JULY 5, 2004


Retirees rescue edible food for their rolling breadbox

U.S. bishops approve more sexual abuse audits

Departing members of sex abuse Review Board urge vigilance

U.S. bishops urge support for
Federal Marriage Amendment
Pope, Ecumenical Patriarch
reopen theological dialogue

Religious share
jubilee reflections

Two Maryknollers
celebrate jubilees
Dominicans ordained
in Oakland Diocese
New post for
Father David Staal
Former Vicar General named
pastor at St. Leander Parish

Father John Blaker assumes
leadership at St. David Parish

Polish-born priest now serving as administrator
Other assignments
New Council elected
Popular Santacruzan festival
brings pageantry to Hayward
Appeal success




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




Pray for Iraq, says bishop

By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) With the transfer of power in Iraq June 28, Catholic bishops from the United States and Great Britain are urging Catholics to pray “for the people of Iraq, and for a region and world broken by violence and longing for peace.”

“A brutal dictator has been deposed, but a year later Iraq does not appear to be a nation clearly on its way to security,” Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said June 22.

Bishop Gregory said that the United States had incurred a “grave moral responsibility” by pre-emptively invading Iraq, and that the war has raised “fundamental questions about the U.S. role in the world.”

Foremost among those questions, Bishop Gregory said, is how to balance America’s prosecution of a “war on terror” with abiding respect for the sanctity of human life.

“Our nation cannot accept a permissive interpretation of international law, the inevitability of civilian casualties or the abuse of human rights, or an over-reliance on military responses to the problem of global terrorism,” Bishop Gregory said.

Echoing the concerns of many religious leaders, Bishop Gregory evoked the Geneva Convention, the treaty that outlines permissible treatment of prisoners of war. The United States is a signatory to the agreement, but critics say the conduct of U.S. soldiers in an Iraqi prison and documents from the Justice Department suggest that the United States has ignored the treaty’s rules.

“We are deeply concerned . . . about overly aggressive tactics which can place civilians at risk, ignore important cultural and religious sensitivities, and fuel violence and terrorism,” Bishop Gregory said.

Joining Gregory in his concern for a peaceful Iraq are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, and Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool. The British prelates had called for a day of vigil and special prayer on June 29.


Bishops craft report on communion and
Catholic politicians

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

In a public statement released June 18, Catholic bishops stood united in opposing abortion on demand as “a sin against justice,” but also declared that the Church should respond to this evil with an effort to teach and “persuade all people that human life is precious.”

The statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” followed announcements by some bishops that they would deny Communion to politicians who support abortion. In their statement, which passed by a vote of 183-6, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops followed canon law in stating that it is up to individual prelates to decide how to deal with the issue.

However, in an interim report on the issue, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore noted that the great majority of U.S. bishops would not deny Communion in the circumstances. “Among those who expressed a view,” he writes in a document posted on the bishops’ web site, “the majority were negative on refusing Communion by a margin of roughly 3-1.”

Cardinal Keeler also stated in his report, “Denial of Communion is not the current practice of the Holy See or of other bishops’ conferences.”

Although most bishops would not deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians, the conference was clear in condemning abortion. “The killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified,” they stated, adding that those who knowingly cooperate in abortion are “guilty of grave sin.”

Catholic public officials who act consistently to support abortion on demand risk making themselves “cooperators in evil in a public manner,” they said. They will continue to counsel these officials, they wrote, “in the hope that the scandal of their cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.”

It is up to all Catholics, they stated, to “examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life.”

The bishops also declared that Catholics should not honor those who defy Church teaching. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” they said.

On the other hand, they said bishops should “maintain communication with public officials who make decisions every day that touch issues of human life and dignity.” Dialogue, persuasion and efforts to teach the sanctity of life are primary tasks of the bishops, they said, and the laity must also act to support these principles.

The statement, made during a special assembly held June 14-19 in Englewood, Colo., is not the final word on the issue of Catholics in public life. It was based on an interim report from the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, which will be followed by a full report later this year.

The interim report included statements by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco and Cardinal Keeler. The seven task force members consulted widely with theologians, experts in canon law, other episcopal conferences and Vatican officials.

Cardinal McCarrick noted in the report that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, said bishops should ask themselves “whether it is pastorally wise and prudent” to deny Communion. Cardinal Ratzinger also drew a sharp distinction between voters and politicians and said he had no problem with Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates because of the politicians’ stands on other issues.

The task force “does not advocate the denial of Communion for Catholic politicians or Catholic voters” in regards to the abortion issue, Cardinal McCarrick wrote. To do so, he stated, could trivialize “the sacred nature of the Eucharist” and turn it into “a partisan political battleground.”

Archbishop Levada stated in a theological reflection included in the interim report that Catholic politicians need a chance to look more deeply into Church teachings while bishops “have a lot to learn about the practicalities and the steps involved in political judgments.” He added, “We have to envision a dialogue that is not just one way.”

The task force was formed after fewer than a half dozen bishops told presidential candidate Senator John Kerry that he may not receive Communion in their dioceses because he supports legalized abortion. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs went further, saying the same would apply to Catholics who vote for politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage or stem cell research.

According to a Time magazine poll, 75 percent of U.S. Catholics said they disapprove of such threats and 83 percent said such statements will not affect their votes in November.

The full texts of the public statement and the interim report are available at the bishops’ web site,

(Religion News Service contributed to this report.)

Crisis builds in Sudan

By Voice staff

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are at risk of severe malnutrition and death in the Darfur region of western Sudan and the neighboring country of Chad due to a crisis many blame on the government in Khartoum.

As aid organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, rushed to provide help before the rainy season, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Sudanese officials in Khartoum, asking them to stop supporting militias that are driving people from their homes.

Thousand have sought refuge in Chad in what many call an ethnic cleansing operation. CRS has recently received permission to operate in Darfur and is already providing food, shelter and medical supplies to refugees in Chad.

To make donations to assist CRS, call (800) 235-2772 or send a check marked Chad or Sudan to: Catholic Relief Services, 209 West Fayette St., Baltimore, MD 21201-3443.


O’Dowd teacher joins peace team
in Hebron

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Lorin Peters has faced threats and violence often enough over the past 36 years – in a Thai village, in the West Bank of Palestine, on the streets of Oakland —and all for a purpose, he says, as God’s way of preparing him for a new phase in his life.

This month Peters, a parishioner at St. Leander Parish in San Leandro and a faculty member at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School, will put himself in harm’s way once more when he begins a six-week stay in Hebron, a conflict-ridden city in the heart of the West Bank. He is joining the ecumenical organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, as a long-term member, committed to practicing the power of love in the midst of violence.

Peters is quick to say that his journey to Hebron actually began in 1968 when he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. It was then that a village headman — a squat and powerful man with blackened teeth and a full body tattoo — threatened to kill him. The man was trying to take control of the village water system, and Peters was fighting his plan.

The conflict came to a head one night on a dark road when a Thai official told Peters the headman wanted him dead. Peters reacted with a sense of fury, and for two weeks he suffered bouts of fear and rage, jumping at odd noises and plotting to enter the village at night to intimidate the headman with a bullet through the walls of his house.

Then one afternoon Peters began to wonder what Jesus would do in his situation. “Some things were suddenly clear to me,” he wrote in a statement for CPT. “Jesus would not have gone into the village with a gun. He would not have gone in the middle of the night. Rather, he would have gone openly, armed only with truth and love.”

That was how Jesus entered Jerusalem, he thought, and he felt Christ’s presence beside him as he, too, walked openly into the village where the headman lived. “That,” Peters said in an interview, “steered me in a very different direction. It’s been unfolding for 30 years.”

