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OCTOBER 4, 2004

INSIDE
THIS ISSUE

Ethicists make distinctions about stem cell research

Trying to make sense of stem cell biology and procedures

Fremont physician named Catholic Woman of the Year
Teen mother applauds help from the Gabriel Project
Catholics travel to Mexico for Eucharistic Congress

‘Adoration Wave’ of Blessed Sacrament in Oakland Diocese

John Paul II to declare
Year of the Eucharist
Thousands of fearful Christians
flee Iraq for Jordan and Syria
Fremont parish becomes ‘partners in faith’ with
Guatemala parish
Union City parish to host Chautauqua on Oct. 9

Interfaith prayer service for peace set for Oct. 12

Saint Mary’s College
president resigns
Retired principal
honored for service
Justice Corrigan to receive
St. Thomas More award
Restored San Juan Capistrano Mission is a place of splendor
Dialog with Congressional leaders on key issues
Single voter guide
approved for Catholics
Questions for the Campaign
Parishes join PICO effort to register new voters, especially immigrants

Commentary:

• Realigning Catholic priorities: Bioethics and the common good

• U.S. bishops issue a Catholic call to political responsibility

• Catholic Charities weigh in on Prop. 63, 68 and 70

• Tips on praying with children: Parents offer advice

 

 

 

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

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By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is working closely with other international humanitarian and relief organizations in a massive relief campaign in Haiti where Tropical Storm Jeanne pounded the already impoverished and beleaguered nation last month with torrential rains that unleashed floods and mudslides killing some 2,000 people, wounding 10,000 others, and leaving hundreds of thousands in need of food, water and shelter.

The situation is “very critical,” said Sheyla Biamby of CRS Haiti, speaking by phone from the organization’s office in Port-au-Prince. In Gonaives, the storm destroyed the main hospital, killing all the patients as well some of the medical staff. A priest in Gonaives died trying to rescue people in his neighborhood, she said.

Floodwaters forced many people from their one-story homes to seek safety on their rooftops. As The Voice went to press some 1,000 people, including pregnant women and children, had found shelter in the Gonaives cathedral, where the mud was reportedly ankle-deep. Another 300-400 people were being housed in the residence of Bishop Yves-Marie Pean.

CRS is coordinating efforts to bring in basic supplies to the people sheltered in the bishop’s home and the cathedral in Gonaives.

Anne Poulsen of the U.N. World Food Program said relief agencies were working around the clock trying to get food to victims – even using donkeys. When trucks carrying eight tons of food from Cap-Haitien, the port to the north, were blocked by mudslides, “we unloaded the food from trucks and put it onto donkeys and mules to reach localities ... where people had not eaten for a week,” Poulsen said.

The chronic poverty of the country has also exasperated relief efforts. Poorly maintained roads can make even short trips an arduous journey, said Father John Maxwell, pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish in El Cerrito who was visiting his parish’s Haitian sister-parish in Fond-Tortue when the storm hit. “The roads are terrible to start with in good times and they are disastrous now,” he said.

Trucks attempting to enter Gonaives following the storm, for example, had to cross a road now covered by four feet of water, said Biamby of CRS. “It is a very dangerous area to cross before you actually access the town.”

Because of this, hundreds if not thousands of people went without food and drinking water for several days, said Father Maxwell, who returned to the U.S on Sept. 24. Once relief organizations like CRS did get through, chaos erupted at a number of locations as crowds of desperate people scrambled for supplies.

The United Nations responded to the violence Sept. 27 by rushing hundreds of peacekeepers to Haiti to stem the looting in Gonaives.

Health and humanitarian workers are also fearful of an outbreak of disease caused by decaying bodies and contaminated water overflowing from the open sewer system.

“The stench, they say, in Gonaives is just terrible,” Father Maxwell said. “There is just the stench of death all over the city. The mud is piled up so high they don’t know if there are bodies underneath it or not. This is a major catastrophe in Haiti.”

Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said the government was drawing up plans to evacuate some of the homeless in Gonaives to a tent camp. Some victims, fearing the spread of disease, said they would abandon the city, Haiti’s third-largest with 250,000 residents.

The hurricane’s devastation is the latest crisis for long-suffering Haiti, a country of 8 million people that has suffered 30 coups d’etats and is listed as the poorest country in the western hemisphere. In February, rebels forced elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power, prompting the United
States to send troops who later turned over responsibility to a U.N.
peacekeeping force. The rebels’ refusal to disarm has meant ongoing instability.

Massive deforestation that left surrounding valleys unable to hold the rain unleashed by some 30 hours of pounding by Jeanne also fueled the country’s latest tragedy. The “hillsides are denuded,” said Father Maxwell, because impoverished Haitians have, over the years, chopped down all the trees and bushes for cooking fuel. When the rains came, the soil, no longer anchored by roots, just washed away, he said.

Both the Catholic Church in Haiti and the World Food Program have warned that the storm’s destruction of the rice and fruit crops in the country’s Artibonite region could intensify the crisis. “So now the country can’t even feed itself without outside help,” said Guy Gavreau of the World Food Program.

Devastating floods in May along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border left 1,191 dead and 1,484 missing in Haiti and 395 dead and 274 missing in the Dominican Republic. The two countries share the island of Hispaniola.


El Cerrito pastor faces storm Jeanne
during visit to sister-parish in Haiti

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

The torrential rains and thunderstorms unleashed by tropical storm Jeanne swamped the community of Fond-Tortue in Haiti last month. Nearby rivers flooded, sending residents scampering to higher ground and rooftops to escape the rising waters.

“Enormous amounts of rain fell in a very short time,” said Father John Maxwell, pastor at El Cerrito’s St. John the Baptist Parish, who was in Fond-Tortue visiting his parish’s sister-parish when the storm arrived.

“The rivers just rose, you couldn’t get across them,” he said. “But it wasn’t nearly as bad as in Gonaives,” a city to the north that took the brunt of the storm that left more than 2,000 people dead.

Father Maxwell saw no inkling of the disaster to come when he arrived in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 13. The weather was clear and it was “hot, hot, hot – even at night,” he recalled.

He traveled for seven hours over very poor roads to reach Fond-Tortue for a visit to St. Elizabeth Parish. His El Cerrito parish began a sister-parish relationship with that community three years ago and he was eager to deliver medical supplies, meet with the 38 teachers at the parish school and see how else East Bay Catholics might assist the area of some 10,000 people.

Like most of Haiti, Fond-Tortue is beset by rampant poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition. The rural area has few roads and no electricity, Father Maxwell said. People go to bed when it’s dark and get up when it is light. “It is a different life cycle,” he said. “It is more real than our superficial one.”

The town’s location between mountains helped protect it during the storm, he said, allowing many people to move to higher ground. No one was killed or injured there, unlike Gonaives and other cities in the northwest of the tiny island nation.

Despite the storm’s overall devastation, Father Maxwell believes the Haitians will somehow rise to struggle for survival and recovery. “It is amazing how resilient the Haitian people are and how full of faith they are. But still it is a challenge to anyone at this stage,” he said.

(St. John Parish is collecting funds to help storm-ravaged Haiti. Donations can be sent to “Haiti Collection,” St. John the Baptist Parish, 11150 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530.)


Aid agencies seek funds for
relief in storm-ravaged Haiti

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

Catholic and other international religious, humanitarian and relief organizations have been rushing to provide financial, medical and other emergency supplies to Haiti following the onslaught of tropical storm Jeanne last month. At least 2,000 people were killed and the death count is expected to rise.

The Vatican through its charity, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, immediately sent $100,000 to Caritas Haiti to buy clean drinking water, food and medicine after receiving an urgent plea from Haitian church leaders.
Caritas Haiti is appealing for $900,000 in donations and financial assistance to help provide basic necessities for victims of the storm, estimated in the tens of thousands.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community, has provided $500,000 to Caritas Haiti to buy food, water and other emergency supplies.

Sheyla Biamby, CRS Haiti spokesperson in Haiti’s capital, said some of the funds were used to help 300-400 people sheltered in the residence of Bishop Yves-Marie Pean of Gonaives.

