Week in Review Part 2, Jan. 22-24

Last Thursday, January 22, we had a Kick-Off meeting for Block 2 of our Capital Campaign. I met first with the pastors of 40 parishes . . . then met with representatives and campaign leaders from all their parishes.  I was completely overwhelmed by the huge turnout. We had to open the walls of the Cathedral event center to keep adding tables and chairs.  The priests and lay leaders were very supportive of Christ, His Church, our diocese, and our campaign.  We had a lively Question & Answer session in both meetings.   I want transparency and honesty to be the hallmarks of our campaign, and our whole diocesan administration.

DSC_0639I found our priests and people alive with faith, and strong hope that we can — together — carry on Christ’s mission.  I felt the Holy Spirit with us that evening . . . because the campaign is not primarily about money, but about our Faith.  It is a spiritual mission we have been given.  As I mentioned in my address at my consecration as bishop in 2013, if we do God’s work, He will provide what we need to do it.  My sincere thanks to the priests and lay leaders who turned out last week, and who are working diligently to support us. I am looking forward to my next round of parish reception visits in the months ahead.

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DSC_0736On Friday I was invited to pastor Walter Hoye’s fundraising dinner for his pro-life ministry, Issues4Life.  Rev. Hoye is well known to Bay Area Christians, as he has been one of the strongest Protestant leaders in support of life.  Our St. Margaret Mary parish hosted the banquet in their hall, and many of our fine young people acted as waiters.  This dinner was important as it was truly ecumenical, and had a very large attendance from the African- American Baptist churches in Oakland.  United to defend the defenseless, we are truly united in loving and serving Christ.  I have never felt closer to our Protestant Christian brethren.  I like that our fellowship took place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

divider bar for blogThe next day, Saturday January 24, I attended the annual Mass for Life at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.  This year, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó came from Washington, DC to join us.  We had another fantastic turnout for Mass.  I was so proud to see a large group from St. Edward’s parish in Newark — with their noticeable yellow t-shirts.

After Mass I walked down to the SFO Civic Center for the Rally.  What most impressed me were the quality of the speakers: women who spoke of the effect of having an abortion; another young woman who took the RU486 pill to try to end her pregnancy, then changed her mind and discovered doctors had found a new medicine to reverse the abortion pill.  She held up her curly-haired year-old baby boy in thanksgiving to God for the gift of life.  I was impressed by the age of the group.  KCBS put the attendance at 50,000 marchers.  CNN said “many thousands”.  The group was primarily YOUNG PEOPLE.  The future belongs to the young. And the young believe in life. Thanks be to God.

Here I am with a new friend I met at the rally:

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IMG_2412Later, after the Walk for Life, I attended a “Catholic Underground” event at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Berkeley.  This was awesome. Over 200 young people, mainly of college age, met for holy hour, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, and entertainment.  I spoke to the youth in the hall, noticing that through receiving confession, we come closer in friendship from Jesus.  It is there we receive his most intimate love.  The entertainment was a great party. We had a quartet of musicians from Cal called “I Celli”.  They were so good I invited them to perform during a Solemn Mass at our cathedral.  We also had Christian Rappers performing: especially Brother Victor from the Capuchin House of Studies in Berkeley.  It was such a blessed evening!

divider bar for blogLast but not least: a few weeks ago I visited Fr. Ken Nobrega for a tour of St. Joseph’s parish in Berkeley.  As we were inspecting the outside of the church, a man drove up and went into the church to pray.  Father introduced him to me.  Jay is from Sri Lanka, and visits the church at least 12 times each day to pray.  He told me the story of his life, and how blessed he is to be a Catholic.  He is a pizza delivery man, and every time he passes by the parish church, he stops in to pray.  He promised to remember all of us, and our intentions.  Meeting him made my day.  May I ask all of you to pray for our diocese, that we may be faithful to carry out God’s will, and He will give us the means to do it.  Thanks!

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Thanks to Fr. Alex Castillo and to The Catholic Voice for these photos.

The Week in Review

Dear Friends,

It’s been a busy week. We had a great turnout at St. Isidore’s in Danville for our capital campaign reception.  The pastor, Fr. Gerald Moran, filled his parish hall with parish leaders who responded very positively to our appeal for 100% participation by all families.  After all, doesn’t Vatican 2 teach “The people are the Church”?  Kudos to Tanc Agius, the parish chair of the Campaign, for his leadership.

Last Friday I hosted a consultation with teacher representatives from our nine Catholic high schools in the diocese.  We discussed the issue of Catholic Identity in the schools from their perspective, and how we could best work together to strengthen that identity.  It was a very honest and fruitful meeting.  Most of the teachers chosen to represent their schools have been teaching for twenty years or more.  We are going to have another session soon, this time with representatives from our Catholic elementary schools.