Peters grew up in a family where the Gospels were read aloud each day. His mother was raised in the Salvation Army, his father as a Mennonite, and he became a Presbyterian. His Thai wife, Lacksana, is a Catholic, and while he was still in Thailand he joined the Church to share her faith.

As a young adult Peters had never taken part in protests for peace and justice, even when classmates at UC-Berkeley joined the Free Speech Movement. But now, with his experience in Thailand, he began to look at the effects of war and for the first time read Gandhi.

“I was electrified to discover that someone else had thought the way I think,” he wrote. “Gandhi shows me almost everything Jesus was talking about. He especially shows that it is possible to love your enemy.”

When Peters began teaching physics at Bishop O’Dowd in 1971, he spoke to his students about the ethics of nuclear weapons and soon began to open each class with a prayer. “Over three decades these prayers have evolved into meditations and readings from the scriptures and saints of many traditions,” he wrote.

During the Vietnam War era, Peters created a course titled Alternatives to Violence, which he has taught ever since, and this past year he began teaching Christian Scriptures at the invitation of the school administrators. He has also taught a UC-Berkeley Extension course on nonviolence.

The request to teach Scripture came as an honor, he said. “I will teach them about the Jesus I met walking back into my village in Thailand and about the Jesus I have met many times in the life of Gandhi and in the life of Martin Luther King, as well as the Jesus I meet every day in the Gospels.”

Peters lives out his beliefs in concrete fashion. He walks a mile and a half to school and back each day to protest the materialism of our society. He uses solar power to heat water and space in his home, he has volunteered at the St. Martin de Porres soup kitchen in San Francisco and helped found the Catholic Worker Farm in Sheep Ranch.

At St. Leander he lectors at the 8 a.m. Mass each Sunday and holds workshops on non-violence. He also belongs to a Franciscan affinity group, which takes part in peaceful civil disobedience. “I’m about the only person in the group who’s never gone to jail,” he said.

Peters has made his views on war clear to the federal government. For over 30 years he has refused to pay the portion of his taxes that would go to military spending. He sends that amount to an alternative fund promoting peace and writes the Internal Revenue Service to say what he has done.

“They audited me four times,” he said. “The first auditor liked what I was doing and ended up brainstorming with me to see how to make it work. He decided I was going in the right direction.”

In the 2000-2001 school year, he took a leave from Bishop O’Dowd for health reasons and studied nonviolence in the Peace and Conflict Studies program at UC-Berkeley. It was there that he realized God was training him for something new.

“A whole lifetime of experiences” suddenly came together, he said. He remembered the headman in Thailand, a number of tense encounters on the streets of Oakland and how he had always come out unharmed. Peters thought, “God’s preparing me for something. I wonder what it is.”

The answer came when he read an assigned book, Hebron Journal, and discovered CPT. He went to the group’s web site the next morning, learned that it was forming a delegation to the Holy Land, and signed on.

“Six days later,” Peters said, “I was in Jerusalem.” The two-week delegation took him to Bethlehem during the siege of the Church of the Nativity, to Nablus, Hebron, Dura and Ramallah. He cleaned up rubble at a damaged mosque, visited a rabbi who speaks out for human rights, accompanied ambulance drivers, walked children to school and followed Christ’s steps in the Via Dolorosa. He also came under attack from stone-throwing settler children.

After taking part in the delegation, Peters was eligible to become a long-term member of CPT, serving as a witness to peace for three full years. Members must take up permanent residence in a conflict-ridden region of the world or live at a site for up to three months each year and raise funds for CPT the remainder of the time.

Peters could have chosen other peace groups but opted for CPT because it allows him to serve part-time and has a spiritual base. “Every morning we start with a liturgy. We pray and read Scripture together,” he said. “I can’t imagine any other way of not getting sucked into hatred. It’s hard work, but it’s crucial. There’s a power in loving your enemies. That power is key to the whole enterprise.”

In Hebron he will escort Palestinian children to school, work to defuse hostility and violence and respond to whatever requests the residents make to the team.

Last summer Peters spent four weeks at CPT headquarters in Chicago, training with 15 other new members of the organization. For two weeks the group, which included three Catholics, took part in role-playing. In one scenario, some would act as Jewish settlers in the West Bank; some would be Israeli soldiers; others would play the part of Palestinians; and still others would be members of CPT. They would set up a conflict, act out their parts and debrief afterwards.

The trainers often brought up Old Testament scriptures, Peters said, and he would tell them about Gandhi.

Shortly before Easter this spring, Bishop O’Dowd held its annual Mission Week, where students and faculty raise money for a designated cause. This year the money went to Christian Peacemaker Teams, and by means of a tug-of-war, “freeze dance,” and other contests the school filled several large water jars with enough coins and paper money to send $3,700 to the group.

The week before, Peters and CPT chaplain, Father Bob Holmes of Canada, spoke to the students about the organization and its volunteers. They also showed a video of CPT member Chris Brown, who is living permanently in Hebron.

In June, before Peters’ July 5 departure, St. Leander interim pastor Father Jerry Kennedy held a blessing ceremony to send him off to Israel. Peters has also prepared a flier to place in the July 11 bulletin, explaining his work with CPT and asking for prayers.

“It is important that I be open and accountable,” he said, “and ask that they pray for me. That’s a real source of consolation and strength, knowing that there are people back home supporting me in their prayers and in their thoughts.”

Peters was scheduled to leave for Israel on July 5 and to return on Aug. 15, three days before resuming his duties at Bishop O’Dowd.

Hebron facts

Hebron, located in the West Bank of Palestine, has been the scene of bloody clashes between Jewish settlers, Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. Christian Peacemaker Teams has maintained a permanent presence in the city since 1995 in an effort to reduce the violence and hostility.

The following facts highlight the current situation in Hebron:

• About 450 Jewish settlers live in five settlements within the city, along with some 130,000 Palestinians.

• Israel stations about 1,200 soldiers in Hebron to guard the settlers.

• Under the terms of a 1997 accord, the city is divided into Israeli and Palestinian-controlled sections

• Hebron is the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham and his wife Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are said to be buried. The site is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, and a steel partition divides the building into a mosque and a synagogue.

• Small Jewish settlements have been built near the Tomb. A large settlement of 7,000 lies on the outskirts of Hebron.

Non-violence key to efforts of CPT

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Since 1995, Christian Peacemaker Teams have ministered to war-torn regions of the world, bringing their message of non-violence, their witness of peace and their support for the oppressed to communities burdened by conflict.

The teams grew out of concerns among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren members in the mid-1980s, when wars were raging in Central America and other regions of the world. The churches proposed sending teams to areas of conflict, and in 1992 the first CPT delegations traveled to Haiti, Iraq and the West Bank of Palestine. By this time the Society of Friends had joined the founding churches.

Based on the experience of the first delegations, CPT created a program of trained volunteers who give three years of their time to the organization, serving in areas that have requested their presence. The first permanent teams began their work in 1995.

Teams of four to six persons are trained in documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention and “ministries of presence,” in the midst of violent communities. They promote non-violent methods for solving conflicts and work to prevent violence whenever possible.

Today permanent teams are located in Hebron, a city in the West Bank, Colombia, and Iraq. Teams have also worked in U.S. urban areas, on Indian reservations, and most recently, in Arizona, where migrants have been dying in desert conditions as they attempt to cross into the U.S. from Mexico.

CPT also sends two-week delegations of observers to the areas it serves, and it takes part in the annual protest in Ft. Benning, Ga., where the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) is located.

