ONLINE
JANUARY 10, 2005

INSIDE
THIS ISSUE

Carmelites live vocation of prayer
Chancery reorganization focuses on
improving ministry of catechesis
Christian Brothers to pay $6.3 million
in abuse settlements to former students
$100 million priest abuse settlement
with Orange Diocese unsealed Jan. 3

Oakland Diocese hands over documents related to clergy sex abuse cases

Parochial administrator assigned
to St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish

Father Herrera named administrator
at St. Barnabas Parish in Alameda

The spirit of Christmas in photos
West Coast Walk for Life set
for Jan. 22 in San Francisco

New president named
for St. Mary’s College

Death penalty opponent to speak

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises offered
in new format at Alameda parish

Commentary:

• Don’t overlook Catholicism’s positive stories

Obituaries

• Father John Ranallo
• Deacon Isidoro R. Flores

Sister M. Philippa Patnude, PBVM

 

 

 

Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.

BISHOP
VIGNERON

FRONT PAGE
FRONT PAGE

Fremont priest tells of tsunami’s toll

By Monica Clark
Editor

Father Roberto Corral, head of the Western Dominican Province, has apologized to the neighbors of St. Albert Priory for not informing them that seven Dominican friars accused of sexual misconduct with minors are living on the priory grounds in Oakland’s Rockridge District.

In a Dec. 2 letter distributed to homes throughout the neighborhood, he invited residents to a “town hall” meeting Dec. 14 to express their concerns and to hear why the men are living with other Dominicans in two houses on the secluded property near Chabot Elementary and Claremont Middle schools. Parents of the students were also invited to the meeting.

He emphasized that all the men are under supervision and that he is confident that no one in the neighborhood is at risk.

None of the six priests and one Brother have been convicted of sex crimes or are registered sex offenders and none are engaged in any kind of public ministry. Nor may they have any contact with children or teenagers, Father Corral told The Voice.

In a separate letter read at Masses in Dominican parishes throughout the Bay Area, Dec. 4-5, Father Corral reiterated his regret that the community had not communicated earlier with neighbors, but reassured parishioners that the province has acted responsibly during the 10 years the men have lived at St. Albert’s.

With one exception, all of the allegations are for misconduct between 20 and 45 years ago, he said. The other is for misconduct in 1999 by a priest at Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch. One incident of abuse involved a child and the others involved young men and women between 15 and 18 years old. Six of the men are between 65 and 77 years old. The seventh is 40.

All the cases were reported to police in the jurisdiction in which the abuse allegedly took place, but none of the men were prosecuted either because the allegation could not be proven or the victim did not want to press charges.

But the Dominicans believed the accusations were sufficiently credible for the men to be removed from ministry and for the Province to pay for counseling for their victims, he said. One civil suit has been filed against the Province for abuse in southern California.

Father Corral said all seven men are now under “varying degrees of restriction and supervision deemed appropriate to each case.” The most recent offender, who arrived at St. Albert’s two years ago, may not leave the property without a companion except for brief errands such as picking up someone at the airport, Father Corral said. In that case, he must sign in and out, giving the exact times of his departure and return.

The men also receive psychological counseling.

Father Corral told the neighbors that “Combining the counsel of the finest mental health experts who have worked with these men individually with our own sustained experience of these men, we are confident that no one in our neighborhood – particularly children – has been placed at any risk whatsoever because of their presence.”

However, he acknowledged that recent media coverage about the situation has ignited a “variety of distressing feelings” for some neighbors. “I deeply regret that,” he wrote.

Information about the seven Dominicans first surfaced publicly about six months ago when members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) put flyers on neighborhood car windows and an article appeared in the independent news monthly “San Francisco Faith,” said Carla Hass, spokesperson for the Dominican Province.

No neighbors complained at that time, she said. But after a Channel 7 news report on Nov. 28 and a flurry of newspaper articles, the Dominicans decided to schedule the Dec. 14 meeting to provide “some corrective to the inflammatory and heavily inaccurate
reporting and soliciting,” said Father Corral.

The Province has an explicit sexual misconduct policy, adopted in 2002, which details how allegations of sexual misconduct with minors are to be handled. They are reported to the appropriate civil authorities and also investigated by the Province’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board. The Board is made up of two friars and three lay persons, one of whom is a practicing psychologist or psychiatrist. Two of the members are mothers.

In addition to outlining how to handle accusations, the policy sets forth strict regulations to prevent abuse or even the appearance of impropriety. For example, no friar can have a minor, including a relative, in his bedroom unless another adult is present. Nor can a friar travel with a minor or sleep in the same room with a minor without another adult present.

With the exception of the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, no friar can meet with a minor unless the room has a window that allows others to see inside the room or the door of the room is left ajar.

Father Corral said the Dominicans decided to place the seven men at St. Albert’s because the priory could insure both appropriate supervision and the spiritual and physical care of the men. Seminarians also living at St. Albert’s know of the accusations, he said, adding that Dominicans accused of misconduct with young adult males are not housed there.

