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 April 9, 2007 • VOL. 45 NO. 7 • Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

More questions now raised

Cathedral Finance Chair Bill Utic’s article (Voice, March 26) reminds one of an old-fashioned shell game rather than a logical presentation of project costs. In trying to justify the 45 percent cost increase from the 2003 estimate of $131 million to the current $190 million estimate, key elements of the project are added or deleted sometimes without reference to costs.

For example, we are told the bell tower and daily chapel, included in the master plan, are not part of the project scope and will not be built at this time. Were these items part of the original $131 million cost estimate and, if so, at what cost? And how much has been “saved” by deferring their construction?

Next, Mr. Utic tells us that even though they have always been a part of the project scope, the organ and mausoleum were not included in the $131 million estimate because separate funding sources “were planned for them.”
Now they are included “to avoid further confusion about the cost of the project.” Does this mean they are no longer funded separately?

Bishop Allen Vigneron’s Jan. 8 message in The Voice pointed out that the conference center was not included in the 2005 project budget. Mr. Utic noted that “Finishes, furniture and equipment for the conference center were deferred until future funding (such as unused contingency) became available.”

Now we are told the full cost is included because of its “important role in supporting the mission and activities planned for the Cathedral Center.”
Neither estimate shows a total cost for the conference center, although the current estimate does include a $2.4 million figure for “conference center completion.”

Finally, Mr. Utic tells us that “Contingency is an allowance for costs that may not be incurred, such as construction delays, design problems and other challenges….”

In addition to tripling the contingency from $5 million to $15.8 million, the following costs are shown separately in the list of additions for the $190 million estimate: $2.7 million for unforeseen site excavation conditions and weather delays; $3.8 million for miscellaneous design revisions; $3.2 million additional design, project management and professional fees.

By his definition, shouldn’t these costs be included in contingency? If not, what costs are actually included in contingency?

Unfortunately, the attempt to provide additional information only raises more questions about the cost of the cathedral project.

John Nolan
Alameda

Praise for Youth 2000

I have been a catechist for over 10 years. I have been overwhelmed with the apathy toward the Catholic faith from the students, but also parents who do not live up to their call to be the primary educators of the faith to their children. The youth are the future of the Catholic Church.

There is much to be concerned about the future of the Church and especially the young people who will lead it in the third millennium. But there is also great hope and a growing movement that is sweeping, not just our country, but the world.

I have been blessed to attend Youth 2000 with my Confirmation students since 2002. Youth 2000 is a Eucharistic-centered retreat facilitated by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. There are no gimmicks on this retreat, just Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.

It is so awesome to witness students who are getting confirmed and could care less, and after the weekend they have the fire of the Holy Spirit ready to serve as soldiers of Christ.

Our parish was blessed to host Youth 2000 March 23-25. Over 350 youth attended the retreat from our diocese and all over northern and central California. The highlight of the weekend was celebrating Mass with Bishop Allen Vigneron, who spoke crystal clear about Jesus Christ and how it is Christ who makes all things new.

This is the goal of Youth 2000: to take our youth, their serious problems, their apathy, everything, and let it become new through Jesus Christ. How is this done? Through the Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, the rosary and the Friars.

The Friars are young and filled with contagious enthusiasm. They work with the poorest of the poor and encounter urban youth and their struggles daily in the Bronx.

Youth 2000 will return to our diocese at the end of February 2008. If you know any young people who struggle with their faith or maybe they just want to grow in holiness, Youth 2000 is an awesome way to become new through Jesus Christ.

Joe Murray
Antioch

Invitation to teens

Picture this. You’re passing St. Mary’s Church on a Sunday around 6 p.m. You see a bunch of teenage boys and girls walking towards the church. To top it all off, you hear loud music coming from inside the church. You’re thinking, “What is going on?”

On Feb. 11, St. Mary Parish in Walnut Creek held the first ever youth Mass. It was put together by Father Paulson Mundanmani, our parochial administrator, and Phil Battaglia, our youth ministry leader, to focus more on the teens in our parish community. In this 6 p.m. Mass youth, ranging from 7th to 12th graders, can participate by being lectors, altar servers, ushers, and singers in the band.