CRS also provided aid to 1,000 others staying in the Gonaives cathedral and hundreds more who found shelter in other churches in and around the storm-stricken city. The organization is hoping to reach 350,000 storm victims in the coming weeks, she said.

After the immediate relief efforts are met, CRS will continue to work with Caritas Haiti to support rehabilitation projects aimed at helping Haitian residents clean up their homes and streets, replace destroyed structures and restore local businesses.

“We are there for the long haul,” Biamby said

To donate to CRS, phone: 1-800-HELP-CRS; online: www.catholicrelief.org; postal mail: Catholic Relief Services, 209 West Fayette St., Baltimore, MD 21201-3443.

Food for the Poor, the Florida-based international relief organization that serves the poor in the Caribbean, delivered over 2,000 pounds of food to northern Haiti by helicopter in the first days after the storm. Mudslides and landslides have delayed the transportation by truck of additional emergency relief supplies, including food and medicine, said Anne Briere, Food for the Poor spokesperson. “Every possible method of food delivery” will be used to reach the people of Gonaives, she said.

To contribute to Food For The Poor, phone: (800) 487-1158; online: www.foodforthepoor.org; or send a check to Food For The Poor, Dept. 39512, 550 SW 12th Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

Catholic Charities USA, which represents the U.S. Catholic community in times of domestic disaster, has responded to the devastation caused by four consecutive hurricanes that struck in Florida and the nearby southern states.

The organization has sent $80,000 in emergency relief grants to seven local Catholic Charities agencies to support their recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

These local agencies have distributed food, water, personal care items and lodging vouchers as well as medical assistance and mental health counseling to U.S. storm victims.

The organization also plans to help hurricane victims address other needs such as temporary and permanent housing, job placement counseling and medical and prescription drug assistance.

To help Catholic Charities USA, phone: (800) 919-9338; online: www.catholicharitiesinfo.org; mail: Catholic Charities USA, 2004 Summer Hurricane Fund, P.O. Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313-9338.

California bishops support passage of Proposition 66

By Voice staff

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops have added their support to Proposition 66, which would modify the state’s “three-strikes” law.

The Nov. 2 ballot measure would redefine the serious or violent felonies requiring increased sentences under the “three-strikes” law. The proposal would also increase the punishment for sex crimes against children.

Backers of Proposition 66 say the measure is needed to keep relatively minor third-strike felons from being sentenced to state prison for 25 years to life, at an annual cost to taxpayers of about $31,000 each.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, president of the California Catholic Conference, said in the statement Sept. 28 that the bishops believe in “responsibility, accountability and legitimate punishment.” Legitimate punishment, he said, should have two clear purposes: protecting society and rehabilitating those who violate the law.

Referring to the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter issued in 2000, titled “Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice,” the bishop noted, “We will not tolerate the crime and violence that threatens lives and dignity of our sisters and brothers and we will not give up on those who have committed crime and violence in our communities.”

Bishop Blaire added: “The causes of crime are complicated and simplistic sentencing solutions are not an adequate answer. We pledge to work with others to protect public safety, to promote the common good and to restore community.”
In the bishops’ “considered judgment,” he concluded, amending the “three-strikes” law “can be a step in that direction.”

California currently has the toughest “three-strikes” law in the nation, passed by the Legislature, signed by former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and approved by 72 percent of the voters statewide in 1994.

Among those supporting the initiative are Joe Klaas of Citizens Against Violent Crime, the California Labor Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Opponents contend the law works as it was intended, by imposing lengthy terms on offenders with serious and violent criminal histories who continue to commit felonies, even if just for crimes such as shoplifting or possessing illegal drugs.
The California District Attorneys Association, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Bill Lockyer oppose Prop. 66.

The bishops have voiced their opposition to Proposition 71 that seeks to fund embryonic stem-cell research.

 

Diocese participates in second round of audits on compliance with sex abuse recommendations

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Auditors commissioned by the U.S. bishops will take a hard look this week at how well the Diocese of Oakland has complied with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in 2002.

The review, conducted by the Gavin Group of Boston, is a follow-up to an earlier audit last year, which found that the diocese was in overall compliance with the charter and had done commendable work with victims of clerical sexual abuse but also needed to make some improvements. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned both rounds of audits to take place in every diocese of the country.

Auditors Zack Shelton and Mike O’Brien were scheduled to begin the evaluation Oct. 4 and to complete it within five days. They will look at how well the diocese has complied with the mandates of the charter since the first audit, which was completed in July 2003. U.S. bishops adopted the charter in Dallas in June 2002 as a response to the sexual abuse scandal that involved charges of cover-ups on the part of Church leaders.

The audit requires detailed reports on specific measures the diocese has taken in providing for victims of sexual abuse: reaching out to victims, providing them with services, responding immediately to allegations of abuse, and reporting charges to authorities. It also looks at the diocesan review board which investigates charges of abuse, at how well the diocese cooperates with public authorities in reporting accusations, and its record in dealing swiftly with accused priests and deacons.

At the same time, the auditors will examine how the diocese has taken action to restore the good name of those with unfounded accusations and what it is has done to remove offenders from ministry. The audit will also investigate the diocese’s efforts to be transparent and open with the community in regards to charges of abuse.

The diocese’s actions aimed at preventing abuse in the future will also come under scrutiny.

The auditors will look at the recently adopted standard of conduct for employees and volunteers who have contact with children and at educational programs for children, youth, parents, employees and volunteers. They will look into the formation of seminarians, how the diocese conducts background checks on employees and volunteers and how well it complies with the mandate to notify bishops in other dioceses when accused priests or deacons take up residency in their jurisdictions.

In all of these areas, the auditors will ask for detailed reports and documentation. They will also interview Bishop Allen Vigneron, several pastors, members of the review board, the rector of the seminary and several diocesan staff members involved in carrying out the charter’s mandates. They may also talk to victims of abuse and accused priests or deacons.

At the close of last year’s review, auditors commended the diocese, saying that Oakland “had the spirit of the charter before the charter was written,” especially in its outreach to victims.

They did, however, ask that the diocese adopt a system to monitor offenders who have left priestly ministry, reach out to victims who speak languages other than English, and consolidate various policies on the safety of young people into one document.

The diocese has addressed these concerns and recently adopted a Code of Conduct for all persons who may come in contact with children or young people. The Department of Faith and Ministry Formation is also holding workshops in Spanish and English to teach priests, staff members and others about how to recognize and prevent abuse.

A retired parole officer, Steve Kolda, a parishioner at St. Joan of Arc in San Ramon, is helping the diocese monitor offenders who have been stripped of their priestly duties but have not been laicized. Kolda has visited the men, some of whom now live in other states.

Diocesan apology ceremonies, held in parishes where abuse took place in the past, also help comply with the requirements of the charter. Since the beginning of this year, Bishop Allen Vigneron has presided over liturgies in several parishes, acknowledging the abuse that took place, asking for forgiveness and praying for healing.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE



Ethicists make distinctions about
stem cell research

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

With the Prop. 71 initiative to fund stem cell research on the ballot for November, Californians are taking a look at the science involved in stem cell studies and pondering the ethics. They are asking what cloning has to do with stem cells, how research supports or harms life, and what happens in the laboratory.
The California Catholic Conference has also studied the issues and published a series of fliers and pamphlets to educate the public.

On campuses, Catholic students are learning about the biology and moral questions involved, and faculty at East Bay theological schools are thinking and talking about stem cells, how these may help cure disease and what is at risk.
Knowing the science is the crucial first step in entering the debate, according to professors such as Mary McCall at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and Lisa Fullam at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

“In general, bad science makes bad ethics,” said Fullam, assistant professor of moral theology, who has delivered a series of talks about stem cell ethics.
McCall, a psychology professor who helps teach a multidisciplinary course titled Human Genetics, Applications and Ethics, said she has discovered that “understanding the science of stem cells and where you get the cells” is key.

Different sources of stem cells
First, it is important to note that not all stem cells come from embryos. Some come from adults and others from the umbilical cord blood of newborns, but all stem cells can divide and reproduce themselves indefinitely and can turn into specialized cells such as heart, nerve or muscle tissue.

Thus, stem cells hold out the exciting potential for creating cells that can replace diseased or damaged tissue in the body.

