MARCH 29, 2004


Four Oakland women plan outreach to prostitutes

Choosing to be Catholic takes different paths
Catholics join in S.F. rally
for peace on March 20
Prayer among ways military members cope with stress

Oakland parishioner is ambassador for MS

Jesuit professor probes faithful citizenship
Jewish Catholic suggests ways to bring faith home

New music center
dedicated in Alameda

Carondelet and SJND
win championships
New president-rector for
St. Patrick’s Seminary
Breakfast Club for Catholic professionals begins

Documentary on images of Jesus in art on KQED

Students perform ‘Godspell’ next week

A G-rated passion story
for children

• National Review Board
directs Catholic reform
• Why doesn't God answer?




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



Holy Land struggles

Israeli fence is new reason for Christians to leave

Christians pray for safe, profitable Holy Week

Urgent appeal for Holy Land



Shortfall forces
diocesan reorganization

A ‘modified’ strategic planning process
will take place

By Monica Clark

Facing a $1 million shortfall for its 2005 budget, the Oakland Diocese has begun to examine its allocation of funds for diocesan-wide pastoral programs and parish subsidies to determine where financial cuts can be made to have a balanced budget of $12 million.

At a March 15 meeting of Chancery employees, Father Larry Silva, diocesan vicar general, said the examination will result in some reorganization of pastoral services and is likely to include program changes and staffing cutbacks. “I cannot tell you that no one will lose their job,” he said.

Programs funded by the diocese include the ethnic pastoral centers, family life ministries, catechetics, adult faith formation, youth ministry, CYO, ministries to the deaf and to persons with developmental disabilities, small Christian communities, social justice and liturgy resources, stewardship, development, and the canon law department.

The budget also covers the office of the bishop, subsidies to low-income parishes and schools, and care of retired and unassigned priests. The diocesan School Department and The Catholic Voice are funded from other sources.

The shortfall is the result of three primary factors, said Mike Canizzaro, diocesan CFO – 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.”

Canizzaro said any diocesan contributions to the settlement of lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse of minors by priests are not being charged to the operating budget, but lawyers fees and care and counseling of victims are factors.

The rent reduction to the cemeteries will allow for much needed improvements at their sites which have been delayed for several years, Canizzaro said.

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 nine-member committee will develop an initial reorganization plan that will be presented to several consultative groups and refined before being presented to Bishop Allen Vigneron for approval by Sept. 1, said Father Silva, who will chair the committee in his capacity as moderator of the curia.

The members will include Canizzaro, a representative of the diocesan Finance Council, a priest who is part of the College of Consultors, and five parishioners who have a strong sense of ministry, understand the diocese and possess the ability to make pastoral judgments.

Millie Burns, director of program development and planning at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, will lead the committee through a “modified” strategic planning process that will examine diocesan services in light of the mission of the diocese.

“We do not want our decisions to be just budget driven,” Father Silva said.
Some programs might actually be expanded, he said, noting that Bishop Allen Vigneron wants to insure that catechetics and faith formation continue to be emphasized at all age levels, especially adults. This is a priority of the Diocesan Pastoral Council as well, Father Silva said.

Father Silva said criteria for examination include the importance of the ministry to the people of the diocese, the number served and how the ministry provides for those who would not be served in any other way, whether the service is essential to the mission of the diocese, whether the service could be provided on a parish or deanery level, and whether the present organizational structure includes redundancy of service.

Diocesan employees were told that every effort would be made to minimize layoffs by trying to reassign employees within the Chancery system. Those whose positions have been eliminated and who are not needed in another position will be notified in October and given help in locating jobs in other institutions in the diocese, Father Silva said.

The reorganization plan will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2005.

More work is necessary
in sex abuse crisis

By Julie Sly
Herald editor

Fifteen months into her job, the head of the U.S. bishops’ Office for Child and Youth Protection says much progress has been made nationwide to reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse and to protect children from future abuse. But she wants to identify more ways to address the church’s sexual abuse crisis.

“Problems of this magnitude are not fixed overnight. It will continue to take a concerted effort on the part of many, one that involves openness and transparency,” said Kathleen McChesney March 17 during a visit to Sacramento to meet with victim assistance and safe environment coordinators from the state’s dioceses and archdioceses.

The U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” adopted in June 2002, established the national office to help individual dioceses create “safe environment programs,” to assist the church in finding ways to monitor how well the charter’s policies are followed, and to produce an annual report on progress made in implementing the charter.

McChesney, who formerly held the No. 3 post at the FBI, said the first national audit report, released in January, showed that nearly 90 percent of U.S. Catholic dioceses were in compliance with the bishops’ national policy. It was “a significant first step” in helping to fulfill the vision set out by the bishops’ charter, she said.

The national office is now working to implement some of the substantial list of nationwide recommendations in the report to improve the church’s response to sexual abuse, she said, including the structure for diocesan audits in 2004 and beyond.

She said her office “needs a mechanism of some sort to measure yearly progress” and to prepare the public annual report describing the compliance of each diocese to the charter’s provisions.

The report also recommended that the bishops sponsor a national study of (voluntary) victims/survivors to identify better methods for responding to complaints of sexual abuse.

McChesney said her office has been putting together “the framework of a study we’d like to carry out as soon as possible.” A broader study of victims’ views on church handling of their cases could uncover valuable information on the church’s best responses to victims following an allegation, she said.

No single approach works for all victims, but such a study “could identify things that worked well and those that didn’t,” McChesney said.

“It could point to ways dioceses can do things better, such as the kinds of things people should say or not say. It could also address more complex issues, such as dioceses supporting and encouraging more research into effective therapies for victims.”

McChesney said one of the challenges of her work is continuing to educate bishops, clergy and laity about the need for unlimited outreach, caring and concern for victims/survivors and their families.

“Everyone needs to understand what outreach means,” she noted.
“It doesn’t mean waiting for people to come in and report abuse. It means trying to find people who haven’t reported who are ready to report, because not everyone is and not everyone will report.

“Some people carry for a lifetime the instances of abuse. And some will never be comfortable with reporting.”

Outreach to victims should include advertising in both the secular and diocesan media, in parish bulletins, and “through other kinds of communications between pastors and laity,” she said. “It is particularly important that secular media is involved, because many victims have disassociated themselves from the church.”

McChesney said the first comprehensive national study of the number of clergymen accused of sex abuse with a minor from 1950 to 2002, was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and released Feb. 27 by the bishops.
The study said that 4,392 clergymen – almost all priests – were accused of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents taking place between 1960 and 1984.

“We never knew any numbers before this study,” McChesney said. “What we also know now is that there were more victims than this – how many more, we don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because there were lots. We hope additional victims will come forward for the kind of pastoral care they deserve, if they want it.”

McChesney said the report released by the National Review Board on the causes of the clergy sexual abuse crisis –often scathing in its critique of Catholic hierarchical policies and practices – is “basically a call to lay people to find ways to become more involved, because their involvement will probably help prevent problems.”

