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placeholder Five decades
of leadership

Bishop Floyd Begin,
a bridge builder for all

Oakland diocese's
first parish celebrates
its jubilee, too

The first priest
of the diocese

Commitment to a demanding life

Bishop Begin:
Blessed beginning, blessed ending

Fond memories of Bishop Floyd L. Begin

'Where were you …'

Pastoral Council made diocese a leader in giving laity a voice

Interfaith good feeling, openness part of our diocesan heritage

Housing to rise at former cathedral site

At Cooper Chapel, building community, Catholic identity

'Community' crypts provide peace of mind

Stewardship of the end-of-life

Institute aims to refute atheist influence in science

New film tells story of Cristero War


Catholic population at nearly 59 million in 2010

Religious freedom rally set for June 8

Fundraiser on May 26 for Haitian children

Visitation of the
Blessed Virgin:
What it means for us

50 years later, still answering Fatima questions

Magnificat Maternal Health: Mission to protect women in childbirth

Special collection
for Catholic Communication

Parishes lifeblood
of the diocese

placeholder May 21, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Commitment to a demanding life

Rev. David K. O'Rourke, OP

On the 9th of June, before I go to celebrate the evening Mass here, I will bring a candle and candlestick from my dining room and place it on the altar. The candle is old and discolored, and it actually is cracked in the middle. At the bottom, where it is shaped to fit into a holder, there is a narrow, beat-up label still taped to it. In very small type my name and the date — June 9, 1962.

There were eight of us that morning, each carrying a lighted candle as we walked into St. Francis de Sales, the old church across from the Greyhound Bus Station. It had just been designated as the cathedral for the new Diocese of Oakland. In all honesty it was a very sobering experience for me, not a happy day. I knew I was being called to a life-long commitment, and a life is a long time. I knew for me it would be a commitment without escape clauses. And I knew it would be a demanding life.

Right after the ordination I went back to St. Albert's Priory where I was living. In those days there were a half-dozen German Dominican sisters who did the cooking and laundry for all of us. For some reason they couldn't go to the ordinations. It was the custom for newly ordained priests to give people their blessing afterwards. So I went back there to give each of them that blessing. This took a while.

My family had come out from New Jersey, and my dad's brother, a San Francisco labor leader and politician — he had run for Congress a few years earlier — had arranged for a big noontime bash at one of the waterfront restaurants in Tiburon. He was really fit to be tied because I showed up an hour late for his party. Fealty, it turned out, was not one of my imagined duties.

Rev. David K.
O'Rourke, OP

1964-65 Instructor, Dominican School of Philosophy, Oakland
1969-75 Associate director and director, Program for Pastoral Training, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and GTU, Berkeley
1971-73 Established and directed Marriage Encounter movement in four dioceses
1975-81 Pastor, St. Mary Magdalen Church, Berkeley
1982-88 Associate director, Family Life office, Judge, Defender of the Bond, Marriage Tribunal, Diocese of Oakland
1988-90 Editor, CHURCH Magazine, New York, NY
1990-95 Pastor, St. Dominic's Church, Benicia
1995-97 Pastoral associate, St. Mary Magdalen Church, Berkeley
1998- Marriage Tribunal, Diocese of Oakland
1999- Senior fellow, The Santa Fe Institute, Berkeley
1999-04 Consultant in Archdiocese of Vilnius, Lithuania
2003- Administrator, Our Lady of Mercy Church, Point Richmond
2006- COO, Domedia Productions
Author of eight books, numerous articles and writer and producer of documentary. )
I have had a hard time figuring out what is special about this ordination anniversary. And I have decided that my daily life here is as special as I could hope for, special enough to absolve me from the burden of putting on a show. After a dozen very difficult years at the start, I have had a rich and good life. But that life has been written in human terms, not in calendar dates. And it has been a life lived, for the most part, with people who have not had easy lives. I am fortunate that living and working in Richmond does not allow me to have any illusions about life in California and America.

Commitment is not an American value. I am still here. In the context of American culture that presence is just one more individual choice, a personal oddity. After my Mass on the 9th I will bring that broken candle back in its stand back to its place in the dining room and, as usual, prepare a light and healthy supper.

(Rev. David K. O'Rourke, OP, is parochial administrator at Our Lady of Mercy parish in Point Richmond.)

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