In a statement on Prop. 71, California bishops made it clear that they do not reject all stem cell research. “We approve and encourage research that uses cells derived from adults and umbilical cord blood,” they said, praising the scientists who “bring new hope to people who are suffering” through this kind of study.

It is primarily embryonic stem cell research that concerns the bishops and many ethicists, and here, too, it is important to know the science. When the general public hears the words “embryonic stem cells,” McCall said, “people don’t think of a cluster of cells. They think of a fully formed human being in a sac.”

In fact, embryos used in stem cell research are part of a hollow ball of up to 200 cells that developed from an egg fertilized four or five days earlier, usually for in vitro fertilization.

If the in vitro embryos are not implanted in a uterus, they are kept frozen in a fertility clinic and may be destroyed later or released for use in research. In the lab, researchers take the embryo apart to isolate individual stem cells, which then reproduce in vitro.

Scientists are using embryonic stem cells - as well as those from adults, cord blood and laboratory animals such as mice - to learn how to treat these cells so that they differentiate, or turn into specialized cells that could replace tissue in patients with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other ailments.

Embryonic stem cells appear to have more potential for becoming a wide variety of specialized cells than adult stem cells.

When does human life begin?
But in working with embryonic stem cells, researchers destroy human life to isolate the individual cells. “We’re talking about dicing up early embryos to grow parts,” Lisa Fullam said.

“This applies equally to stem cells derived from embryos created for research or those ‘spares’ from in vitro fertilization.”

She notes that some theologians would not condemn this because they claim that the early embryo is not yet fully human.

Some say the embryo becomes a person when it is certain that it will develop into a single human being (and not divide into identical twins) - about two weeks after fertilization. Others say recognizable brain function is the test of personhood – at about six weeks.

But, Fullam said, “We cannot determine scientifically when a person begins: it is not a scientific question.” So, she said, “The most obvious place to draw a bright line is at conception.” This has been the Catholic position since 1869.

“The official Catholic stance is clear,” she said. “Human life is to be protected from conception.”

The California bishops state this in their comments on Prop. 71: “Drawing stem cells from an embryo always directly kills that human embryo, and killing human life is never justified even when the intent is to benefit other humans.”

Unclaimed frozen embryos
But the debate doesn’t end there. More questions arise concerning how much responsibility a researcher bears for a stem cell already taken from an embryo and whether it is justified to make use of unclaimed frozen embryos that would otherwise be destroyed.

For instance, what if a researcher is using stem cells but had no part in the destruction of the embryo? It is questionable whether this would justify such research, Fullam said, because the researcher is still closely dependent on the procedure of taking the embryo apart.

Since embryo destruction according to a precise procedure is necessary for the cells to be useful, this process is not analogous, say, to harvesting organs from an accident victim whose death was unrelated to the use of the organs afterward.

What about research further removed from harvesting or working with the stem cells themselves? For example, what about medical research using tissues or organs grown from stem cells, or therapies like doctors implanting such tissues or organs in patients?

This issue is still being debated, Fullam said, but perhaps it could be acceptable in a very narrow set of circumstances:

“If the researcher does not approve of the embryos’ destruction but merely tries to gain some good from an unavoidable bad situation, if neither the donors nor the IVF centers are paid, if extra embryos are not created specifically for research, if people aren’t encouraged by this to think that destroying embryos is a morally neutral act, then it can be argued that the researcher was not formally cooperating in evil, but was only materially - thus perhaps justifiably - associated with the death of the embryos.”

Fullam said that this would be similar to the use of the chicken pox vaccine, as mentioned in a 2001 New York Times opinion piece by President Bush:

“The only licensed live chickenpox vaccine used in the United States was developed, in part, from cells derived from research involving human embryos. Researchers first grew the virus in embryonic lung cells, which were later cloned and grown in two previously existing cell lines. Many ethical and religious leaders agree that even if the history of this vaccine raises ethical questions, its current use does not.”

Some people do have serious qualms about use of this vaccine, but in Catholic circles this remains a matter for the individual’s informed conscience. Use of medical therapies originating in stem cell research could be construed likewise, Fullam said.

McCall also said that using frozen embryos from fertility clinics could be “heading down a slippery slope.” We could be opening up a market for embryos and there could be some who would want to “harvest embryos for this purpose,” she said.

Therapeutic cloning
Cloning also comes up as part of stem cell research. Researchers would like to create tissues from stem cells that have the same DNA as a patient in need of treatment. This procedure, therapeutic cloning, would help avoid the problem of rejection, which happens with many transplants when the body creates an immune reaction to attack foreign material.

To get a perfect DNA match, technicians would remove the nucleus from an egg cell and replace it with the nucleus from any cell of the patient.

Then the egg cell would be stimulated to divide into an embryo, which would have the identical DNA of the patient.

The embryo would be taken apart to provide stem cells, and if these stem cells could be directed to specialize into the tissue needed, they could be transferred into the patient without fear of rejection.

This process of replacing the nucleus of an ovum (called somatic cell nuclear transfer) is the same technique used in cloning. In other words, the embryo made by this method would have the potential to become a clone of the DNA donor, the patient who needs the tissue match.

In a pamphlet on Prop. 71, the California bishops state, “We oppose the cloning of human embryos whether with the intent of creating a human child or with the intent of destroying them by extracting their stem cells.”

The procedure is, “playing God with the mystery of human life” and “morall wrong,” the bishops say in their statement on the initiative.

Making money from cells
There are still other problems with embryonic stem cell research, McCall and Fullam say, and some of these have to do with marketing the results.

There is money to be made from creating products out of stem cells, from in vitro fertilization and from selling eggs to fertility clinics.

For instance, there is the issue of egg donors, young women who provide eggs for a payment of $5,000 to $7,000.

“The process is not pleasant,” McCall said. “You need daily injections or you take drugs to ramp up the normal hormone level. Women gain weight, they become incredibly moody. It’s really very uncomfortable.”

Fullam notes that egg donors run the risk of infection when the eggs are harvested and that no one yet knows the effect of hyperstimulating the ovaries.
This raises the question of who protects egg donors and the possibility that this technology could be shipped overseas to women in third world countries.

If stem cell research does eventually yield results, who would benefit? Would this therapy be so costly that only the wealthy could afford it?

The cost also concerns California bishops. “It is socially unjust,” they state in regard to Prop. 71, “to launch a $3 billion new state bureaucracy when vital programs for health, education, police and fire services are being cut.”

Fullam said that this social justice question extends beyond the boundaries of the U.S. “Thousands of people in the world die from lack of clean water, the technology for which is simple and cheap. Stem cell research will, for the foreseeable future, principally benefit only those in the first world or the very wealthy elsewhere. Perhaps our research dollars could be better spent.”

Trying to make sense of stem cell biology and procedures

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Stem cell research, which may lead to cures for human ailments, has created controversy in the nation at large and raised ethical questions about the sanctity of life and the use of limited funds for health care.

A first step in following this debate is an understanding of the science involved. To help readers make informed decisions about stem cell research, we have prepared a set of questions and answers about stem cell biology and procedures.

Q: What is a stem cell?
A: Most cells in the human body serve one function, as part of the blood, bone, skin, nerve or other system. They are fixed in these functions and cannot become another type of cell. Stem cells, however, can develop into many types of specialized cells, such as skin or muscle or, under the right conditions, even grow into a complete human being. They can also reproduce themselves by dividing indefinitely.

Q: Are there different types of stem cells?
A: Stem cells come in two types - embryonic stem cells, which theoretically can become any cell type in the body, and adult stem cells, which have the potential to become several, but not all, types of specialized cells.

Q: Where do researchers get stem cells?
A: Adult stem cells come from adult bone marrow and organs such as the liver. Embryonic stem cells can come from umbilical cord blood at the time of delivery, from reproductive cells taken from fetuses, or from cells found in embryos at an early stage of development, known as the blastula. Most blastulas used in research were frozen after they were created for in vitro fertilization but never used.