The Dominicans informed both Bishop John Cummins and Bishop Allen Vigneron of their decision. The accused men do not have faculties for public ministry in the Oakland Diocese. They can say Mass in the private chapel at St. Albert’s and provide their Dominican community with such internal ministries as bookkeeping and gardening.

The restrictions placed on the men “far exceed what the state requires of offending parolees,” Father Corral said. There have been no reports of any misconduct since the men moved to St. Albert’s, he added.

At least 10 registered sex offenders live in the neighborhood, according to press reports.


Where to donate for tsunami relief

The following Catholic organizations are accepting donations for victims of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tidal waves that affected Indian Ocean countries.
Funds should be earmarked for “tsunami relief” or “tidal wave disaster.”

Catholic Relief Services
– phone: (800) 736-3467; online: www.catholicrelief.org; mail: CRS, 209 W. Fayette, St. Baltimore, MD 21201-3443.

Catholic Near East Welfare Association
– phone: (800) 442-6392; online:
www. cnewa.org
; mail: CNEWA, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195.

Jesuit Refugee Services
– phone: (202) 462-0400; online:www.jesref.org; mail: 1616 P. Street NW, Suite 300, Washington D.C. 20036-1405.

The Pontifical Missions Societies in the United States
have established a special fund for long-term assistance to the Church in affected Asian countries, especially Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Contributions may be earmarked: Southeast Asia Solidarity Fund and sent to Pontifical Mission Societies, 366 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10001.

Also, the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is collecting donations for society councils in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. Contributions may be sent to: The National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 58 Progress Parkway, St. Louis, MO 63043-3706, or be made online at: www.svdpusa.org.


 

Four local churches hit by vandalism, theft

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Acts of theft and vandalism in four local churches over the past several months have left parishioners and staff members saddened and wary while they ponder the motives behind the crimes.

Theft may have been the incentive for at least three of the acts, which took place in late spring and again in December.

In two of the incidents someone tried to break into the St. Vincent de Paul poor box, and in one a thief made off with the entire tabernacle.

The most serious crime was the theft of the tabernacle at St. Isidore Church in Danville. The 20-by-20 inch gold-plated receptacle was reported missing the morning of Dec. 3, along with the Blessed Sacrament and chalices.

The tabernacle had been broken away from its cement base on the altar and taken sometime during the night.

At St. Barnabas Church in Alameda in late May or early June and again at St. Edward Church in Newark on the weekend of Dec. 11, thieves tried to break into the poor boxes but failed. Precious Blood Father Jeff Keyes, St. Edward’s pastor, said the door of the box had been “damaged pretty severely.”

Someone had also pried open the door of the tabernacle, but the Blessed Sacrament appeared untouched.

At St. Barnabas an intruder, who apparently forced the way in through a stained glass window, removed the crucifix from its place, set it on the altar, and sprayed the altar with paint.

About one month later, in June, someone broke a window in the back of St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon and sprayed paint on the altar and outside steps.

In both cases the crucifix was damaged and the word “IF” spray-painted on the altar. Deacon Charles Stanton at St. Joan of Arc said the body of Jesus was torn off the cross and laid on the altar, and outside at the two main entrances, images of bows and arrows and “IF” followed by three dots were applied with spray paint.

Father Keyes said he discovered the damage to the tabernacle when he arrived at 4 a.m. Dec. 12 for “mañanitas” to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

“It left a sick feeling in my stomach for most of that morning liturgy,” he said. After the tabernacle was repaired, Father Keyes blessed the receptacle and replaced the Blessed Sacrament within it.

Staff members now check carefully before closing up at night, he said, and at St. Isidore the church has cut back the hours it remains open to the public, closing at 7 p.m. instead of 9:30 p.m. as in the past.

The churches have also repaired the damage to their altars, refinishing vandalized crucifixes and, at St. Isidore, replacing the vanished tabernacle with one from the chapel. A parishioner at the Danville parish has offered $10,000 to replace the stolen tabernacle, which was estimated to be worth $9,000.

According to Father Ray Breton, judicial vicar for the diocese, Bishop Allen Vigneron has asked for investigations into the incidents at St. Isidore and St. Edward. The diocese also reported the theft of the tabernacle and Blessed Sacrament to the Holy See, he said.

If it is shown that the Eucharist was intentionally profaned, Father Breton said, the bishop will call for a penitential rite to be performed at the church. In any case, he said, parishes should follow liturgical norms, which state that tabernacles should be secure and bolted in place.

 


INSIDE THIS ISSUE



Carmelites live vocation of prayer

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

It is a life hidden from the world, behind high walls and iron grilles and far from the feverish pace beyond the cloister. But at the same time it is a life dedicated to the world through constant prayer on behalf of all.

“It’s not for ourselves,” said a nun in the Kensington Monastery of Christ the Exiled King. “It’s for all mankind.”

For more than 50 years she has spent her days here in solitude and silence, praying the Liturgy of the Hours in community, doing chores, responding to prayer requests, keeping the rule established by St. Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.

“The only reason for our life,” the nun said, “is the pursuit of the interior life of prayer, and this is for all.”
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns, who have been praying in their quiet hilltop cloister since 1950, are a community of six Sisters, devoted to solitude and shunning publicity. Over their five decades in the Diocese of Oakland, they have declined interviews – until this fall, when they acceded to a request by Bishop Allen Vigneron.

