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  June 18, 2007 • VOL. 45, NO. 12 • Oakland, CA

articles list

‘Little church’ reopens in growing Byron parish

Alameda parish says goodbye to Sacred Hearts Fathers

Lay Catholics dialog on future of Church

Principles set
for ways to have
'holy conversation'

Charismatics celebrate the power of the Spirit

Priests celebrate ordination jubilees

Joybells founder, Dorothy Buckley, honored by Catholic Charities of the East Bay

Church reviews sex abuse charter after five years

National hot line
to help priests
in emotional crisis

Sister Helen Prejean among speakers
at Sophia Center’s summer institute

Conference on faith formation set for Sept. 21-22

Forget gold stars; in Mali students get vegetable oil

Father Joseph Cantillon

Sister Inviolata Weiss, O.P.


























‘Little church’ reopens in growing Byron parish

Following extensive renovations, the interior of St. Anne Church in Byron reveals a structure that is open and welcoming, accessible to the disabled, and reflects revised liturgical guidelines.
A statue of the church’s patron, St. Anne along with her child, Mary, flanks the altar of the renovated church.

Byron’s “little church,” which accommodates about 100 people, was built in 1917.


The “little church” in Bryon is open again after a 14-month makeover. St. Anne Parish has outgrown the 90-year-old church, with seating for 100, but the diminutive structure remains an integral part of the parish community.

While the parish gets ready to dedicate its new community life center on July 1, with Bishop Emeritus John Cummins presiding at a 9:30 a.m. liturgy, the little church continues to hold the community for weekday and Saturday vigil Masses and other worship and sacramental services.

The makeover was extensive with both structural and liturgical changes.

First the building was moved about 500 feet back to allow for construction of an accessible entry path, replacing the church’s steps. The small double doors were replaced with a single large door to facilitate movement into and out of the church.
A new altar platform was built to allow space for wheelchair access to the sacristy and a new restroom.

The new altar is square as called for in the revised Roman missal, explained Father Ron Schmit, pastor. On the altar are icons that recall “the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Christ and the sending of the Spirit on the Church,” he wrote in a parish bulletin describing the changes. A new crucifix hangs behind the altar.

The wall behind the cross is painted deep blue and covered with stars. Many church ceilings and apses throughout history were painted to look like the sky to remind congregations that “in Jesus heaven has bent down and touched the earth,” according to Father Schmit.

The presence of the stars recalls the promise God made to Abraham that his descendents would be as the stars of the sky. “We are those spiritual descendents of Abraham,” the pastor wrote.

The refurbished church also has a new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, honoring the culture and traditions of many parishioners who are of Mexican-American heritage.

The little church was built in 1917 at the urging of Catholics living in and around Byron. San Francisco Archbishop Edward Hanna presided over its dedication on June 17, 1917.

Although Byron was originally part of a parish in Tracy, the newly opened mission church was placed under the pastoral care of St. Michael Parish in Livermore. The mission was later assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Oakley, when that parish was established in 1925.

St. Anne was elevated to a parish briefly after World War II, then spent a number of years as a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood before regaining its status as a parish in 1994.

Located in the midst of the rapidly growing East Contra Costa County, the parish saw its own population surge. Between 1994 and 2005, the parish grew from Catholic 100 households to nearly 700 and the little church could no longer be used for Sunday Masses. The parish began renting space at Discovery Bay Elementary School for Sunday liturgies, religious formation classes, and other parish activities.

The new community life center will make it possible for the parish to have its own space again.



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