For more information on Christian Peacemaker Teams, visit the organization’s web site at or call the main office at (773) 277-0253.


Retirees rescue edible food
for their rolling breadbox

By Robin Schoettler Fox
Special to The Voice

Shopping carts brimming with “sell by (today)” bakery goods sit unattended behind the Orinda Safeway, parked between the store’s back door and the dumpster. I breathe in a bakery blend — French bread and sour dough loaves, sandwich slices and cookies. It smells familiar and homey.

Today I’m riding shotgun with one of the Muffin People. Think new-age Robinhoods, retired men and women in minivans, pick-up trucks and – on this day – a silver VW hatchback. Muffin People rescue edible food and give it to the hungry.

And it’s not happening just at Orinda’s Safeway. Lunardi’s and Trader Joe’s are on the list. So are four Starbucks, the Lafayette Safeway and Toot Sweets. Some donate every day. Others donate a few times a week. It takes two Muffin People, each driving his or her own car, to handle one day’s volume of bread, vegetables, dairy and bakery products.

Most Muffin People start their routes by 7:30 a.m. The daily team splits the pick-ups then meets in Orinda, the last stop before the tunnel. Today, we’re the first to arrive. The VW is already pushing capacity. We pack what we can and wait for today’s other Muffin-Mobile, a minivan.

Minutes later, we’re driving through Oakland’s poorer side. It’s about 8 miles from Orinda to A Friendly Place, a day shelter for homeless women. This section of San Pablo Avenue looks tired, worn and abandoned. So do the people clustered in doorways and against the side of buildings.

Double-parked near the shelter’s side entrance, one Muffin Person unloads food as the shelter worker peers into the minivan, pointing to this bread, these vegetables and those cookies she can serve the shelter’s guests. Suddenly, a burly man in tired jeans and a faded green shirt appears next to the other Muffin Person as she stands alone behind the open hatchback.

“I’m homeless,” the man says. “Can I have a piece of bread?”

“I’m sorry,” the Muffin Person says. “I can’t do that.”

The man grumbles, but the Muffin Person is firm. She’s been warned against distributing food out of the car. That encourages crowds and, here, crowds can quickly turn into trouble. I move closer. I don’t like that this woman faces the man alone.

The man, steely-eyed and angry, finally gives up. I breathe easier, but the Muffin People remain nonplused. You can’t regularly drive carloads of free food into this neighborhood without learning how to handle these situations. We finish unloading and move on to our next stop and then the next. By 10 a.m. the cars are empty and we head back through the tunnel.

The story of the Muffin People is the story of neighbors helping neighbors. It starts with two men from St. Monica Parish in Moraga helping one Oakland nun fill food bags. It was 1988. The people around St. Mary Parish needed food, but Holy Names Sister Baptista Dean’s budget was anemic.

Enter Joe Stuart and John Di Palermo. Newly retired, they had time for the right project. They heard about Sister Baptista at the Saturday Morning Men’s Fellowship meeting at St. Monica’s.

First they had to find the food. The hardest sell then is still the biggest hurdle to adding new donation sources. Store managers don’t like to waste food, but they can’t afford to waste labor. There’s no room in grocery store margins for expenses associated with culling donations left unclaimed. Volunteers have to show up, not just some of the time but every time. And that’s what Muffin People do. It’s what Di Palermo says has been the key to the program’s success.

In the beginning, there were no Muffin People. It was just the two friends, taking turns picking up food at stores in Moraga and driving it to Oakland. Two pick-up stops, one drop-off location, two or three times a week.

As the number of volunteers grew, a worker at A Friendly Place dubbed them the “Muffin Men,” a moniker which stuck but was later changed to Muffin People when women joined the ranks.

Now, 36 volunteers take turns filling two daily Muffin People spots, six days a week. They get food from nine merchants and deliver it to six Oakland outreach organizations.

“We tried to fill a need,” explained Di Palermo. “And it mushroomed.”

If you look closely at the Muffin People program, you’ll see that it’s not just neighbors helping neighbors. It’s also seniors helping seniors.

Some of the outreach organizations that get food from the Muffin People focus on feeding seniors.

Sister Baptista retired, but St. Mary’s Center, the agency she founded, remains a core Muffin People drop-off stop. Its current food program provides daily meals for seniors, as well as snacks for kids in its pre-school program and emergency food bags for needy families. St. Mary’s Gardens, a senior housing facility, provides meals for its residents, using the Muffin deliveries to augment other food donations.

The Muffin People also help seniors who help others.

New Orleans native Shirley Weber, 72, has spent the last 18 years cooking meals at Oakland’s St. Andrew-St. Joseph Soup Kitchen. Regulars just call the place “Shirley’s Kitchen.” Many who eat here live in two nearby senior citizen buildings. The Muffin People don’t show favorites when it comes to food deliveries, but they’ll tell you that they get something special at this stop – “a hug from Shirley.”

Mother Mary Ann Wright, who turns 83 this month, has been helping feed Oakland’s hungry since 1980. While other organizations pick and choose among the Muffin People’s offerings, Mother Wright will take all they can spare. She shares the food, no questions asked, with hungry people who come to her warehouse door each afternoon. Extra bread is stowed on a shelved cart parked on the sidewalk just outside her warehouse, free for the taking.

Where are those original Muffin People? Stuart worked with the group until his death in 1991. Di Palermo, a World War II veteran, has been driving food through the tunnel for 16 years. Has he seen a change? Is the hunger situation worse now?

“The need was always there,” he said. “We just weren’t aware of it.”

Neither was I until I rode with the Muffin People. But then again, though they are based out of my parish, I didn’t even know the Muffin People existed, quietly doing so much for so long. I wondered if others had noticed. Have the Muffin People ever won an award? I asked.

Di Palermo just laughed and said, “What for?”

U.S. bishops approve more sexual abuse audits

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

The nation’s Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly on June 15 to proceed with a second round of audits to measure their own compliance with sexual abuse reforms.

The bishops, meeting at a closed-door retreat in Englewood, Colo., voted 207-14 for the audits, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and released next February. There was one abstention.

The bishops’ conference recently came under heavy fire from lay reform groups after more than 30 bishops urged that the audits be delayed or canceled altogether.

The bishops initially agreed to the audits in June 2002 as part of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” adopted after the sex abuse scandal erupted. The charter calls for an “annual report,” but some bishops said that did not mean intensive audits.

The first round of audits, released in January, found that about 90 percent of dioceses had implemented the reforms.

Some of the bishops whose dioceses were deemed noncompliant, including Cardinal Edward Egan of New York and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., had led an organized effort to delay future audits.

Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis, chairman of the bishops’ sexual abuse committee, said additional audits are “a clear indication of our commitment to the charter and to the protection of children and young people, which is the purpose for which we adopted it just over two years ago.”

Illinois Appellate Justice Anne Burke, the outgoing chairman of the bishops’ advisory National Review Board, said she was satisfied, after raising concerns about the moves by some bishops to squash the audits.

“It’s significant they are continuing with their efforts and really do mean what they say when they want to make all the dioceses safe for every child,” she told The Denver Post.

“It’s what they promised two years ago,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It is the very least they can do—one more year of minimal self-reports based on minimal self-established criteria.”

Kathleen McChesney, director of the bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection, said the $2 million audits will be conducted by former FBI agents directed by the Boston-based Gavin Group, who oversaw the first round of audits.

McChesney said she was not concerned by attempts to slow the audits. “I never thought we wouldn’t do it,” she told RNS. “I just didn’t know what form it would take.”