Q: How do scientists get individual stem cells from embryos?
A: Researchers take the blastula apart, dividing it into the inner cells destined to become specialized tissue of the fetus and outer cells, which would become the tissue outside the embryo, such as the placenta and the membranes surrounding the fetus. Only the inner cells are used to develop stem cell lines. If you took one of these stem cells and put it in the womb, it would not develop into a fetus.

Q: What is a stem cell line?
A: A stem cell line comes from cells that have been removed from adult, umbilical, embryonic or fetal reproductive cells and cultured under in vitro conditions. (In vitro means in an artificial environment, such as a test tube or Petri dish.) These cells divide into new cells without differentiating into specific tissue types and remain in that state for months or years. The new cells are identical to one another, sometimes called “clones” of the original cell.

Q: How could stem cells help cure disease?
A: Since stem cells can develop into different kinds of tissue, it is hoped that these cells can be used to repair or replace diseased or damaged tissues. Researchers are trying to stimulate stem cells to differentiate into specific types, such as heart muscle, nerve or pancreatic cells. These cells, or tissues made of these cells, may be transplanted into patients to help with such disorders as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes and heart disease.

Q: How can a stem cell be made to develop into a certain type of tissue?
A: This is a major focus of research. Cells develop into specialized cells as a result of chemical cues, often from the surrounding environment. Scientists are trying to unravel the factors that drive stem cells to specialize within a normal embryo, such as the mix of nutrients, growth factors, and chemical cues provided to the cell

Q: Is there any evidence that stem cell therapy could work?
A: Most evidence that stem cells can be directed to differentiate into specific tissues comes from experiments using animal cells, often from mice. Evidence suggests that this differentiation will take place in human tissue as well.

Q: Are there dangers in stem cell therapy?
A: Whenever patients receive cells or tissues that are not their own, it may cause an immune reaction to reject the foreign material. This is also true for stem cells. Also, embryonic stem cells have become cancerous in some animal experiments when they fail to specialize. Adult stem cells, which are already partially differentiated, are easier to control and less likely to behave like tumors, but they also face the problem of rejection.

Q: What is a clone?
A: The term “clone” can apply to a single cell created by cell division to form an identical copy of itself. “Clone” can also refer to an entire organism that is a genetic copy of another organism.

Q: How are clones of animals or humans created?
A: To clone an organism, scientists remove the nucleus – the part that contains the DNA – from an egg cell and insert the nucleus of an adult cell of any kind from a donor. This is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. Egg cells contain only half the chromosomes needed for development, and under normal conditions, a single sperm would provide the other half. When an empty egg cell receives a full set of chromosomes from a donor, it can be stimulated to begin development into a blastula, which can be implanted in a womb.

Q: Does stem cell research involve cloning?
A: Scientists are looking at using somatic cell nuclear transfer to create embryos with the genetic material of a certain donor (such as a Parkinson’s disease patient), taking the inner cells of this blastula to create a stem cell line, and stimulating these cells to become specialized tissue. This would provide cells and tissue that are an exact match to the adult donor, thus avoiding rejection.

Fremont physician named
Catholic Woman of the Year

By Voice staff

Dr. Dianne Martin, a Fremont internist who infuses her medical practice with her Catholic faith, has been named Outstanding Bay Area Catholic Woman of the Year by Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

Dr. Martin received the award during a Sept. 28 luncheon at the Orinda Country Club. The award is named for Monsignor McCracken, 86-year-old pastor of St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek, who became the first director of Catholic Charities of the East Bay after the Diocese of Oakland was created in 1962.

She also received certificates of recognition from two California state legislators, state Senator Liz Figueroa and Assemblyman John Dutra.

Dr. Martin specializes in infectious diseases and serves on the medical staff of Washington Hospital in Fremont. In nominating her for the award, Charles Bellavia, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Fremont, said that Dr. Martin “practices medicine to help people, not to make herself wealthy.”

Bellavia first met Dr. Martin when his wife, Pat, was one of her patients, and he later learned that the physician was also a member at St. Joseph. “As I got to know her, I found out how much good work she does as a person,” he said.

Dr. Martin serves as a volunteer physician to the Mission San Jose Dominican Sisters at their motherhouse and at the Sisters of the Holy Family motherhouse, as well, he wrote in nominating her. Nuns who have received her care also praised her work. “She is most generous, and very considerate of our feelings,” said Dominican Sister Antonia Leber, and Dominican Sister Joan Doran said Dr. Martin was “easy to be with” and had become a good friend.

Even though Dr. Martin has a full practice, she is always open to new patients, especially to those with AIDS, said Bellavia. She treated a priest who was staying at the St. Joseph rectory while he was dying of the disease, he said, and took it upon herself to educate the parish staff so they would accept the situation.

Bellavia also quoted Precious Blood Father Jeff Finley, spiritual care coordinator at Washington Hospital in Fremont, who said that Dr. Martin “stays with her patients longer and tries to treat the whole person.” Father Finley said the doctor “views religion as part of her ministry as a doctor. She is unassuming and does this as just who she is. Dr. Martin engages in a spiritual relationship as part of a person’s being. It is a ministry of presence.”

Dr. Martin’s name also came up during a workout at his gym, Bellavia said, when a woman who works at the Fremont hospital told him about a friend of hers who was admitted to the hospital late one night on an emergency. The patient confided to Dr. Martin that she was scared, and the doctor took off her cross and gave it to her.

The grateful woman offered to return the cross. “But Dr. Martin said for her to keep it because she would get another,” wrote Bellavia. During the Msgr. McCracken luncheon, Dr. Martin said Mission San Jose Dominican Sister Joan Doran gives her the crosses, which she often passes on to patients.

Although Dr. Martin serves as a Eucharistic minister at St. Joseph’s, she finds time to move beyond the hospital and church communities. She has served on local high school panels and conducts education programs for teenagers and young adults. At. St Edward Parish in Newark every year, she speaks to the confirmation class about AIDS and brings a person with AIDS to the session. She refuses to take the compensation offered to her.

Bellavia concluded, “In these times when so many are afraid to show their faith, Dr. Martin stands out as a person who lives and demonstrates her Catholic principles.”

The 2004 outstanding Catholic woman received her medical degree from the University of South Carolina College of Medicine in Charleston. She did a residency in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky and also did specialized training at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for Infectious Diseases.

San Francisco Magazine has recognized her as “the doctor’s doctor” on the topic of infectious diseases.

This is the 16th year that Catholic Charities has honored a Bay Area Catholic woman. Last year’s award was given to Sister Barbara Flannery, diocesan chancellor, for her outreach to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

 

Teen mother applauds help
from the Gabriel Project

By Sharon Abercrombie
Staff writer

Jennifer King was looking for help when she approached a group of pro-life demonstrators in Concord two years ago.

The nineteen-year-old was pregnant and fighting off suggestions that she get an abortion. She greeted the protesters with the bluntly simple, “Hi, I’ve decided not to have an abortion.”

Within seconds, King found herself encircled with support and supplied with advice and brochures. One of the brochures was from the Gabriel Project, a national ecumenical movement named for the angelic messenger who announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus. It offers confidential service to women in crisis pregnancies.

This immediate response was just what King had been looking for. While her friends had been urging her to get an abortion, she, as a committed Christian, could not take the life of her child. “What I really needed was emotional support,” she said.

King had approached the demonstrators because they were a familiar sight to her. “They were practically in my back yard,” she said. “I lived just a block away from Planned Parenthood.”

She quickly contacted the Gabriel Project and was referred to Anne and Mike Ronco from St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord. The Roncos have headed the Bay Area Gabriel Project for the past seven years and, after Jennifer’s phone call, they opened their home to her. At that particular time, it wasn’t possible for the young woman to remain with her own family.

She couldn’t have made a more fortunate connection. The Roncos were seasoned pro-life volunteers, having been originally drawn to pro-life work in 1979, after viewing a video documentary, “A Matter of Choice.”

Ronco, who was then a Chevron executive, had recently returned from Saudi Arabia with his wife and four children. “We were pretty insulated over there as far as abortion issues were concerned.”

Once they discovered the seriousness of the situation in America, the Roncos became active with St. Bonaventure’s pro-life group.

Their involvement reached another level of commitment in 1997 when a parishioner told the Roncos about a program her sister was involved with in Baltimore — the Gabriel Project.

