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Newark calling Italy . . .

A blessing for church renovation

Old Glory returns to St. Elizabeth school

9/11 concert remembers, honors

Big college fair offers selection

Mass acknowledges school leaders

CTK School turns 50; opens new amphitheater

For Spanish speakers, a post-abortion retreat

St. Edward event honors Dominican sisters’ service

‘Remember Them’ celebrates Heroes for Humanity — and Oakland

Saint Mary’s College establishes new museum

Youth ‘On Fire’ on Sept. 24

Music, ethnicity hallmark of Chautauqua gathering Oct. 8

New principal named at St. Paul School

OBITUARIES
• Sister M. Agnes Gough, SHF
• Father Marvin Steffes, CPPS
• Sister Mary Hyacinthe Ruggiero, OP

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placeholder September 19, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA

The ’70s-era Church of the Good Shepherd has been renovated to include a middle aisle. After the blessing on Oct. 1, a barbecue will follow at the parish hall. Call the parish office at (925) 432-6404 to reserve space. Tickets are $5, and will also be available after the Mass.
josé luis aguirre photo
A blessing for church renovation

When Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1969-70, the church-in-the-round was all the rage. The Pittsburg church’s architecture gathered people around the altar, sometimes with the distracting consequence of having them face each other.

 
Renovation blessing

When: Oct. 1, 5:30 p.m. Mass

Where: 3200 Harbor St., Pittsburg

www.goodshepherdpittsburg.org
 
It was also a multipurpose structure, with dividers to create classrooms and meeting spaces before the parish hall was completed.

It also created a church without a middle aisle, which was lamented by more than a generation of brides.

When Father Helmut Richter became pastor of the church on Feb. 1, 1997, he arrived with some experience in a church with challenging architecture.

“I wasn’t shocked,” he said.

But he was determined. “God willing, this church is going to change at some point,” he said to himself at the time.

That point has arrived. At the 5:30 p.m. Mass Oct. 1, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will bless the renovated sanctuary, which puts the focus where it should be, Father Richter said.

The renovation was completed through the generosity of one of the parish’s 2,700 families. Developer Albert Seeno III made the renovation, whose progress he oversaw daily, a gift to the parish.

“He did it out of his expertise and his compassion for this church,” said Father Richter, looking over the altar that now is against the wall. Pews were refurbished and realigned to focus on the altar. And a middle aisle was created.

When the church was dedicated in 1970, a representation of the Risen Christ was placed above the altar. That piece has moved to the doors at the back of the church. Above the altar now is a stunning crucifix commissioned from woodcarver Toni Baur of Oberammergau, Germany. The five-foot corpus, carved from a single piece of wood, on a cross that was carved in three parts, was a donation from a parishioner who wishes to remain anonymous.

A new tabernacle has moved to a place of prominence on the altar.

The doors to the church have been replaced, new flooring installed and the church’s distinctive stained glass windows have been secured. A ramp that makes the altar accessible to disabled people has been installed. All the work has improved the acoustics in the sanctuary, Father Richter said.

The renovation had been a long-held goal of Father Richter, who had secured permission to conduct a capital campaign in 2008. But the parish, made up of low-middle-class wage-earners, would be hard hit by the economic crisis and resulting housing meltdown.

He spoke to longtime parishioner Sandra Seeno, who talked about the proposal at home, returning to him with the word that her son would take care of it.

Seeno III had been in charge of a family project on the church property in the past, the creation of a 2-acre park with space for outdoor Mass and Stations of the Cross, in memory of his grandfather, Albert Seeno Sr.

Father Richter worked with a liturgical architect to see “what we can do.” In 2010, Seeno III started renovating the exteriors of all the buildings on the church property. “In the last 40 years, nothing was done,” said Father Richter.

Just before Christmas 2010, Seeno III told his pastor, “After the holidays, we are going to take care of the church.”

A week after Easter, Seeno III told him they would begin work the following Monday.
The plan was for the Sunday Masses to relocate to the parish hall for the duration of the renovation, with the daily Mass celebrated in the conference room of the parish office.

“We will be completed in six weeks,” Father Richter said Seeno told him.
Six weeks, later, the work was done.

When the doors opened for that Saturday evening Mass, Father Richter recalled, “people were just awestruck.”

 
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