Recent years have been “a phase of communal suffering,” the nun said, because members of the community are growing older and fewer, and it has become more difficult to carry out work duties and meet the obligations of prayer.

But recently a transfer from the Philippines, a woman in her early 50s who has already spent 22 years as a Carmelite, has brought the Sisters additional help.

The nuns have all responded to the call that has been the same for centuries, according to Sister Mary of the Angels, the prioress. One of these Sisters wrote in a recent statement, that when she was a young woman, “standing on the threshold of life, I looked out over the world – my world – and saw the teeming millions of people – my people of today – in every kind of want, suffering and misery.”

She asked herself what she, with her own talents and skills – “so small, so few” – could offer, and she decided that she would “stand before God in prayer for my people of today, in their name, on their behalf.”

The Sister said her first sense of vocation came to her when she was 10 years old, praying at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. She knew then that she would be a nun, and in time she saw that her call was to the contemplative life. Many of the nuns grew up in the Bay Area, and Sister Mary, like the two prioresses before her, was raised in Oakland.

Arrival in Kensington

The founders of the Monastery of Christ the Exiled King came from the Carmel of the Infant Jesus in Santa Clara, which had planned to establish a monastery in China with the help of Jesuit missionaries, but in 1948 as the nuns were preparing to sail to China, the communist takeover and suppression of religious life put an end to their plans.

The Santa Clara monastery had become too crowded – Carmels are limited to 21 members - so the Sisters looked elsewhere and, with help from friends beyond the walls, found the site in Kensington. Sister Mary arrived as a postulant with eight others and has spent every day of her life there since.
The new Carmel took the name of Christ the Exiled King in reference to the expulsion of religious from China.

The Sisters have been an international group from the beginning, with two Guamanians who are sisters by blood and one Japanese. Although they all came with a longing for contemplative life, each had her story to tell. One joined the order with a deep sense of gratitude. She had lost her sight during a bout of meningitis and regained it in one eye with the help of prayer and Holy Water from Lourdes.
“She wanted to give herself totally to God and especially to Our Lady, who cured her,” Sister Mary said. The nun became the monastery cook.

A life of silence

Cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, mending, preparing vestments and altar cloths are all part of the routine of daily life. During recreation times each day the Sisters do some of this handiwork. They also package altar breads for customers around the country.

In past years, the Sisters baked the bread themselves, but as their numbers dwindled – from a high of 13 to a low of five – and they grew older, the demands of the work became too great. Now they buy in bulk and send orders through the mail.

During recreation, an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, the nuns converse. Otherwise they keep silence, speaking only as necessary during household chores.

They gather in the choir for the Liturgy of the Hours, beginning at 5:30 a.m. with Morning Prayer and ending at 9 p.m. with the Office of Readings. In between they pray the Hours at five times during the day and spend an hour morning and evening in mental prayer. They recite the rosary in common after recreation.

It is a demanding schedule, broken by mealtimes and recreation. In observance of the monastic fast, they eat one full meal, dinner, at midday, and take simple breakfasts and suppers. Silence and solitude is their charism.

On special feasts they can converse all day, and this is a luxury in their austere life. The nuns have no possessions of their own; on most days they have no heat in the monastery; they read no secular literature; they never eat meat, and they are allowed one family visit each month.

Nevertheless, they know what is happening beyond their walls. It is the task of one of the Sisters to listen to daily news on the radio and inform the others. They also learn from visitors and family members.

Prayer requests
A handful of outsiders come to daily Mass in the public chapel, where they can hear the Sisters chant the responses from their choir on the other side of the grille. And a few visitors – perhaps two to three a day – enter the lobby and stop at the “turn,” a revolving cylinder set in the wall, like the package receptacle in a post office.

Visitors can ring a bell to summon the “turn Sister,” who will unlock the cylinder from the other side and rotate the open side toward the lobby. Some come with prayer requests, which they write on a sheet of paper; others place donations of food, flowers or money on the turn. The Carmelites never solicit these donations, though they accept them with gratitude.

The turn Sister speaks to visitors through the walls of the turn, but she cannot be seen. She listens to those with urgent requests and takes their prayer needs to the community or prioress. Sometimes people of other faiths come.

“We are living for the people who are asking for these prayers,” one Sister said, and although the nuns do not give spiritual direction, they have helped many simply by providing a quiet refuge for prayer in the chapel and by assuring those in pain of their spiritual support.

A cousin of one of the nuns said her advice and letters over the years have brought solace in the most difficult times. “I’ve been keeping correspondence with her since my late teens,” the woman said. “She was a great help when my dad died, leaving seven children. For me, I know that their prayers are invaluable.”

Occasional visitors
Like other relatives of the cloistered nuns, she has visited in the “speak room,” an area off the lobby, which is divided into two parts, the inner side, behind an iron grille and shutters, and the outer side with chairs for visitors. The nuns draw back the shutters and speak through the grille.