“A lot of lay people say ‘I wasn’t part of the sex abuse problem – I’m just a parishioner, I didn’t see anything, and I’m not impacted by it on a personal level,’” she said. “They think it is horrible and the people who got the church into this problem are the people who should deal with it.

“But everyone who is a member of the church has to help heal the part of the body that has caused the damage, if the body is to be whole again.

“The fact is, the church is there for individuals when they go through difficulties, sometimes of their own doing. This particular problem is one in which individuals can, in turn, help the church through its crisis.”

McChesney acknowledged that many are still skeptical of any effort by the bishops to confront the issue of sexual abuse, or doubt the effectiveness of the National Review Board or her office to create safe church settings, provide pastoral care to victims and develop mechanisms to prevent future abuse.

“Skepticism can be healthy, because it raises the bar on behavior and performance and keeps the focus on things that are important,” she said.

“Some things have been accomplished, but more needs to be done. Everyone – both skeptics and optimists – needs to continue to watch and be vigilant as to the efforts of the church and to make certain that no one lets up on their commitment to protecting children.”

Vatican issues new guidelines
for bishops

By Peggy Polk
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has issued comprehensive guidelines for bishops, urging them to teach priests caution in relations with women and to deal firmly with any “scandalous comportment.”

The 301-page “Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops: Apostolorum Successores,” written by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, covers virtually every aspect of both private and public diocesan life from dress and housing to preaching, the role of nuns and laity and interfaith dialogue.

The first code issued in 31 years to help bishops face the challenges of their time, it was published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana in Italian but will soon be translated into all the major languages of Europe, the congregation said.

Bishops, it says, must display “pastoral prudence, rich humanity, humility, chastity, kindness, sincerity, the capacity to listen and engage in dialogue, a heart open to all.”

Calling the bishop “the center of unity of the particular church,” the congregation says he must be inspired by the five principles of truth, collaboration, respect for the competence of “the right person in the right post,” justice and legality.

In a chapter on priestly celibacy, it says, “The bishop is aware of the real obstacles that, today more than yesterday, oppose the celibate priesthood.

“He will therefore have to exhort priests to exercise a supernatural and human prudence, teaching that a reserved and discreet comportment in dealing with women conforms to their consecration to celibacy and that a badly interpreted naturalness in these relations can degenerate into a sentimental attachment.”

It is the bishop’s task to “warn, if necessary, or admonish he who could find himself in a risky situation,” the directory says. If faced with “scandalous comportment,” it says, “the bishop must intervene with charity but with firmness and decision.”

The directory advises bishops to maintain “correctness” in the dress of priests, “watch with discretion” over priests’ housing and their domestic assistance and encourage them to use their free time for instructive reading, avoiding too much television and theater.

The directive also emphasizes the role of the metropolitan archbishop to watch carefully for “abuses and errors” in the ministry of bishops in the dioceses of his province. This includes “fraternal correction” when a local bishop mismanages an area of his pastoral administration.

The Vatican is to be informed in serious cases, the document says.
The metropolitan archbishop has the responsibility to “watch carefully so that throughout the entire province the faith and church discipline are diligently maintained and so the Episcopal ministry is exercised in conformity with canon law.”

It said his role, however, is not limited to disciplinary actions. He can promote common initiatives to respond to the pastoral needs of the province.
The metropolitan for the Oakland Diocese is San Francisco Archbishop William Levada.

The instructions also remind the bishops to treat Jews as “elder brothers” and to promote attitudes of respect towards Jews “to avoid instances of anti-Judaism.”
The bishops are also reminded to be “vigilant that priests receive a proper formation on the Jewish religion and its relations with Christianity.”


Israeli fence is new reason for
Christians to leave Holy Land

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Pierre Labossiere, contact person for the Haitian Pastoral Center, has no faith in the press accounts of unrest in Haiti. He has experienced firsthand the gap between media reports and reality when these concern his native land.
At the end of last year, Labossiere flew to Haiti with a group of East Bay residents to attend the bicentennial celebrations of the country’s independence, and even then the news was telling of violence and conflict in the Caribbean nation.

“I was wondering what was happening because I was reading the news accounts,” Labossiere said. “Some members of the delegation were having second thoughts about going.” But he remembered his relatives living in Haiti and told himself “If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.”

Now, Labossiere said, he and all the members of his group are glad they didn’t back out. For a week the group of six Californians joined in the celebrations and witnessed the people’s support for President Jean Bertrand Aristide, a former priest. The mood in the capital of Port-au-Prince, he said, was festive and relaxed.

But back in the U.S. Labossiere’s wife Maria was getting a different story from the news reports. She put in an urgent phone call to his brother’s house in Port-au-Prince to ask if he was all right. According to the media, she said, rebels prevented President Aristide from landing in the city of Gonaives, and they fired on a helicopter carrying South African President Thabo Mbeki to that city.

Labossiere had just returned from Gonaives, and he was amazed. He had seen President Aristide in Gonaives, he said. He had seen him speak to the crowd and then wade into the press of people to shake their hands. As for Mbeki, he had come nowhere near Gonaives.

Labossiere did see some signs of conflict. In Gonaives the residents had been warned by opponents of Aristide to stay away from the celebrations, and a smaller crowd than expected turned out, about 7,000 people. And as Labossiere and his friends were driving away from the city, someone threw rocks at their car.

But along the road from the capital to Gonaives, he said, “peasants and townspeople were lining the street and raising their five fingers,” showing their support for President Aristide, who was elected to a five-year term in 2000.

In Port-au-Prince anti-government demonstrators “went on a rampage after the celebration,” he said, “because it was a success. That’s what captured the international attention. That little demonstration didn’t even attract our notice. We just heard about it later on the news.” The protest, however, was featured on U.S. television.

Reports on Haiti are distorted, Labossiere said, because “most of the media owners in Haiti have always been supporters of the Duvalier regime.” They hate Aristide, he said, because “they couldn’t buy him off as they always did before.”
With their connections to the international press and their use of English, these media owners spread the message that serves their interest. “So they put the stuff out, nobody checks it, and it gets transmitted all over the world,” Labossiere said.

The elite business class, including the media barons, forms a large part of the opposition. Another segment includes former death squads and members of the military that Aristide disbanded after he returned to power in 2000.

“People love him for disbanding the Haitian military,” Labossiere said. “It was useless and repressive” and consumed 40 percent of the national budget. Today Aristide depends on a civilian police corps of some 4000 men, and it is this force that is trying to keep order in the country as the opposition increases its efforts to unseat the elected government.

Their job has become more urgent in recent days as former heads of death squads have re-entered the country to join the opposition efforts. Labossiere said he spoke to friends in Haiti on Feb. 15 and heard that “everyone is very worried and upset” at the return of these men.

Moreover, he said, the attackers are “pretty well armed,” and although “the people are resisting,” they fear that the opposition has outside support from the Central Intelligence Agency, which supported these groups in years past.

While some scholars and other observers report that groups of Aristide supporters have killed and terrorized the opposition, Labossiere notes, “It’s very hard for people who have been victimized. You have to be a saint not to be angry and they are parading in front of you like that.” But always, he said, President Aristide calls for peace and forgiveness, even in the face of taunts and atrocities.