The bishops also agreed to proceed with a $4 million study by outside experts on the “causes and contexts” of the sex abuse scandal. The bishops voted 199-21 to seek bids from outside researchers who will examine the roots of the scandal, and recommend measures to keep it from occurring again. That report is not expected for several years.

Departing members of sex abuse Review Board urge vigilance

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

Two years ago, Anne Burke was a self-admitted “passive Catholic” who lived in relative obscurity, save for her job as a justice on the Illinois Court of Appeals and wife of a Chicago alderman.

Then she got a phone call from a Catholic bishop downstate who asked her to serve on an advisory lay board to monitor the Church’s response to the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Looking back, if she had known what the position would entail— hundreds of hours of meetings, juggling court schedules—she says she may not have taken it. Still, important lessons were learned.

“I see now that we can no longer be passive Catholics and still remain good Catholics,” she said. “We have to be involved in the Church.” After two years as vice chairman, and later chairman, of the Church’s National Review Board, Burke attended her last meeting June 28 in San Bernardino.

Also leaving with Burke are the outspoken Washington attorney Bob Bennett, former Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta and William Burleigh, chairman of the board at the E.W. Scripps newspaper company.

All four members said their departures were already scheduled as part of a staggered board rotation—although several said they need to get back to their day jobs. Bennett’s firm has committed more than 3,000 billable hours to the board, all of it pro bono.

Replacements for the four departing members have yet to be named.

While all four expressed confidence that the Church has turned a corner in the abuse scandal, they are also concerned that without continued vigilance the Church runs the risk of returning to the days of cover-up, denial and secrecy.

“There’s still a lot of anger and mistrust, and the bishops have to continue to extend their hand to create even more credibility,” Burleigh said. “It would be a great mistake for them to think the job is over.”

Burke, Bennett, Burleigh and Panetta were appointed to the 12-member review board to oversee the implementation of sex abuse reforms adopted in June 2002. Their first chairman, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, resigned after comparing some bishops’ stalling tactics to members of the Mafia.

In the two years since, the board has been the public face of lay pressure to make sure the scandal that claimed 10,667 victims and involved 4,392 priests does not repeat itself.

The board’s mince-no-words report issued last February found evidence of progress, but was unflinching in its criticism of Church leaders who ignored or tried to hide the problem.

“The inaction of those bishops who failed to protect their people from predators was ... grievously sinful,” the board said in its 145-page report.

“Somehow, the ‘smoke of Satan’ was allowed to enter the Church, and as a result, the Church itself has been deeply wounded.”

Bennett, who served as former President Clinton’s lawyer during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, said those wounds have yet to heal, and trust is still broken.

“I don’t think it’s rebuilt yet, and it’s very much in limbo,” he said. “The laity is watching and waiting to see what the bishops do.”

Since the February report, the board has pushed for a second round of audits to measure compliance; last year’s investigation found that 90 percent of dioceses have complied with the new rules. Bishops approved a second round on June 15.

When conservative bishops, led by Cardinals Edward Egan of New York and Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, tried to put the brakes on a second round, Burke accused the bishops of trying to return to “business as usual.”

The response from some bishops was typical of the arm’s-length relationship the board has had with the hierarchy.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver told Burke, “Your language is designed to offend and contains implicit threats that are, to put it mildly, inappropriate for anyone of your professional stature.”

And Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford, Conn., worried that the board appeared “to be expanding their competence, responsibilities, activities and studies in a dynamic of autonomy.”

Relations between the independent-minded board and the bishops have been at times frosty, and cordial at best.

“It was a one-way street,” Burleigh said. “There was silence, and then this undertow of criticism, but we’re big boys and girls and we all expected it from just about every corner. And we’ve gotten it.”

Now that the board has issued its report—and a larger, more in-depth study by independent researchers is still years away—victims’ advocates and some board members say the bishops cannot afford to wish the problem away.

Panetta, who heads a center at California State University to encourage young people to enter public service, said he saw the same unfortunate result with scandal too many times during his life in Congress and the White House.

“People hope that it will go away by itself, that the attention span of the American people is limited, and that hopefully everyone can get back to business as usual,” he said. “There is a moral responsibility, and a legal responsibility, to ensure that steps are taken to protect children.”



Religious share jubilee reflections



Sister Marie Lehner, OP

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Present ministry: Retired, Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, St. Elizabeth School, Oakland.

How glorious is it to work for God. Nothing is too small for Him. Nothing He cannot do. We offer Him little gifts we do for our friends. We offer gifts and favors we do for those suffering. All are His friends. He blesses us for helping them. We offer our efforts in helping little ones learn, or not so little ones. It is all the same. His blessing is always there. How blest are we to be working for God.





Sister Frances Charlton, SNDdeN

Birthplace: Islington, Massachusetts
Present ministry: Retirement ministry of prayer and service at Mercy Retirement and Care Center, Oakland.
Past service in diocese: Pastoral Associate, St. Joseph Parish, Alameda.

Sister Julia Clayton, SNDdeN

Birthplace: San Jose, California
Present ministry: Retirement ministry of prayer and service at Mercy Retirement and Care Center, Oakland.



Sister M. Joanna Connolly, SHF

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Present ministry: Volunteer tutor, Literacy Project, San Leandro. Catechist aide, SPRED.
Past service in diocese: Religious education at St. John the Baptist Parish, San Lorenzo, and All Saints Parish, Hayward.

As our world enters a new era and our Church seeks to develop new ways to meet the world’s needs, it is a privilege to share in that challenge. To be in the intimate relationship with God, which is religious life, is my greatest joy. Being a Sister of the Holy Family brings this challenge and this joy together.
Gratefully, I share in the ministry “to seek out and to advocate for the poor and needy, especially families, for the Kingdom of God.” I give thanks to my parents, family, community and the many friends who have made this life and mission a reality for me.

Sister Martina Dietrich, OP

Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Present ministry: Retired, Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, St. Mary of the Palms, Mission San Jose, and Motherhouse, Fremont.

The religious woman is dedicated to spirituality and education, following her call in the Lord.

Sister M. Malachy Hannigan, SHF

Birthplace: Donegal, Ireland
Present ministry: Ministry of prayer at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Holy Family, Fremont.

Working with the homeless, the underprivileged, and the frail elderly has strengthened my devotion to God. Living my life as a Sister of the Holy Family has allowed me to serve God’s people.

Sister Thecla Maeusl, OP

Birthplace: Moosath near Grafing, Germany
Present ministry: Retired at Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, Fremont, Apostolate of prayer.
Past service in diocese: Childcare, St. Mary of the Palms, Mission San Jose. Seamstress at the Motherhouse, Fremont.

The second of six children, I had wonderful God-fearing parents and fun-loving brothers and sisters. Growing up in this happy, faith-filled atmosphere, I detected early on a call to religious life, deepened within me whenever I experienced the Benedictine monks solemnly chanting the Divine Office.

To my delight, I discovered that the Dominican Sisters at Altenhohenau near my home also prayed the Divine Office. I entered with them and soon afterwards came to California, where God has blessed me with 70 years in His service.
Whether caring for children in our boarding schools or at work in our Motherhouse sewing room, I had the privilege of serving God, letting His love manifest itself through me.

Most cherished, however, are the moments I spend in choir, praying the Divine Office in union with the Church, begging God’s mercy on His people, interceding for the coming of His kingdom of peace and justice on earth.

Sister Damian Wilson, OP

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Present ministry: Retired at Dominican Sister Motherhouse, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: Superior, Queen of Peace (Motherhouse), Fremont. Tutor, Queen of Holy Rosary College, Fremont. Teacher/Superior, St. Mary Magdalen, Berkeley.

