Saints Patrick and Joseph, and some campaigning

Last week’s activities began on St. Patrick’s Day with an early Mass at St. Patrick’s School in Rodeo. I visited the classrooms as the students arrived at 7:30 a.m.  There was a lot of buzz in the air, as everyone was dressed for St. Patrick.  Some kids even had green hair. I found very happy children, yet reverent and focused during the morning prayer-assembly and later at Mass.  They also have a full kindergarten, as well as preschool, and what looked like pre-pre-preschool . . .  for babies!

Just like when visiting Santa, babies cry when visiting the Bishop!

Just like when visiting Santa, babies cry when visiting the Bishop!

divider bar for blogLater on St. Patrick’s Day we held the funeral Mass for Father Seamus Genovese. There was a very impressive turnout of parishioners and friends, as well as diocesan priests.  Fr. Seamus was my neighbor . . . just a twenty minute walk across the top of Lake Merritt.  He always had a drink and a place ready at the table for guests who dropped in for dinner.  May he rest in peace!

Genovese,Seamus D resizeddivider bar for blogOn the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, when many people are having “a wee dram of the dew” or at least an Irish Coffee, a couple hundred parishioners of St. Joan of Arc parish in San Ramon came to hear me give a talk on “Discernment of Spirits, according to St. Ignatius Loyola.”  This is a method to discover God’s will in one’s life through following the influence of good spirits and recognizing the deceits of evil spirits.  We had a lively discussion. I was glad to see a van full of teenagers attending, as St. Ignatius’s method is particularly helpful in deciding which of many paths to follow in life.

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Photos: Dominique Ghekiere-Mintz

divider bar for blogLast week I continued my Capital Campaign parish visitations with visits to Holy Spirit Fremont, and Good Shepherd, Pittsburg.

Holy Spirit student presentation
A large group of students from Holy Spirit School came to the evening reception and presented me with a Pledge for $2,500!  That’s a lot of sacrificial Twinkies.  As I go around the diocese, it is heartening to see children from many of our schools participating in our campaign to Reclaim Christ’s Mission Together. Thank you, Holy Spirit students.

 

 

Pic 1 Bishop at Church of the Good Shepard In Pittsburg the parish has already achieved 25% of their goal, and I was touched by the number of people who approached me after our presentation to increase their pledges. Thank you for your love and generosity, Good Shepherd!

 

divider bar for blogHearts of loveOn St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, I was invited to St. Joseph’s Grammar School and St. Joseph’s High School in Alameda. We celebrated two Masses in the Basilica, one for each school. We could have had only one Mass, together, in the gym . . . but using the historic church is so much more conducive to prayer.  The elementary school students sang a song at the end of Mass, complete with sword and shield, and hearts of love.

St. Josephs second gradeWhen I visited the Second Grade, the children presented me with a spiritual bouquet. Each “flower” represented a Hail Mary that the kids prayed, complete with a special intention. They read off their intentions. One of them said “We pray that Bishop Barber will be the best bishop in the whole world!”  I think that role has already been filled by Pope Francis.  But what a nice prayer.  I’ll try and live up to that prayer.

St. Joseph high school groupThese St. Joe’s High School students gave me a full tour of the campus.  With 415 students, the school has a close community spirit. It is one of the very few remaining “parish high schools’ on the West Coast.

Fr. George Alengadan and his vicar, Fr. Thi, invited us for lunch — together with the members of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council.  We took advantage of Father’s hospitality to have our monthly Council meeting. Thanks, Fr. George!

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Photos:  Marylea Battaglia

On Saturday I went to St. Mary’s Church in Walnut Creek to confirm 88 young people.  Many family members and friends had to stand throughout the Mass, as the church was filled to overflowing.  One young fellow, Ian Mannix, Seventh Grader at St. Mary’s School, waited patiently in the parking lot for some time, protecting my parking place.  Thank you, Ian!parking spotdivider bar for blogBp with Hermana GlendaOn Saturday evening, our Hispanic Ministries division of the Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization sponsored a concert in Christ the Light Cathedral featuring Hermana Glenda, a nun from Spain.  Meeting her beforehand, Sister Glenda told me that although she has a degree in Scripture from the Jesuit Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, God has called her to teach scripture through singing. She does this quite well, as concert-goers were led not only to listen to her music, but to pray.  The event raised about half the funds needed to support the annual diocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage, Procession and Mass.  Since meeting her, I’ve been listening to Hermana Glenda for free on Pandora.

divider bar for blogOn Sunday March 22, we had two celebrations, which when taken together, express the unity-in-diversity of our diocese:

St Margaret Mary servers

St. Margaret Mary altar servers and Rev. Rafal Duda

In the morning I celebrated Mass and Confirmation at St. Margaret Mary’s parish in Oakland for 15 students.  The Mass and Confirmation rite were in Latin, celebrated in accord with the post-Vatican 2 “Novus Ordo” Missal.  The students responded to the renewal of their baptismal promises with a loud “Credo!”  (“I believe”).   St. Margaret Mary’s is known for celebrating weekly and daily Mass with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite.  Since the group was small, I was able to quiz the kids about who they chose as their confirmation saint-names and why.  A good number spoke to a packed church about the inspiration they drew from their new patrons.

On Sunday afternoon, I was invited by the Oakland Catholic Worker community to celebrate Mass in commemoration of the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero, which took place on March 24, 1980. This year was particularly special, as the Holy Father has just approved the Beatification of Archbishop Romero, which will take place in El Salvador on May 23rd.  So many people attended, we had to have the Mass outside, under tents.  Everything was in Spanish.

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At the request of the Salvadoran Catholic community of our diocese, we will arrange a special Mass in our Cathedral in honor of the Blessed Oscar Romero (date TBA).  I am very proud and pleased at the spiritual and corporal works of mercy offered by the Catholic Worker communities (Oakland and Berkeley) in our diocese.  They quietly and faithfully house immigrants and refugees, shelter those who are in trouble, and consistently feed the poor.  All this service is given with love for Christ and the Church, as exemplified in the life of their founder, Dorothy Day.   I await with hope the day she will likewise be beatified by the Church.

Photos: Raúl Ayrala/The Catholic Voice-El Heraldo Católico

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.