Begun in Texas in 1990 at a parish in Houston, the Gabriel Project functions as a Good Samaritan network where churches and pro-life centers can work together to provide friendship and emotional support, pastoral care and counseling, medical aid, financial assistance, housing and adoption resources, education and employment opportunities to women in crisis pregnancies.

After reading about the Gabriel Project’s work, the Roncos felt drawn to bring the ministry to the Oakland Diocese.

Mike Ronco visited several project offices in Houston and Austin, Texas, as well as Baltimore before forming a local steering committee, and then establishing an 800 number and offices in the East Bay.

For the past two years, the communications center has been housed at the diocesan Family Life Office in Concord, where staff members take calls and make referrals to pro-life groups.

There are now 70 churches, most of them Catholic, within the northern California Gabriel community with over 1300 volunteers in the East Bay, San Francisco, Novato, Pacifica, San Rafael, Fairfax, Tiburon, San Mateo, Redwood City, Sacramento, Vacaville, San Jose, Palo Alto, Auburn and Grass Valley. There are 21 Catholic parishes in the Oakland Diocese alone who are affiliates.

Churches involved with the Gabriel Project function as “angels” to provide a variety of help, including providing baby clothing, transportation to and from doctors’ offices, emotional and spiritual support, financial assistance, employment assistance, housing, and prayers.

Northern California callers who contact the Gabriel Project are referred to one of 25 pro-life pregnancy centers throughout the geographical area that offer lists of available resources. The pregnancy centers and the Gabriel Project work together to provide referrals.

One out of every three callers needs a place to live, said Ronco. Most find places to stay in group homes such as Mary’s House in El Cerrito or Casa Vincentia in Oakland.

Others stay in volunteer shepherding homes– private residences where they can remain until they’ve given birth and have had the time to find employment and places of their own.

The Northern California organization counts 20 shepherding homes, including three in Auburn that were added earlier this year.

Jennifer King stayed with the Roncos until her son Jayden was three months old. Today she and her 16-month-old son live with her parents in Concord. King attends Diablo Valley College and plans to transfer to UC Berkeley to study psychology. To support herself and her son, she works as a waitress in a Danville restaurant.

King emphasizes how blessed she has been. “I just can’t say enough good things about the Gabriel Project,” she said. While staying with the Roncos, King continued to work and was able to save “a decent sum of money.” Another big plus: “Gabriel volunteers took the time to drive me home from work each night because I had no car.”

“If the Gabriel Project and my shepherding family had not given me assistance, I doubt my future would look so bright,” she added. “I have goals and aspirations for my son and myself and I can see them slowly becoming a reality. I am eternally grateful for their kindness.”

Since the Bay Area chapter began in 1997, the office has logged over 2,000 calls.
The Gabriel Project does not solicit funds, said Ronco, who retired from Chevron in 1992.

The San Ramon Knights of Columbus is a regular supporter, as are other groups. In total, these donors provide about $4,000 a year for office expenses. Ronco picks up printing costs of brochures and other educational materials.

The organization needs more shepherding homes, he said. For further information contact the Gabriel Project at (925) 672-8030.

 

Catholics travel to Mexico for
Eucharistic Congress

By Voice staff

A small number of East Bay Catholics are traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico, this week to participate in the 48th International Eucharistic Congress. They will be joined in Mexico by Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron and Bishop Emeritus John Cummins as well as thousands of Catholics from around the world.

The Congress is a public demonstration of Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is also a visible affirmation that the Eucharist is the source of strength to meet day-to-day challenges, sorrows and joys in the spirit of Jesus.

While the Congress is taking place, Oct. 10-17, there will be perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Benediction, in the Oakland Diocese. This Eucharistic devotion will move from one parish to another throughout the week in an uninterrupted sequence.

The belief that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ and not ordinary bread and wine was held from the earliest Apostolic times. The evangelists and St. Paul were clear that the Eucharistic elements were literally Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine.

That faith compelled the early hermits to reserve the Eucharist in their cells and to carry it with them when they moved from place to place. By the second century, popes sent the Eucharist to other bishops as a pledge of unity of faith and occasionally the bishops would do the same to their priests.

By the Council of Nicea (325) the Eucharist was reserved in the churches of monasteries and convents. Later, parish churches also kept the Eucharist present.

Eucharistic Renaissance

In 1088, Berengarius, archdeacon of Angers in France, denied that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. Others began to take up the idea and Pope Gregory VII ordered Berengarius to sign a retraction. This became the Church’s first definitive statement of what had always been believed but never seriously challenged.

From this profession of faith rose a kind of Eucharistic Renaissance that included processions of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi in 1264 and commissioned Thomas Aquinas to compose the Liturgy of the Hours for the feast. He wrote three hymns – O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo and Panis Angelicus – that became part of the Benediction (blessing with the sacred host) service.

Public adoration
The Council of Trent (1545-1563) devoted much of its teaching to the Mass, Holy Communion and the Real Presence as a way of answering the challenges of the Protestant Reformation. It stated that the Blessed Sacrament “is to be honored with extraordinary festive celebrations” and to be “publicly exposed for the people’s adoration.”

By the end of the 16th century, a new era of devotion began – 40 hours of continual prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. Later, perpetual (uninterrupted) devotion, which had its beginnings in the fourth century, developed on a worldwide scale.

The first Code of Canon Law (1918) urged Catholics “to visit the Most Blessed Sacrament as often as possible.”

On the eve of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII participated in a Corpus Christi procession of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome, praying for Christ’s blessings on the forthcoming council. The Council’s first document, issued by Paul VI, was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Pope Paul also published an encyclical on the Eucharist just after the council’s last session. It is an extensive doctrinal analysis of the Real Presence.

When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was issued in 1994, it also addressed the doctrine, noting that “Because Christ Himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. ‘To visit the Blessed Sacrament is … a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.’ (Paul VI)”

History of Eucharistic Congresses
Though some local Eucharistic Congresses took place as early as the Middle Ages, the first international Congress did not take place until 1881, the result of efforts by Marie-Marthe Tamisier, a French laywoman who had a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Held in Lille, France, the Congress was followed five years later by another in Toulouse, with over 1500 bishops and priests and 30,000 laity participating.

Congresses continued every year or two until 1915, when World War I prohibited travel in Europe. They resumed in 1922 and have been celebrated every few years since, except for the period between 1938 and 1952.

Congresses have been held in various European countries and in Canada, Israel, Australia, Tunisia, Argentina, the Philippines, Brazil, India, Colombia, Kenya, Korea and twice in the United States – 1926 in Chicago and 1976 in Philadelphia.
Since 1981 when the Congress was held in Lourdes, every Congress has included an international symposium on some aspect of the Eucharist.

(Some information taken from “History of Eucharistic Adoration” by Jesuit Father John A. Hardon. The full text of his article is available at www.oakdiocese.org/congress/History of Adoration.htm).

 

 

 

‘Adoration Wave’ of Blessed Sacrament
in Oakland Diocese

To link Catholics in the Oakland Diocese more closely with the Eucharistic Congress,
the parishes listed below have joined in a special “wave” of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Everyone is invited to participate.

