JUNE 7, 2004


New priests for Oakland

Site of new cathedral blessed
OCO presses demands
Eucharistic Congress
in Guadalajara
Cuban, U.S. bishops criticize
new economic sanctions
Amnesty International: U.S. war on terror is blow to human rights
Catholic school grad designs California quarter
Student learns that theology is not an escape
Chancellor to receive honorary doctorate
Teen offers songs and activism on behalf of peace
Preservation award for
All Saints Parish, Hayward
Teacher takes Castro Valley students on a Cosmic Walk
Entrepreneur and author offers success secrets for new graduates
New pre-school to open
at St. Joachim
St. Raymond School, Dublin
establishes endowment fund
Holy Names University confers honorary doctorates
St. Mary’s confers
its first doctoral degrees

Dance teacher retires

Campion College offers
lifelong learning series
Growing their faith
Three schools grant degrees in lay ministry
50th anniversary
for Knights and Ladies

Bishops must lead journey toward sanctification




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




Sacramento bishop appeals to Supreme Court

By Voice staff

A California Supreme Court decision holding that Catholic Charities is not a religious institution will now go to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal.

Bishop William K. Weigand of Sacramento announced June 1 that he will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn a March 1 decision of the California court. The decision held that Catholic Charities must provide contraception as part of its prescription drug plan for employees because it is not eligible for an exemption as a religious institution.

“This lawsuit has very little to do with health insurance and everything to do with our fundamental rights as Americans,” Bishop Weigand said. It comes down to a simple question, he said, “Does the State of California have the right to tell its citizens how to practice their religion?”

Catholic Charities filed the case in July 2000 in opposition to a state law requiring employers who provide a prescription drug plan to cover birth control.

Although the law exempts religious organizations from the requirement, it excludes Catholic hospitals, universities and charities from this category because they employ and serve people of other faiths.

“Healing the sick, offering charity to the poor and providing education to the young are fundamental to how Catholics practice their faith,” Bishop Weigand said. “We don’t ask anyone if they’re Catholic first.”

He added, “In other words, if we turned our back on the basic teachings of our religion and employed only Catholics, provided charity and social services only to Catholics, educated only Catholics in our universities and treated only Catholics in our hospitals, we would be in compliance with the law.”

Attorneys for Catholic Charities were to file their appeal with the Supreme Court by June 1, but they do not expect to hear whether the court accepts the case until October. At least four justices must agree to hear the case before it comes before the full court. If it is rejected, the lower court decision will stand.


Moderate bishops speak

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

One week after a Colorado bishop shocked Catholics by saying it was a sin to vote for abortion-rights politicians, other prominent bishops have urged caution in denying Communion.

While not wavering in their opposition to abortion, the bishops have indicated that dissenting lay Catholics should not immediately be banned from the Communion table.

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, a respected leader in Catholic education, said the Church has a “long-standing practice” of not judging the “state of the soul” of those who present themselves for Communion.

“Historically, the people in the United States, including Catholics, react with great disfavor to any effort of a church body that appears to tell people how to vote, or to attempt to punish people for the manner in which they vote,” Bishop Wuerl said May 25.

Bishop Wuerl seemed skeptical that voting for abortion-related laws would disqualify someone from the sacraments, and said it is up to individuals to decide whether they should seek Communion.

Commenting on the increased political pressure from some bishops, Father Andrew Greeley, sociologist and author, said the “fringe of the hierarchy has been misbehaving. ... They’re not typical, I hasten to add, but they’re out there just the same, making the Church look terrible.”

The controversial decree on voting from Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs may soon be handled by the Internal Revenue Service. The Rev. Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has asked the IRS to investigate whether Bishop Sheridan is using “code language that says ‘Re-elect Bush and vote Republican.’”

On May 1, Bishop Sheridan said any Catholic who votes for a politician who supports gay rights, abortion, euthanasia or “illicit” stem-cell research would be barred from Communion until he or she went to Confession. Lynn said that makes a Democratic vote almost impossible.

“Sheridan is using a form of religious blackmail to steer votes toward the GOP,” Lynn said. “The IRS should look into this immediately.”

At the same time, bishops who earlier issued hard-line statements appear to have softened their tone, but not their message.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who had said “real Catholics” always vote against abortion, said denying Communion is a “very grave matter” reserved for “extraordinary cases of public scandal.”

“But the church always expects Catholics who are living in serious sin or who deny the teachings of the Church—whether they’re highly visible officials or anonymous parishioners—to have the integrity to ... refrain from receiving Communion,” Archbishop Chaput wrote in his archdiocesan newspaper.

Other leading bishops said the same policies would apply to Catholics who dissent from Church teaching against homosexuality. Members of the pro-gay Rainbow Sash Movement planned to seek Communion on May 30 — Pentecost—in an annual nationwide demonstration.

Both Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis said Rainbow Sash members would be welcome in their churches, while Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told them to stay away.

World War II faith exhibits open

By Juliana Finucane
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON—Two exhibits highlighting faith during World War II opened in Washington, D.C., last month to coincide with the dedication of the National World War II Memorial.

The exhibits are part of “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation,” a 100-day tribute to the World War II generation that began with the May 29 memorial dedication.

One exhibit, called “Faith of our Fathers and Mothers,” is housed at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a set of 10 triptychs—three decorated hinged panels—that were used as portable altars during the war.

“They show how soldiers carried faith right on to the battlefield,” said Penelope Fletcher, deputy director of the cultural center, noting that the altars were set up in places ranging from ships to the hoods of jeeps.

Soldiers and chaplains had to make use of what they could to express their faith during the war, Fletcher said. For example, she said, services aboard one of the ships were held using a chalice made from a metal pipe.