She’s seen her cousin at least once each year since she was a child, the woman said, and the nun has always appeared serene and content with her life. “I’ve never found her other than full of hope and joy,” she said. “There wasn’t any other place that she would want to be.”

Her cousin had a masters’ degree in psychology and was 25 when she entered, the woman said. She has been at the monastery since its founding. “God led her to Carmel and she’s never looked back.”
From the time they enter as postulants, the nuns leave only for medical appointments. They spend at least one year in the postulancy and two years in the novitiate before they make their temporary profession. After three years – more, in special circumstances – they take their final vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and receive a black veil.

During these years, Sister Mary said, the aspirants learn “the rudiments of the interior life” based on “the guidelines of our Holy Father St. John of the Cross and our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila.” By the time they make their final profession, she said, they usually know whether they are truly called to live a contemplative life.

“Here,” said one of the Sisters, “there isn’t anything that could attract anyone except the life of prayer.” And this life has its own trials and sufferings. “It’s a sharing in our Lord’s redemptive suffering,” she said.

Relationship with God
The reward, the nun said, “is that deep relationship with our Lord. I never dreamed before I entered the Carmelite life that such a deep intensity was possible this side of heaven.”

The Sisters depend totally on God and the good will of others. Outsiders, some of them Third Order Carmelites, act as externs, mailing packages, driving the nuns to medical appointments, bringing in the small necessities of their cloistered life. Once a month a Dominican priest comes to hear confessions.
Since the beginning, priests from Salesian High School in Richmond have celebrated daily Mass in the chapel. The Salesian Fathers are their “faithful chaplains,” Sister Mary has written in a reflection on their life, and the Sisters “cherish this association, offering their prayerful support of the Fathers’ teaching apostolate in a spiritual union on behalf of the young, for whom the Fathers so generously give themselves.”

Otherwise, the nuns avoid outside contact, and are perhaps the most secluded of the 64 Carmelite monasteries in the United States. They were probably the last, Sister Mary said, to acquire a computer for e-mail.

“That is our ideal,” one of the nuns said, “that we should be hidden. It is the vocation to hiddenness.”


 

Chancery reorganization focuses on
improving ministry of catechesis

By Voice staff

A major reorganization of diocesan offices took effect Jan. 1 with 18 members of four departments consolidated into one – the Department of Parish Catechetical Outreach (DPCO), located at the central Chancery office in Oakland.

The affected departments were Ethnic Pastoral Centers, Family Life, Parish Resources, and Youth and Young Adults.

As part of the consolidation, the Family Life Office in Concord was closed and its marriage preparation classes transferred to another diocesan site in Concord, the former Casa Hispana now called Bethany House.

The department merger resulted from a months-long task-force study to trim $1.5 million from the Chancery budget and to create a more integrated delivery of catechetical resources to parishes.

Michael Canizzaro, chief financial officer for the diocese, said the budget reduction was necessary because of reduced rent paid to the diocese from Catholic cemeteries, allocation of funds for seismic retrofitting and delayed capital maintenance of subsidized parishes, and “very poor returns on investments in the diocesan portfolio.”

Besides closing the Family Life Office, the task force recommended a 10 percent reduction in all diocesan departments operating expenses, additional reductions in subsidies to St. Joseph Center for the Deaf and the Special Religious Education (SPRED) departments, the transfer of some costs for long-term care of priests to parishes, and the transfer of some immigration services costs to Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

As part of the restructuring, the diocesan School Department moved from its Oakland headquarters into a neighboring diocesan building. Canizzaro plans to rent the former schools building as well as the Family Life Office to generate up to $150,000 per year.

The new DPCO is charged with serving as a resource to parishes and pastoral centers in their ministries, especially catechesis. The DPCO staff will continue to work in their areas of specialization, for example, youth and young adult ministry.
But they will also divide into regional teams to maintain communication with parishes to ascertain their needs and assist them in tapping into the available resources within the department.

The specialities within DPCO are: catechetics, liturgy, family life, small Christian communities, Respect Life, social justice, youth and young adults, and ministries within the African American and Vietnamese communities.

Evangelization, multicultural sensitivity, Stewardship and pastoral councils will be absorbed into the department later this year, said Sister Barbara Flannery, chancellor. She is overseeing DPCO until a director is hired.

Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and Catholic scouting are no longer part of the youth department, but rather have become a separate department.

The ethnic pastoral centers department is charged with redefining its mission to foster inclusion, to enhance cultural competence and to help ethnic populations avoid marginalization.

The reorganization plan also called for a part-time director of diocesan liturgies and a part-time diocesan communications director. Both positions have been filled. Father Denis Des Rosiers is the diocesan liturgist and Father Mark Wiesner is in charge of communications.

The central services budget is primarily funded through parish assessments, the annual Bishop’s Appeal, revenue collected by departments for services rendered, and investment returns.

A 12-member committee, chaired by Father Larry Silva, moderator of the Curia, developed the reorganization plan.


 

Christian Brothers to pay $6.3 million
in abuse settlements to former students

By Voice staff

The Christian Brothers have agreed to pay $6.3 million to three former students of De La Salle High School who claimed that members of the order abused them more than 20 years ago.