Entering St. Elizabeth’s grammar school, and later on, high school, I became acquainted with many wonderful Dominican Sisters. As I grew older and became more acquainted with the Dominicans, I thought of being a Sister, a Dominican to be sure! The desire to enter became stronger and desirable. So, I entered the Dominican Order after high school graduation.

Never have I regretted my Dominican vocation. God’s grace gives us help to continue doing His will—our help into eternity.

Sister Mary Anselm Grover, SNJM

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Present ministry: Volunteer church musician, St. Rose Hospital, Hayward, and Church of the Assumption, San Leandro. Bookkeeper, St. Bede Convent, Hayward.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, Marylrose and Sacred Heart schools, Oakland. Teacher and principal, Holy Names High School, Oakland. Teacher of French, director of admissions, director of financial aid, director of language laboratory, assistant to academic dean, alumni moderator of Holy Names University, Oakland. Hospital chaplain and church musician, Church of the Assumption, San Leandro. Music director, St. Cornelius Church, Richmond. Member of the Sisters Council, Diocese of Oakland.

Six decades of living the religious life as a Sister of the Holy Names has deepened within me a prime, life-giving conviction modeled by my parents: the eternal value and dignity of every human being.

Dedicated to secondary and collegiate education for most of my life, I grew in the knowledge that to educate—from the Latin roots meaning to lead forth— meant to discover, strengthen and have students become aware of their potential as responsible adults and to act on this knowledge.

The Great Depression, international conflicts, Vatican II, the technological revolution, worldwide communication systems all added limitless complexities and contradictions to a once rather predictable society. Surfing this floodtide of change without being submerged has not been easy for teacher or student.

I continue to see life in this 21st century as an ongoing pilgrimage, an adventure acquainting me with people, cultures and countries very different from my own and rejoicing in the richness and diversity of which I am a part.

Micah, meanwhile, reminds me that my life as a religious is to be a beacon and witness in this changing world and to remember that “We are called to act with justice. We are called to love tenderly. We are called to serve one another. To walk humbly with our God.”




Sister Evangela Balde, OP

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Archivist, annalist and secretary general for Congregation Motherhouse, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: My present ministry is my first in the Diocese of Oakland.

Women religious today have the opportunity to bring Christ to others in many and varied ways. For me, as a Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose, it has been in school ministry where I was sent on mission to teach, to preach, and to serve others as an elementary teacher.

After 43 years in the classroom, I am happy to continue serving others in internal ministry in the capacity of secretary general, archivist and annalist for our Congregation. As part of God’s promised “hundredfold,” I feel especially fortunate in being able to participate in the daily Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, enhanced so beautifully here at our Motherhouse where God is praised and all His people remembered in prayer.

I am truly grateful to God and have been abundantly blessed by Him during these 60 years as a professed religious.

The Eucharist is the means by which I stay connected with the faith community I serve and work with.
I also recognize the power that lay people play in my life as a priest.

The people of God are not only crucial in the life of the Church; they are also an indispensable source of spiritual vitality for me.

Sister Kathryn Morrow, SHF

Birthplace: Madras, Oregon
Present ministry: Retired, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: Religious education coordinator, Santa Paula Parish, Fremont. Volunteer teaching English as a second language and peer counseling for the frail elderly, Fremont.
Teacher, Holy Family College, Fremont.

My 60 years as a woman religious have been happy ones, full of gratitude for my vocation, with many joys and some difficulties. I have been sustained by my conviction that God called me to be a Sister of the Holy Family and is always with me as I contribute my part towards making the world a better place for all His children.

Many wonderful people have enriched my life and given me an opportunity to enrich theirs. I have seen many changes in the Church and hope to see many more.

Brother James Ash, FSC

Birthplace: Glendale, California
Present ministry: Licensed clinical psychologist, Moraga.
Past service in diocese: Vice principal, De La Salle High School, Concord. Director of housing and student affairs, St. Mary’s College, Moraga. Resident director in dormitory, St. Mary’s College, Moraga.

Embracing the Brother’s life of consecration was my way of saying, “Yes” to God and to His People. I said, “Yes” to God when asked, “Whom shall I send? How about you?” And I have tried to say, Yes” to His People, whether they be students in the classroom or those in my clinical office, by providing them with an education or therapy which not only addresses their present needs but which confirms their individual intrinsic value as sons and daughters of God who loves them.

As a Christian Brother, I join with the other members of my religious community in saying, “Yes” to God and His People when they ask, “Do you love me?” And I am confident that we function in our ministries as best we can in ways that demonstrate that we really do.

Brother Raymond Bertheaux, OP

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Provincial archivist of the Western Dominican Province, St. Albert the Great Priory, Oakland.
Past service in diocese: After making/taking simple vows in 1954, I was sent to other places, none were here in the Oakland Diocese. I returned back to St. Albert the Great Priory last September, 2003.

A religious Brother is called to develop the charisma and spirituality of the Order or Congregation to which he belongs. After years of formation, there is a wide apostolate of both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Though not involving sacramental celebration, these works may be exercised fruitfully by the non-ordained. These works can include sacramental instruction, retreats and workshops, and directing social action and spiritual groups. All of this is done in accordance with his generosity.

Sister Laureen Boyle, OP

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Volunteer at Washington Hospital, Fremont.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, St. Joseph School, Fremont. CCD teacher, Holy Spirit Parish, Fremont.

It all began when I opened the book of Isaiah 55:1-3: “All you who are thirsty come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat, come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Come to me and listen, that you may have life.”

Whoever I may be, I always try to have God before my eyes. Whatever I do, I try to have God always before my eyes.

For me, religious life is about seeking God and doing what He tells me, as it is written in the Word. Yes, religious life is a very personal, human and very spiritual thing. It fits me as a person with a lifestyle of being Christian in the world. My job, then, is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. He saves and He cares for everyone. This is why I know that I must be a faithful presence within the real world.

Brother Richard Camara, FSC

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Aftercare counselor, Hanna Boys Center, Sonoma.
Past service in diocese: Prefect of resident students at St. Mary’s College High School, Peralta Park, Berkeley.

Jesus said, “Come Follow Me . . . . You did not choose me . . . . I chose you.”
I know not His reason—nor His plan—it still remains a mystery. One day I will know when He tells me—and He will.

I journey with Him in His ministry and service. I have said, “Yes” to life; at one and the same time, it was to say, “Yes” to myself to be free and able to stand up and leave everything, without looking back, but always saying, “Yes” each and every day.

I am happy and privileged knowing it is His house I build, it is His caring I witness, it is His love I share. God willing, my journey continues, blessed with more life to live, still more dreams to dream, and still more caring and love to give . . . . And that’s the heart of the matter.

Sister Dianne Fagan, SNJM

Birthplace: Lyndon Station, Wisconsin
Present ministry: Director of senior ministry, Queen of All Saints Parish, Concord.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, Sacred Heart and St. Augustine schools, Oakland.

It is with pride that I am a woman religious in the Church of today, celebrating my 50th year as a professed Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. I thank God that through the example and faith of my parents, the seed was planted very early in my life.

The Holy Spirit, through the modern post Vatican II Church, was the living force that moved me smoothly and progressively in my ministry to three specific areas of serving the people of God; that of being an elementary classroom teacher for approximately 20 years, to director of catechetical ministries for several years and presently to ministering to the elderly for 17 years. It has always been my joy and pleasure to serve others.

My guiding spirit has been believing in and living out the following motto: “For those who love God, all things work together unto good.”