Sunday, October 10:
6 a.m. - Noon St. Leo, Oakland 

2 p.m - 4 p.m.  St. Margaret Mary, Oakland

6 p.m. - Midnight St. John Vianney, Walnut Creek

Monday, October 11:
Midnight - 6 a.m. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fremont        

6 a.m. - Noon   St. Joseph, Alameda

Noon - 6 p.m.   St. Felicitas, San Leandro

Noon - 6 p.m. St. Elizabeth Seton/ Catholic Comm. of Pleasanton

Tuesday, October 12:
6 a.m. - Noon  All Saints, Hayward                              

Noon - 6 p.m. St. Joachim, Hayward

Wednesday, October 13:
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.  St. Mark, Richmond

6 a.m. - Noon  Church of the Assumption, San Leandro

9 a.m. - 7 p.m. St. Mark, Richmond

Noon - 6 p.m. Transfiguration, Castro Valley

5 p.m. - Midnight  St. Anthony, Oakland             

6 p.m. - Midnight St. Cornelius, Richmond                                  

Thursday, October 14:
8:30 a.m. - Noon St. Anne, Walnut Creek                     

9 a.m. - 6 p.m.  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood

Noon - 6 p.m. St. Stephen, Walnut Creek                

6 p.m. - Midnight St. Monica, Moraga

Friday, October 15:
Midnight - 6 a.m. St. Agnes, Concord                           

6 a.m. - Noon   St. Leander, San Leandro                 

9 a.m. - Midnight Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood

9 a.m. - 9 p.m.  Corpus Christi, Fremont

9 a.m. - Noon St. Mary, Walnut Creek

8 a.m. - 5 p.m. St. Philip Neri, Alameda

10 a.m. - 6 p.m. St. Bonaventure, Concord

Noon - 6 p.m.   St. Michael, Livermore

Saturday, October 16:

Midnight - 6 a.m. St. Francis of Assisi, Concord    

Midnight - 8 a.m. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brentwood

6 a.m. - Noon Santa Maria, Orinda                         

Noon - 6 p.m.  St. Andrew - St. Joseph, Oakland     

6 p.m. - Midnight  St. Benedict, Oakland

6 p.m. - Midnight  St. Isidore, Danville

Sunday, October 17:
Midnight - 6 a.m. St. Peter Martyr, Pittsburg               

6 a.m. - Noon St. Alphonsus, San Leandro

Noon - 6 p.m.  St. Rose of Lima, Crockett

6 p.m. - Midnight St. Clement, Hayward

Perpetual adoration 24 hours a day at Divine Mercy Center, St. John the Baptist Parish, El Cerrito.

In addition to the parishes listed above, many churches in the diocese have
Eucharistic Adoration on a weekly or monthly basis.
The schedule can be found at www.oakdiocese.org/ congress/AdorationTimes/htm.

For an updated schedule of the Adoration Wave:www.oakdiocese.org/congress/ adorationwave/schedule.htm.
Addresses of all churches in the Oakland Diocese can be found at:www.oakdiocese.org.

John Paul II to declare Year of the Eucharist

By Voice staff

Pope John Paul II is expected to address the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara via a satellite television link during closing ceremonies on Oct. 17. At that time he will formally proclaim the opening of the Year of the Eucharist. The Year will end with the Synod of the Bishops in Rome, Oct. 2-29, 2005.

During the Year, Catholics throughout the world will be asked to reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist in their lives and to receive Communion more faithfully.

In June, when the pope announced his intention to proclaim the Year of the Eucharist, he spoke about the “close bond that exists between the Eucharist and the universal mission of the Church.”

Christ, he said, “is the only one who can appease the hunger of human beings of every time and in every corner of the earth.

“However, he does not want to do this on his own, so he involves the disciples, as he did in the multiplication of the loaves.”

The Eucharist is “the symbol of the greatest mystery of love which is renewed every day at Holy Mass: through the ordained ministers, Christ gives his Body and his Blood for the life of humanity.

And all those who partake of his Banquet with dignity become living instruments of his presence of love, mercy and peace,” he said.

The pope’s first encyclical of the new millennium (Ecclesia de Eucaristia) was devoted to the Eucharist.

 

Thousands of fearful Christians
flee Iraq for Jordan and Syria

By Dale Gavlak
Religion News Service

AMMAN, Jordan — Iraqi Christians flocked to the Latin Catholic church in the Hashmi district of the Jordanian capital, a drab working-class area, where they celebrated Mass in the ancient Chaldean language.

On a recent Sunday, some 200 worshippers packed the sanctuary, which is adorned with a simple wooden cross and a picture of the Virgin and Christ. Here, away from their native country, these Iraqi Christians felt safe.

Fearing lawlessness and rising Islamic fundamentalism in their own country, large numbers of Iraqi Christians are fleeing to neighboring Jordan and Syria. No one knows for certain how many of Iraq’s 750,000 Christians have left the country since the removal of Saddam Hussein, but estimates are in the tens of thousands.

The exodus is likely to increase after six young Chaldean Catholics were killed with three other workers in Baghdad on Sept. 27. They were accused of being collaborators of the United States. Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Chaldean Patriarchate said that, from his point of view, the attack was not against Christians, but against those who work.

The level of mistreatment Christians face in Iraq is disputed, even among Christians themselves, but no one can deny the fear, which is palpable among those crossing the border. Church bombings in Baghdad and Mosul only fuel that fear, but so do individual stories, even though few can be substantiated outside of Iraq.

One Christian attending the Mass, Samir, requested that his full name not be used because of fear of reprisals against his family. A businessman from Baghdad, he recounted how militants linked to renegade Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al Sadr recently kidnapped and tortured him until his family paid ransom money.

“A gang came to my shop with machine guns and forced me into a car where I remained for nine days,” the businessman said. “They wanted $200,000 from me.

“They repeatedly hit me and poured boiling water all over my body. I was held hostage until my family paid them $50,000 to finally get me released.” Bishop
Warduni confirmed that hundreds of people have been kidnapped for high ransoms.

The businessman, in his mid-fifties, now walks with a cane and burn marks are visible on his body. He says he and his family fled to Jordan but hope to find permanent refuge in Australia because he cannot find legal work here.

Samir and other recently arrived refugees said militants are targeting Christians in Iraq because they perceive the Christians have money. They also say Islamists have attacked predominately Christian-owned liquor, fashion and music shops demanding their businesses be shut down because they are deemed offensive.

Another fresh arrival in Amman, Bernadette Hikmat, says all this is unwarranted because Iraqi Christians are peaceful and have had a low-key presence in Iraq for the past 2,000 years.

Most of Iraq’s Christians are Chaldean Eastern rite Catholics who are autonomous from Rome but who recognize the pope’s authority. Other Christian groups include Roman and Syriac Catholics; Assyrians; Greek, Syriac and Armenian Orthodox; Presbyterians; Anglicans and evangelicals.

“Christians in Iraq do not instigate violent acts,” Hikmat said, her large brown eyes widening. “But unlike the Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities, we have no big tribes to support or protect us against harm so that makes us vulnerable.”

The 29-year old former government employee says she and her two younger brothers escaped with a few of their worldly possessions in a couple of suitcases.
“I believe we are also being targeted as Christians because we are viewed as suspected collaborators with U.S. and Western forces amid a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism,” she said. “Of course, this is not true but this perception only increases our problems.”

The synchronized bombings of five churches in recent weeks and another car bombing at a Baghdad church on Sept. 10 have sent further shock waves into the Christian community. The blasts killed 11 people and wounded more than 50 in Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul.

They were the first significant strike on Iraq’s Christians, who make up about 3 percent of the country’s 25 million people.

A previously obscure group, the Committee of Planning and Follow-up in Iraq, claimed responsibility and warned more attacks would follow. But Iraqi officials blame al-QaIda ally and Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for the assaults.

As a result of the continued instability, large numbers of Christians are choosing to leave Iraq rather than return to their church pews.

Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, has condemned the attacks on the churches as “hideous crimes” but the country’s migration minister says the exodus of Christians continues.

Pascale Isho Warda, herself a Chaldean Catholic Christian, estimates that 40,000 Christians have left Iraq because of a lack of security and organized attacks on their churches.

But the U.N. refugee agency disputes the figure. A spokesperson for the Iraq program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees based in Amman said that the estimate is unsubstantiated. UNHCR said reliable numbers are hard to come by because many refugees have gone directly to foreign embassies, such as the Australian or Canadian embassies, to make their claim and have bypassed the United Nations in the belief that a claim of religious persecution will provide a chance for quicker asylum.

The refugee coordinator for the Middle East Council of Churches in Jordan, Wafa Goussous, said there have been no Iraqi Christians seeking assistance directly from the organization. Instead, Iraqi refugees go to their church communities upon arrival in Jordan for needed aid, such as housing and food.

The priest of the Latin Catholic church in Amman’s Hashimi district, Father Raymond Musili, has put the figure of recent arrivals from Iraq at about 7,000 at his church alone.

In Syria, the U.N. refugee agency operating in Damascus reports that some 4,000 Iraqi Christians have sought refuge in the country.

