A Very Diverse Week

On Sunday, February 1 I had the great opportunity of celebrating Mass for one of our Korean Catholic congregations, in Pleasanton.  240 families worship in an auditorium of a public school, and the parish rents the classrooms as well for religious education for the children.  With limited facilities, our Korean Catholics do a superb job.  The Mass was reverent, with 100% participation.  There was a choir singing sacred music in Korean and Latin, with cellos and violins.  Afterwards we had a Korean lunch in a warehouse, which the parish rents for their offices. I will be doing everything I can to help this thriving community find a more permanent home.bishop-2 cropped

Photos courtesy of Tri-Valley Korean Catholic Community

divider bar for blogLEMC tweetLater in the week I gave the Keynote address to the annual Convocation of our Lay Ecclesial Ministers (on Friday).  These good folks use their gifts and charisms in many essential roles: administration, youth ministry, religious education, evangelization, music and worship . . . to name a few. I shared with them my “take” on Pope Francis’ vision for the Church: that the parish be a leaven in the community, and not a self-enclosed community, and that we make every effort to grow our parish communities . . . and not be content to be just a “community of the saved.”  Using Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium” I encouraged our Lay Ministers to be bold and creative, and think outside the box.  We had a very lively discussion.  And it was apparently a Twitter sensation!

divider bar for blogBishop, Jack del RioAlso last week I was delighted to meet Jack and Linda del Rio.  As you may have heard, Jack is the newly hired coach for the Oakland Raiders.  They are coming back to the Bay Area from Denver, where Jack was coaching for the Broncos. On behalf of all of you (even 49ers fans!), I welcomed them to our diocese.  They are practicing Catholics, and now members of our family.  I am now praying to “Notre Dame des Victoires” (Our Lady of Victories) on their behalf.

divider bar for blogOn Saturday, Feb. 7 we had a double-header at the Cathedral.  First, the annual Mass for the World Day of the Sick. Begun by Pope St. John Paul II, the Order of Malta organizes the Mass near the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  I was joined by a dozen priests, and many Knights and Dames of Malta.  We administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick during the Mass. It was beautiful to see the faith of our people, in the midst of suffering.  With a bill pending in Sacramento promoting assisted suicide for the ill and elderly, I spoke about the Christian meaning of suffering.  You can listen to my homily here.

Photos:  Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogSaturday evening we began our observance of The Year of Consecrated Life, proclaimed by Pope Francis. This is to honor the consecrated religious: members of religious orders, congregations and institutes, in our diocese.  Holy Family Sister Mary Lange and Conventual Franciscan Father Robert Herbst organized the committee which prepared the Mass.  Being a member of a religious order myself for 41 years, I joined all the Sisters, Brothers and Fathers present as we renewed our vows. I was very pleased by the turnout of dedicated religious, who represent ministries in Catholic education, social work, hospital and detention ministry, evangelization, and care for the poor. I thanked them on your behalf for their contributions to our diocese.   Homily

Photos:  Darwin Sayo/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogThen on Sunday I was invited to join St. Peter the Martyr Parish in Pittsburg as they celebrated their Centenary.  The church was packed, standing room only. The hall below the church was packed as people listened to the Mass on loudspeakers. There was an incredible energy and enthusiasm shown by the parishioners for the Faith.  They have 7 Masses in Spanish each weekend, so I got to practice my Español.   Fr. Ricardo Chavez, whose parents were married in the parish, and who was ordained there in 1963, gave an historical account.  All our Latino seminarians served.  I am hoping for great things — especially vocations — from this vibrant parish. I am proud of the Pastor, Fr. Jesus Hernandez, and vicars Fr. Salvador and Fr. Leonardo.

 Photos: St. Peter Martyr Parish

Catholic Schools Week 2015 and More

Last Sunday (January 25) I began the observance of Catholic Schools Week with a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Fremont.  I had recently dedicated the new church in December, but this was the first time I could see it in daylight, and appreciate the stained glass windows.  The students provided the choir and music for the Mass, under the direction of Sister Janice, O.P., the principal.  In my homily I told the students how much Catholic education had done for me in my life.  Here I am with the Student Council.

BishopStudentCouncildivider bar for blogOn the same Sunday afternoon I celebrated a Confirmation Mass in Spanish in the Cathedral for 36 candidates.  Even though I often have five Confirmation Masses on a weekend, I never get tired of them.  It is thrilling to me to see the joy on the faces of the newly confirmed, as they glory in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (Si se habla español, se puede escuchar a la homilía aqui – Homily.)

Photos: Raul Ayrala/The Catholic Voice

divider bar for blogOn Wednesday we continued the celebration of Catholic Schools Week with Mass for all 800 students, and staff, of Carondelet High School in Concord. It was my first visit to the school.  The young women were exceptional in their respect and reverence during the Mass.  I could see how carefully their campus minister had prepared the servers and readers, and the wonderful music, for the Holy Mass.  Since it was the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of education, I spoke to the girls about the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom, and how the difference was portrayed in one of my favorite shows, Downton Abbey, and the film The Imitation Game.  The faculty and staff of Carondelet are doing an excellent job of forming young women to be friends and disciples of Jesus Christ. Here’s a selfie with a few of the Carondelet students.

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divider bar for blogLater on Wednesday I traveled to St. Patrick’s Seminary to deliver a talk during Compline (Night Prayer Service) for the Order of Malta.  I spoke to them about Pope Francis’ devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.  I have never heard of that particular devotion in the USA (it originated in Bavaria, Germany).  Here’s a photo of the painting of Mary taking the knots out of a Bavarian marriage ribbon.  The story goes that a couple who had been considering divorce went to a Jesuit priest for counseling. They brought him the ribbon which had been used to join their hands in the German custom during their nuptial Mass. The priest prayed to Mary to help them, and as he untied the last knot in the ribbon, it suddenly glowed white. They took it as a sign from Our Lady, and the couple stayed together.  Archbishop Broglio brought a copy of the painting from Germany to Argentina, and the devotion spread. May Our Lady, Undoer of Knots help us undo the knots in our lives.Mary

divider bar for blogOn Thursday I visited the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and celebrated Mass for them.  The Fifth Grade designed a virtual cathedral on their class computer which they delighted in showing me.  They also designed a ship and named it the USS Barber.  I told the teacher to give them each an A+!

Madeleinedivider bar for blogI then went over to the UC Berkeley campus to do something I’ve wanted to do ever since becoming bishop. I wanted to stand with the Catholic students in Sproul Plaza, heart of the campus, and witness to the Catholic faith.  St. Paul himself preached in the central marketplace of Athens on behalf of Jesus.  Our “Catholics at Cal” regularly set up a table, hand out brochures with Mass times, give holy cards, and most importantly, present a friendly and welcoming face on behalf of Christ and His Church. I am so proud of these students, and their Paulist chaplains who support them.  It was fun!

Sprouldivider bar for blogOn Friday I was invited to a reception to meet the new mayor of Oakland, the Hon. Libby Schaaf.  Fr. Jay Matthews, our new Rector of the Cathedral, accompanied me.  Leaders of all faith groups in Oakland were invited. The mayor is very personable and told us of some of her priorities: affordable housing, reconciliation in the community, improvement in education – especially for Pre-K children.  It was also one of the first opportunities I had to meet representatives of so many churches and faiths in Oakland. It was a very positive and hope-filled evening.

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