer the sacrament of Confirmation to our two Korean Catholic parishes. We are blessed to have not only one, but two vibrant and growing Korean parishes in our diocese. As you probably remember, their choir was our special featured guest during our Chrism Mass in March, and they rendered an outstanding performance.

divider bar for blogMay the Lord continue blessing you and your loved ones. Please keep me in your prayers.

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

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.