Other items in the exhibit include photographs of religious services during the war, prayer cards carried by soldiers, rosaries and Christian and Jewish prayer books with frontispiece inscriptions by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The exhibit also draws attention to the faith of those at home by including letters from soldiers to family members. Advertisements for refrigerators and sheet music for popular songs like “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” show how the war influenced popular culture as well, Fletcher said.

“Faith played out in surprising ways during the war,” she said. “It can even seem very Hollywood-esque at times.”

Sandy Peeler, director of public relations for the cultural center, said she hopes the exhibit will make people reflect on the message of faith.

“I hope there’s a lesson for today,” Peeler said. “Faith is so important, especially now with the war going on.”

“People of all faiths were fighting for freedom of religion during World War II,” she said.

“And freedom of religion meant everyone. We need to preserve that today, to remember that we’re fighting for all religions.”

The exhibit runs through Sept. 7
The other exhibit honors the work of chaplains during the war. The exhibit, called “Faith and Courage: U.S. Chaplains’ Service in World War II,” is at the Washington National Cathedral.

“The chaplain corps is such an amazing story,” said Jenny Sobelman, the exhibit coordinator. “Since it’s almost never told, we thought it would be good tie-in with the memorial to do it now.”

The exhibit shows how chaplains were recruited, what their duties were, and what challenges they faced during the war. One installment tells the well-known story of the Four Chaplains, who gave up their life preservers while the USS Dorchester was sinking.

“Chaplains volunteered for the war,” said Julie Cooke, director of visitor programs at the cathedral. “They had the third-highest casualty rate, and they still wanted to serve.”

Other items in the exhibit include portable Jewish and Christian altars, chaplain uniforms, a traveling pump organ, and many photographs.

Like Peeler and Fletcher, Cooke said she hopes the exhibit will cause people to reflect on faith and sacrifice in their own lives.

“I want people to walk away and say, ‘What would I have done?’” Cooke said. “We want people to pause and reflect on the whole notion of service and sacrifice. The stories of the chaplains help us do this.”

The exhibit is housed in the Rare Book Library at the cathedral. It runs through Sept. 26.

Charismatic congress in Richmond

Children took to the stage to sing and clap in anticipation of Bishop Allen Vigneron’s arrival at the Diocesan Charismatic Congress for the Spanish-speaking held May 29 and 30 in Richmond. About 800 people, representing prayer groups from parishes throughout the diocese, attended the event. The congress included the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, testimonials, Mass, dramatic presentations and much singing.



New priests for Oakland

Mark Amaral, Ismael Gutierrez, Ruben Morales, and Kenneth Sales prostrate themselves in front of the altar at St. Elizabeth Church in Oakland, May 28, as part of the liturgy at which they were ordained by Bishop Allen Vigneron as priests for the Oakland Diocese.
Father Ruben Morales receives the chalice and paten from Bishop Allen Vigneron. Father Ismael Gutierrez is deep in prayer during a moment of his ordination.
Salpician Father Gene Konkel of St. Patrick’s Seminary vests Father Ken Sales. Retired Bishop John Cummins lays his hands on Mark Amaral before the consecration.


Bishop Allen Vigneron prays with Ismael Gutierrez as Ken Sales bows his head.

Site of new cathedral blessed

By Voice staff

Declaring that the new Cathedral of Christ the Light will be a “true icon of Jesus Christ,” Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron blessed the ground on which the cathedral will be built at the corner of Harrison Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Oakland. About 350 people attended the May 23 multicultural ceremony.

“We are undertaking an important work that will help us form into a strong community to do God’s work,” the bishop told the crowd before leading them from the plaza overlooking the site to the cathedral location, now a parking lot. “Here God will nourish us so we can live in light and love,” he said.

The 33,000 square-foot church, designed by Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, will feature soaring wooden latticework encased in glass with portals facing Lake Merritt. The wooden latticework will rise from a sturdy base, which will be carved out to include a chapel and reconciliation rooms. The cathedral will seat 1,500 with a small chapel able to accommodate another 200. Underneath will be a mausoleum.

The $131 million complex will also include a bishop’s residence, parish facilities, diocesan offices, a conference hall, and a café and retail shop. There will be a two-level parking garage below street level.
Bishop Vigneron said he hoped that the cathedral will be a place where “all our neighbors find a ready welcome, a place of inspiration and serenity” that will enable the entire community to commit to “fostering harmony and ending violence of all kinds.”

He made no mention of the half-dozen demonstrators who stood on the periphery with signs protesting the closure of three Catholic elementary schools in Oakland. “Education, not edifice,” read one sign.
The new cathedral will replace St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and razed in 1993.

OCO presses demands

By Voice staff

Leaders in Oakland Community Organizations, a grassroots coalition of local churches and schools, are tackling everything from health problems to truancy in order to improve the quality of life in the city.

In a continuing effort to improve housing conditions, OCO leaders at St. Anthony Parish held an action this spring to press their demands for safe and decent housing at two apartment buildings in the area. OCO had won commitments from the city last fall to enforce building codes in the apartments, which were dilapidated and plagued by rodents and cockroaches.

During a follow-up action in April, leaders said that although some repairs had been completed, others were of poor quality. They also asked city officials to amend the building code to force landlords to maintain properties and asked that the city look into affordable housing in the Oak-to-Ninth Street area.

OCO leaders representing the organization at large attended an Oakland City Council meeting in May to ask for support in crime prevention. A sense of insecurity affects many residents, they said, and they asked that the police work with the community on reducing violence and crime.

The leaders asked for trained community police officers. “They want to see them out of their cars,” they said in a written statement, “knocking on their doors, talking to them.”

During an action with school district officials, OCO leaders from Ascend School in the Fruitvale area demanded information on materials used in building the new school. They said tests had shown high levels of arsenic, asbestos and other contaminants in the air and soil, and students and staff have missed many days due to illness.

