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.

Parish visits, Chrism Mass highlights and Holy Week begins

Pic 2 Church of the AssumptionLast week I visited Assumption parish in San Leandro for a capital campaign reception. Everything there looked familiar. I used to visit this parish regularly in the 1970’s and 1980’s as my aunt and cousins lived near there. Fathers Vince Scott and Chris Berbena kindly fed me beforehand. We had an excellent turnout. I praise Assumption parish, especially that they have recently given us a new priest in Father Derrick Oliveira, whose own father still lives in the parish.Pic 3 Church of the Assumptiondivider bar for blogThe next day I traveled to Union City and Our Lady of the Rosary parish. Fr. Jesus Nieto hosted us. It was Lenten “Soup Night” and parishioners had prepared about 12 pots of different soups to share. Our presentations that evening were evenly divided into Spanish and English in this richly diverse parish.

divider bar for blogOne of the highlights of the liturgical year for me is the annual Chrism Mass. Every year before the evening liturgy, all the priests gather with the bishop and we have a conference and meal together. I gave a presentation on “The State of the Diocese” to report to the priests on my stewardship.

150406_bbarber_priestsI then asked the staff of Catholic Charities to make a presentation. My goal was to continue implementing Pope Francis’ vision of care for the poor. Chuck Fernandez and his team have created a whole new initiative to place the resources of Catholic Charities in the hands of our pastors so they can respond to people who ring the rectory doorbell asking “Father, can you help me?”

I also had the happy opportunity of presenting Steve Mullin with the Diocesan Medal of Merit. Steve has just completed 14 years as Director of Parish Life at All Saints Parish Hayward, and taken up a new post as parish liaison at Catholic Charities. Thanks, Steve!

Fr.  Johnson Abraham

Fr. Johnson Abraham

In the afternoon we also held the ritual of Incardination of Fr. Johnson Abraham of St. Agnes parish, Concord. Incardination is the process where a priest formally transfers from a religious order or another diocese into the Diocese of Oakland. Fr. Johnson formally swore his fidelity and obedience to Christ and to the bishop, in the presence of the College of Presbyters (all the diocesan priests).

DSC_0149At the Chrism Mass I blessed the Holy Oils. The olive oil which I blessed is donated every year by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose from their olive orchard. The original olive trees on their property were planted by the Franciscan missionaries who founded Mission San Jose in Fremont.

DSC_0117Since all the priests were gathered together for this Mass, we included the Ceremony of Candidacy. This is the final step before ordination to the diaconate. Our seminarian Luis Lopez was formally recognized and welcomed into the Presbyterate of the diocese. We could use many more young men like Luis to join the ranks of our seminarians and diocesan priests.

We were blessed at the Chrism Mass by Fr. Bud Stevens, rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary, who was the guest homilist. You can listen to his impressive homily here.

In the Chrism Mass, all the priests renewed the promises made at their ordination. It is quite moving to witness this solemn rededication of so many men to the service of Christ and His Church. I am extremely grateful for the daily sacrifice and hard work of our priests.DSC_0122 croppedPhotos:  Al Pacciorini/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogWe had one more capital campaign reception before Holy Week and Easter. We went up to St. Jerome’s in El Cerrito where Father Fernando Cortez welcomed us. At these receptions we talk more about Faith than money. It is one of the best opportunities I have as bishop to answer parishioners’ questions and hear their comments on the life of the Catholic Church in Oakland. I enjoy it.divider bar for blog

Then last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday. We had a procession in the Cathedral Plaza, made all the more special by the presence of the Ladies of St. Peter Claver, and the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre.

Holy Sepulchre croppedThe Cathedral was beautifully decorated with palms, and the music by our choir was wonderful. Helped by the beautiful music and architecture of our cathedral, I am reminded how participation in the Holy Week Liturgies is the best way to enter into the mystery of the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.Bishop mom and child croppedThank you to John Espinoza for these last two photos.

 

Music and Oakland’s diversity in a week

Last week I traveled around the Diocese, and the Country.

st. john 1Fr. Michael Lacey invited me to St. John the Baptist parish in San Lorenzo for a Capital Campaign reception. The parish is excited because they have just bought a large parcel of property next door and can finally create a proper playground for the students in their parish school. The parish had been landlocked for years, but with the help of the diocese, the parish was able to acquire an adjoining Japanese nursery which ceased operations. The Diocesan Capital Campaign is designed for such opportunities. Strong parishes make for a strong diocese.st john SLZ cropped

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On Wednesday I flew to Washington, D.C. for a meeting at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) headquarters. I am on the “Higher Education” committee, helping Catholic Colleges and Universities strengthen their Catholic identity and mission. I stayed with the Jesuit Community at Gonzaga College High School. Founded in 1821, it is one of the oldest Jesuit apostolates in the USA. Here’s a view of St. Aloysius, the parish church attached to the school.

School Blog

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Last Saturday we hosted the University of Notre Dame Glee Club at the Oakland Cathedral. They gave a Benefit Concert for FACE: “Family Aid for Catholic Education.” This is a fund that helps parents with financial aid to send their children to our diocesan Catholic schools.