The men, now in their 30s and 40s, allege that the sexual abuse took place off campus while they were students at the Concord school in the 1970s and 80s. One said a counselor molested him at a youth retreat center in Napa, and another claimed that he was abused during a school ski trip. An award of $4 million went to one of the plaintiffs.

The suits filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court claimed that the Christian Brothers had covered up the allegations of abuse. But after the settlement was announced on Dec. 23, attorneys and plaintiffs gave the Brothers credit for acknowledging the abuse and taking efforts to prevent future problems.

The suits were brought in December 2003, during a one-year window when the state lifted the statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse claims. Hundreds of other claims in Northern and Southern California have yet to be tried or settled.
Most of these have been brought against dioceses.

The men, one teacher and two counselors, who were accused of abusing the students at De La Salle, are no longer associated with the Christian Brothers. Their names have not been released.


$100 million priest abuse settlement
with Orange Diocese unsealed Jan. 3

By Associated Press

Alleged victims of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Orange sobbed as a judge unsealed the details of a record $100 million settlement, Jan. 3.

The settlement, reached Dec. 2, is the single largest clergy abuse settlement to date, surpassing the $85 million the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay 552 plaintiffs in 2002. It resolves 90 lawsuits against the diocese that included allegations against 31 priests, 10 lay personnel, one religious Brother and two nuns.

Half of the payout will come from the diocese and the other half will be paid by its eight insurance carriers.

Orange Bishop Tod Brown, seated alongside plaintiffs and their attorneys, said, “Let this be what everyone remembers from today: that nothing is more important than the protection of our children and our youth.” He apologized to the victims and asked for their forgiveness.

Other Church officials said the settlement will make the diocese a “holier, humbler and healthier church” and invited the victims to evening vespers at the diocesan cathedral.


Oakland Diocese hands over documents
related to clergy sex abuse cases

By Voice staff

The Diocese of Oakland has met a court ordered deadline for submitting documents concerning priests accused of abuse and continues to take part in settlement talks involving current cases, according to a diocesan attorney.

In response to a Dec. 17 order by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw, the diocese submitted documents to the court by Dec. 28 as required. It was not first time the diocese has done so, diocesan attorney Steve McFeely said. Over the past several months, Oakland had already handed over files and other material. “This was the second or third cut,” he said.

Judge Sabraw is coordinating pretrial procedures in 150 Northern California claims filed under a 2002 law that lifted the statute of limitations for one year.
The judge is also involved in settlement talks in advance of two trials scheduled to begin on March 7.

One of the trials involves Robert Ponciroli, an inactive priest accused of molesting boys when he served at St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch in the 1970s and 80s.
The other is a claim based in San Jose.

In handing over the material, McFeely said, the diocese withheld some of the documents and contested the order to submit the material. Judge Sabraw was to rule on these documents Jan. 5.


Parochial administrator assigned to
St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

Father Terry Tompkins admits that he was “somewhat stunned” last month when Bishop Allen Vigneron asked him to serve as parochial administrator at St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in San Leandro, where he had been living for the past five months.

The priest, who has been a parochial vicar at half a dozen parishes in the Oakland Diocese since his 1982 ordination, delighted in a more modest pastoral role. “I think of myself as a ‘simple country priest,’” he told The Voice.

But he vows to do his best in his new assignment, which became effective Jan. 1. “I will strive to be worthy of his confidence in me,” said the 53-year-old priest, who replaces Deacon George Peters who served as parish life director for the last six years.

Father Tompkins said he’s been “warmly received” by the parishioners and is looking forward to working more closely with them.

“I will do lots of listening and consulting as together we chart our course as a faith community.”
Father Tompkins is a native of Oakland who was raised in Corpus Christi Parish in Piedmont, where he attended grammar school. “Yes, of course, I was an altar boy!” he said proudly.

After graduating from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of San Francisco. Later, as a Teamster, he drove trucks, operated overhead cranes and did warehouse work by day while studying for a master’s degree in criminology at San Jose State University at night. He intended to work in law enforcement, “until the call to serve a ‘higher and more noble law’ became clear to me,” he said.

His journey to religious life took the then 27-year-old to Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, a Benedictine abbey and seminary, where he spent “four glorious years” (1978 – 82) preparing for the priesthood. “I’ll always be grateful for the monastic spirituality in which I was immersed as well as the academics,” said Father Tompkins, who received a master’s degree in divinity and a master of arts in theology from the Oregon seminary.

He returned to the Oakland Diocese in the summer of 1982 and was ordained that November. He served as a parochial vicar at St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek, Good Shepherd in Pittsburg, St. Leander in San Leandro, St. Isidore in Danville, St. Ambrose in Berkeley, and Holy Spirit in Fremont.

In addition to his pastoral assignments, the priest gained Bay Area-wide attention during the 1980s for his work in the pro-life movement. He picketed abortion clinics, counseled women in crisis pregnancies, and participated in Operation Rescue.

He was arrested at least a half dozen times, usually for trespassing or disturbing the peace as a result of those protests. Other than spending about a day in jail, he did “a lot of community service.”
“My heart is still in that ministry,” Father Tompkins said. Once he settles in at St. Alphonsus he plans to resume his pro-life activities. These include identifying a local abortion clinic and going there at least once a week to pray the Rosary along with several parishioners who are also interested in the ministry.