“We need to know what is causing this illness so we know how to make it stop,” said Larissa Adam, principal of Ascend, a small, autonomous Oakland public school for grades kindergarten through eight.

Security was the issue once more at an action held May 27 at the Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana on High Street.

Speakers at the action asked for traffic and crime control.


International Eucharistic Congress
in Guadalajara

By Voice staff

Catholics from the Diocese of Oakland are invited to join thousands of fellow worshippers from all continents of the world during the 48th International Eucharistic Congress to be held next October in Guadalajara, Mexico. Pope John Paul II will attend the weeklong event as well as Bishop Allen Vigneron and Bishop Emeritus John Cummins.

Oakland pilgrims attending the congress may choose from two programs, one including a tour of Mexican shrines and other holy sites or one limited to the event itself. Both plans will be bilingual, in Spanish and English. Father Filiberto Barrera, parochial administrator of St. Cornelius Parish in Richmond, is coordinating the pilgrimages.

Participants on the tour of holy sites will visit Our Lady of Zapopan, Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos, Our Lady of Talpa and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City as well as San Toribio in Santa Ana de Guadalupe.

The congress will open on Sunday, Oct. 10 with concelebration of the Eucharist in the stadium of Jalisco and will end the following Sunday, Oct. 17 at the same site with a Eucharist celebrated by His Holiness John Paul II and others. The inaugural Mass will also mark the beginning of perpetual adoration of the Eucharist in various sites.

Each day of the congress will fall under a specific theme highlighting gifts of the Eucharist, such as, Center of Life for the Church, Source of Evangelization and Light and Life of the New Millennium.

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, will preside over the opening assembly on Monday, Oct. 11, in which delegates from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and the Americas will outline the importance of the Eucharist in their regions of the world.

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, under the theme The Eucharist, Viaticum of the Journey and Companion on our Pilgrimage, the congress will hold a procession to the Basilica of Zapopan for a benediction with the image of Our Lady of Zapopan. The evening will include a visit to the sick and prisoners as well as living rosaries held at various sites.

On other days, pilgrims to the congress will attend talks and workshops, offered in several languages, and will come together for sharing of experiences and ritual celebrations such as the Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, processions, a penitential celebration, and an all-night vigil of adoration.

After the final Mass with His Holiness John Paul II, the congress will close with the praying of the Angelus.

The evening before the congress opens, on Sat., Oct. 9, first Communion ceremonies will be held in all parishes and in various languages.

Diocesan pilgrims will fly from Oakland and stay in a hotel in Guadalajara. Those attending the congress but not taking part in the tour of holy sites will leave Oct. 10 and return Oct. 17. Those taking part in the extended program, with visits to shrines, will leave Oct. 11 and return Oct. 22.

The cost of the program with tours is $2,557, not including the congress registration fee, which will be approximately $250. The price of the limited plan is pending.

The last day of registration for the diocesan tour is July 11. For an application, call Father Filiberto Barrera at (510) 233-5215 or (510) 815-1246 or Teresa Barajas at (510) 796-5645. Other diocesan priests who have already indicated that they will attend include Father Tony Valdivia, pastor of St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Oakland; Father Larry D’Anjou, vocations director; and Father Larry Silva, vicar general.


Cuban, U.S. bishops criticize
new economic sanctions on Cuba

By Juliana Finucane
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Cuban and American Catholic bishops have condemned new sanctions enacted by the Bush administration against Cuba, saying that sanctions will only make poor Cuban families suffer more.

“We consider the economic embargo to be morally unacceptable and politically counterproductive,” said Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a May 21 letter to President George W. Bush. “The embargo hurts ordinary people in Cuba—the poor, the aged and the infirm.”

Cuba’s bishops said Cubans should find solutions to their own economic problems but said President Fidel Castro’s response was also damaging.

“It hurts us to see that the measures announced by the United States and those taken by the Cuban government affect, directly or indirectly, the poorest families of our nation,” the Cuban bishops said.

In its May 6 announcement, the Bush administration said it would reduce the number of visits Cuban Americans can make to Cuba, cut the amount of money they can spend during their trips by two-thirds, and allow Cuban-Americans to send money only to immediate family members.

The changes were recommended by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, a panel established to provide Bush with suggestions to encourage a transition to democracy.

Castro responded to the sanctions by first freezing sales in dollars and then increasing prices by an average of 15 percent.

These steps “inflame the already anguished situation (of Cubans) and aggravate the separation of those who live in Cuba and in the United States,” the Cuban bishops said.

Both the American and Cuban bishops said open dialogue would be more fruitful than stricter sanctions.

“It would be far better, in our view, to work toward opening up Cuban society through increased trade and economic activity, lifting travel restrictions and engaging in more intense diplomatic activity,” Bishop Gregory said.

Amnesty International: U.S. war
on terror is blow to human rights

By Mandy Morgan
Religion News Service

One of the world’s top human rights organizations has accused the United States of “fighting injustice with injustice” and fueling terrorists’ justifications for their attacks.

At the release of its annual human rights report May 26, William Schulz, Amnesty International USA executive director, said the United States must clean up its human rights record.

“The false idea that the United States is engaged in a crusade against the Islamic world is a critical component of the Islamist nihilists’ world view and spreading this idea is critical to their success,” Jessica Stern, a Harvard professor and author of “Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill,” told reporters at Amnesty’s news conference.

“The occupation has given disparate groups from various countries a common battlefield to face a common enemy,” she said.

Stern, who has interviewed hundreds of terrorists around the world, said that terrorist incidents have doubled since the Sept. 11 attacks and the launch of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism.