Labossiere said the U.S. Department of State is partly to blame for the situation. The ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley, “has given aid and comfort to these rebels,” he said, “and he has really created the climate where these guys feel there will be no consequences.”

His statements have the support of congressional representatives Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). Both have written to Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest U.S. support for the attacks on Aristide. The congressional Black Caucus and U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) have also been staunch Aristide supporters, Labossiere said.

Waters said she was in Haiti for the bicentennial celebrations and again this month, when she visited a wide range of Aristide supporters and opponents, diplomats and “other individuals from civil society” in the country. “I am outraged at the State Department’s apparent willingness to sabotage democracy and the rule of law in Haiti,” she wrote in a letter to Secretary Powell on Feb. 13, calling the protests and unrest “a power grab by the same forces that staged a coup d’etat” in 1991.

Lee demanded to know whether the U.S. was “covertly funding the opposition” and had given USAID money to those groups. She also wrote, “We understand the Haitian government made several requests over the last two years for equipment and training of Haiti’s police force. Why were these requests never responded to?”

Labossiere said the U.S., citing irregularities in the 2000 elections, has blocked money that should be coming to the Aristide government, some $146 million in aid for water projects and other improvements in this poorest of countries. The elections in question, he said, were for legislative seats, not for the presidency, and although the issue has been resolved, the U.S. still refuses to allow the funds to be released.

All of this is no surprise to his friends in Haiti, he said. They claim that ever since independence in 1804, the powerful countries of the world have opposed them and the elite in Haiti itself has tried to maintain a “society of exclusion.”

“Father Aristide,” he said, “was able to articulate these things into Creole in the base community churches.” And even in the face of powerful opposition and a lack of funds, the president has been able to improve conditions. For instance, Labossiere said, in 1991 there were only 32 high schools in the country, all of them in major cities. Today there are 200.


Holy Land Christians pray for safe, profitable Holy Week

By Michele Chabin
Religion News Service

JERUSALEM — Holy Land residents are hoping for a quiet — though not too quiet — Easter week.

“We’re praying that there will be many pilgrims but no attacks,” says Atalla, the proprietor of Salem Souvenirs, one of dozens of souvenir shops that line the Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross, the path many believe Jesus walked from the Court of Judgment to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion.

Peering through his shop’s narrow doorway at the nearly empty pedestrian square beyond, Atalla, who declined to provide his last name, explains why optimism is in short supply these days, even with Easter right around the corner.

“We live day-to-day. The political situation being what it is, we don’t know what will be in a half-hour. We’re not expecting to see so many tourists for Easter,” the Christian merchant says with a deep, weary sigh.

When reminded that the number of tourists to Israel has increased substantially during the past several months, the 65-year-old Jerusalem native waves his hand dismissively.

“Business is down 95 percent since the start of the intifada,” he says of the Palestinian uprising, which began in September 2000. “There are Israeli incursions and bus bombings. Even troubles in Iraq affect us. The tourism business is sensitive. It’s like fine crystal. One small knock can shatter it.”

Things weren’t always this precarious. Millennium excitement capped off by Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to the Holy Land in 2000 prompted more than 2 million Christians to visit their faith’s birthplace that year. Tour buses crowded church parking lots and pilgrims overwhelmed the souvenir shops.

Since the start of the uprising, however, only the adventurous have traveled to the Holy Land, the majority of them on organized pilgrimages.

“Those who come tend not to be the big spenders,” laments Ibrahim Zaarour, whose souvenir store adjoins Atalla’s, next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “Inshalla (God willing), things will improve during Easter.”

Privately, tourism professionals express the hope that the runaway success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which vividly depicts Jesus’ final, agonizing march toward crucifixion, will motivate Christian believers to visit the Holy Land.

Without specifically mentioning the film or the interest it has generated among Christians around the world, Raphael Ben-Hur, deputy general director of Israel’s tourism ministry, happily notes that Easter bookings are up 30 percent over the same period last year.

“And we’re not talking only about evangelical Christians, who have stood by Israel throughout the intifada,” Ben-Hur says. “We’re talking about people from all denominations.”

If the current pace of tourism continues, Ben-Hur says, 2 million tourists will visit Israel by the end of the year, compared to only 1 million in 2003. In 2000, a record 2.6 million visitors were recorded.

Despite the continued violence between Israelis and Palestinians – a wave that is only expected to worsen following Israel’s March 22 assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin — Ben-Hur predicts that Bethlehem, in the West Bank, will remain open to visitors.

In the past, when fighting raged in the Bethlehem area, the Israeli Army sometimes prevented civilians from passing through the Jerusalem-Bethlehem checkpoint and visiting the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square.

“Currently there is no security reason to prevent tourists from crossing the border,” Ben-Hur says. “In fact, we are encouraging groups to go to Bethlehem. But of course the army has the final say,” he adds after a pause.

Regardless of the degree of enmity between Israelis and Palestinians, officials from both sides have made a point of cooperating during Easter and Christmas to ensure that all pilgrims who wish to visit the holy sites can cross the checkpoint in a safe and efficient manner.

The Palestinians, even more than the Israelis, need tourists to keep their battered economy afloat. Hundreds of families in the Bethlehem region, most of them formally employed in tourism-related businesses, have emigrated, and the exodus continues. Today, nearly all of Bethlehem’s hotels are shuttered, as are a great many of the stores that hugged Manger Square and the town’s picturesque side streets.

Things are somewhat better in Jerusalem, which is part of the larger Israeli economy. During Holy Week, church officials expect between 50,000 and 70,000 pilgrims to converge on the ancient Old City of Jerusalem, the site of the Via Dolorosa. Because the route is so sacred to so many denominations of believers, the various churches carefully coordinate their respective processions through the Stations of the Cross.

Shmuel Ben-Ruby, a spokesman for the Jerusalem District Police, said the police intend to beef up already-heightened security during Holy Week not only to thwart terrorist attacks but to keep order among different groups of Christians.

“Sometimes the young people in the communities fight over who has jurisdiction in the church,” Ben-Ruby says, referring to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, whose eclectic interior is divided up between the various churches.

Those adventurous enough to celebrate a Holy Land Easter should expect to have their purses and other bags frequently searched by security guards. Those wishing to enter the Western Wall Plaza or Temple Mount, both in the Old City, will need to pass through metal

Despite the relatively small number of pilgrims expected, visitors should anticipate delays on the Way of the Cross, and particularly when entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Since the denominations alternate their times in the church, those not on a guided tour are advised to procure a schedule of prayer times and events from the Tourism Office at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport or at any local church.

Pilgrims who have made the journey say the joy of being where Jesus lived outweighs the small inconveniences.

It’s so emotionally powerful to stand right where he stood over 2,000 years ago,” says Christine Prince, an evangelical Christian shopping for scarves in a little store on Christian Quarter Road, a few hundred feet from the Via Dolorosa.

