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January 5, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
Around the Diocese

A special birthday gift
Last month Amanda Teano, a third grader at St. Joseph School in Fremont, asked her classmates to bring food instead of gifts to her birthday party. She received 300 items along with $90 which she donated to Sister John Marie’s Pantry. The pantry is a parish outreach to the area’s needy. “This project was entirely her idea,” said Dominican Sister Denise Lazaro, her teacher. The Lazaro family and friends also donated food at a second party for Amanda at her request.
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A new sport?
Students at St. Patrick School in Rodeo take part in the annual international cup-stacking event in which stackers arrange 12 specially designed cups in a pre-determined pattern in a race against the clock. Termed “a track meet for your hands at warp speed,” cup stacking has been part of the school’s physical education and academic programs for the last eight years. In 2007, more than 143,000 stackers took part in the worldwide event.

Water is a human right

Shaken by the reality that a child dies of a disease related to unclean water and inadequate sanitation every 20 seconds, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have launched a campaign against the “economic exploitation of water.”

The campaign, announced after months of research and reflection, affirms that 1) water is a sacred gift that connects all life, 2) access to clean water is a basic human right, 3) freshwater’s value to the common good trumps its possible commercial value; and 4) freshwater is a shared legacy, a public trust and a collective responsibility.

Some 1200 Holy Names Sisters and their 650 Associates voted overwhelmingly to encourage actions and policies that promote their corporate stand and oppose those that don’t. About 153 Sisters and 52 Associates serve in northern California.

The Congregation is urging the public to join in their pledge to value and protect water. Recommended actions include: driving less because air pollution from car exhaust eventually becomes water pollution; using as little bottled water as possible; conserving water by fixing leaky faucets and pipes; limiting lawn watering, and taking short showers.

They are offering a free booklet, “Educational Materials for the SNJM Corporate Stand: Water Is a Human Right and a Public Good” at: www.snjmusontario.org/download_waterdocuments.html.

Death on the streets

More than 50 people gathered at Oakland’s St. Mary’s Center to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10 by honoring the memories of homeless men and women who have died on the streets of America.

Participants at the service, organized by the community center, gathered in a circle and listened to prayers and poetry as the names of local homeless men and women who had died during the year were read. Reflections were also offered by several people who frequent the center which serves meals, offers resources and referrals and is a source of community for low-income seniors and families.

The event also marked the release of a new report, “Going Grey in the Golden State: The Reality of Poverty among Seniors in Oakland,” which the center published with the Oakland Institute.

The center is located at the site of the former St. Andrew-St. Joseph Church on San Pablo Avenue.

Around the Parishes

The sanctuary at Berkeley’s St. Joseph the Worker Parish was burglarized twice in December with the burglar or burglars taking candelabras, brass vases, candles and altar linens. During one incident the glass and frame of the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was broken and the image itself was damaged. Father Stephan Kappler, pastor, has decided to lock the doors of the church during the day while security measures are evaluated.

Did you ever sit in Mass and wonder to yourself, “Why do we do what we do?” Members at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon will learn more about the Catholic liturgy during six-week education effort that includes weekend homilies and parish bulletin inserts. The series begins the weekend of Jan. 17 – 18. For more information, visit the parish website at www.sjasr.org.

Members at St. Perpetua Parish in Lafayette gave generously to the parish’s annual Christmas Food Drive last month. Over 1700 pounds of food were sent to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, over 1000 pounds were given to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, and $1325, including $500 from the Knights of Columbus, was collected for the Cash for Turkey program.

Parishioners at St. John the Baptist Parish in El Cerrito prepared and served dinners at the GRIP (Greater Richmond Interfaith Program) family housing facility, Dec. 28 through Jan. 3.

Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch will host the Great E-Waste Fundraiser on Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The recycler will take almost all electronics and appliances, such as computers, monitors, TVs, cell phones, keyboards, mice, and chargers and radios, at no cost. But large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines are not accepted. The church is located at 1313 A Street.

Oakland’s St. Margaret Mary Parish marked the Feast of the Holy Family by inviting married couples to renew their vows at the 5 p.m. Mass on Dec. 27 and the 8:30 a.m.and 10:30 a.m. Masses on Dec. 28.

Mothers at St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord gather every other Monday (from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.) to grow in faith, network with other mothers and make new friends through the Mom’s Ministry. Patti Collyer, the parish’s director of Family Life Ministry, coordinates the program.

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Around the Schools

Our Lady of Grace School in Castro Valley is admittedly proud of its middle school students for making the honor roll and becoming part of the California Junior Scholarship Federation (CJSC). Specifically, 62.5 percent of 8th grade students and 36 percent of 7th graders became members of the CJSC, the oldest junior high school scholastic scholarship program in the state.

Speaking of Our Lady of Grace School, the campus has formed an alumni association and is now searching for former students and graduates. If you or someone you know attended OLG School and would like to catch up with former classmates or become involved in the association, contact organizers at alumni@olgschool.org.

This just in: Caroline Caselli, who formerly served as editor of The Spartan newspaper at Alameda’s St. Philip Neri School (class of 2004), is now a writer at The Stanford Daily newspaper at Stanford University.

Students at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School helped bring Christmas joy to more than 40 families affiliated with St. Vincent’s Day Home through the annual campus ministry-sponsored food and toy drive. The campus community filled a 24-foot truck with toys and food, which was delivered to the Day Home on Dec. 10. Located in the heart of West Oakland, St. Vincent’s offers comprehensive child development programs and family services to low-income families. The O’Dowd students also raised $1,500 for the families during a “Dollar Day Collection” held on Dec. 4.

Concord’s De La Salle High School won its 17th straight North Coast Section (NCS) championship with a win over Pittsburg High 34-10 at Dublin High School on Dec.12. However, the Spartans fell short in its bid to claim its second win at the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Division I championship bowl game by losing to Corona Centennial, 21-16, on Dec. 19

In light of the increased number of needy families at Christmas, the staff and faculty at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley decided to forego their annual Secret Santa exchange and instead brought Christmas to a family in need. School staff adopted a family through the Bay Area’s Adopt-a-Family Program and as a group shopped and wrapped the gifts, which were delivered to the family shortly before Christmas Day.

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Names, News, Notes

Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland awarded their annual Heart of Gold Award to Fannie Watson, a caregiver for over 20 years, for her outstanding contributions to the workplace. Mercy Sister Patty Creedon, executive director at Mercy, praised Watson for the enthusiasm, kindness and empathy she shows all of the residents. “She goes beyond the extra mile to make sure our residents are treated with the upmost respect and dignity while bringing smiles to their faces,” Sister Creedon said.

Many Blessings and Best Wishes to Eva and Reul Soto, members of St. John the Baptist Parish in San Lorenzo, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Father Tony Valdivia, a retired priest of the Oakland Diocese, presided at a Mass of celebration for the Sotos at St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Oakland on Dec. 13. The couple’s three sons and three grandsons attended the celebration.

Congratulations to Larry and Ann Graves of Assumption Parish in San Leandro who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 27. Larry, who spent his working career in the commercial truck tire business, how heads a volunteer group, “Tuesdays with Larry,” that cares for the parish buildings and grounds. Ann volunteers at the Fairmont Animal Shelter. The couple has four children and six grandchildren.

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