Catholic school grad
designs California quarter

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Reach for the stars, – you just might catch one, even when the odds to do so seem nearly impossible. This was Garrett Burke’s recent advice to sixth graders at Our Lady of Grace School in Castro Valley.

Burke is an ace star-catcher himself. Last year the 42-year-old graphic designer from Los Angeles created a drawing of environmentalist John Muir for the face of a new California memorial quarter slated for distribution next year. Burke’s design made it through an extensive weeding out process among 8,000 entries, leaving 20 semi-finalists, then five.

Last month Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger chose Burke’s design, which depicts Muir admiring the high cliffs and waterfalls of the Yosemite Valley, as a California condor flies nearby. The original design featured only Muir and Yosemite, but Schwarzenegger suggested to the U.S. Mint that the condor be added.

Burke credits his wife, Michelle, and their eight-year-old daughter, Katie, for his new celebrity status. It was they who encouraged him to work on the coin design.

During his visit to Our Lady of Grace, Burke told students that his numismatic adventure began one day at a coin show in Long Beach where his wife, a serious collector, saw a brochure from the state inviting people to submit designs as part of the U.S Mint’s 50-state quarters program. “I don’t have time,” Burke pleaded. Besides, even if he did go to all the work of creating a design, it would probably get lost in the judging shuffle.

It took two months for Michelle and Katie to convince Burke otherwise. When he finally caved in to their coaxing, they even offered to help.

As Burke began researching possible images for the California coin, “the project took hold of me viscerally,” he said. He decided that John Muir, the father of the modern environmental movement, a founder of the Sierra Club, and a fruit farmer in Martinez, was the perfect candidate.

“The more research I did, the more I realized what a wonderful balance of a scientist, farmer, and a naturalist he was, how he was able to transcribe his thinking into writings about nature. He showed us how we needed to be cognizant of the dangers of environmental ruin…he helped remind us that Yosemite is a little bit of heaven on earth.”

John Muir was the perfect subject for Garrett Burke. Years earlier, while attending Millersville State College in his native Pennsylvania, Burke discovered his own little bit of heaven on earth — Amish country. An avid bicyclist, he learned to appreciate this beautiful rural bioregion during the two years he spent there before transferring to the Pratt School of Design in Brooklyn, New York.

After graduation and a move to Los Angeles to find a job designing movie posters, Burke had discovered California’s scenic beauty. While working on the coin project, he realized that his project was an opportunity “to give something back, in gratitude,” for all California has come to mean to him. “Muir embodies the best of California,” he said.

Last year, the Burke family came north to Martinez to visit John Muir’s National Historic site, where they connected with Jill Harcke, another Muir admirer. The newfound friends kept in touch. Last month, Harcke invited the Burkes to speak to her sixth grade class.

“It was just like being back at my old parochial school,” he said of Our Lady of Grace. “The kids reminded me of me when I was that age.” Garrett Burke graduated from St. Paul Parochial School in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

During his visit to Castro Valley, Burke reminded the sixth graders that “nature is precious and should never be taken for granted.”

John Muir was only one person, but he made a difference, Burke told the children. Muir’s words and actions helped inspire President Theodore Roosevelt to establish important conservation programs and a system of national parks, including Yosemite.

Burke challenged the sixth graders to set goals for themselves and to put aside doubts about carrying them out. “What contributions will you make to Castro Valley and to planet earth? How will you say ‘thanks’ for all you have been given?”

Burke and his family returned to the East Bay on June 5 to receive the John Muir Conservation Award from the John Muir Memorial Association in Martinez.
The award is given annually to an individual who has worked to keep Muir’s legacy alive.
When Burke was notified about the award, he said he would accept only if his wife’s and daughter’s names were on it as well.

Student learns that theology is not
an escape from the ‘real world’

By Monica Lowy
Special to The Voice

“Graduate education changes your life!” exclaimed Franciscan Father Kenan Osborne a few weeks ago during his graduation address at the Franciscan School of Theology, where he used to serve as president and professor. His words echoed through my entire being and I wanted to stand up and shout out a resounding “Yes!”
Looking at the faces of the graduates, I recalled how I had seen them blossom in their time at FST. I have watched them find their voices and discover their place as ministers in today’s Church.

I, too, am no longer the same person I was upon coming to the Franciscan School of Theology in August 2001. The shoe that fit before no longer fits.

My journey to pursue graduate theological studies was a transforming process in and of itself. I was born and raised in Iowa (amidst corn, not potatoes!) where there is very little cultural diversity. After graduating from Loras College in Dubuque, I decided to leave the nest and departed for Chicago to volunteer with the Passionist Lay Missioners, a lay volunteer program.

My eyes were opened up to diversity and the reality of suffering, particularly in an urban setting. After two years with the Passionist Lay Missioners, I was accepted at FST in Berkeley. My parents challenged me, questioning the value of a graduate degree in theology. “Is it a worthwhile endeavor or are you just seeking to escape from the real world?” they asked.

I believed that it was where I was being called; I desired to learn how to further develop leadership and ministerial skills and I wanted to know more about the faith I profess. I was not looking to climb the ladder of corporate success, but was longing for something more, something to nourish me at the levels of both the head and the heart.

What I have encountered at FST has risen above and beyond any expectations I had. My hunger has been fully satisfied not only through the texts I’ve read and the papers I’ve written, but also through engaging in service to the marginalized and through participating fully in community life at FST.

As part of my degree program, Master of Arts in Ministry for a Multicultural Church, I have had two years of field experience, first as a chaplain intern at Summit Medical Center in Oakland, and then at Most Holy Redeemer AIDS Support Group in San Francisco.

In the faces of those persons who are suffering, I have indeed encountered the crucified Christ. They have led me to a deeper awareness of my own brokenness. Together, we have also shared in the joy of the Resurrection, recognizing the many blessings that God has showered upon us, even in times of darkness.