Sister Marie Myers,

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Present ministry: Principal, St. Barnabas School, Alameda.
Past service in diocese: Teacher and principal, St. Joachim School, Hayward. Founding principal, St. Raymond School, Dublin.

The most significant years of my ministry have been spent in the education of elementary school age children. It has been exciting to be able to nurture young children, watch them grow and become successful adults and good Christian and Catholic persons.

I was given the opportunity to open a new school, the first to be opened in the Diocese of Oakland in 20 years. It was a challenge as well as a time of excitement and enjoyment—watching and being a part of the birth of a new school.

Education is still a viable and important part of my life. I pray that God give me the strength and energy to carry on this ministry for more years to come.

I am grateful for the years that I have spent as a religious, specifically as a Sister of St. Joseph, TOS. In community, I have been enabled to grow spiritually, given a wonderful education and lived among inspiring women.

Sister Noreen Morgan, SNDdeN

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Health assistant, Mercy Retirement and Care Center, Oakland.
Past service in diocese: Administrative assistant, Holy Names University, Oakland

As a Sister of Notre Dame, I am grateful for and celebrate: Sacred Spirit’s faithful love for me; my friends, community of Notre Dame, and family; all the opportunities for growth I’ve experienced.

I hope that all people of goodwill work to fulfill the values expressed in The Earth Charter.

Sister Noreen O’Connor, CSJ

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present Ministry: Regional Superior for the Sisters living in Oakland, Contra Costa County, Stockton and Fresno. Development director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, Christ the King School, Pleasant Hill.

It is a privilege and blessing to have CSJ after my name for the past 50 years. In his poem, Gerard Manley Hopkins says, “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.” There is a profound connection between these lines of poetry and the way grace works in my life to respond to God’s call to serve others in the Church.

The Constitution of the Sisters of St. Joseph states, “Religious vocation is a call from God…it is a gift…the Spirit calls us to live out our consecration in community and with the strength that comes from our life together, to turn beyond ourselves to serve a world in need.”

In our community, the Eucharist is the primary sign, source and expression of our unity where we are most deeply united with the Lord, with one another and with all persons in the world. We also have many opportunities for private and communal prayer together which affects the quality of our presence to one another and to all people in our ministries. The power of prayer accomplishes more than I could ever hope for or imagine in my life.

Being in our religious community is a call to become one heart and one soul in responding daily to the command of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Eucharist, prayer, sacraments, community—all gifts freely given that transform everything I do. Every day is an outpouring of love as I interact in my ministry in the Church, in this community. I will journey into the future in a spirit of gentleness, peace and joy to live the CSJ charism of unity and reconciliation as I continue to meet the needs of God’s people.

In conclusion, Hopkins clarifies the mystery of vocation and how the gifts we give, aspects of God’s gifts to us, are transformed by God’s grace when he says, “…Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.”

Sister Joan Riordan, PBVM

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Congregational Projects, East Bay and San Francisco.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, counselor and class advisor, Presentation High School, Berkeley

The last 50 years have seen tremendous changes in religious life for American women religious. In 1951 when I entered the Sisters of the Presentation, changes were already beginning as a result of Pope Pius XII’s call to the Major Superiors of Women. I have loved both the pre-Vatican monastic experience of religious life which grounded me in the values of prayer, ministry and spirituality, and the post-Vatican II experience of openness and renewal.

The security of the traditional role is gone, replaced by the challenges of new understandings in every field, inclusiveness, a more complete understanding of the history of women in the Church, and the wisdom of other spiritual traditions.

Over these last 53 years, I have grown to deeply value my vows and community—the essence of religious life. Religious life is other-centered and has always been counter-cultural, but it is even more so today as Western culture has distanced itself from this option. Women in the first world have many other choices for spiritual development, service and commitment.

My religious vocation was nurtured in a loving Irish Catholic family and San Francisco community, and during 12 years of education with the Sisters of the Presentation. I have loved my 48 years as a teacher of elementary, secondary and community college students, having taught all grade levels (except the 8th) in mostly diverse, lower income communities. Teaching has offered me daily opportunities for learning from students—from the youngest through adults—and this daily exchange of ideas, cultures, and even difficulties has kept me curious, adaptable and spiritually enlivened.

As women religious today try to return to the charism of our foundresses, we are choosing new ministries to go where needs are not being met —education of immigrant children and adults, meals for day laborers, affordable housing, providing seed money to small business start-ups, initiating or participating in literacy programs, actively participating in global environmental and women’s issues in both first and third world countries, retreat and spiritual direction ministries. We are forging partnerships among ourselves and with others to work toward a more just and peaceful world. Herein lies our hope.

Brother Michael Saggau, FSC

Birthplace: Denison, Iowa
Present ministry: Counselor, De La Salle High School, Concord.
Past service in diocese: Teacher, St. Mary’s College High School, Berkeley. Vice principal, supervisor for curriculum, dept. chair, athletic liaison (Faculty-Athletics), director of admissions, De La Salle High School, Concord.

Being a brother to someone indicates a relationship of support, acceptance and love. Think of all that comes to mind when the term “brother” is used. Think of all that comes to mind when the term “father” is used.

My accepting God’s call to be a Brother of the Christian Schools has added the enrichment of the vows to my support, acceptance and love of the students and my peers. The vows have given me and my apostolate more opportunities to bring God’s presence to others – especially the young.

Sister Mary Louise Wieseler, OP

Birthplace: Graceville, Minnesota
Present ministry: Language arts teacher and librarian, Corpus Christi School, Piedmont.
Past service in diocese: Teacher and vice principal, St. Leo School, Oakland. Teacher, School of the Madeleine, Berkeley.

To be a woman religious in the Church today is to be one who shares faith with many people. This sharing is definitely a two-way exchange in which I often feel the most blessed.

As a teacher I am able to share faith and prayer with the children I encounter each day. The parents of children daily witness to their faith through their strong support of the Catholic schools.

They have often been my teachers. Throughout the years my associates in teaching have voiced and witnessed to their Christian beliefs and thereby strengthened mine.

Finally, the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters have lived their lives of faith with me, thus enabling me to celebrate the gift of 50 years of religious profession.

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Present ministry: Teacher, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga.
Past service in diocese: Assistant to the president, member of Academic Senate, faculty representative to Board of Trustees, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga. Teacher, Saint Mary’s College High School, Berkeley.

I have always been surprised at the variety of opportunities for interesting, meaningful and exciting service that are afforded to a person who is a vowed Brother.

Not only have I been able to serve in the diocese both at the high school and university level, but I have had the chance to do significant work in Europe and the Middle East.

Married people rarely have the freedom to pick up and go somewhere to respond to educational needs the way we do. And in each place where I have served, there has been a welcoming and deeply spiritual community of Brothers and lay partners who are also doing the same work.

I thank God for the call to work with so many fine Brothers and for the opportunity to meet a great number of students worldwide.

Sister Mark Sandy, DC

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Present ministry: Retired, All Saints Parish Sisters Home, Hayward. Board member and chair of finance committee, O’Connor Hospital, San Jose. Board member, Villa Caridad (DC-Mercy Housing Project), Santa Barbara.
Past service in diocese: Volunteer coordinator and manager, St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, Oakland.

God worked hard to bring me to life as a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Growing up in Berkeley, I stopped going to church early. As a fallen-away Presbyterian during Burbank Junior High, a Job’s Daughter during Berkeley High School and a member of the Masonic Club at Cal during pre-med studies, I kept searching. Different jobs in sales, healthcare, journalism, chem research and engineering did not satisfy me. During five years at a General Motors Diesel distributorship, I studied two years of law school at night at USF. Still I was not satisfied.