Father Tompkins brings a sense of mission and joy to his new assignment. Asked to identify his ministerial gifts, he cited preaching the Holy Word and presiding at Eucharist as his “number one love.” From there, he added, “it’s reconciling and teaching and the myriad of other wonderful tasks that it is my distinct privilege to perform as a priest of God.”

“I love God and I love his people. I make sure that I find joy deep within the passing of every single day.”

Father Tompkins has nurtured that joy in various ways. A few years ago the priest, who was born on July 4, sang the national anthem at an Oakland A’s game. And he once substituted for TV weatherman Joel Bartlett.

“That one was for the books,” he recalled. “I proudly wore my clerical garb and claimed that I could ‘guarantee’ the weather forecast because I was in direct contact with the author of nature himself! I guess it could be said that I’m not ‘shy.’ And certainly not shy in His service.”


Father Herrera named administrator
at St. Barnabas Parish in Alameda

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

The new year marks a new beginning for Father Anthony Herrera who became parochial administrator at St. Barnabas Parish in Alameda on Jan. 1.

“I’m excited,” said Father Herrera, who has spent the past several years as a parochial vicar in several parishes.

The Oakland Diocese resumed administration of the parish late last year when the Society of the Precious Blood withdrew because of a personnel shortage. They had served the parish since 1955.

A native of Hayward and a graduate of Moreau High School there, Father Herrera attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga for one year before he began working in the catering business.
After completing his studies at St. Joseph College Seminary, he attended St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park for one year. Then he went to teach in a southern California high school, worked as a laborer in Montana, and became a chef and food advisor in northern California before returning to St. Patrick’s to complete his seminary studies.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1991, Father Herrera has been a parochial vicar at All Saints Parish in Hayward, St. Augustine in Pleasanton (now the Catholic Community of Pleasanton), and at St. Isidore in Danville. He served briefly as pastor at St. Columba Parish in Oakland.
Father Herrera hopes to put into practice the lessons he has learned from some of the most astute teachers who knows — his fellow priests.

“I’ve been very lucky because I have had very good teachers,” he said.

Msgr. Manuel Simas gave the younger priest a simple message – the love of Christ must be connected to everything. Father Dan Danielson advised Father Herrera to “do your homework” before starting any project. And Father Bob McCann instilled in him the importance of getting to know the members of his parish community.

“That means it is not enough just to say ‘hello’ at Sunday Mass,” Father Herrera said.
With this in mind Father Herrera’s initial goal is to listen to his new parishioners to learn how he can best serve them. For the first several weeks he plans to draw on the skills he learned as a chef.

“It’s like I am creating a salad. Before I put the dressing on, I need see what is in the salad bowl because the wrong dressing will destroy what’s there. Right now, I’m getting the salad ready and when it’s together then I will be able to know this is what I can offer, this is what I can do.”

He is especially eager to meet the youth of the parish and its school. He has served on the diocesan school board and as a spiritual director to the diocesan delegation attending the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver. He recalled a teenager who told him eight years ago, “You know, Father, you don’t need to be my friend: I just need you to listen.”

“I’ve never forgotten that,” said the 45-year-old priest. “I’ve tried very hard to do that.”


Celebrating
the spirit
of Christmas

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron walks with Armando Medina and his cousin Cristal Medina as they begin the Las Posadas – the traditional Mexican dramatization of the search for lodging in Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary – in the neighborhood surrounding St. Louis Bertrand Parish. Behind Bishop Vigneron is Father Antonio Valdivia, pastor, leading the singing.

CHRIS DUFFEY PHOTO

The teachers and staff at St. Theresa School in Oakland created outlandish holiday outfits for a fund-raising fashion show. Students voted for their favorite creation, raising $150 to buy gifts for the residents of Elizabeth House in Oakland.

Tom McMahon checks on a load of 1784 turkeys being given to parish groups, area churches, St. Vincent de Paul, and Catholic Charities of the East Bay programs for distribution to needy families. McMahon spearheads the Turkey Fund, a joint project of his employer Merrill Lynch and Catholic Charities.

Eduardo Gonzalez and his son, Eduardo, Jr., sing during Las Posadas, Dec. 20, in St. Louis Bertrand Parish. The observance can be traced to the Christianization of the Aztecs by Augustinian priests in Mexico.

CHRIS DUFFEY PHOTO

A student from St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley joins volunteers from around the diocese to sort and distribute gifts during the annual Project Joybells toy drive at Catholic Charities of the East Bay. About 700 children received toys.

Jolynn Kelly, a kindergartner at St. Catherine School in Martinez, holds one of the many shoeboxes full of gifts which students and their families filled for needy children. The students also donated a barrel of food to the Contra Costa Food Bank.

The Cub Scouts of St. Peter Martyr School march in the Pittsburg Christmas Parade, taking home a second place ribbon. Pack 98’s projects include Habitat for Humanity and Scouting for Food.