My understanding of family has also blossomed since arriving at the Franciscan School. If asked how many were in my family today, I would no longer respond, “Four: my parents, brother, and myself.” The students, staff, and faculty at FST are now a part of my family, too.

Each week, I look forward to our Thursday morning liturgy where students, faculty, and staff come together to share in worship. The celebrations are alive with ritual and music, embracing the many cultures from which we all come. The sense of community and celebration found here does not end with the closing song, but flows in and through our daily interactions with one another.

Our faculty and staff, in addition to taking a serious interest in our intellectual development, fully invest themselves in our personal and spiritual development, helping us to grow and discover who we are as persons of faith in a broken world. Their love, support, and friendship truly make a difference.

The family of the Franciscan School belongs to the family of the Graduate Theological Union, which contains several other graduate schools of theology, including the Jesuit School of Theology and the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. We learn from one another as we work and study together, each sharing our own gifts and perspectives.

Next spring, I will be graduating from FST, taking what I have learned into the world to enrich the lives of others. Little did I know that upon setting foot in the doors of the Franciscan School of Theology, my entire world would literally be turned upside down as I discovered the value of a theological education rooted in service, community, and love.

In life, one must be willing to take a risk and try on a new pair of shoes.

Chancellor to receive honorary doctorate

By Voice staff

Sister Barbara Flannery, chancellor of the Oakland Diocese, will receive an honorary doctorate from Santa Clara University during undergraduate commencement ceremonies, June 12.

In announcing the honor, Jesuit Father Paul Locatelli, university president, said Sister Flannery was selected for her leadership and service in responding to clergy sex abuse in the Church. She “not only served well the Diocese of Oakland, but also provided a model to be emulated by dioceses across the country.”

For many years, the nun, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has worked with survivors of clergy sex abuse to foster healing. Together with them she developed an outreach ministry called “No More Secrets,” coordinated a public apology service in 2000 at which Bishop John Cummins addressed the tragedy of abuse, and set up monthly drop-in sessions for survivors. She is currently assisting Bishop Allen Vigneron with monthly apology services at parishes where sex abuse occurred.

She also meets with survivors and has accompanied some of them when they have confronted their abusers. She has guided diocesan procedures for dealing with reports of sexual misconduct and has ensured that the diocese is in full compliance with both the law and Church policies.

Father Locatelli, in a letter to Sister Flannery, said, “Your honesty, integrity, and the strength of your convictions, combined with your sensitivity to victims of abuse, have been exemplary. You serve as a model of competence, conscience and compassion.”

Sister Flannery came to her chancellor post after serving for several years as associate superintendent of Catholic schools and director of FACE (Family Aid – Catholic Education). Prior to that, she was principal of St. Patrick School in Oakland.

Teen offers songs and activism
on behalf of peace

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

When Holy Names High School junior Caitlin Alegre went to Province Town, Mass., recently, her carry-on luggage included a violin, a guitar and 1500 paper cranes in a black plastic garbage bag.

The cranes, Japanese peace symbols, were especially precious cargo she was taking to a national summit sponsored by Roots and Shoots, an environmental social justice service organization for young people. She wanted to show the cranes to Jane Goodall, world famous primatologist and the organization’s founder. She wanted her beloved mentor to autograph some of them.
The cranes are part of an ongoing student peace project at Northern Lights Elementary School in Oakland. They will be distributed during a Children’s International Day of Peace planned for the weekend of Sept. 25, probably at Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

Summit organizer
Alegre, 17, an alumna of Northern Lights, is a local organizer for that event, just as she helped organize the recent Massachusetts summit. The teen also served as its chair. She worked with children ages nine through 14 who spent last year making positive changes in their community. She also presented a workshop on political action and participated in a community concert, singing her own songs.

In between sessions, Alegre practiced her violin for an upcoming orchestra concert at Holy Names High.

Province Town was the latest in a long line of conferences for her. She has been a Roots and Shoots member since second grade. In 1994, Jane Goodall, renowned worldwide for establishing safe havens for chimpanzees, was visiting a good friend in Oakland. The friend brought Goodall to visit Northern Lights School because of its strikingly similar philosophy to Roots and Shoots, which provides age-appropriate projects for youths in the areas of environmental activism, social justice and community service.

Soon Northern Lights became affiliated with Goodall’s program and young Caitlin jumped right in.

As part of a school protest around animal testing in universities and corporations, the plucky youngster spoke with the chancellor of one Bay Area university to let him know his school should stop using animals. To this day, she isn’t sure if the educator took her words to heart, but at least he learned there is another point of view, namely that animals should not be subjected to suffering, Alegre said in one article published by the Jane Goodall Institute.

Alegre also organized a Northern Lights boycott of Colgate Palmolive for its animal testing practices. Students knocked on household doors, urging residents not to buy the company’s products. “Since the company stock went down,” Alegre said she couldn’t help but believe students’ efforts might have helped bring it about.

When it came time for Alegre to do her service project around community issues, she focused upon the AIDS epidemic in Africa As she thought about the human tragedies connected to the disease, a melody came into her mind. She turned it into a song.

It sparked even more composing efforts. In seventh grade, Alegre started a rock band with three other girls called “The Enviro-chicks.” Among their many gigs, they performed at a “Kinship of All Life” conference in San Francisco, where Jane Goodall was a featured speaker.

When the musicians enrolled at different high schools, the group disbanded because of difficulties scheduling rehearsals, but by then Alegre knew music had become her venue for making a difference in the world. To date, she has composed some 35 songs, ranging from environmental and peace to patriotic themes. One of her latest is the poignant tale of three siblings who lose their father during the Iraqi occupation. The song ends with, “Remember to never go to war so your babies never have to fill their daddy’s shoes.”

