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placeholder Transfiguration Parish has 50th birthday

Public witness of our faith

Brentwood, Antioch pilgrims head to World Youth Day

Priests celebrate their ordination jubilees

‘Food Fight’ benefits SVdP culinary training program

Day-long youth camp focuses on life

Heavy-hitters among speakers at July Napa Institute conference

Family planning family picnic set

Stories of healing at August talk

Interfaith blood drive runs through July 30

Program for parishes on other religions

Roundup of graduate programs

Balancing act: Juggling responsibilities of work, education

Should I go back to school?

Realities of graduate School

placeholder July 5, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA

A new sign and entrance are expected to invite new and old to the church.
Michele Jurich photo
Transfiguration Parish has 50th birthday

When: July 10, 11 a.m. Mass, followed by lunch

Where: 4000 E. Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley

RSVP: $10 for lunch tickets; dial (510) 538-7941 to reserve


July 30: Carnival for the Community

July 31: Animal blessing in front of the new statue of St. Francis in the Meditation Garden

Coming: Publication of parish pictorial, anniversary cookbook

Pastors of Transfiguration Parish

Msgr. Charles R. Hackel

Msgr. Julius M. Bensen

Msgr. John T. McCracken

Father John Crumlish

Father Mario Borges

When Transfiguration Parish celebrated its first Mass on April 16, 1961, there were 20 people in attendance — in the garage attached to the “Little Brown House” at the end of a dirt road leading up from East Castro Valley Boulevard.

There should be considerably more people present as the Church of the Transfiguration — now 1,500 families strong — commemorates “50 Years of Transfiguring Our Community Through Faith” July 10. Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass, which will be followed by a lunch.

John and Mary Zabratski, the last of the original five founding families of the parish, will be honored at the Mass.

Other events on the parish calendar include a carnival on July 30. The publication of a parish pictorial and an anniversary cookbook are expected this summer.

A shiny new sign on Castro Valley Boulevard also proclaims the name Transfiguration Catholic Church. The parish finance council worked with Alameda County to create the new, safer entrance at the traffic light.

“We hope that the addition of the sign and entrance will help invite new and old to the Church to aid in celebrating 50 years of Transfiguring our Community through Faith,” said Nicole Dennis, a parishioner who is working on the celebration.

From that first Mass with 20 people, celebrated six days after the parish was founded by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the parish has been a place of growth.

According to a short history provided by the pastor, Father Mario Borges, the garage overflowed with parishioners the following Sunday, some sitting on donated folding chairs but most standing outside the open doorway in the yard.

Mass was held outdoors in the summer of 1961, with old pews donated by St. Mary’s Church of Los Gatos. The property included some abandoned dog kennels, which the men of the new parish cleaned out. With the start of autumn, Mass was held in these kennels.

In remembrance of those humble beginnings, a pet blessing is scheduled for July 31. The blessing will be in the garden area dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.

In autumn 1961, a hill was leveled and construction of a new building began. The original intention was to use it as a temporary church and later convert it to a school. The building was completed by Easter 1962, and the Easter Vigil Mass was celebrated inside.

It would remain the temporary church for more than 15 years. It became the current parish hall, with classrooms for CCD. No school was built.

The first Mass in the current church building was celebrated on Dec. 22, 1979. Hungarian-born Isabel Piczek was commissioned to create the beautiful mural for the altar.

At the 1980 dedication of the church, Bishop John Cummins said, “Transfiguration is a contemporary church. I mean that as a compliment. The Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy has called for church buildings today to create a participatory and hospitable atmosphere.”

“Since its formation, the Church of the Transfiguration has grown into a thriving parish serving the community,” Father Borges wrote in his history.

Among its vibrant ministries and activities are the 60 Plus or Minus Club; CYO; St. Vincent de Paul Society; ministries to the sick and homebound; and Wings “Women in God’s Spirit.” Music is provided by both adult and children’s choirs. An annual crab feed is always a sellout.

The lunch that follows the 11 a.m. Mass requires a ticket, which can be purchased for $10 from the parish. Dial (510) 538-7941 for additional information.

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