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 November 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Around the Diocese

Students volunteer to aid marathon
Twenty-one Saint Mary’s College High students met up at the school campus in Berkeley at 5:15 a.m. Oct. 16 to head to San Francisco to volunteer for the Nike Women’s Marathon. The crew manned water stations along the 26.2 mile route and cheered on the runners, especially Saint Mary’s English teacher and Student Activities Director Jenny Jack (center in photo) who completed the entire marathon that began at Union Square and ended at Golden Gate Park.
Mike Sommers photo
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ABOVE: Dia de los Muertos
Angelena Navarro and other fifth-graders at Saint Philip Neri Catholic School in Alameda learned about the Hispanic cultural celebration, Día de los Muertos, during Teacher Cecilia Lopez’ Spanish class, and visited the Dia exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. They each created a personal “altar.” Meanwhile first-graders learned to grind corn “masa” on a real “metate” (grinding stone) to make tortillas.
LEFT: Prayers for peace
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan releases a dove at the conclusion of the Northern California Interreligious Conference’s Thanksgiving Breakfast on Nov. 11 at the Cathedral Event Center in Oakland. More than 100 leaders of faith communities were in attendance at the event. Special guest was the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York, and president of the Healing of Nations Foundation. Doves were released at the end of the event, as faith leaders, including Father Jayson Landeza, offered prayers for peace in Oakland.
Treats for the troops
Danville’s St. Isidore school students sent notes of well-wishes and treats to the troops overseas. Under the direction of school mom Kathy Oertli, 800 bags filled with candy were collected for Blue Star Moms, who will then add these bags to Christmas care packages for the troops. This year pupils collected more than 300 pounds of sweet treats to be enjoyed by the troops who will also share the candy with local children living nearby the base. Above, back row from left, Jack Cygan, Christo Eikani, Cole Leone, Jack Baldyga, Paige Baldyga, Spencer Biles; front row: Matthew Oertli, Connor Biles, Julia Oertli, Rory Biles and Mackenzie Biles.

Trip to San Jose
The kindergarten class of St. Felicitas Catholic School in San Leandro enjoyed a trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose,while learning how to take public transportation. Thirty-three pupils, their teachers and chaperone’s took Amtrak and then the VTA Light Rail system to the “hand’s-on” museum where pupils learned through play in the Kid’s Garden, Art Loft and the “Bubbalogna” bubble room.

Lesson on fire safety
Teacher Veronica Weimer, left, and the kindergarten class at St. Leo the Great School in Oakland were paid a visit by the Oakland Fire Department on Nov. 3 for a lesson on fire safety. The students were treated to fire helmets and badges before taking this group photo with the firefighters.
Noah Kubrom photo, 7th Grade, “The Lion Ledger”

Recycling award
Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont has enhanced its good stewardship plan by implementing a campuswide recycling program. On Oct 28, Holy Spirit was awarded an Honorable Mention Award from the California Assembly for Stop Waste Partnership Business Efficiency, which recognizes Alameda County businesses and organizations that have shown leadership and innovation in waste reduction and sustainability. Much of the parishwide success of this program has been realized through the cooperation of Holy Spirit’s janitorial service, Nexsentio. Jeff Van der Sluis, business and facilities manager at Holy Spirit Church stands with Danielle Bunol of Nexsentio.
Orthodox ceremony for All Souls
The faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Diocese of Oakland united praying the Panikhida, the traditional Orthodox and Eastern Catholic memorial service for those who have “fallen asleep in the Lord” on All Souls Day. The ceremony took place in San Francisco's North Beach, in the Lady Chapel of La Nuova Porziuncola, a replica of the church St. Francis rebuilt in Assisi. For more information see www.shrinesf.org and www.byzantinecatholic.org.

All Saints parade
First-, third- and fourth-graders at St. Felicitas School in San Leandro take part in the 10th annual All Saints Parade. Their joyful song of “When the Saints Go Marching In” could be heard all around the school and church grounds on Oct. 31.

Around the Parishes

Members at St. Felicitas Church gathered earlier this month to bid a sad farewell to Robert “Bob” Smyth, a beloved member of the parish family who was known for his selfless service and dedication at the San Leandro parish. A volunteer in the parish for some 50 years, Mr. Smyth, 87, advised several pastors on matters regarding the parish property and its maintenance. A few of the projects Mr. Smyth supervised during the last four years alone included replacing the water pump and pipes, remodeling parts of the parish offices, updating the computer system and phones, repairing the roof of the church as well as painting the church rectory and parish offices and more. Mr. Smyth was “a very humble man, hard working and dedicated person,” said Father Augustine Joseph, parochial administrator at St. Felicitas since 2008. Mr. Smyth was at the church premises almost every day “taking care of one thing or another,” the priest said. He noted that Mr. Smyth didn’t accept any payment for his services. “So we know that his reward will be great in heaven.” The parish has dedicated a window to Mr. Smyth.