Two compositions are featured in Woodside filmmaker Diane Ashkenazi’s one-hour film, “Under the Stars and Stripes.” Alegre wrote the title song as well as another entitled “For the Music.” Northern Lights’ 175 students are among 400 California kids appearing in the film.

Listeners do not always welcome Caitlin Alegre’s songs. “I’ve been called outspoken and radical,” she said in her soft manner, but added, “The beauty of America is you have the right to speak your mind. I try not to hurt people’s feelings, though.”

So what is going on right now for this amazing young woman, whom Holy Names High School principal Sister Sally Slyngstad refers to as “a unique gift?”

Last year, Alegre initiated a “Budding Mozarts” school orchestra at Northern Lights. Drawing on her knowledge of violin and cello, Alegre gives music lessons and conducts the orchestra. Musicians play an assortment of world music and classics.

Deeper motive
But she has a deeper motive than simply teaching kids how to master stringed instruments. Some of her students are from immigrant families and are shy about speaking English. Others are depressed or suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Alegre believes beautiful music is a way to reach into their hearts and souls.

She points with pride to one second grader whose English-speaking skills have improved by 60 percent since joining the Budding Mozarts. Others have visibly brightened up through playing music.

Alegre said she does not care for some of the music permeating mainstream airwaves these days. “The words poison kids minds,” she said. In order to heal, “sometimes it helps to just listen to music without words.”

She hopes to bring her “music without words,” approach to even more troubled children. After her graduation from Holy Names next year, she plans to study music therapy in college so she can work with children suffering from posttraumatic syndrome and with adults living with Alzheimer’s.

Caitlin Alegre and her mom, Michelle Lewis, principal of Northern Lights School, attend St. Monica Parish in Moraga and St. Mary’s in Walnut Creek.


Preservation award

The Hayward Area Historical Society honored All Saints Church with its Preservation Award last month for the parish’s efforts to preserve its 1907 church in downtown Hayward. The church is “one of the landmarks of our downtown landscape,” said Jim DeMersman, executive director of the Society. Restoration of the church took place in 1984 under the leadership of the late Father Albano Oliveira, pastor.

Teacher takes Castro Valley students
on a Cosmic Walk

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Greg Fiorina recently took a Cosmic Walk through space and met up with his oldest ancestor— a particle of stardust.

Jenny Capilla, Greg’s companion on the same journey, discovered that the original Divine Spark set off by God over 13 billion years ago that ultimately created our universe, was smaller than a grain of sand.
Greg and Jenny’s adventure played itself out during a walking meditation held at the parish hall of the Our Lady of Grace School in Castro Valley.

As Greg, Jenny, and the rest of their fourth grade class circled around the narrow confines of a slender white rope laid out on the floor in a spiral shape, “Standing Stones of Callinish,” a British composition by Jon Mark, played hauntingly in the background.

Enlarged photographs of stars and galaxies from the Hubble Telescope lined the walls. Their striking beauty made it easy for both child and grown-up imaginations to unabashedly dive backwards into the realm before the first beginning, into the no-time-no space which the Hebrew Scriptures call ‘tohu wa bohu,” and then to walk with the Divine Spark as it spiraled Its way forward, creating time and space.

Fourth grade teacher Therese Fenzl talked her students through the walk. She reminded them, “Walking meditation is a way of praying with our bodies. Today, we are silently giving thanks to God for this incredible amazing universe that we all are a part of.”

Fenzl singled out the births of hydrogen, oxygen, stars, planets, sunlight, photosynthesis, birds, flowers, oceans, mountains, animals and human beings.

As the meditation unfolded, Marlys Tobias stood quietly in the background, smiling.
Tobias, a former schoolteacher, made this special fourth grade exercise possible. In fact, she took a week’s vacation from her job as parish secretary at St. Perpetua in Lafayette to bring the Cosmic Walk to Our Lady of Grace.

The Cosmic Walk, created by Caldwell Dominican Sister Miriam Therese McGillis of Genesis Farm, an ecological learning center in New Jersey, is a symbolic prayerful reenactment of the unfolding of the universe that helps people to enter personally into the story.

Sister McGillis’ ritual is based on “The Universe Story,” co-authored by Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and a member of Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill. Swimme wrote the book in 1990-91 with his mentor, Passionist Father Thomas Berry, a cultural anthropologist who lives in North Carolina.

In 1999, Marlys Tobias fell in love with their book while studying at the weekend Sophia Center master’s program at Holy Names College in Oakland. She felt compelled to weave Swimme and Berry’s work into the very fabric of her life.

Her resolve grew even stronger after she read Thomas Berry’s book, “The Great Work.” She saw herself in Father Berry’s words: “It is for the artists, poets and writers to carry forth and tell the story.”
Tobias is passionate about her mission. Planet earth is an ecological mess, she asserts. The only way to save it, and ultimately, us, is by helping people to rediscover their compassion and awe for creation, she maintains.

“Anything I can do to raise this awareness, I will do.”

When she retires in December, Tobias wants to take her project to other Bay Area schools. Castro Valley was her second trial run.

In January she brought the Cosmic Walk to the sixth grade class at St. Perpetua School and, as a tangible reminder of what they’d just experienced, Tobias has taught kids at both schools how to make Universe Story necklaces with little stars, moons, dinosaurs, birds, flowers, and butterflies. She encouraged them to include their own personal stories into the timeline as well.

Like all good rituals, the Cosmic Walk became another doorway into the realm of the sacred for the Castro Valley fourth graders. After participating and making her necklace, Victoria Beverly said she feels differently about God. “He’s a little more powerful and important to me now.”

Greg Fiorina described the session as “calming and relaxing.” It came with an educational bonus – wanting “to know more about me…. what chemicals I’m made up of,” he said.