Saturday morning I attended the Magnificat Prayer Breakfast in Concord.  There were about 500 Catholic women present, along with some spouses, priests and seminarians.  We sang and prayed, and then I was invited, not to give a lecture, but to “share my testimony.”  There is a big difference.  I spoke about the “Cross and Resurrection” in my life — actually more like “crosses and resurrections”  : )  You can hear the talk here (may take up to a minute to load, be patient).

Bishop at podiumI hesitate to talk about myself publicly.  Doesn’t scripture say “Not to us Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory”?  But we do need to share with others the story of God’s love and grace, and how He  has always been present in our lives – even in times of trial.  I found the Magnificat members refreshing.  They take their spiritual lives seriously and — happily — they are providing the means for many women to grow closer to Our Lord through the Holy Spirit.  I highly recommend the Magnificat ministry.

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Saturday evening I celebrated Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in San Lorenzo.  San Lorenzo is the neighborhood where the 580 connects with the 880 freeway.  Fr. Michael Lacey welcomed me and gave me a tour of the church and grounds, while his able parochial vicar, Fr. David Mendoza-Vela heard confessions.  It was wonderful to see the new hospitality patio they built under the eaves of the church, as well as a fountain and well.

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It was my first visit, and the church was packed: standing-room-only.  I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and diversity of the parish: not only folks from different nationalities, but all age groups were represented.  Many people complain when children cry during Mass, but I take it as a sign the Church is growing.  There were many young families present.  Kids should grow up being at home in their Father’s House.  The St. John’s School children presented me with a basket of hand-made cards and posters.  If you come to my office in the Chancery, you’ll see them, together with cards and letters I receive regularly from children of our schools.  (Just like you put your kids’ and grandkids’ art works on your refrigerator.)  St. John’s has a beautiful, charming, church, built in 1949.  Happily, most of the original art and architecture has remained.  I immediately felt at home.  And the people were so warm and friendly.  Makes me proud to be Catholic.

IMG_8507Sunday morning we celebrated the Vietnamese Martyrs together with the Solemnity of Christ the King (the Martyrs’ actual feast day being on Monday).  St. Anthony’s Church was filled to overflowing.  The youth group put on a short spiritual skit before Mass began in which they re-enacted the coming of the missionary priests and nuns, and the martyrdom of the saints of Vietnam.  It was very cleverly and reverently done, with costumes — but in total silence.  The teens had practiced well, and the message was clearly communicated, as all eyes were on them.

We then reverenced with incense a large reliquary containing remains of the holy martyrs, and processed with the relics around the neighborhood.  People stopped their cars. Others peered from behind their curtains as we processed, blessing the neighborhood with the presence of the holy saints.

VIMG_8582ietnamese Catholics are a solid rock of faith in our Diocese. They provide vocations of priests and sisters, and hundreds of faithful Catholics to the life of our parishes.  In my visit to Vietnam last February I met elderly priests and laypeople who had suffered by years of imprisonment for the Faith.  The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians!  Thanks to Sr. Rosaline who organized the celebration, as well as Fr. Juan Franco and Fr. Mark Hoc from the parish, and all the priests who concelebrated the Mass.  Special thanks to Bishop John Cummins whose presence adds so much to these holy celebrations.

(Thanks to Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice for the photos from the Vietnamese Martyrs Mass, and for members of Magnificat and St. John’s parish for the others.)

Priests’ Picnic 2014

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We had a great time Friday during our annual priests’ picnic. Friday, June 27 was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day when priests around the world get together or make a special day of retreat. We had a great time sharing our fraternity as brother priests. Looking around I saw the different ages, the different nationalities, the different kinds of parishes represented and united in one heart of faith. It was especially a blessing to see Bishop Cummins there, and moreover Msgr. Ray Breton, who has incurable cancer, and who was in the center of everybody’s love.

Bishop Cummins is my father in faith, because he baptized me. It was great hearing him saying: “You know guys, for those of you looking for retirement, let me tell you something: it is overrated”. That is truly the heart of a priest.

Bishop Cummins is my father in faith, because he baptized me. It was great hearing him tell us: “You know guys, for those of you looking forward to retirement, let me tell you something: it is overrated.”  That is truly the heart of a priest.

Msgr. Ray Breton, seated center

Msgr. Ray Breton, seated center

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It was a very happy day to celebrate being a priest. Celebrations like this remind me of what St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests once said: “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

Pictures courtesy of Fr. Benedict Pradit