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The Glee Club sang a variety of music, from sacred to barbershop quartets. We enjoyed their music, and the choir clearly loved singing in our majestic cathedral with its impressive acoustics. Notre Dame University also helps our diocese by providing “ACE teachers” (Alliance for Catholic Education) who help in our urban Catholic grammar schools.

Photos:  Jose Aguirre/FACE

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image2On Sunday we had a “Double-Header”: Morning Mass in the Cathedral in honor of St. Joseph Vaz, newly canonized saint from Sri Lanka. In the afternoon, I celebrated Mass for our diocesan Indonesian Catholic Community.

The morning Mass was preceded by a Buddhist choir who came to sing hymns of peace in honor of the new Saint. Joseph Vaz was an Oratorian Catholic priest of Indian birth who went as a missionary in Sri Lanka in the 17th century. image3He was protected by the Buddhist king from arrest by the Calvinist Dutch colonizers. Without Buddhist protection, he would not have been able to carry out his ministry. The Buddhist choir came to celebrate that connection. Although I have seen fervent Hindus venerating the tombs of St. Francis Xavier and Mother Teresa, it is the first time I have heard a Buddhist choir sing in honor of a Catholic saint in a Catholic cathedral. I was very grateful for their visit and their reverence. We had a very good turnout of Indian and Sri Lankan Catholics from our diocese. Pope Francis just performed the official canonization on his visit to Sri Lanka in January of this year.

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The afternoon Mass with the Indonesian community was held at St. Anne’s Church in Union City, thanks to the hospitality of the pastor, Fr. Geoffrey Baraan. I was intrigued by the Indonesian choir and their unusual wooden instruments. The exotic sounds reminded me of the Arthur Lyman records my parents used to listen to when I was a kid.

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Catholicism is a minority in Indonesia. The largest Muslim country in the world, only 3% of the population is Catholic. In spite of this, the Catholic Church is famous there for our Schools, where many Muslims send their children to be educated. Our Mass was preceded and followed by elegant traditional dances, which in the culture are used to welcome and honor guests. The youth who danced were reverent, respectful, and exceedingly graceful. There is so much joy and kindness in the Indonesian Catholic community, and they contribute so much to the rich makeup of our diocese.

Photos:  Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice

Oregon, and then into the Diocese

Early last week I flew up to Oregon and visited our three Oakland seminarians studying at Mt. Angel Seminary: (left to right) Garrett McGowan, Huong Dinh, and Jose Morales. They are studying in the college seminary there.  (Fr. Neal Clemens, diocesan Vocations Director, is on the far right.) Mt. St. Angel 2Mt. Angel

It is a beautiful spot, about an hour and a half outside Portland.  It was about 20 degrees cooler there than Oakland, that’s why the guys without coats are shivering in the photo.

divider bar for blogAlso last week I visited St. Leander’s parish, San Leandro, for a Capital Campaign reception.  One of our diocese’s oldest parishes, St. Leander’s has a great diversity of parishioners: Portuguese, Italian, Anglo, and now a large Latino congregation. We held the reception in English and Spanish.  I also got to practice my Italian.

divider bar for blogcristo rey logoOn Thursday we had the kick-off meeting to begin a feasibility study for a new Cristo Rey High School in Oakland. The former director of Catholic Charities, Steve Wilcox, is heading the project, and we were pleased to have representatives from the Chicago-based Cristo Rey Network join us.  This is a unique model, where students attend classes four days a week, and work in a business on the fifth.  The school is designed for students from low-income families who may not have the financial resources for Catholic school tuition.  Money earned by working is applied to their tuition. You’ll definitely hear more about this project in the months ahead.
divider bar for blog Friday evening brought another Capital Campaign reception, this time at St. Margaret Mary parish in Oakland. Fr. Rafal Duda scheduled a Lenten dinner following Stations of the Cross, which insured a huge turnout. St. Margaret Mary’s also attracts parishioners from the West Bay who cross bridges to attend their Extraordinary Form Latin Mass, celebrated by Canon Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

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Thanks to Jay Balza for these photos.

divider bar for blogLast Saturday and Sunday I spent the weekend at St. Isidore’s in Danville.  In my almost two years as bishop of Oakland, I had not yet had the chance to pay an official visit to the parish. I made up for it by preaching at all the Masses . . . so I could literally “meet everybody.”  The pastor, Fr. Gerald Moran and his new vicar Fr. Gerald Pedrera warmly welcomed me to the rectory, as did hundreds of parishioners at coffee and doughnuts after Mass. St. Isidore’s is one of the very few parishes left in California that has a “double” Catholic school: two classes of every grade. I was happy to see so many families at Mass.

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

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.

_ABE4776 Magnificat Leadership

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.)

A Big Gift from the Little Ones

I am moved to joy and tears at the generosity of the students of St. Francis of Assisi School in Concord. They have pledged the amazing sum of $6,000 spread over four years toward “Reclaiming Christ’s Mission Together”, our capital campaign.   They even made a glass church and put our Mission goals on it.

This is so inspiring. It shows that our Faith and the message of Jesus in our diocese is being received and acted upon, even by the little ones, and reminds me of Christ’s words: “Unless you become like this little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)

Thanks to our youngest donors.  Thanks also to Sr. James Marien, principal of St. Francis School.   You are an absolute inspiration to us all! May God reward you!

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