Prince, a Livermore, Colo., native on her first-ever visit to the Holy Land, admits that friends and family back home worried about her safety. “People say, `Aren’t you afraid?’ But honestly, it’s as safe, safer, than walking down any street in the United States.”

Carole Anderson, Prince’s tour operator and a co-director of Hearts for Israel Tours, concurs.

“I’ve never felt safer,” Anderson says with a broad, confident smile.
“Between the Israeli security and the power of the Lord, we are in good hands.”


Urgent appeal for Holy Land

The Vatican has added a note of urgency to, and asks generous support for, the collection for the Holy Land taken up on Good Friday in churches of the Oakland Diocese. Almost daily, “they receive sad news of the delicate social, political and economic situation in the region,” which causes many Christians to leave their country for a place where they can live in peace and dignity.

This situation makes necessary an “urgent intervention of the whole Catholic Church” in order to preserve their presence in the birthplace of Christianity.


Four Oakland women
plan outreach to prostitutes

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Parish ministry always has its share of surprises. But Amy Fitzgerald never expected the surprises to include being traffic cop and liaison to prostitutes.

However, the Jesuit School of Theology student is mastering both during her internship at Oakland’s St. Andrew-St. Joseph Parish where she coordinates the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program and recently worked with the parish youth group.

Fitzgerald, a Foster City native completing her Master of Divinity degree, has frequently stood outside the church with young women from her youth group, acting as an unofficial traffic cop, ordering drivers seeking the services of prostitutes to “move right along.” And she is heading up a research project on “parish ministry to prostitutes,” an outgrowth of the parish’s Confirmation program.

For more than two decades, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Parish has been plagued by the presence of prostitutes, drug dealers and violence, sometimes literally in its front yard at Brockhurst and San Pablo Avenues. On numerous occasions, parishioners have teamed up with the Oakland Community Organizations to pressure police and city officials to get these problems off their streets through beefed-up patrols and increased arrests.

But the problems continue with the prostitution business so active that teenaged girls are afraid to stand outside while they wait for their parents to pick them up after youth group meetings. “Cars slow down, and men try to solicit them,” said Fitzgerald. That’s not the half of it. For years, prostitutes have even conducted their trade in the yard outside the parish hall, she reports.

She views the neighborhood problems as part of a system of exploitation that does not value the worth of individuals. “There is a reason why they are out there,” she said. “And there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that exploits men and women and people look the other way.”

Three young adult parishioners — Blanca Baires, Stephanie Polio and Jackie Quintanilla, – have decided they want to tackle the problem head on, offering to start an outreach ministry to prostitutes as part of their preparation for Confirmation.

The women’s offer couldn’t have come at a better time. Father John Direen, the parochial administrator, was already exploring the possibility of starting a ministry to street women. The priest, who had lived in the rectory during the late 1980’s while attending the Graduate Theological Union, was well aware of the neighborhood problems before becoming the parish leader last year.

Then tragedy showed up in full force. One Saturday night, a “21-year-old pimp wannabe” was shot six times on the street in front of the church, said Father Direen. A few weeks later, the 22-year-old son of parishioners was murdered in a fast food parking lot a few blocks away from the church. The man, who was killed on his birthday, had apparently been followed by thugs who wanted to keep him from testifying as a witness in another killing, Father Direen said.

Although the second man’s death was not prostitution-related, many times such tragedies can be connected, said the priest. “Prostitution equals violence, and here in this neighborhood they are full-time problems.”

With three willing volunteers waiting to deal with the situation in a new way, Father Direen decided to move ahead with his plan. He asked Fitzgerald to serve as ministry coordinator. He would do the fund raising. He applied for a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a project of the U.S. bishops’ conference to fund projects that alleviate poverty and violence. CCHD gave the parish one of its local grants of $4,000 to pay for research into the proposed ministry.

Fitzgerald and the Confirmation volunteers officially began their fact-finding in January by inviting Catholic writer Edwina Gateley to speak to parishioners during a Sunday afternoon gathering. Gateley, a feminist poet, essayist, and social activist, engaged in ministry to prostitutes in Chicago for many years and often relates stories about the women in her books and retreat talks.

Her primary message to the 40 parishioners was “go slow.” Build trust and friendship with the women first, before trying to develop a full-service ministry. Gather as much information in advance about the practical aspects of sustaining such a project.

Since Gateley’s talk, the team has been visiting other outreach agencies in the Bay Area. They recently trained with an OCO representative on how to effectively engage in one-on-one dialogues with parish members concerning the new plan. The grant money will also enable them to attend conferences and visit programs in other cities to gather information, said Father Direen.

They will report back to those who attended Gateley’s talk and recruit more volunteers to help in the ministry. Fitzgerald’s internship ends later this spring when she graduates from JSTB and Baires, Polio and Quintanilla will probably be confirmed before the full-fledged parish ministry to prostitutes is launched.

But the commitment to proceed remains. Sometime in the next few weeks, the four women will begin “building a presence on the street,” talking with prostitutes, handing out flyers about housing, counseling and job training, said Father Direen.

The team isn’t starting from scratch. St. Andrew-St. Joseph has forged a partnership with another agency, which has programs already in place. Since Jan. 14, Covenant House, a nationwide ministry to runaway and other troubled young people, has been renting space from the parish for a homeless shelter for young adults up to age 24. They currently house 25 youths per night in the parish hall.

During the day, these young people, most of whom have been emancipated from foster care and have nowhere to live, are bused to Covenant House’s service center on Telegraph Avenue for job training and counseling.

The organization plans to stay in the parish location for about a year until they can establish a permanent residential facility. Officials at Covenant House are already looking for a new site so there won’t be an interruption of services, said Ella Ray Deacon, program director.

As the parish outreach to prostitutes moves into action, the parish team hopes to refer the women, some of whom are as young as 17, to Covenant House services. On April 14, St. Andrew-St. Joseph will celebrate its partnership with Covenant House during a dedication ceremony for the parish-based shelter. The service will take place at 5 p.m. with Bishop Allen Vigneron giving the invocation.

For her leadership in this project, Fitzgerald was one of eight finalists for the 2003 Cardinal Bernadin Emerging Leaders award, sponsored by CCHD. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, Fitzgerald worked for two years in Managua, Nicaragua, as a Jesuit Corps volunteer, teaching in the poorest inner-city school. Most of her students’ parents worked 16 hours a day at U.S.-owned sweatshops.

During her time there she became a proponent of the “gospel of the poor.”
“It didn’t take long for me to see the free trade zone and sweat shops for what they are,” said Fitzgerald who has a degree in international business from the University of Santa Clara. “They were part of a system I learned not to believe in any longer. As a person of integrity I wanted no part of it.”

Choosing to be Catholic
takes different paths

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

In the Oakland Diocese an estimated 375 catechumens will be baptized at the Easter Vigil on April 10. Nearly 360 baptized Christians who are seeking membership in the Church will be received into full communion during the same liturgy. There are probably another 100 or so adults who will be baptized or received into the Church at other times throughout the year.

Below are profiles of three adults who are participants in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a process for adults seeking to become members of the Catholic Church. It is based on an ancient model that allowed potential members to join the full faith community after passing through several stages of study, reflection and prayer.

