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placeholder OBITUARIES:
Msgr. Robert Adams: faithful priest, beloved pastor
Terry Barber, principal of St. John the Baptist School in El Cerrito
Vincentian Service Corps volunteer helps jobless achieve success

Why I became a priest: ‘The unpredictable graciousness of God in my life’

U.S. bishops renew efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform

Churches work to ensure everyone counted in 2010

Global solidarity conference at Holy Names University

French organist to perform at dedicatory cathedral concert

Papal liturgist endorses ‘reform of the reform’ of the liturgy

Saint Mary’s College hosts seminar on future of credit, business lending

Operation Rice Bowl gives social service grants

Haitian woman in Oakland grieves loss of family, friends

Nuns, priests among Haiti’s dead

East Bay Catholics volunteer, raise funds for quake victims


placeholder January 25, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Msgr. Robert Adams:
faithful priest, beloved pastor

In 1995, during the jubilee observance of his 50th year as a priest, Monsignor Robert Adams reflected on the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.”

“This I hope I have been,” said the retiring pastor of St. Michael Parish in Livermore.
Fifteen years later, on Jan. 16, 2010, the 90-year-old priest died at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland. Colleagues who prayed and worked with him through the years concur that Msgr. Adams more than fulfilled his desire to remain faithful.

Father Ray Sacca, pastor of St. Michael’s from 1997 until 2005, said that after retirement, Msgr. Adams, “typical of his devotion and exertion, remained a regular fixture at daily and Sunday Masses until the middle of 2009,” when he became ill and moved to Mercy Center.

“He wanted to die at the altar, performing his chief duty. He almost did,” said Father Sacca, now the vicar of priests for the Oakland Diocese.

“Prayerful, caring, and very pastoral,” is how San Rafael Dominican Sister Emmanuel Cardinale remembers Father Adams. Sister Cardinale, principal of St. Michael School and a member of the parish community for the past 25 years, recalled that the priest “loved people of all ages, from the smallest to the oldest.” She said he would always ask the Mass servers their names and who their parents were.

Even after his retirement, the popular clergyman was frequently called upon to preside at parish baptisms and funerals, she said.

Bishop Emeritus John Cummins, homilist for the priest’s funeral Mass at St. Michael’s on Jan. 21, paid tribute to Msgr. Adams as “a great priest. He was bright, available, visible, and extremely respectful of everybody. He was a man of great faith and I am thankful for having him as a companion on the journey.”

Robert G. Adams spent all of his life in the Bay Area. He was born in San Rafael on Oct. 4, 1919, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, to William and Mary Adams, a Welsh couple. He and his five brothers grew up in San Anselmo.

After graduating from St. Anselm’s Elementary School, he attended St. Joseph’s College Seminary and St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. A devoted sports enthusiast, the young man spent his summers during seminary years as a catcher for the local San Anselmo semi-pro team.

But he put dreams of professional baseball aside and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco by Archbishop John Mitty at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on June 16, 1945.

Father Adams’ athletic conditioning did not fade, however. For all of his priestly life he played golf every Wednesday morning with three or four buddies. He also went on strenuous mountain hikes.

Father Sacca recalls that even in his later priestly years, when Msgr. Adams would approach and playfully ply “his powerful grip on innocent shoulders and forearms as a sign of affection, many Livermore parishioners, young and old, would smile and cringe.”

Prior to being assigned pastor of St. Michael Parish in 1964, the priest served as associate pastor at St. Agnes Parish in San Francisco and St. Theresa in Oakland, and as pastor of St. Cyril and St. Columba parishes, also in Oakland.

He was an instructor at Holy Names High School, a chaplain of Providence Hospital, and instructor at Providence College of Nursing in Oakland.

In 1970, he became licensed by the State of California as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor.

Although Pope Paul VI named him a monsignor in 1975 after 30 years of priestly service, the pastor still liked to be called “Father,” said Father Sacca. It was a “simple and traditional moniker that bespeaks the humility, humor, holiness and hard work with which he strove to be a true priest, another Christ.”

Both Bishop Cummins and Father Sacca praised their colleague for his ability to move with the times. In his funeral homily, Bishop Cummins paid tribute to Msgr. Adams’ ability to smoothly transition from the Tridentine era of the Catholic Church into the reforms of Vatican Two.

Earlier, Father Sacca told the Voice how deftly the elder priest was able to balance “tradition and change, nurturing all segments of an ethnically diverse community, promoting lay ownership and participation, and handing on a large and thriving faith community to his successors.”

Father Adams was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Livermore. Friends and parishioners can send donations in memory of the late priest to the Msgr. Robert Adams Scholarship Fund at St. Michael School, 345 Church St., Livermore, CA 94550-3205.

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