In trying to get my attention, God touched my life in many ways. When I didn’t move, He pushed a few times. Finally He shoved — hard. My father’s death in 1957 was the last straw and a co-worker suggested a three-month Inquiry Class at the Cal Newman Club. Following a year of study (I had to be convinced!), I became a Catholic.

Six months later, on the very day of my Confirmation, I began thinking and talking about a religious vocation (May 1959).

After reading through the directory of religious communities, I picked five and with the help of the Holy Spirit, chose the Daughters. For 20-30 reasons I wish I had written down at that time, human and spiritual all worked together and pointed the way for me. The Daughters are worldwide, work in healthcare, teaching, social work and pastoral service, and are the largest women’s religious community in the world. St. Vincent de Paul’s challenge to the Daughters spoke to me: for monastery—houses of the sick; for chapel—the parish church; for cloister—the streets of the city; for enclosure—obedience; for grille—fear of God; for veil—holy modesty; and to ensure vocation—constant trust in Divine Providence.

In September 1963, I became a postulant in St. Louis and the following year I became a member of the Community.

From the beginning, I felt like a duck in water. Community life provided daily time for prayer, meditation and Mass. Sharing housework made that possible even with full-time jobs. Basic human needs were met and with role models, reading, seminars and retreats, I grew spiritually and emotionally.

The Community provided me with professional education to prepare for work for more than 25 years in health care administration at the Daughters hospitals and systems in Texas, Louisiana and Missouri. Upon “retirement” I returned to California and served at the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Room until my second “retirement” in April.

Community living is not always easy. Imagine yourself living with your family and the people with whom you work, from boss to janitor. We Daughters are a family and our singleness of purpose in serving God’s poor draws and keeps us. “The works of God are all of them good; in its own time every need is supplied.” (Sirach 39:16)

As I renew my vows each year, I can only look back and marvel at how God has satisfied my needs. It’s a great life! Thanks be to God! Isn’t He wonderful? And wonder-full.

Deacon Robert Karp

Parish: Queen of All Saints Parish, Concord
Date of Birth: June 29, 1916
Ordination: April 20, 1979
Wife: Elizabeth
Children: 7
Grandchildren: 11
Great-grandchildren: 6

The most significant part of my ministry as a deacon is my prayer life. Because it is the Lord’s work that I’m involved in, therefore it is His assistance that is necessary.

What has been the greatest challenge?

When I was functioning as deacon full time, five of our seven children requested a family meeting to discuss that Elizabeth and I move to their side of the Bay (Contra Costa County). My wife’s increasing arthritic condition caused a problem needing more attention which they could offer. The suggestion met with approval and our home was put up for sale.

My assignment at Queen of All Saints remained the same as it was at St. Elizabeth Parish in the San Francisco Archdiocese and approved by the Bishop of Oakland.

During the past 25 years we have seen a great increase in the number of ordinations to the Diaconate which proves that there is a definite need for servants to the Lord, and Catholics have become aware of their presence in our parishes.

Other jubilarians:
Sister Florence Lawlor, PBVM – 60 years
Sister Elizabeth Davis,SNJM – 50 years
Brother Bertrand Nguyen, FSC – 50 years
Sister Susan Marie Roche, OP – 25 years

U.S. bishops urge support for
Federal Marriage Amendment

By Voice staff

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is urging all U.S. bishops to contact their Senators to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.

In a June 24 letter, Bishop Gregory of Belleville, Ill., said the Senate leadership had requested the bishops’ conference formally support the amendment. A vote on the measure could come before the Senate begins its summer recess on July 26. The proposed amendment leaves legislative decisions on civil unions or domestic partnerships up to the state legislatures, which already have this authority.

As of June 25, the Federal Marriage Amendment had 16 Senate co-sponsors.
Bishop Gregory reminded the bishops that the USCCB has been working on the marriage issue for many years, supporting state efforts to preserve marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

“Marriage is a basic human and social institution,” he wrote. “Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.”

The bishops’ statement, “Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions” can be found



Pope, Ecumenical Patriarch
reopen theological dialogue

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople agreed July 1 to demonstrate a renewed commitment to dialogue between their long-divided churches by reactivating Catholic-Orthodox talks on theology.

The pope and the patriarch said in a “common declaration” concluding Bartholomew’s visit to Rome that the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church would resume work “as soon as possible.” The commission last met in 2000 and adjourned without issuing a statement or making plans for new talks.

Two Maryknollers
celebrate jubilees

Father Anthony Brodniak, a native of Alameda, recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a Maryknoll missioner. Father Brodniak has served in Japan for his entire mission career as a religion teacher, assistant pastor, pastor, and administrator at an institution for developmentally disabled children. He currently works in retreat ministry and spiritual direction.

Maryknoll Father Robert Carleton, an Oakland native, celebrated his 40th anniversary of ordination. He has served as a pastor in Honduras, taught English at colleges in the People’s Republic of China, and did mission education work at several Maryknoll centers in the U.S. He is currently assigned to Puerto Rico.

Dominicans ordained
in Oakland Diocese

Bishop Allen Vigneron ordained two Dominicans – Father John Evans (right) and Father Francis-Hung Le – to the priesthood, May 29, at St. Theresa Church in Oakland. A Utah native, Father Evans, 36, had been a computer programmer and manager when he entered the Dominican novitiate in 1996. Father Le, 41, was born in Vietnam and grew up in Santa Barbara. He was an electrical engineer before entering the seminary. His first assignment is at Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch.



New post

Father David Staal became director of the Office of the Bishop, effective June 1. He assists Bishop Allen Vigneron in his duties as head of the diocesan chancery office, supervises the bishop’s schedule, manages the bishop’s correspondence, and coordinates special projects. Father Staal will continue to assist with liturgical life at St. Michael Parish in Livermore.


Former Vicar General named
pastor at St. Leander Parish

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

Father Paul Vassar, diocesan vicar general for the past 10 years, returned to parish ministry July 1 when he assumed the duties of pastor at St. Leander Parish in San Leander.

“The whole idea of going back to parish work is exciting,” said Father Vassar, who just completed a six-month sabbatical. “I get to walk with people where God is working with them.”

As vicar general his duties had been more organizational, providing resources to parishes to help them develop the fullness of Church life. He also oversaw a reorganization of parishes into deanery groups as designated by the diocesan strategic plan, supervised some directors of diocesan departments, and, in his canonical role, administered the sacrament of Confirmation.

The Oakland native attended St. Peter Martyr School in Pittsburg and St. Augustine School in Oakland. He graduated from Bishop O’Dowd High School, then attended St. John’s College in Camarillo to study philosophy. He graduated from St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park and was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 by Bishop Floyd Begin.

He served as an associate pastor at St. Leo Parish and at St. Benedict Parish, both in Oakland, before becoming administrator and later pastor at St. Benedict (1977-80). Following a year of study in black ministry at Howard University in Washington, D.C., he was appointed pastor in 1981 at Oakland’s St. Columba Parish, where he spent the next 13 years. He has also served as director of diocesan clergy education and on the board of directors of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

As he starts his assignment at St. Leander, Father Vassar said he wants “to learn and to listen” so he can get to know the community, which is larger and more ethnically diverse than his previous parishes. He plans to continue his study of Spanish to be able to communicate effectively with the growing Latino population in the parish.

Father Vassar succeeds Father Jerry Kennedy, who served as parochial administrator for several months after the previous pastor, Father John Prochaska, was assigned as pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fremont.

The parish is one of the oldest in the diocese, having been established in 1864.