The Second Vatican Council restored this ancient rite and the U.S. bishops formally approved the RCIA for use in the U.S. in 1974.

Delphy Lopez
Last year Delphy Lopez, 48, asked Father Van Dihn about having her young daughter baptized. When the parochial vicar at St. Catherine Parish in Martinez learned that Lopez was also not baptized, he suggested that she consider becoming part of the RCIA program.

“He talked me into it,” she said with a laugh.

Now Lopez and her six-year-old daughter, Christine, are preparing to receive the sacrament during the parish’s Easter Vigil. Lopez will also receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.

During her first RCIA session Lopez was so impressed by what she heard that there was no turning back. “It was very upbeat and there was a lot of humor involved,” she recalled. “I said to myself, ‘This is the place for me, it’s a great way to learn.’”

And learn she did. One of the first insights was that Jesus Christ “offers solutions to every day problems,” she said.

She also began to read the Bible and to learn how the books were written.
These new experiences were part of a personal revelation for Lopez, who was not raised in a religious atmosphere. “We didn’t go to church,” she said of growing up in Danville.

Lopez attended Mass for a while after marrying her Catholic husband, Julio, and again when their eldest child, Nicholas, 18, now a senior at De La Salle High School in Concord, was younger. Going to Mass regularly, however, felt like an obligation and was was not very appealing, she said.

Her perspective changed in 2001 when her mother, who was suffering from terminal cancer, came to live with her family. Lopez frequently found herself praying as her mother’s condition deteriorated. “I prayed to God to just take her, she was so miserable,” she recalled. “She was down to 60 pounds.”

When her mother died, she realized the answer to a second prayer – being able to fulfill a promise she’d made as a young girl that she would never put her mother in a nursing home. With her husband’s support “we were able to take care of her. I was fortunate that I was able to do that.”

Three months after her mother’s death, Lopez was diagnosed with breast cancer. Again she turned to prayer and did not give into fear. “I was in much better physical shape than she was in and able to withstand the chemotherapy,” said Lopez, who completed treatment and is now cancer-free.

Lopez said the RCIA experience has strengthened her faith and given her life deeper meaning. “It has brought a sense of calm and peace in my life. It has opened my eyes.”

Ray Miranda
Although Ray Miranda is excitedly looking forward to joining the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil on April 10, he will not be a newcomer at St. Michael Parish in Livermore. He has been attending Mass at the parish with his wife, Paula, for the past 10 years.

When their oldest child, who is now in the 6th grade, started attending the parish school Miranda became an active and dedicated volunteer. “I’ve been around St. Michael’s for quite some time,” he said.

Neither his visibility nor his involvement in the community will change when the 46-year-old husband and father is received into the Church. What has changed is that Miranda has a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding, knowledge and appreciation of Catholicism.

Before he joined St. Michael’s RCIA program last summer, Miranda said that despite the time he has spent in the parish he never felt “really part of the community” when he was in church. “You’re just sitting there and everyone else is really going through it. You really don’t understand what’s going on.”

That began to change when he enrolled in RCIA. Reading and learning about the Gospels, for example, from the perspective of church history and Catholic teaching shed new light on the texts, he said. “You really learn more about the Gospels than you would just reading it yourself. And I think that surprised me.”

The classes proved to be a turning point for Miranda, who was raised in family that did not follow any religious tradition. He had started attending church occasionally after he met his wife. When their children were born, he attended regularly to help his wife with them. Eventually he became more interested in the Mass itself.

Although his wife of 17 years has been very supportive of his spiritual journey, she did not push him to become a Catholic, he said. “She just figured that I’ll know when it’s time. I guess that’s how it works with everything. You just know it. One day I said to her, ‘I think I should become Catholic.’ And she said, ‘It’s about time.’”

Miranda is satisfied with his choice. “I’m quite glad that I decided to become a Catholic because it’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.”

Mary Vue
Mary Vue would be the first to say that her spiritual journey to the Catholic Church has taken her along some unexpected and – to her – shocking paths.

It began when a recruiter for St. Mary’s College in Moraga convinced her to attend the school. “I came on a whim,” recalled the now 21-year-old senior English major. “I didn’t know that it (the campus) existed.” But she sees her arrival on campus as “God working in my life.”

A Hmong American whose family adhered to a cultural tradition of ancestral worship, Vue started having casual conversations about religion and faith with other students.

These conversations began to develop into something deeper after her father died during her sophomore year.

When she walked by the campus chapel, she felt drawn to go inside, “like there was something calling me into it. I didn’t usually go in there,” she said. “I finally went in and I think that sparked my relationship with God.”

Almost immediately she felt God’s abiding presence with her. “I just remember my first experience with God was like when no one else understood or could see into my heart God was the one who could.”

With her relationship with God underway, Vue began attending Mass. She started talking with Mission San Jose Dominican Sister Ingrid Clemmensen, director of campus ministry. Sister Clemmensen encouraged her to attend sessions in the RCIA program to learn more about Catholicism and to experience a spiritual community. Vue also joined a student organized faith-sharing group that gathers regularly to discuss what God means in their lives.

Those sessions became a source of great support for Vue who met deep opposition from her family to her deepening relationship to God and ties to the Catholic Church. Encouraged by the RCIA sessions on reconciliation, she tried to talk to her mother and other family members about her spiritual journey but found “that there is just no talking to them. It is more of a one-way dialog in my family and it’s like what the family says goes.”

During much of her two-year journey Vue has felt pulled between family loyalty and spiritual commitment. “There is a part of the Bible that says obey your mother and father. I felt like I was put into a situation where I had to choose between one or the other.”

After many weeks of prayer and reflection and with the support of her friends and Sister Clemmensen, Vue grew more centered and grounded in her decision to become a Catholic. The struggles, she said, remind her “of how strong my faith is because I still do want to go through with the baptism.”

Vue will be baptized and receive First Eucharist and Confirmation on April 18 at St. Mary’s. The college has had permission to hold its initiation rites on the second Sunday of Easter rather than the Easter Vigil “for many years” because students are on spring break during Holy Week, Sister Clemmensen said.

Catholics join in S.F. rally for peace
on March 20
Joseph Allen (left) of St. Raphael Parish in San Rafael, Ken Hoegger (center) and Jim McDonald of St. John of God Parish in San Francisco, members of Pax Christi, join in the march from Dolores Park to the Civic Center Plaza.

Pierre Labossiere, regional contact for the Haitian Pastoral Center of the Oakland Diocese, calls for an end to violence in Haiti during the rally at Civic Center.
A member of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley carries a tribute to the late Father Bill O’Donnell, a longtime advocate of non-violence.

William Heidenfeldt (left), eighth grade teacher at Corpus Christi School in Piedmont, and Rich Cooluris are among the estimated 50,000 participants.




Prayer among ways
military members cope with stress

By Adelle Banks
Religion News Service

A survey of U.S. military members has found that prayer is among the coping mechanisms used to deal with stress, with women turning to it more than men.