Tamara Moresi’s face glowed as she contemplated herself evolving from an ancient minute particle. Her gaze turned towards the Hubble photographs. ‘”I can’t keep my eyes off them.”

The Cosmic Walk was one more opportunity for the Castro Valley students to participate in walking meditations, a prayer form already familiar to them. “Miss Fenzl has us do them when we go up and down the stairs to get the keyboards for our computer lessons,” Nick Batista said.

“We focus on the world around us, focus on our feet, and we bless the ground as we walk,” added Victoria Beverly.

Therese Fenzl said she also teaches her children how to meditate using Thomas Keating’s form of Centering Prayer, a technique she learned as a member of the Hesed Community, a Catholic contemplative center in Oakland.

“We pray the name, ‘Jesus,’ and we visualize a golden light around us that is God’s love,” she said.

Entrepreneur and author offers
success secrets for new graduates

Entrepreneur and author Charles Garcia (“A Message from Garcia: Yes, You Can Succeed,” Wiley, 2003) offers some insights and advice gained from his own career as well as his associations with influential people in business, politics and the military.

Know thyself
It makes sense to pursue a career that makes use of your strengths. Ironically, in schools and in the workplace most people are encouraged to find, analyze and correct their weaknesses.

Garcia recommends that graduates take two self-assessment tests. One is Emode’s Ultimate Personality Test (, which helps you discover more about your personality, talents and preferences. The other is the StrengthsFinder Profile (, based on the national bestseller “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.

“Many young people don’t know what they like or what they’re good at,” says Garcia. “Find out now and you won’t waste time and energy going down the wrong road.”

Pursue your passion, even if it means financial sacrifice

In his book, Garcia repeatedly states that success does not equal money. He tells a story of Theresa Park, who became a lawyer to please her parents. Feeling unsatisfied, she reevaluated her life and decided to pursue her real passion of being a literary agent.

After a year of working days at a fraction of her lawyer’s salary and combing through the slush pile at night, she discovered a manuscript by then-unknown author Nicholas Sparks. Today, she is one of the most sought-after literary agents in the business.

“Money is meaningless if you hate what you do,” says Garcia. “Too many people figure that out after years of misery. Often when you do what you love, financial success will follow, but even if it never does, you can’t put a price tag on happiness.”

Follow the “three times a day” rule
Garcia says that writing down your goals and reflecting on them three times a day will activate your subconscious so that you’ll make decisions that lead to success. He found a 28-page book entitled It Works and liked it so much that he brought it into the Internet Age. He created the “Success Compass™,” a software program that prompts you to dream, helps you set and prioritize goals, and e-mails your top goals to you three times a day at no charge.

“The e-mail reminders create a sense of accountability,” he says. “Don’t think of it as being accountable to a software program; think of it as being accountable to yourself.”

Find a mentor
You need to form a relationship with someone who’s already in a field that interests you. With that relationship, you can build a career in a field that excites you, rather than just going to work each day to a job that gives you no personal satisfaction.

“Be creative,” urges Garcia. “Talk your mentor into letting you work an unpaid internship during the day, even if you have to wait tables at night. Or take a temporary ‘day job’ but meet your mentor for lunch once a week and pick his or her brain. What you learn will be inexpressibly valuable.”

Strive to be a Rowan
The title of Garcia’s book refers to Elbert Hubbard’s widely-read “A Message to Garcia,” the 1899 story that recounts the tale of a messenger named Rowan, personally dispatched by President William McKinley during the Spanish-American war to locate and deliver a vital message to General Garcia, the leader of the Cuban insurgents.

“In the story, Rowan encountered unbelievable obstacles in delivering his message,” explains Garcia. “But despite all of them, he completed his assigned task. And that’s what employers want: people who do whatever it takes to get the job done, and do it without complaining. Become a Rowan and you’ll always be in demand.”

Remember that heart and hope matter more than academic background
“This may surprise graduates, many of whom assume credentials are everything,” says Garcia. “They may assume that because they have the ‘right’ degree, they are destined for success, or conversely, that they are doomed because they don’t have that magic degree.

“Education matters, yes, but it is not the be-all, end-all. I would be more inclined to hire a high school graduate with talent, energy and optimism than someone with a Ph.D. and a negative attitude. Many, many employers share my belief. Skills can be taught on the job, but it’s really hard to teach a positive attitude.”

Always do what’s right and let the chips fall
where they may

Honesty, integrity and character are not outdated concepts, says Garcia. They matter tremendously.

“When you are starting out in the work world, you have the advantage of a clean slate,” he explains. “Every mark you make on that slate adds to your reputation. Once you’ve gained a reputation for dishonesty or laziness or manipulative behavior, it’s very hard to overcome. So do the right thing at every juncture, from telling the truth at job interviews to standing your ground when you’re faced with ethical dilemmas later on in your career.”

“Life tends to get in the way of pursuing dreams,” says Garcia. “A ‘temporary’ job you took just to pay the bills may end up being a lot more permanent than you had planned. Relationships evolve and take up more of your time. Perhaps you marry and have children. It’s easy for your big dreams to get lost. Don’t let this happen. Nothing can replace having goals to strive for; they keep you going during the inevitable hard times. “Keep setting goals and never give up on them. I think perseverance is the most critical component to success, in business and in life itself.”

New pre-school to open at St. Joachim

By Voice staff

St. Joachim School in Hayward will open a pre-school for 35 four-year-olds in September. The class will be held in a new 1,000 square-foot addition to an existing building used for youth and adult programs. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place on May 16 and Father Sergio Mora, pastor, blessed the site.

Parents and other parish volunteers have raised more than $185,000 for the addition. The school also received a $50,000 grant from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, and several other grant proposals are still pending. The eighth grade sponsored a variety of activities that raised enough money to purchase a play structure for the pre-school.

