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  July 4, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 13Oakland, CA

articles list

Sacramento settles suits for $35 million

Pope unveils digest of teaching that he prepared as a cardinal

Aide wants John Paul beatified by August

Filipinos grieve the death of Manila’s Cardinal Jaime Sin

Religious share jubilee reflections

Parish sustains hospital outreach for 50 years

Democrats for Life of America expands to northern California

Churches urged to prepare for retirement storm

Bay Area Sisters
honor lay woman
for service to elders

Beyond Bingo’ forum
to focus on health and
happiness for elders

Post-abortion retreat offers healling and support, July 29-31

Holy Names Sister elected president of scholars’ assn.


Our Lady of Refuge is patroness of both Californias

Getting a progress report – for prayer?

U.S. ambassador to Vatican set the 'gold standard' for diplomacy

Deacon Leo Edgerly, Sr.

Sister Mercedes, OCD


























Parish sustains hospital outreach for 50 years

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

When Victor Maes joined his parish’s outreach ministry to Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro in the late 1990s, he continued a lifeline that St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish has provided for the last 50 years to patients at the county medical facility. A primary responsibility of the Redemptorist priests who first served the parish, Fairmont’s Catholics continue to be a key focus of the now lay ministry.

“These are people you see every week,” said Maes, 70, who’s taking a respite after four patients he “knew like family” died in one week.
Despite its potential for heartbreak, Maes and other parish volunteers persist in bringing smiles, conversation and friendship to patients in their rooms. They also escort them to the hospital chapel where George Peters, a permanent deacon and chaplain, leads a Communion service each Sunday.

Fairmont is a unique setting because patients often stay for long periods, said Deacon Peters. “So you get to know them, you fall in love with them, and then one day you end up burying them. You cry over them because you get to know them so well.”

According to Margaret Edmund, the parish’s 93-year-old unofficial historian, the link between the parish and hospital was forged when San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty established the parish in July 1955. The archbishop announced that the Redemptorist Order would be administrators of the new faith community and provide pastoral care to Fairmont, which is located
within the parish boundaries.

Over the years the Redemptorist chaplains filed detailed reports to the archdiocese of their hospital ministry. In his 1957 report, for example, Father Bernard Tobin noted that 11,000 patients had been visited, 3,000 “Holy Communions” were distributed, 2,437 “Confessions” heard, and 304 Catholics died “with Sacraments.”

After the Redemptorists returned the parish to the
diocese in 1983, they continued their chaplaincy services to the hospital with a stipend from the parish. That arrangement ended in the late 1990s when Deacon Peters, then parish life director at St. Alphonsus, organized the current lay ministry program, which also provides pastoral care to patients at nearby convalescent care facilities, nursing homes and a palliative care center.

In recent years the outreach program has incorporated the needs of increasing numbers of older parishioners who have difficulty coming to Mass and being involved in parish life. “So we either visit them or we have someone pick them up and bring them to Mass,” said Oleta Proctor-Fernandez, pastoral associate at St. Alphonsus.

Despite its small size (365 registered members), the parish has continued its concern for the greater community in other ways as well. Its St. Vincent de Paul group operates a food pantry to help low-income individuals and families. It also gives some assistance with rent and utility bills.

Parishioners collect and distribute clothing for inner-city youth during the Easter and Christmas seasons.

A year after the parish began, it opened an elementary school with a lay staff. The next year, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Monroe, Mich., came to teach in the school and remained there until June 1968. After they left, the San Rafael Dominican Sisters staffed the school for one year. It closed in the early 1970s. Today, a Montessori school leases the site and provides income for the parish.

The Sisters’ convent has become a model of creative reuse that benefits the parish’s bottom line. From 1979-1985, it was rented by the Bridge Home as a refuge for troubled girls.

Today, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, a missionary society, lease the ground floor for its western headquarters and as a mission and vocations center. The upstairs rooms are rented to students attending the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and to local pastoral ministers in need of affordable housing.

In January, the parish welcomed Father Terry Tompkins as its new administrator and he is quick to commend the longtime parishioners who have helped sustain the parish over the past five decades.

“The ‘old guard’ has become the ‘vanguard’ and deserve a lot of credit for remaining through ‘thick and thin’ and helping to insure that this parish still qualifies as a vibrant faith community,” he said.

“The Hebrew word ‘Anawin’ comes to mind and heart. It means ‘faithful remnant.’ This parish is a living sign of that.”

Current priorities include forming pastoral and finance councils and continuing discussions on building improvements.

Father Tompkins is hopeful that the parish will rebound to its former peak when up to 1700 people were attending Sunday Mass. New families are joining, including some who come distances “to worship specifically and intentionally with us,” the priest said.

“One woman drives all the way in from Pittsburg on the weekends. She loves the intimacy that this modest parish affords her. She indicates that she’s never experienced anything quite like it before. That rather tells the story.”

The parish will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a 10:30 a.m. Mass on July 17. There will be an alumni school reunion dinner on Sept. 10.

St. Alphonsus Liguori Church was once a restaurant and nightclub that has been transformed into worship space.

Father Terry Tompkins, administrator, blesses his parishioners during Mass.


The parish choir leads the congregational singing during the June 26 liturgy honoring the parish’s former pastors, staff and longtime members. LUIS GRIS PHOTO


Parish volunteers bring Fairmont Hospital patients to the chapel for a Sunday Communion service. CHRIS DUFFEY PHOTO


Deacon George Peters gives Communion to a Fairmont Hospital patient. CHRIS DUFFEY PHOTO

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History of St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish

1955: San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty establishes St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish and enters into an agreement with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer to administer the new parish.
Redemptorist Father Raymond Troik is named first pastor, effective July 16.
A building that once housed a restaurant and a nightclub is transformed into the church.

1956: St. Alphonsus Liguori School opens with all lay teachers.

1957: Four Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich. arrive to take responsibility of the parish school. They are Mother Mary Matthew, Sister M. Viviana, Sister Mary Salvatore, and Sister Paul Joseph. The average attendance of adults at Mass is about 600 per Sunday.

1961: Redemptorist Father Bernard Tobin is appointed second pastor, effective Aug. 12. Work on construction of the new rectory building is completed at a cost of $129,577.

1962: Sunday Mass attendance is 1240 adults and 599 children.

1964 – 1967: Redemptorist Fathers Cornelius Leehan, Mark McInerney, and Raymond Lassall serve as pastors.

1968: A personnel shortage forces the Immaculate Heart Sisters to withdraw from the parish school in June. The San Rafael Dominicans agree to administer the school for the

1968-69 school year. Sunday Mass attendance: 1106 adults, 320 children.

1972: Redemptorist Father Victor Zabelle is appointed pastor.

1975: Redemptorist Father Thomas Lester is appointed pastor.

1977: Sunday Mass attendance is about 500.

1979: Holy Names Sisters Geralda Jaubert and Margaret Kennedy open The Bridge Home in the former convent to help “troubled girls.” The facility moved in 1985.

1981: Redemptorist Father Joseph Elliott is named pastor.

1983 – 1997: Father Joseph Ferreira serves as pastor. Father Raymond Sacca succeeds him in 1997 as administrator.

1998: Deacon George Peters is named parish life director.

2005: Father Terry Tompkins is named parochial administrator.

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