The top ways to cope are thinking of a way to solve a problem and talking to a friend or family member, reported the 2002 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel.

Eighty-three percent of military personnel said they try to figure out how to solve the problem and 75 percent said they talk to someone about it.

“A good number, over half, say that they play sports or engage in a hobby,” Robert Bray of the Research Triangle Institute told reporters in a March 8 briefing.
“We also see that saying a prayer is a common strategy for about half of the men and 70 percent of military women.” Overall, 53 percent said they said a prayer as a means of coping.

Research Triangle Institute, a North Carolina-based science research firm, was contracted by the Defense Department to conduct the survey.

The 2002 survey, the eighth in a series that began in 1980, was completed by more than 12,500 service members. Because it was conducted before the start of the war in Iraq, it did not gauge the coping mechanisms during that conflict.

This was the first time the survey looked at the level of religious or spiritual interest of military members. It found that about 20 percent of them were in the category of “highly religious or spiritual” while 56 percent had a medium level of religiosity or spirituality.

About a quarter of them were found to have a low level of spirituality or religiosity.
Researchers found that military personnel with high levels of religious or spiritual interests were much less likely than others to perceive “a lot” of stress in their family.

They also found that those with high spirituality or religiosity were much less likely than those with low levels of faith to say they had seriously considered suicide in the year before the survey.

Oakland parishioner is ambassador
for people with Multiple Sclerosis

By Voice staff

When the crowd gathers for the MS Walk at Alameda’s Crown Beach next month, Elsa Rivera will be there to send them off and also to join them in the fund raising trek for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

As MS Ambassador for the day, Rivera will be “the face of the MS Walk” and the ribbon cutter to launch the event. She will also be part of a team with a bilingual name, Mujeres Surviving, made up of women from her self-help group for Latinos afflicted with MS.

“I used to be a runner,” Rivera said. “Now I walk with a cane.” She stumbles easily and suffers from extreme fatigue, but she is nevertheless determined to give her best on April 18, when the Alameda walk will be held. “I’m hoping that day I will be able to walk the distance,” Rivera said.

Rivera, who attends Mass at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Oakland, helped found the group together with staff from the national MS society after she realized the need to reach out to Latinos afflicted with the debilitating disease. The group has been meeting for more than three months.

“The purpose of the walk and the group,” she said, “is to let Latinos know that this condition exists and you can live with it.”

Rivera knows how difficult it is to make it through each day with a disease that has drained the strength from her legs and left her fingers numb. “I used to type more than 90 words per minute,” she said, “and now I can barely feel the home keys.”

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was born and raised in Oakland. She attended St. Benedict Elementary School and St. Elizabeth High School, and later worked for an alternative school in Berkeley. She also sang with an Oakland musical group called Lucha y Paz and once performed at San Quentin prison for the annual Sept. 16 Mexican Independence celebration.

When she was in her 40s, Rivera found she stumbled easily and couldn’t manage the salsa steps she knew so well. Twice she fell and broke a bone, and she avoided venturing far from home, afraid that her “wobbly, weak leg would give out.” When she finally sought medical help, she was devastated to learn that she had multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease that affects physical and cognitive performance.

Returning from the doctor’s office, she said, “I hate to cry in public, but I had tears streaming down my face on the bus ride home.”

By the next morning she was calm and determined to learn what she could about her disease. “I knew that I needed to talk to other people with MS,” she said. “I picked up the phone and I called the national MS society.” She spoke with a peer counselor and received a packet of information, and she began to attend educational programs and a yoga class sponsored by the society.

She is also receiving up-to-date medical treatment to slow the progress of her disease, and she is finding consolation in a deeper relationship with God. “For a while I wasn’t much of a churchgoer,” she said, but now she goes to Mass when she is physically able. “I find myself praying and having little conversations with God,” Rivera said, and “good things keep happening.”

One of those benefits is the self-help group, which she decided to start after she quit work last September. “It’s been a good thing for me,” Rivera said. “I’m not a person to sit alone by myself all the time.”

Now she says, “Even if my health does worsen, things are still going to be OK because I seem to be around a lot of positive people.” Several of them will be there the day of the walk to lend her their support.

And in the self-help group, she is connecting with other Latinos who suffer from MS as well as their relatives and friends. The members share information on ways of dealing with the disease, and they also plan to bring in speakers who are expert in fields such as physical therapy and nutrition.

“We need to educate ourselves and take care of ourselves,” Rivera said, “and to connect with other people.” She encourages Latinos to join the group, which conducts its meetings in Spanish. English translation is available for those who are not fluent in Spanish.

The self-help group meets the fourth Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. Rivera asks anyone interested to call the society at (510) 268-0572 for more details or to get in touch with her. Spanish speakers will be transferred to a staff member who can help them in their language.

Jesuit professor probes faithful citizenship for Catholics

By Julie Sly
Catholic Herald editor

Catholic voters and politicians can make a decisive contribution to concerns where morality and public policy intersect if they draw on the church’s social teaching to promote human dignity and the common good, according to Jesuit Father Thomas Buckley.

“Can we be faithful Catholics and good citizens too? Absolutely,” said Father Buckley, professor of American religious history at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, during a March 16 lecture at California State University, Sacramento.

Father Buckley, an expert in church-state relations, said the political responsibilities of Catholics today – as office-holders and as voters – have been shaped by the social teaching of Vatican II, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and two decades of U.S. bishops’ statements on the political process and church teaching.

Though the church had a long history of speaking out on social concerns, after Vatican II it operated within a context created by two documents: the Declaration on Religious Liberty (“Dignitatis Humanae”) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (“Gaudium et Spes”).

These documents stressed that the church engages in public or social ministry for the sake of protecting and promoting the transcendent dignity of the human person and the common human good, he said.

Vatican II also made clear the church’s ministry is religious in origin and purpose, having no specific political charism, nor giving an endorsement to any political system or party, he said.

“Gaudium et Spes” specifies an “indirect” approach to political issues, where the church takes positions on legislation and judicial matters, but sets limits on the means the church uses, he said.

The church has to avoid two unacceptable alternatives — becoming “politicized,” which erodes the transcendence of the Gospel, or becoming “isolated from human affairs,” which betrays the incarnational dimension of Christian faith.

The U.S. bishops’ first statement on political responsibility issued prior to the 1984 presidential election, as well subsequent statements, are a practical application of the themes of Vatican II to the socio-cultural conditions of American society, Father Buckley said.

In the 1984 statement, the bishops “defended the right and duty of religious leaders like themselves to enter public policy debates that involved issues such as human rights, peace and justice and the economy,” he said.

“No issue was purely and exclusively ‘secular’ if it touched human dignity and the common good…Separation of church and state should not separate the church from society.”

The bishops placed strict limits on the mode of their participation in the political process, Father Buckley said. They would not seek the formation of a religious voting bloc nor instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing candidates.
The bishops also encouraged voters to examine candidates on the full range of issues as well as their integrity, philosophy and performance, he said.

The church’s right to teach “does not translate into a detailed political program,” Father Buckley said.