The building will also serve as a community gathering place for youth programs, family literacy groups, ESL classes, and health education, said Maria Magallon, project spokesperson.

She said the addition will be linked to the existing school by a small walkway that will allow older students to access to adjoining rooms used as a math lab.

Pre-school applications are now being accepted at the school, 21250 Hesperian Blvd.

St. Raymond School in Dublin
establishes an endowment fund

By Voice staff

Dublin’s St. Raymond School has set up an endowment fund to provide scholarships for needy students, to pay for campus improvements, and purchase academic resources for class instruction.

Proceeds from a May 14 golf tournament were the first major contribution to the fund. The fund will accept cash, real estate, art, securities, bequests, cars, boats and RV’s in addition to being named as beneficiary in trusts, annuities and life insurance policies.

Information about the fund is available from Allison Laughton at (925) 846-5458;



Oakland’s Holy Names University confers honorary doctorates

By Voice staff

Holy Names University in Oakland conferred an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters on Charles Smith, president and CEO of SBC operations for the Western Region, during May 22 commencement exercises.

Smith, who serves as board chair of the Los Angeles Urban League and as executive advisor for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, delivered the keynote address. For the past seven years Smith has chaired the United Negro College Fund Walk-A-Thon in Los Angeles.

The university also conferred an honorary doctorate on James Vohs, retired chairman of Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan and an emeritus trustee of the university, formerly known as Holy Names College. Vohs served as the first lay chairperson of the college’s Board of Directors from 1982-1992.

Two Holy Names University Regents were also honored. E. Glenn Isaacson, CEO of Conversion Management Associates, Inc., received the President’s Medal, and Debra Delaney, along with her husband Michael Delaney, owners of Lyal Nickals, received the Durocher Award.

Founded in 1868 by the Sisters of the Holy Names, the university offers more than 20 undergraduate majors and seven graduate programs in day, evening, weekend and videoconferencing formats.

St. Mary’s confers
its first doctoral degrees

By Voice staff

Saint Mary’s College awarded its first doctoral degrees in educational leadership during a May 23 commencement ceremony at the Moraga Campus.

Susan Craig, Kristen Anne Elgen, and Carolyn Frederick completed three years of course work and a dissertation to earn their doctorates in a program that began in 2000.

The program accepts a variety of students including K-12 educators, community college administrators, higher education teachers and others interested in leadership in educational settings.

Information about program enrollment is available by calling Jackie Hoover, program assistant, at (925) 631-4690.



Dance teacher retires

After teaching dance in Catholic elementary schools for 43 years, Sondra Dwyer is retiring. “I will miss the creative process of exploring with children the endless possibilities of dance,” she said. Dwyer has taught at Our Lady of Grace for 21 years. She also taught at Assumption and St. Leander in San Leandro; St. Bede in Hayward; St. Benedict, St.Elizabeth, and St. Leo in Oakland; St. Isidore in Danville; St. Perpetua in Lafayette; St. Michael in Livermore and Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City.


Campion College offers
lifelong learning series

By Voice staff

Campion College of San Francisco, a two-year Catholic liberal arts and Great Books College, is launching a new lifelong learning program beginning June 15. The program, which is open to the public, will offer a four to five-week series of seminar and lecture classes on theology and great literature.

The courses are: The Church’s Best Kept Secret: Pope John Paul II’s Social Teaching; the Crusades and Their Legacy; the Afterlife in the Works of Homer, Virgil and Dante; The Philosophy of Lord of the Rings; and Mary in Christian Tradition.

Classes are $100. Further information at 415-387-2324. E-mail:

Growing their faith

At their end of the year celebration, students in the religious education program of St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Oakland display packages with rosaries donated by the Order of Malta.

Dominican Sister Floria Carrillo (right) led a thousand children in song during the event, and Father Tony Valdivia, pastor, (center) praised the contributions of the Dominican Sisters and the Order of Malta, which provides books, rosaries and classroom support through its “Growing the Faith” program. Last year they made similar contributions to students at St. Catherine of Siena School in Martinez.



Three schools grant degrees
in lay ministry

By Voice staff

Thirteen lay ministers received graduate degrees in theology last month. Two attended the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and 11 studied in a pastoral ministry program at Holy Names University, Oakland.
The graduates are:

Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley: Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and Theological Studies:
Simon Rebullida, director of the diocesan Filipino Pastoral Center.

Holy Names University:
Stephanie Baker, teacher at Holy Names University and the School for Pastoral Ministry.

Kelly O’Lague Dulka, diocesan director of Faith and Ministry Formation.

Christina Fosker, director of religious education at St. Mary Parish, Walnut Creek.

Michele Javier-Poma, youth ministry director at St. Edward Parish, Newark.

Karen Laible, director of family life ministry, Catholic Community of Pleasanton.

Nancy Lopez, catechetical ministry at St. Peter Martyr Parish, Pittsburg.

Tonya Richardson, associate director of Faith and Ministry Formation.

Louise Ridsdale, RCIA, St. Michael Parish, Livermore.

Haydee Salgado, director, La Mision de Jesus.

Kevin Stazskow, director of religious education, Our Lady of Grace Parish,
Castro Valley.

Holy Names University – Master’s Certificate in Pastoral Ministries:

Beatriz Carballo, sacramental preparation for parents, St. Francis of Assisi and other parishes in Concord.

Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley – Master of Divinity:
Molleen Dupree, pastoral associate at St. Mary-St. Francis de Sales Parish, Oakland.


50th anniversary

The Fourth Degree Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver of Northern California gather at St. Benedict Church in Oakland, May 23, to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Father Jay Matthews, pastor, celebrated the Mass and congratulated the members on the years of service to the Church.