For the first three Sunday Masses, a rocking band sang. At the next Mass, which was on March 4, a brand new St. Mary’s youth band made their debut. This rocking band, led by Sidney Edoria, will continue singing for the upcoming Masses.

After each of the youth Masses, the “Our Space” is open for the youth to meet and hang out with other people and get to know each other. There is a plasma TV, Dance Dance Revolution, foosball, awesome music, fun games, and, of course, the way to our teens’ hearts – food!

So if you’re interested in a great way to spend your Sunday night, come to the teen Mass at 6 p.m. See you there.

Jessica Dailo
Grade 8
St. Mary School
Walnut Creek

A wake-up call

A recent page one report in The Voice (Feb. 19) shows all too sadly how much a large percentage of today’s Catholics have forgotten what they learned in their youth from their catechism. The article should and ought to be a wake-up call to our bishops and priests to teach and preach with more frequency and emphasis not only from the Bible (The Word of God) but also from the Church’s catechism which gives us Catholics uniformity of doctrine and a code of conduct.

We need to be reminded time and again of the basics of Catholic doctrine, such as the Ten Commandments and the six Precepts of the Church. I urge priests and bishops to use the pulpit to speak out on these basic tenets with more frequency and emphasis. Don’t leave it to the catechists to teach it on a one-time basis only to the very young, for example, First Communion and Confirmation. Adults, young and old, need it and often, too.

Charles Caballero
Antioch

Gratitude in ministry

I want to take this time to thank those involved with Catholic education in the Diocese of Oakland. I have enjoyed my eight years of ministry to the schools in the Diocese of Oakland -- three as assistant superintendent and five as superintendent. There were many joys and challenges these past few years and I will cherish those memories.

It gives me great pleasure to pursue a new job opportunity as president of De La Salle High School in Concord and to “go home” at this point in my ministry of Catholic education. I particularly look forward to working with students and being a part of a school community.

May God continue to bless Catholic education in the Diocese of Oakland.

Mark De Marco
Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Oakland

Church teaching is clear

Recent letters give us another opportunity to ask ourselves those most basic and profound questions --What is faith? How can we know the truth? Our faith and reason tell us that Christ, who is truth itself, has to give us a way. In addition to his written word (the Bible) and the sacred oral tradition, He gives us the Magisterium - his teaching authority here on earth. So many beautiful Scripture passages enlighten us.

How many of us say we believe in Church teachings that we agree with, but reject others. That, my brothers and sisters, is not faith. It’s so easy to say we believe or we trust when things are going well. The true test comes in difficult times and when we find ourselves in disagreement with Church doctrine. Do I prefer my own wisdom to the wisdom of Christ’s Church?

Concerning our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction, the teaching is clear. And if we really love them, we must tell them the truth, and help in any way we can. At www.usccb.org you can find the bishops publication, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination.”

Sex that is not open to life is wrong, is disordered. There is help. Courage is a great organization, endorsed by the Church (The Pontifical Council for the Family) - www.couragerc.net.

David Zarri
Concord

Morning Mass

What about the forgotten sheep who for one reason or another cannot go out at night to celebrate the Holy Thursday liturgy? Holy Thursday is the greatest day of the Church year. Without the Eucharist what would we have? The churches would be nothing but meeting halls.

In every deanery there should be at least one church with a simple morning Mass to celebrate this great event in our lives.

John Marquette
Oakland


(Editor’s note: Holy Thursday marks the start of the Easter Triduum, a three-day period of liturgical rites that recall the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Liturgies are held on the evening of Holy Thursday because Jesus and the apostles gathered for the Last Supper in the evening hours. Local bishops are allowed, “by way of exception,” to permit a second Mass to be celebrated on Holy Thursday in churches or oratories in the evening and “in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning.” The instruction, posted on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org/liturgy/lordssupper.shtml), states that these Masses are “provided for those who are in no way able to participate in the evening Mass and not for the advantage of individuals or (newly added) special small groups.” (Missale Romanum, “Rubrics for the Evening Mass,” no. 3).


The opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.

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