“There is a distinction between moral principles and their practical application in the political order. It is possible to agree on a given moral principle and yet disagree, in good conscience, on the mode of application, the strategy and tactics.”

The problems between Catholic politicians and the religious imperatives of their church have been prominent since the Roe v. Wade decision and “are numerous and critically important,” Father Buckley said.

A decisive point came during the 1984 presidential election, when vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro and then New York Gov. Mario Cuomo stated their personal opposition to abortion, but said they would not “impose” their religious views on others, he said.

All too often, abortion has been placed within a “sectarian religious framework,” rather than one provided by a consideration of the common good, Father Buckley contended.

Abortion “then becomes a matter of religious freedom – and to work for a law that would ban or restrict the practice of abortion is tantamount to seeking ‘to force our religion on others.’ So argued Gov. Cuomo in 1984,” he said.

Father Buckley said abortion must be clarified as “an issue of public morality, not necessarily tied to religious belief. Otherwise it does not belong in the public forum in a pluralistic society.”

He added that a clear distinction also has to be made between pro-abortion and pro-choice positions. “Too often those positions are conflated or discussed as if they were identical,” he said.

“But a critical difference exists between those who support abortion and find it morally unobjectionable, and those who, while considering abortion a grave moral evil, believe that it would be counterproductive to criminalize it.”

Father Buckley offered three suggestions on how Catholic voters and office-holders could help resolve the abortion debate, as well as other serious social problems:

— Support programs, whether in government or through private initiatives, that seek to alleviate the conditions that contribute to abortion and other social ills.

— Make the case against abortion evident to all. As the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago pointed out, “the claim that abortion is a question of ‘public morality’ is not self-evident,” he said. “We have to make ‘a rationally persuasive case’ and gain consensus if we expect the authority of the state and civil law to be invoked on the issue.”

—Assist in a revival of the tradition of the common good and the tradition of reason in public life.

“Much of the problem in America today can be traced to an excessive individualism and a disparagement of moral reasoning,” he said.

“At the heart of Catholic political theory and social thought are the idea of the common good and a confidence in reasoned argument. At no time in our history have those been more needed in American public life.”

Jewish Catholic suggests ways
to bring faith home

By Nora O’Dowd
Religion News Service

In a witty, practical and reverent compendium of the basics of the Catholic faith, Meredith Gould, a convert from Judaism, has dusted off traditions, gathered lore and updated customs to help reinvigorate the daily practice of Catholicism.

Her new book “The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days and Every Day” (Doubleday, $16.95) uses the liturgical calendar as its backbone to explore home-based practices and creative interpretations for each season of the church year.

From the big red-letter days of Christmas and Easter to lesser-known feasts such as Michaelmas and All Souls Day, the milestones of the year are marked with a variety of suggested activities and devotions that anticipate and celebrate them.

For instance, the chapter on the current season of Lent describes how to prepare one’s home—and larder—for that time of fasting and contemplation. There are suggestions for various vegetarian soups; a recipe for pretzels, “the oldest authentically Christian Lenten bread”; and a description of a curious 19th-century Lithuanian custom that involves dragging a herring around a church. (Gould suggests confining the herring derring-do to the back yard where the neighborhood cats can enjoy it.)

While her tone can be light, Gould’s message is sincere. For those physically unable to fast, she suggests staying away from the Internet or the phone.

On the issue of giving up something for Lent, she counsels the injunction “to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.”

“What would you have to stop, surrender or abandon to live like this during Lent?” says Gould in the book. “What would Lent be like if you gave up vengeance, gossip, sarcasm or stinginess instead of chocolate? What would you be like?”

Gould, a Princeton, N.J., sociologist and author of three other books, including “Deliberate Acts of Kindness: Service as a Spiritual Practice,” brings a unique perspective to this latest work. She is “a Jew in identity, a Christian in faith and a Catholic in practice.” This trinity informs her work and beliefs.

“Being Jewish deeply permeates my Catholicism,” says Gould, who grew up in a predominately Catholic neighborhood in Bergen County, N.J. Her teenage years were her “heavy-duty Jewish phase,” she says, before she continued on the quest that eventually brought her to the Catholic Church.

“I felt most comfortable with Catholicism,” she says. “It’s so similar to Judaism, a very formal expression of piety.”

“There was already a context for understanding the Mass, it’s so tied in with Judaism,” she says. “As a Jew, I believe the Catholic experience is so much richer for me. I just love the grandeur of it, the symbology ... the music. These things call me deeper into faith.”

Symbols are numerous in Gould’s book: a Jesse Tree illustrates the preparation for Christmas with a daily addition of a significant ornament; at Easter time, she suggests a plush lamb is much more in keeping with the reason for the season than a stuffed bunny; you can do something as simple as changing the color of your dining room tablecloth to reflect the changes in the liturgical year.

Last year, during Holy Week, Gould draped the pictures and icons in her home with purple cloths.

While the book’s suggestions for prayer and practice are many, Gould says it’s not a “to-do list. I’m talking about a quest, a spiritual practice. It’s a shifting of attitudes and values and belief.”

Well aware of the hectic schedules of modern family life, Gould suggests a gradual introduction of spiritual tradition by retiring one secular thing (say, a jingle-bell-rocking Santa) and instilling a significant one — lighting Advent candles — for each holiday.

“If there are children in the house, you can pray together once a week. Make it a special time.”

“And if you’re still too busy, ask what’s keeping you so busy. What are your values?”

With its description of the sacraments, bouquets of prayers, lists of holy days and resources, and a loving celebration of all that is good about Catholicism, Gould’s book probably couldn’t appear at a better time for the tarnished, troubled church.

“It’s true that faith and belief are not always in alignment with religious bureaucratic structures,” says Gould. She says that while blame has rightfully been assigned to the “manmade and corrupt bureaucracy,” the church remains a vibrant and vital community.

And her book, with its offering of so many means of participation, could be a passport back to the church for those Catholics who have left through outrage or lethargy. In fact, Gould has a three-part prescription for inactive Catholics.

First, “find a good church, one with a pastor who is not a fossil.”
Secondly, she recommends reading “It’s Not the Same Without You” by Mitch Finley, a book geared to alienated Catholics that demonstrates ways to let go of anger and bitterness.

Finally, if there are deep wounds that will not heal, she suggests therapy. “What is your intention?” she says. “Is it to fight about women’s place in the church or is it to feed the hungry?”

New music center
dedicated in Alameda

Kindergarten students at St. Joseph Elementary School walk in a parade honoring the 200th anniversary of the Notre Dame Sisters and their founder, Sister Julie Billiart, who said, “To be simple is to be like a sunflower.”
Julian De Guzman, a junior at St. Joseph Notre Dame High, leads the school’s band during an outdoor celebration and dedication of the new music center last month. The center, in the former chapel of the Notre Dame Sisters, will serve both the high school and neighboring St. Joseph Elementary School.
Ellen Sandajan (left) and Alicia Vidovich, SJND seniors, study in the new center, which includes soundproof practice rooms, classrooms, a music library and space for storing instruments.