But even with the growing climate of fear in Iraq, there are stalwart Christians who choose not to leave their homeland. A small group of Pentecostal Christians visited Amman recently from Baghdad and reported that their church is growing, despite pressures.

They also refuted claims of intimidation from Muslim militants. What is irrefutable is the fear and anxiety among many Christians, who see their future as uncertain, at best, in the new Iraq.

(Zenit contributed to this story regarding the Sept. 27 deaths of Chaldean Catholics.)

Fremont parish becomes ‘partners in faith’ with impoverished parish in Guatemala

By Voice staff

During his recent weekend visit to St. Joseph Parish in Fremont, Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron blessed five parishioners and their pastor, Monsignor Manuel Simas, as they prepared for a trip to Guatemala City Sept. 22-27 to get acquainted with their sister parish, Santa Maria del Camino.

The delegation, which goes by the name Andamos Unidos—Walking Together, made its pilgrimage to begin building bridges between St. Joseph’s and Santa Maria. They met with parishioners, shared hopes and dreams, and talked about ways the parishes could assist one another, said Holy Family Sister Elaine Sanchez, St. Joseph’s pastoral associate.

The Guatemalan parish actually consists of many churches defined by a particular geographic area. Franciscan Father Ignatius de Groot, former pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Oakland, is one of several priests currently serving Santa Maria, located in a financially impoverished area. “But it is “rich in spiritual life,” Sister Sanchez said.

The Fremont parishioners prayed with the Guatemalans in their church, which is the center of the community. In addition to being the site of worship, baptisms, weddings, first communions, confirmations, weddings and funerals, it is home to town meetings, a pre-school and a medical clinic, she said.

Many of the women in the parish participate in an artisans collective, where native crafts are exported to support the pre-school. Sister Sanchez said her parish will consider ways to sell the crafts here.

Prior to their trip, Andamos Unidos sent a gift to Santa Maria parishioners, said Sister Sanchez: “a magnificent scrapbook of our parish community compiled by St. Joseph parishioner Kay Tierney.”

Another gift is currently in process and will be sent along shortly. It’s a video compiled, edited and translated into Spanish by Silvia Araica, another parishioner.
“Both are efforts to introduce ourselves to our new partners in faith,” said Sister Sanchez.

St. Joseph Parish is one of several in the Oakland Diocese that have “twinned” with parishes in other parts of the world.

Union City parish to host
Chautauqua on Oct. 9

By Voice staff

Chautauqua XII, the Oakland Diocese’s annual ethnic diversity celebration, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Oct. 9, at St.. Anne Church, 32223 Cabello St. in Union City, with a procession on the parish grounds.

A Mass echoing the theme, “Mary, Lead Us To Peace,” will include hymns and music reflecting the cultures and traditions of the diocese’s 14 ethnic pastoral centers. Bishop Allen Vigneron will preside and Bishop Emeritus John Cummins will attend.

Following the liturgy, there will be cultural entertainment and a variety of ethnic foods for sale. Chautuaqua is sponsored by the ethnic pastoral centers of the diocese.

 

 

Interfaith prayer service for peace set
for Oct. 12 at Holy Names University

By Voice staff

An interfaith prayer service for peace is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in the chapel of Holy Names University in Oakland.

The ceremony will begin with a “call to the faithful” drumming ritual in memory of the late Father Bill O’Donnell, who served as pastor and senior priest at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, as well as all other deceased persons. .

An interfaith prayer service in the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions will begin at 7:15 p.m. with Imam Amer Araim, Rabbi Samuel Broude, Father James Conlon, Shivani Kadakia and the Rev. Ronald Nakasone presiding.
Omega West Dance Company, directed by Carla De Sola, will participate in the service, as will members from SPRED, the diocesan special religious education program. Ariel Majormita will accompany the choir.

Sponsors include Corpus Christi Parish in Piedmont, the Islamic Cultural Center, Temple Sinai, Holy Names University and the Nicholas Hartono Memorial.

 

Saint Mary’s College president resigns after campus faces
unrealized funding pledges

By Voice staff

Christian Brother Craig Franz, president of St. Mary’s College of California since 1997, has resigned his post, as of Jan. 1, 2005.

In a Sept. 21 letter to the college community, Brother Franz said he believes the school will benefit from new leadership as it faces the challenges caused by a recent disclosure that $112 million in anticipated pledges will not come to pass.

“It has become clear to me that evolving perceptions about my leadership would make it increasingly difficult for me to effectively inspire our alumni and others to support the college now and in the future,” said the president. “I am stepping aside now because of my paramount interest in seeing Saint Mary’s move forward.”

Nick Moore, chair of the Saint Mary’s College Board of Trustees, said he was “profoundly saddened” by Brother Franz’s decision and accepted it with “great reluctance.”

“The ongoing trustees’ inquiry into the unrealized pledges has revealed nothing to date suggesting that Brother Craig or other college officials bear culpability for the lost pledges. Given that information, and knowing that some will nonetheless engage in speculation, it was especially difficult for trustees to accept Brother Craig’s resignation,” Moore said.

The college, under Brother Franz’s leadership, had borrowed against pledges to fund some major construction projects on campus, including a state-of-the-art science building.

The pledges had begun in 1997 when an anonymous donor promised the school $25 million. Over the years, those pledges reached $11 million. Then in August, college officials discovered that the donor, Conrad Colbrant, a member of the board of trustees, had been the victim of a real estate investment fraud and that the pledges would not materialize.

Among Brother Franz’s accomplishments as president are overseeing a near tripling of the college’s endowment fund, record student enrollments, and capital improvements including Cassin Student Union, chapel renovations, J.C. Gatehouse Hall, and Syufy Hall for the Performing Arts.

He initiated a set of strategic initiatives for the college, instituted the provost model of leadership, and set into motion a new strategic vision for college athletics that included the discontinuation of football.

Retired principal honored for service

Barbara Kringle-Fabiani, who retired in June as principal at St. David School in Richmond, recently received the Diocesan Merit Medal in recognition of her 30 years of service at the school. She started at the school as a teach and spent the last 19 years there as principal. Anne Pires has succeeded her as principal.

 

Justice Corrigan to receive
St. Thomas More award

By Voice staff

The Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, Justice at the First District Court of Appeal, will receive the 36th annual St. Thomas More Society Award in San Francisco on Oct. 21 at the organization’s annual Red Mass in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in San Francisco.

Judge Corrigan, a 1970 graduate of Holy Names University in Oakland, earned her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. After serving as a trial lawyer in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Justice Corrigan sat as a judge of the Oakland Municipal Court and the Alameda County Superior Court.

In 1994, she was appointed Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, First District, and Division Three. She currently serves as chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Holy Names University and as chairperson of the Board of Directors for Saint Vincent’s Day Home in Oakland.

The award is named for St. Thomas More, (1478-1535), the patron saint of lawyers, and honors a jurist for exemplary service, commitment to high ethical standards, and spiritual dedication to the humanistic principles espoused by Thomas More. The California Judicial Council has also named Justice Corrigan the 2004 Jurist of the Year.

San Francisco Archbishop William Levada will serve as principal celebrant at the 5:30 p.m. liturgy.

 

Restored San Juan Capistrano Mission
is a place of splendor and history

By David Haldane
Los Angeles Times

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (AP) — Serra Chapel is an eerie place of beauty with history painted on its walls, a tiny room with a view of another age.

In my life as a Californian, I have spent hours meditating in this birth chamber of the state. Said to be the oldest church in the West and the only remaining building in the United States where Father Junipero Serra recited Mass, this room at Mission San Juan Capistrano is where I had felt my first inkling of the cultural caldron from which California emerged.

And it was to this room that I recently brought a relative stranger to that culture, my Filipino wife. I told Anna that I hoped she would be able to see the roots of her adopted home in this mission visit.

“Frankly,” she said, “I’ve never thought of California as Catholic.”
Having moved to this country a mere four months earlier, my dear Anna a Catholic, though I am not, would be learning something about her new home.

We toured the recently restored mission, dedicated in 1776 by Father Serra, the Spanish priest who founded the string of coastal outposts designed to Christianize local Native Americans.

