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.

Call to Veterans

Archbishop Broglio

with Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

I’ve written before on this blog and in the Catholic Voice about military service and the role I continue to fill as a Navy chaplain.  There are fewer and fewer Catholics in the Military Chaplain Corps these days. The need has never been greater to attract seminarians to this military ministry to provide pastoral care.

I would like to invite all, particularly Veterans in the Diocese of Oakland, to join me and Archbishop Timothy Broglio at a benefit reception next week to raise interest and support for this ministry.   The reception is on Tuesday, December 9 at 6PM at Marine’s Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco.  For more information click here.  If you would like to attend please RSVP here or to simply make a donation click here

Forming Holy Priests

DSC_0043Last Wednesday, we had a very special gathering at St. Paschal’s Parish in Oakland. We honored Fr. Ken Nobrega, who has been working as our Director of Vocations and is now moving back to parish ministry, and we welcomed Fr. Neal Clemens who is our new Director of Vocations.

This moment helped me to share with our seminarians some of my thoughts about their formation process. As many of you already know, I was very involved in seminary formation before becoming the Bishop of Oakland. I worked at St. Patrick’s Seminary for eight years and at St. John’s Seminary in Boston for three years; but I also had a long experience of formation myself with the Jesuits: I had twelve years of formation before I got ordained, and they gave me a lot of extra training about my own personal needs.

Thus, my thoughts about priestly formation are part from the Jesuits and part diocesan, and I believe that there is no “cookie cutter stamp,” or an automatic process for a man to become a priest: we need to tailor the formation process to the man, to each one, according to the many different backgrounds, strengths, gifts and needs of each one of our candidates. It is my goal that each one of our seminarians will become the best priest each individual can be to serve the needs of our diocese.  That is the goal: be as well prepared as possible to become a holy priest.

As our seminarians are getting ready to start their new school year, let us pray for them, but let us also pray that in our families and parishes many young men will have the courage to hear the call from our Lord: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 Photos:  The Catholic Voice