Sacred Hearts Father Richard Danyluk, pastor, addresses students, faculty and the Notre Dame Sisters before blessing the new center.



Carondelet, St. Joseph Notre Dame
win state basketball championships

By Voice staff

Four East Bay Catholic squads competed for titles at this year’s state high school basketball championship games at the Arco Arena in Sacramento with two teams winning top honors on March 19.
Concord’s Carondelet High School basketball team rewrote the history books by winning the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II girls state championship game by defeating Troy-Fullerton 48-41. The Cougars, who earned their first state title, completed the season by capturing their last 19 out of 20 games, including 13 straight wins.
The Pilots from St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda won its third state title by overtaking the Eagles of Verbum Dei-Los Angeles, 49-47. The team earned the CIF Division IV boys championship.
The Spartans of De La Salle High School in Concord fell short of winning a second state title when they were defeated by Fairfax-Los Angeles by a score of 51-35 March 20 in the CIF Division I boys championship game.
The Dragons from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High also suffered a loss to Centennial-Compton by a score of 60-36 in the CIF Division III boys title game, also on March 20.
As The Voice went to press St. Joseph Notre Dame High School reported that Alex Harris, Pilot varsity basketball player, would receive the prestigious Bay Area Scholar-Athlete Award from Channel 36’s Sports Focus. Harris, a senior, was instrumental in taking the team to the state championship.


New president-rector appointed to
St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park

By Voice staff

San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada has appointed Sulpician Father Gerald Brown as president and rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park beginning June 1. Men studying for the priesthood in the Oakland Diocese attend St. Patrick’s.

Father Brown succeeds Father Gerald D. Coleman, who will resign at the conclusion of the spring semester, after serving for 16 years as president and rector.

Father Brown is currently rector and president of Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served since 1999. During his assignment in the San Antonio Archdiocese, he has also held several positions at the Oblate School of Theology.

He served as provincial superior of the U.S. province of the Sulpicians for two terms, from 1985 to 1997. During those years he also served as a member to the board of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and as president of CMSM from 1993 to 1995.

Prior to his term as provincial, Father Brown served in several seminaries in California, Washington, D.C. and Kenmore, Wash. He was president and rector of the former St. Joseph’s Seminary in Los Altos, Calif., from 1978 to 1985.
From 1971 to 1978, Father Brown served on the staff at the Theological College and at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Breakfast Club for Catholic professionals
begins in the Oakland Diocese, April 13

By Voice staff

A new organization for Catholic business men and women will debut on April 13 in San Ramon. The Catholic Professional and Business Breakfast Club, sponsored by the Diocese of Oakland, joins a network of other clubs in seven California cities in five dioceses, said St. Isidore parishioner, Rick Medeiros, who is serving as local president.

The monthly breakfast meeting will include a speaker, prayer, and opportunities for networking. Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron will be the opening guest speaker. The club will meet the second Tuesday of each month at the San Ramon Marriott from 7-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast clubs for Catholic business professionals in California have existed for nearly 15 years.

The beginnings for the East Bay group stem from an invitation by Dave Leatherby, president of the Sacramento club, asking Madeiros, a former classmate at Santa Clara University, to attend one of the meetings. Medeiros was so impressed to see over 250 people there that he decided to organize a similar breakfast club in the Oakland Diocese.

Last October, Madeiros, Leatherby, and fellow St. Isidore parishioner Tom Platner met with Bishop Vigneron who approved their plans and assigned Father Ray Breton, head of the diocesan canon law department, as chaplain.
Father Breton said the club is a way for people to become “better disciples of the Lord not only in our homes and in our parishes, but also in our places of work. This implies the apostleship that flows from discipleship and the promotion of the Christian vocation to the world.”

The club is open to all professional people — teachers, lawyers, nurses, physicians and business persons and others “who are trying to live good Catholic lives, and are looking for like-minded folks to pray with, and who are interested in hearing speakers who can help them expand their faith lives,” said Madeiros.

For further information and a reservation form, call up the group’s web site at Those wishing to pay at the door, should provide credit card information in advance to hold their reservations. The reservation phone line is (925) 552-9602.



on images of Jesus in art
to be re-broadcast on KQED, April 11

“The Face: Jesus in Art,” the 2001 documentary that traces the many different ways the images of Jesus have been depicted by artists throughout history will be re-broadcast locally on KQED-TV at 5 p.m. on April 11.

The two-hour program shines a spotlight on an unprecedented collection of art work that illustrates the pivotal role Jesus Christ has had in human history. Featured pieces range from Michaelangelo’s Pieta to the treasures of the Chartres Cathedral in France.

The program includes a reconstruction of the revered Mandylion of Edessa in Turkey, an ancient cloth bearing the image of Jesus thought to be the Shroud of Turin.

Viewers will be taken from ancient Rome to 20th century America, from Europe to the Middle East to see the dramatically varied representations of Jesus.

A team of over a dozen world-renowned art historians helped to select the art images and illuminate the stories behind them. Noted actors including Juliet Mills and Ricardo Montalban read selected passages in the documentary.

“The Face: Jesus in Art” was produced with major funding from the Catholic Communications Campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in conjunction with Thirteen/WNET New York and Voyager Productions, Ltd.

Students perform ‘Godspell’
next week

By Voice staff

The seventh and eighth grade classes at St. Paul School in San Pablo and St. Patrick School in Rodeo will perform the musical “Godspell” April 2 (10 a.m.) and 3 (6:30 p.m.) at St. Patrick Church hall, 825 - 7th St., Rodeo.

Sixth graders from both schools will provide the supporting chorus. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Sarah Barrett, music teacher at both schools, parent volunteers and Timothy Rutledge a 5th grader at St. Paul’s.

The students helped choreograph and block the various scenes, said Barrett. Matthew Gonzalez, an 8th grader at St. Paul’s, directed the first two scenes.

Based on the Gospel of Matthew, “Godspell” presents the parables in a very playful manner featuring early 1970s rock n roll music. “The kids really enjoy it,” Barrett said. “The second act tells the Holy Week story, and we have chosen to end the show with the Resurrection of Christ, which is not always shown but always assumed in productions of the show.”
The Rodeo performances are open to the public, $2 for adults, $1 for students.

A G-rated passion story for children

By Voice staff

If you are a parent who would like to share the story of the passion of Jesus Christ with young children without the graphic images depicted in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” a new book called “The Jesus Garden” may fill such a need.

Written by Antoinette Bosco, a columnist for Catholic News Service, “The Jesus Garden” weaves the best-known stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus into a story that appeals to readers, ages 9-12.

Bosco based the book on stories she heard while growing up that connected Jesus to nature. “I heard the fables of why the robin’s breast is red – because this beloved bird tried to pull the thorns from the head of the crucified Jesus, becoming blood-stained – and why the flowers on the dogwood tree are cross-shaped – because this was the tree used to make the Cross. When I was raising my children, I told them these stories and made up other ones that I felt could also be true to creation.”

The book is published by Pauline Books & Media and costs $14.95. It is available at Catholic bookstores and online at