Today it still towers as an exquisite example of early California architecture, especially the stark ruins of the five-story-high Great Stone Church built in 1806 and destroyed by an earthquake six years later. The ruins were the main beneficiary of seismic retrofitting and historic preservation work completed this summer.

Our visit presented an opportunity to see the church unobstructed for the first time in years. Placed in supportive scaffolding in 1989, it had been unshackled just a few weeks before we arrived, after 15 years of painstaking structural reinforcement costing $9.6 million.

“Try to imagine what it must have been like here 200 years ago,” our tour guide intoned as a volunteer with the mission’s living-history program sauntered by in a monk’s robe.

We walked through the gardens, toured the corridors, looked at the wine vats and ironworks, and ducked into the priest’s room and military quarters, where the most interesting thing I learned was that Trabuco Canyon is named after a type of early Spanish firearm that a soldier lost there.

Finally, hats in hand, we wandered reverently into Serra Chapel, where Indians had worshipped and the padre had said Mass.

What made the tiny adobe and wood-beamed church a time capsule was the art on its walls — a strange mixture of wispy Native American swirls in red and yellow framed by somber portraits of saints depicted in regal Spanish passion.

The golden altar at the front of the sanctuary glittered in rich Catholic splendor. The room’s sagging rafters seemed to drip with the enigmatic symbols of the Juanenos, whose land and culture was long ago assimilated into California.

The next morning we were back at Serra Chapel, one of only a few churches in Southern California where Sunday Mass is still said in Latin.
“You are fascinated by all this,” Anna said after we left, “but to me it’s very familiar. The Philippines has a similar history colonized by Spanish Catholics.”

GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 5 to the San Juan exit, which is the Ortega Highway. The Mission is straight ahead 21/2 blocks.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Mission San Juan Capistrano, (949) 234-1300. www.missionsjc.com.

 

 

Community organizers broaden dialog with Congressional leaders on key issues

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

When community organizers from throughout the East Bay meet with local members of Congress this month, they will bring fresh recruits to debates on health care, education, housing and safety in the streets. Along with more than 30 other groups nationwide, grassroots organizations here are taking part in the “New Voices Campaign” to form partnerships with elected officials.

“The whole theme is having decision makers listen to new voices, from grass roots, from the community,” said Don Stahlhut, executive director of CCISCO (Contra Costa Supporting Community Organization). New CCISCO leaders and others who represent “many other new voices” will speak out at the assemblies, he said.

CCISCO leaders will meet with Rep. George Miller and possibly with Rep. Ellen Tauscher on Sat., Oct. 16, and that same day leaders from COR (Congregations Organizing for Renewal) hope to meet with Rep. Pete Stark.
COR, with member congregations in southern Alameda County, will also take part in an assembly Oct. 23 together with OCO (Oakland Community Organizations) and BOCA (Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action), when Rep. Barbara Lee will be present.

PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizations), an Oakland-based network of regional organizations, is coordinating the assemblies.

The New Voices Campaign “has been building up for two years,” according to Ron Snyder, executive director of OCO, as PICO leaders have come together nationwide and also met with elected officials in Washington, D.C. Churches make up the core of all the organizing groups.

Stahlhut said the CCISCO assembly will feature local people who will speak on their experiences with health care, education, housing, safety and immigration. Each community speaker will be followed by a local official or expert in that area, and then the congressional representatives will have a chance to respond.

CCISCO leaders will also give a PowerPoint presentation on the results of local research on the issues.

Snyder said the leaders meeting Oct. 23 with Rep. Lee will ask for assistance with local projects and “look at firming up a partnership” with her and others in Congress. They will meet with her again in the spring, he said, because the November elections will influence what can be done in the future.

The Oct. 23 meeting will focus on crime and safety, education, health care and housing, he said.

Pam Nelson, executive director of COR, said the group has invited Rep. Stark to the Oct. 16, meeting because he represents a large portion of southern Alameda County. Rep. Lee also represents a portion of COR’s area.

The COR meeting will take place on Sat., Oct. 16, even if Rep. Stark is unable to attend, Nelson said. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a site in Union City. For the exact location, please call the COR office at (510) 727-8833.

The joint assembly with COR, BOCA, OCO and Rep. Lee will take place Sat., Oct. 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Oakland Missionary Baptist Church, 1060 32nd Street. Information is available at the offices of OCO, (510) 639-1444.

CCISCO’s assembly is set for 3 to 4:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 16, at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. For more information call the CCISCO office, (925) 313-0206.

 

 

Single voter guide
approved for Catholics

By Voice staff

Father Larry Silva, diocesan moderator of the curia, is reminding East Bay Catholics that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has endorsed only one voter guide for the November elections. This guide, known as “Faithful Citizenship, A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility,” is available at the conference’s website at www.usccb.org.

The Faithful Citizenship guide, which includes prayers and petitions, is designed to help Catholics to learn and better understand Church teachings on their responsibilities in political life. Reflection on moral principles, not polls, is considered part of the pre-election preparation, the bishops say.

Additional materials on the upcoming election can be found on the Oakland Diocese website at http://www.oakdiocese.org/pastoral/SocialJustice/.
Visitors can access information on voter registration and absentee voting as well as prayers for the election.

 

 

Questions for the Campaign

The Catholic community is not an interest group. The Church does not offer contributions or endorsements. Instead, we raise a series of questions:

1. After September 11, how can we build not only a safer world, but a better world—more just, more secure, more peaceful, more respectful of human life and dignity?

2. How will we protect the weakest in our midst—innocent unborn children? How can our nation not turn to violence to solve some of its most difficult problems—abortion to deal with difficult pregnancies; the death penalty to combat crime; euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of age, illness, and disability; and war to address international disputes?

3. How will we address the tragic fact that more than 30,000 children die every day as a result of hunger, international debt and lack of development around the world?

4. How can our nation help parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, a sense of hope, and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility? How can our society defend the central institution of marriage and better support families in their moral responsibilities?

5. How will we address the growing number of people without affordable and accessible health care? How can health care better protect human life and respect human dignity?

6. How will our society combat continuing prejudice, overcome hostility toward immigrants and refugees, and heal the wounds of racism, religious bigotry, and discrimination?

7. How will our nation pursue the values of justice and peace in a world where injustice is common, desperate poverty widespread, and peace is too often overwhelmed by violence?

8. What are the responsibilities and limitations of families, community organizations, markets, and government? How can these elements of society work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good and care for creation?

9. When should our nation use, or avoid the use of, military force—for what purpose, under what authority, and at what human cost?

10. How can we join with other nations to lead the world to greater respect for human life and dignity, religious freedom and democracy, economic justice and care for God’s creation?

Copyright „ 2004, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

 

Parishes join PICO effort to register
new voters, especially immigrants

By Voice staff

Fourteen Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Oakland have become part of a statewide voter registration campaign in anticipation of the November 2004 presidential election.

The California Faithful Citizenship Campaign is a joint effort among eight of the state’s Catholic dioceses and the Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO), formed in response to the U.S. Bishops’ call for Catholics to participate more fully in the political process.

Parishes in the Oakland Diocese join 65 additional parishes across California that are targeting voter registration of new citizens. Immigrants, a growing population in parishes, have a low voter turnout and typically continue to live in poverty, said Jim Keddy, director of PICO California, a coalition of church and community groups.

Keddy said that the inspiration behind the non-partisan Faithful Citizenship Campaign is the U.S. Bishops’ teachings on the role of Catholics in the public arena, drawn from their 1993 document: “Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.” It offers a blueprint for electoral decisions based on life and dignity of the human person, community participation, option for the poor and vulnerable, caring for God’s creation, and the dignity of work and workers right.

Keddy said the campaign is “a systematic way to improve voting in local parishes where you can actually measure change. It’s one thing to have voter registration going on the steps of the church after Mass and another to be able to say we went from 50 percent of our parishioners registered to vote to 85 percent.”

Local parishes participating in the project are: St. Andrew-St. Joseph, St. Anthony, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Columba, St. Elizabeth, and St. Louis Bertrand in Oakland; St. Peter Martyr in Pittsburg; Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City; St. Joachim in Hayward; St. Leander in San Leandro; St. Anthony in Oakley; St. John the Baptist in El Cerrito, and St. Mark in Richmond.