Father John Blaker assumes
leadership at St. David Parish

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

Father John Blaker, parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Parish in El Cerrito for almost five years, became parochial administrator at neighboring St. David Parish in Richmond, on July 1.

He succeeds Father Ronald Atwood, who has served as pastor since 1991 and is retiring from active ministry after struggling with chronic health problems for several years.

Father Blaker, 46, is excited about stepping into this new role. “I am looking forward to this new challenge,” he said.

Before his official arrival at the parish, he met with parish leaders and visited the school during the last day of classes before the summer break. He plans to meet soon with the pastoral council and will focus initially on getting to know the parish. He’s not going to unfamiliar territory, however, because he has filled in for Father Atwood on several occasions.

Born in San Francisco, Father Blaker grew up in Berkeley and Walnut Creek. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied computer science.

A non-practicing Episcopalian, he was working as a computer systems programmer when, searching for deeper meaning in his life, he joined the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program at St. Augustine Parish in Oakland. He was baptized in 1986. He served on the pastoral council, including a term as president, and was a lector and altar server.

His continuing spiritual journey led him to St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park in 1990 and he was ordained to the priesthood in 1996.

During his first assignment at St. Raymond in Dublin, he was director of RCIA and returning Catholics and worked with ministry to the homebound. He presided at the monthly Spanish liturgy and every other month at a bilingual Mass at Santa Rita jail.

At St. John’s he oversaw the religious education and Confirmation programs and worked with the stewardship committee and various other parish groups.

Since March 2001, Father Blaker has been master of ceremonies for the diocese, coordinating all liturgical celebrations with the bishop. He brings to that responsibility a talent for music, having studied voice and participated in the UC Berkeley University Chorus and Collegium Musicum. He sang bass solo in the Bach Magnificat for the National Association of Teachers of Singing when they held their convention in San Francisco a number of years ago.

Father Blaker also has a keen interest in science fiction and has been on several panels discussing religion in science fiction and fantasy literature.


Polish-born priest now serving
as administrator at St. Jarlath

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

One of the first things that impressed Father Jan Rudzewicz when he joined St. Jarlath Parish in Oakland earlier this year was the stately church building.

“I liked this church from the beginning,” said Father Rudzewicz, who became parochial administrator of the parish on Feb. 1. “It reminds me of the many churches in France, Ireland and in my native country — Poland.”

But the priest was even more impressed by the parishioners who worship in the building, now nearing its 50th birthday. “They are really loving people who from the very beginning welcomed me with opened arms and hearts.”

The 900-family parish is a diverse group of Catholics including Latino, Irish, Italian, Filipino and African Americans. It is an environment in which Father Rudzewicz feels very much at home. “Being an immigrant myself, I really feel like one of them.”

Born in the small village of Gajrowskie, in the northeastern part of Poland, Father Rudzewicz, who turns 47 in September, earned a Master’s degree from Catholic University in Lublin before being ordained to the priesthood in May 1983. He worked for three years in two parishes in western Poland before moving to the U.S. in 1986.

His first U.S. assignment was as associate pastor at the Pope John Paul II Polish Pastoral Center in Yorba Linda. He also worked at parishes in Wyandotte, Michigan, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, prior to assignments as pastor at parishes in East Toronto and in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

During a sabbatical in the Bay Area the priest, who became a U.S. citizen in 1994, spent three months at the Vatican II Institute for Priestly Formation in Menlo Park and took classes at Oakland’s Holy Names College. He became parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole in 1994 and at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (formerly St. Leonard-Santa Paula) in Fremont in 2002. He was incardinated into the Oakland Diocese on April 1 of this year.

Other assignments

Recently appointed as parochial vicars: Father James McGee to Christ the King Parish, Pleasant Hill, from St. Bonaventure Parish, Concord; Father Robert Rien to St. Bonaventure Parish, Concord, from Queen of All Saints, Concord; Father James Thottapally to Queen of All Saints, Concord, from Our Lady Queen of the World, Bay Point; Father Joseph Tran to St. Joseph the Baptist, El Cerrito, from Our Lady of Good Counsel, San Leandro — all effective July 1.

Also Father Reynaldo Hernandez to St. Francis of Assisi, Concord, from Queen of All Saints, Concord; Father Leonardo Asuncion to Catholic Community of Pleasanton from St. Joseph, Fremont; Father Padraig Greene to St. Joseph, Fremont from Catholic Community of Pleasanton, effective Aug. 1.

Two parochial administrators were appointed pastors, effective June 23: Father Jose de Jesus Nieto at St. Mark Parish in Richmond, and Father Sergio Mora at St. Joachim Parish in Hayward. Father Michael Galvan, parochial vicar at Assumption Parish in San Leandro, was named parochial administrator, effective June 21, succeeding the late Msgr. Michael Lucid.

New Council elected

By Voice staff

Priests serving in the Oakland Diocese recently elected their representatives to the Presbyteral Council, which advises Bishop Allen Vigneron on issues pertaining to priestly and parish life. They are:

Father Robert McCann, pastor, St. Raymond Parish, Dublin; Father Ronald Schmit, pastor, St. Anne, Byron; Father Jayson Landeza, pastor, St. Columba, Oakland; Father John Prochaska, pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fremont; Father Quang Dong, pastor, St. Joseph, Pinole; Father Van Dinh, parochial vicar, St. Catherine, Martinez; Father Padraig Greene, parochial vicar, St. Joseph, Fremont; Father Ray Breton, judicial vicar, Canon Law/Marriage Tribunal; and Augustinian Father Kevin Mullins, pastor, Our Lady of Grace, Castro Valley. Bishop Vigneron appointed additional members: Father George Mockel, pastor, St. Agnes Parish, Concord; Father Jesus Nieto, pastor, St. Mark, Richmond; and Father Antonio Valdivia, pastor, St. Louis Bertrand, Oakland. Members will serve until 2008.

Bishop Vigneron constituted a new College of Consultors for the diocese, selecting the members from the Presbyteral Council, effective July 1. They are: Fathers Dong, Landeza, Mockel, Mullins, Nieto, Prochaska, and Valdivia. Father Larry Silva, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia, is also a Consultor.

Popular Santacruzan festival
brings pageantry to Hayward


Katrina Pascual represents Queen Helen (Reyna Elena), the legendary founder of the Holy Cross. She is escorted by Dominic Abad, portraying Helen’s son Constantine.

Audrey Cueto (Reyna de las Flores) places flowers at the shrine of the Blessed Virgin.



By Voice staff

The Santacruzan festival, a popular pageant in the Philippines commemorating the successful search for the Holy Cross by Queen Helen and her son, Emperor Constantine, filled the parking lot of St. Clement Church in Hayward, June 5, with flowers, songs, and prayers to the Blessed Virgin.

Twenty young women in pastel-colored gowns walked with their escorts under hand-carried arches decked with flowers. Some carried a symbol of the Marian title they represented, for example, a dove for “Queen of Peace.”
The procession culminated the events of the parish’s annual festival and the introduction of various ministries in the parish.

Santacruzan became a popular festival in the Philippines after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. It remains a religious tradition in many cities, towns and villages throughout the islands and in Filipino communities in other parts of the world.

Carlos Herrera IV portrays the Holy Child.


One of the 40 angels in the Santacruzan procession adjusts her halo.



Appeal success

Bishop Allen Vigneron joins with Father Jerry Kennedy (left) and Father Jerry Brown (right) after the two priests received certificates honoring their parishes — St. Leander in San Leandro and St. Francis of Assisi in Concord — for reaching the Bishop’s Appeal goal for the first time.