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November 20, 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

A strategic plan for ministries of our new cathedral

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Before I move on to the principal theme for my column this week, I want to say a word about November being the “Month of the Holy Souls”. Since the second day of this month is the Commemoration of All Souls, it is appropriate for us to intensify our prayers for the souls in purgatory at this season.

From the first days of the Church when the Apostles themselves guided the Christian community, we have, like the great Jewish hero, Judas Maccabeus, recognized that “it was a holy and pious thought… to pray for the dead” (2 Macc 12:44-45).

My aim here is not to set out a full exposition of the Church’s doctrine on prayers for the dead and Purgatory (for that, see The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1030-1032, 1054-1055), but rather simply to recommend ever more ardent prayers for the dead this month.

First of all, prayers for our deceased relatives – especially our parents – and for our friends and our benefactors is incumbent on us as a solemn duty. We owe so much to these people, and they have every right to count on the help of our prayers as they pass through the last stage of being readied to see God.

I also think it is very good to pray for those, as I put it, at whose passing out of this world we were privileged to assist by our involvement in their final illness or in their wake or burial.
Finally, let us all give a special place in our prayer for those in Purgatory who are forgotten and have no one to pray for them. The Church is a great family of grace, and we can be sure that those whose passage to heaven we support will, in turn, be sure to aid us with their prayers before God’s throne.

The other topic I want to discuss with you is our new cathedral, now rising out of the ground on the corner of Harrison and Grand, across from Lake Merritt.

During the first couple of weeks during my recuperation after the surgery on my left arm, I had a lot of time to think ahead, not just to the day when we celebrate the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, but also to the days after that, when we begin to live our life as the Church of Oakland with this great new reality as the center for our prayer and apostolate.

In these reflections I came to an even keener insight into the significance of this new institution we are establishing in the East Bay.

Home for the faith family
As we have said from the start of this project, we are not constructing a monument, but building a new home for the faith-family of our diocese. It is the mother church and home for all the members of the Church in Oakland.

As an elegant architectural work of the highest quality, it is both a powerful symbol of our presence in the East Bay as witnesses to Christ the Light, -and it is the foremost resource for our diocese to make Christ’s Light shine out here through our worship and works of evangelization, teaching and service, to draw the people of the East Bay to the Kingdom the Lord is building.

To be sure that the cathedral will excel in fulfilling its mission, which is so indispensable if the Church in Oakland is to do her part in the New Evangelization, I have asked Sister Rose Marie Hennessy, OP, who is recognized as an outstanding leader in our diocese, to join the Cathedral’s Board of Trustees and to chair its Ministries Committee. I am deeply grateful that she has agreed.

Sister Rose Marie’s committee will spend the next several months developing a strategic plan for the ministries that we will, at the cathedral, offer to the communities of the East Bay that extend beyond the parish family that will also make the Cathedral their new home. (Fr. Quang Dong, as pastor of that group, is working with the Parish Pastoral Council on a similar plan.)

The “supra-parochial” or diocesan-wide constituencies the committee is focusing on include both the faithful from the diocese and our neighbors in the civic community of the East Bay.

Three-fold ministries
I have asked Sister Rose Marie to structure this plan around the three-fold division of a bishop’s own ministry, since the ministries of the cathedral are extension of my service to all of you.

So, the Ministries Committee will plan for (a) the ministries of liturgy, prayer and devotion, (b) the cathedral ministries of evangelization, catechesis and faith-formation, and (c) the cathedral ministries of service to the Kingdom.

The cathedral’s liturgical and devotional ministries offer the examples that probably come most easily to mind: the Chrism Mass, ordinations, and enrollment of catechumens. I want the committee to also consider new events, e.g. annual celebrations to bring together police officers, teachers, lawyers, and health-care professionals.

The cathedral’s teaching ministries will offer programs not only for Catholics, but for our neighbors, too. One such ministry will be the service of “docents” who will give tours to the cathedral’s visitors, so that this great building truly serves as a window onto the Light of Christ.

I hope the committee will also consider how through concerts and other artistic presentations the wisdom and goodness and beauty of Christ can be shared with others.

In regard to the cathedral’s ministries of service, in addition to whatever else the committee proposes, I am asking them especially to identify ways to ensure that everyone who comes to the cathedral is called to consider becoming involved with the programs and projects that already do so much to help our sisters and brothers who live on the margins of our community.

Yes, we can start some new works of service at the cathedral, but there is important good to be done by calling on new workers to join in the great projects already underway.

I find great happiness in serving as the leader in our efforts to build the Cathedral of Christ the Light. But, I am even more excited about the future for our Church in Oakland that we will be building on the foundation of this new reality that is now under construction.

Building the Cathedral of Christ the Light represents a second “launch” for our diocese: A moment to gather up the great graces and blessings and achievements of our past, and, with the renewed energy generated by our new home, to start afresh in fulfilling our mission as bearers of Christ’s light.


Previous "In His Light" Columns by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron

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