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placeholder  March 5, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
St. Columba celebrates 30 years with jubilee

In a spirit-filled liturgy that moved people to pray, sing, dance and recollect, St. Columba Parish concluded its 30th annual African American Celebrations with a 2 -hour Mass on Feb. 21 celebrated by the Rev. Paul Vassar.

Its theme, "Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now!" paid homage to the parish's three decades of celebrating "the gift of African American history and tradition through word, song and spirit," according to its program. Now the pastor at St. Leander Church in San Leandro, Father Vassar founded the celebration when he was pastor from 1981 to 1994.

A choir of more than 100 voices was directed by Rawn Harbor, the parish's pastoral associate and liturgy director. For the past 29 years, he has been an integral part of the celebration, conducting the annual Rawn Harbor Experience, a five-day workshop for choir members from St. Columba and beyond.

As the Mass began, the names of St. Columba parishioners who are no longer living were invoked to "Be with us."

At the end of the Mass, the UJIMA Award was presented to Father Vassar. The award, created by the African American Celebration Committee in the late-1980s, is given to an African American Catholic or any Catholic working for the greater good within the African American community who exemplifies the spirit of UJIMA. UJIMA, a Swahili word meaning "collective work and responsibility," is celebrated on the third day of Kwanzaa. The principle signifies building and maintaining our community together and making our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and solving them together.

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