This holiday quilt celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Eid-al-Fitr was hand painted by the residents of Mercy Retirement and Care Center with the assistance of Artist-in-Residence Lisa Kokin.


 

West Coast Walk for Life set
for Jan. 22 in San Francisco

 

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

As the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion goes into its 32nd year, a coalition of pro-life groups are planning a West Coast gathering on Jan. 22 in solidarity with the annual March for Life demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 24.

The first annual Walk for Life West Coast will begin at 11 a.m. in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza. Organizers, who expect participants from throughout the West Coast and Alaska, have a police permit for 10,000-20,000. The longtime East Coast counterpart march in Washington D.C., has drawn anywhere from 20,000 to 250,000.

Featured speakers in San Francisco will be Sally Winn, vice president of Feminists for Life, a national non-sectarian grass roots organization; Georgette Forney, executive director of Episcopalians for Life and co-founder of Silent No More Awareness, an organization of women who regret having had abortions; and Baptist Pastor Clenard Childress, regional director of Life Education and Resource Network, a group which brings attention to the 1,452 African American children aborted each day.

At noon, following the trio’s addresses, marchers will begin a two-mile walk to Marina Greens, where pro-life groups will provide information on post-abortion counseling, crisis pregnancy support services, abstinence programs and other pro-life/pro-family services.

Vicki Evans, Respect Life coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said the organizers are working to include feminists and minorities in the walk.
“We didn’t want to make this just a Catholic event or just a religious event, because the people in the pro-life movement cut across all of society,” she said.
“The more broad-based support for the walk, the better are our chances of showing society that there are a great number of people in all walks of life, all religions and all economic levels, who support life. It is a human dignity issue.”

San Francisco Archbishop William Levada and Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang are expected to join in the walk. Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron will join Archbishop Levada in concelebrating a Mass for Life on Jan. 22 at 8 a.m. in St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Two additional events are scheduled for Jan. 21 in conjunction with the rally — an ecumenical prayer service at 7:30 p.m. in St. Mary’s Cathedral with Bishop Wang, Georgette Forney, and Raymond Dennehy, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco; and an all night Eucharistic Adoration at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco.

The Eternal Word Network (EWTN) will provide live coverage of the Jan. 24 March for Life in Washington, D.C., beginning at 8 a.m. and will feature clips from the Jan 22. west coast walk on its “Life on the Rock” program, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m.
EWTN is carried on Comcast Digital Channel 229, DISH Satellite Channel 261, DirecTV Channel 422. In San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Hayward, Comcast airs EWTN on Channel 76 and in Alameda on Channel 30. Alameda Power airs EWTN on Channel 19.

Sponsors for the Walk for Life West Coast include the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Respect Life ministries of the Dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa, Priests for Life, California Right to Life, Democrats for Life, Catholics for the Common Good, the California Pro-Life Council, the Pro-Life Action League, Presbyterians for Life, and the Western Washington Pro-Life Network.

For further information, on the Walk for Life West Coast: www.walkforlifewc.com.


New president named
for St. Mary’s College

By Voice staff

Christian Brother Ronald Gallagher, who began his university career as a St. Mary’s College English major more than 30 years ago, has become the 28th president of the Moraga institution.

His appointment was announced Dec. 14 by Brother Visitor Stanislaus Campbell after a unanimous recommendation by the board of trustees, and he began his term Jan. 1.

Brother Gallagher follows Brother Craig Franz, who resigned as president in September, following revelations that pledged donations for a recently constructed science building were based on a real estate scam.

Brother Franz has been named president of St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and will take that post June 1.

Brother Gallagher, 58, has administrative experience as well as strong ties to St. Mary’s. He was vice chancellor of Bethlehem University from 1993 to 1997 and acquired support and funding for the school, which serves economically disadvantaged Palestinians. His efforts drew help from international aid agencies, many countries and individuals, and the Vatican.

From 1997 to 2001, Brother Gallagher served as Secretary General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Rome and organized the 43rd General Chapter, an international congress that set a seven-year strategic plan for Lasallian education.
His language skills have served him in his international work: he is fluent in French, German and Italian, well versed in Latin, and has some knowledge of Arabic, Irish and Spanish.

He has been an associate professor of English at St. Mary’s since 1993 and chair of the Department of English since 2002. From 1990 to 1993 he was an assistant to the president.

Announcing Brother Gallagher’s appointment, Brother Campbell said, “It was apparent during our presidential search process that Brother Ronald’s close ties to students, faculty and alumni will greatly enhance St. Mary’s Lasallian mission.”

Brother Gallagher also noted his connections to the school, saying his “familiarity with the faculty, staff and students, as well as the Catholic, Lasallian and liberal arts traditions of St. Mary’s, will make for a smooth transition with Brother Craig and the administration.”

The new president is a 1969 graduate of St. Mary’s with a B.A. in English. In 1975 he received an M.A. in comparative literature from San Francisco State University and earned a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Washington in 1990. He has taught 19th and 20th century Anglo-Irish literature, the modern novel and the history and culture of Ireland.