A public rosary will be held at noon Dec. 8 at St. Callistus Church in El Sobrante.

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Around the Schools

Christian Chaumette-Brown, a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, was recently named an outstanding participant in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. Some 3,100 students like Chaumette-Brown scored in the top 3 percent of more than 160,000 Black Americans who requested consideration in the 2012 National Achievement Program when they took the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Three students from Oakland’s Holy Names High SchoolStephanie Curiel (junior), Mysia Pierce-Lewis (sophomore) and Wanita Jones (sophomore) — were recently selected to receive the Eva Leah Gunther Foundation Fellowship. This fellowship will enable these students to travel, all expenses paid, to Washington, D.C., in January on the HNHS Close Up trip.

Oakland’s Holy Names University welcomed the largest incoming class in its 143-year history, increasing overall enrollment to a record 1,330. William J. Hynes, HNU president, attributed the milestone to the university’s reputation, “competitively-priced degree programs and the addition of programs that open the doors of education for many Oakland residents,” he said.

Speaking of HNU . . . The University recently launched a new speaker series that focuses on how entrepreneurs can achieve their dream of starting a business. Tim Westergren, Internet music radio service Pandora’s founder and chief strategy officer, and Joe Kennedy, Pandora’s chief executive officer and president, did a joint presentation on Nov. 1.

Crystal Esparza, a senior at Moreau High School in Hayward, was recently recognized as one of the Hearts of Hayward at the Hayward Recognition and Awards Dinner. She was acknowledged by Hayward City Councilmember Mark Salinas for her work with the “Let’s Do Lunch Hayward . . . and breakfast too.” This Hayward citywide program serves more than 140,000 children who do not have access to breakfast or lunch during summer breaks.

This year’s fifth-grade class at St. Isidore School in Danville has donated $1,664 to the parish’s Knights of Columbus. The money, proceeds from the fifth grade class’s annual bake sale, will help the Knights provide Christmas food baskets to the needy.

The Bishop O’Dowd High School Debate Team, which has earned acclaim in parliamentary debate in the state, will host the Vendlinski Invitational on Dec. 4. The tournament, which will focus solely on parliamentary debate, hopes to attract up to 50 teams drawn from schools in both the Golden Gate Speech Association and the Coast Forensic League. The tournament is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and the championship rounded is expected to conclude before 6 p.m.

During this month when Catholics remember and honor loved ones who have died, students and faculty at Berkeley’s Saint Mary’s High School created an altar. Members of the school community have been placing photos and remembrances on the altar, an activity that continues to the end of November. Students also made hundreds of sugar skulls.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Holy Names University in Oakland a $5 million grant to assist mid-career professionals and recent graduates with a degree other than education who are seeking a career in education. Additionally the program helps those who become teachers through an alternative degree route and focuses on the placement of teachers in high-need schools.

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Among the Religious

Franciscan Father Louie Vitale, known for protests against war and torture and advocacy for the poor, was presented the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award at the order’s recent national chapter at St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista. The friar, 79, an Air Force veteran who lives at St. Elizabeth Parish in Oakland, co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience, a movement to end nuclear testing, and Pace e Bene, an organization that aims to transform lives through education and nonviolent action.

Dominican Sister S. Rebecca Shinas will lead an Advent retreat for women and men, 21-40, from 10 a.m. Dec. 11 at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose in Fremont. Participants will learn new ways to pray, find joy and praise God. RSVP deadline is Dec. 5. For more information or RSVP contact Dominican Sister Frances Mary Pierson at blessings@msjdominicans.org or 510-933-6335.

Are you or someone you know interested in finding out more about a vocation with the Jesuits? If so, plan to attend a “Come and See” event hosted by the Jesuit community from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley of Santa Clara University. This informal and free gathering of men (ages 18-45) who wish to explore a possible religious vocation with the Society of Jesus can listen to, ask questions of and speak with Jesuits about their vocation stories, prayer life and the process of vocation discernment. For more information, contact Jesuit Father Radmar Jao, rjao@calprov.org, 415-934-8300 or www.jesuitscalifornia.org/encounters.

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Names, News, Notes

The Chevron Corp. awarded Catholic Charities of the East Bay a grant of $168,000 as part of Chevron’s Partnership Program, a program that invests in economic and education development in California. CCEB will use the grant to mentor low-income residents, ages 18-24 and help them get hired as early-childhood education teachers.

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