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CURRENT ISSUE:  September 7, 2009
VOL. 47, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Federal grant lets Catholic schools open learning centers
A Sunday to aid Cathedral’s debt
Auburn deacon loses home to fire,
weeks after death of teenage son

Deacon David Ford and his wife Lorie, still mourning the sudden death in June of their 19-year-old son Michael, lost all of their mementos of Michael, including hundreds of condolence letters, when their Auburn home burned to the ground Aug. 30. The home was one of 63 destroyed when a wind-driven wildfire rushed through their neighborhood.

Michael Ford was a sophomore at St. Mary’s College and about to start his summer job as a counselor at the college’s sports camp when he collapsed in Walnut Creek and died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes.

Ford is a deacon at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Auburn. He and his wife had just returned to their home after taking youngest daughter to St. Mary’s College to begin her freshman year when Lorie Ford heard what sounded like airplanes “dive-bombing” and ran outside to discover planes dropping fire-retardant near the house.

The couple began frantically packing their Chevy Suburban with family photos as a sheriff’s car drove through the neighborhood, the driver speaking through a bullhorn, ordering residents to evacuate immediately.

“The houses on both sides of us were on fire,” Deacon Ford said, “and the smoke was so black we couldn’t see more than a foot in front of the car. It was like a scene from hell.”

Two hours later, from a friend’s house, Lorie Ford watched television images of her home burned to its foundation.

“But we survived,” said Deacon Ford, “and all of the other families hit by the fire survived too, thank God. No one has been seriously injured. That’s God’s grace.”

The Fords’ daughter Theresa teaches third grade at St. Jarlath School in Oakland.

A special second collection will be taken at St. Teresa of Avila Parish at all Masses, Sept. 12, to aid the eight parish families who lost their homes in the fire. Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto was scheduled to celebrate Mass there Sept. 5, assisted by Deacon Ford.

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