Brother Gallagher is a native of Oakland and grew up in Santa Cruz and Bakersfield. He joined the Christian Brothers after graduating from Mont LaSalle High School in Napa, and acquired a love of Irish literature when he read James Joyce’s “Ulysses” during his senior year at St. Mary’s. He has led student tours to cultural sites in Ireland during the college’s January term.

In a statement prepared during the search process for a new president and posted on the St. Mary’s web site, Brother Gallagher describes his vision for the college and the challenges ahead. He notes the decline in the number of active Christian Brothers and the need to involve laypersons.

“If St. Mary’s College is to remain faithful to its traditions, many more faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends should become partners in the mission,” he writes. “The college should expect all…to actively support and promote the values of the traditions.”

He also notes “recent setbacks in the college’s fundraising efforts” and states that these problems “underline the need to renew and increase our contact with friends, alumni and organizations who understand and support the values of the college’s traditions.”

Brother Gallagher was referring to events leading to Brother Franz’s resignation. These were disclosures that the school had trusted in more than $112 million in pledges to the point of constructing a $30 million science center without any of the funds in hand.

Last August school officials learned that the money, which was to be paid when a real estate transaction was completed, would never be forthcoming. The deal had been an elaborate hoax, and the man behind the fraud apparently fled the country with some $9 million from more than 100 investors.

Brother Franz then announced his resignation, saying the scandal would make it difficult for him to recruit support for the college.

Now the college faces the task of rebuilding trust with donors, and Brother Gallagher, in accepting his new appointment, took note of this challenge.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with alumni and friends of St. Mary’s,” he said, “in developing the resources, facilities and support services needed to maintain St. Mary’s as an excellent academic institution.”


Death penalty opponent

Sister Helen Prejean, leading advocate for the abolition of capital punishment and best-selling author of “Dead Man Walking,” will talk about her new book “The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions” Jan. 23 at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. in Berkeley at 7 p.m. Admission: $10 advance, $12 door.

 

 

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises offered
in new format at Alameda parish

By Ann Naffziger
Special to The Voice

For the seventh consecutive year, St. Joseph Parish in Alameda is offering an experience of Ignatian prayer to parishioners in the Oakland Diocese. Based on the Spiritual Exercises developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the “Nineteenth Annotation” as it is called, has helped people throughout the world to deepen their prayer lives, for more than 400 years.

While Ignatius’ original vision of the Spiritual Exercises called for an intensive 30- day retreat, his writings included a provision for them to be adapted for those unable to take a complete month out of their day-to-day lives. Holy Names Sister Barbara Williams, leader of the team offering the program at St. Joseph’s, has typically offered a 30-week format with participants meeting once weekly for guidance and faith-sharing.

This year, however, she awoke at 2:00 a.m. from a dream in which she was given the inspiration for a new format that would make the retreat accessible to those unable to carve out time for the usual seven-month commitment.

Under the new format, participants make a week-long “retreat in daily life” while working or attending classes and continuing home and family responsibilities. They meet on five consecutive weekdays, either from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and again on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The meetings focus on exploring different ways to connect with God including guided meditation, journaling; learning tools for discernment, small group sharing, and practicing the daily examen, a simple method St. Ignatius taught for prayerfully looking back on one’s day.
Individual spiritual direction with trained directors is also offered as part of the experience.

The first of the three week-long sessions was offered in October to 20 people, some of whom had made the Spiritual Exercises in the past, but most who had not. It was a “perfect mini-commitment,” one retreatant said, “with time to reflect without losing focus.”

Others said the retreat helped them to make a regular time in their daily schedules to pray; some attested to rising a little earlier in the morning, while others used their time on BART to pray silently. One woman asked her husband to help with the dishes so she could squeeze prayer into her schedule.

The second session, which will be held from Jan. 24-Jan. 30, will focus on deepening an understanding of their lives with Jesus. A third and final session is scheduled from April 25-30 with the theme of moving from sorrow to joy in company with Jesus.

Participants need not have been present at prior sessions in order to attend the second or third sessions. The suggested donation is $50, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, or to register, contact Anne Marie Fourre at: afourre@st-joseph-community.orgor call (510) 749-7158.


 

 



 

 

 

 


 

Thirteen seminarians are preparing for priesthood in Oakland Diocese

By Voice staff

The vocations office has released a list of seminarians preparing for the sacrament of Holy Orders for the Diocese of Oakland and requests prayers for these men who will be serving in parishes in coming years.

Among the 13 current seminarians are two at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas: Robinson Maturana and Guillermo Morales, both in pre-theology.

Three others are serving their pastoral internship years: Lee Champoochan at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Concord, Paul Chen at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fremont, and Carl Arcosa at St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch.

The other seminarians, all at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, are Paul Mendoza, 1st year theology; Ken Nobrega, 2nd theology; Peter Vo and Jim Sullivan, 3rd theology; Aidan McAleenan, Glen Naguit, Joseph Nguyen and Clarence Zamora, 4th theology.

The vocations office is also preparing for Operation Andrew, a program to encourage men to enter the priesthood. The program, which has been used successfully in other dioceses, asks parish priests to identify potential candidates for the priesthood and invite them to attend a diocesan forum.