From left, Father Ciaran Dillon, Rev. Paul Schmidt, pastor at St. Joseph in Pinole, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Rev. Mark Amaral of St. Joseph and Father William Antone at the altar.
All: Jesse Peralta/The Catholic Voice
Father William Antone, OMI, provincial, left, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, watch while Father Ciaran Dillon opens his gift from parishioners.
Rev. Ciaran Dillon, OMI, "a great source of comfort and understanding" to the people of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crockett, has retired as pastor after 20 years.
Father Dillon is "reverent and humble" and a man of "unwavering Christianity," related local historian Keith Olson in a tribute after Mass June 30.
Father Dillon's retirement also marks the end of the administration of the parish and its affiliated St. Patrick Mission in nearby Port Costa by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Oblates have been at St. Rose since 1955.
Just as the two bridges and highway crossing the Carquinez Strait are a part of the town of Crockett, said Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, in his homily, "life is like a bridge. You don't build your house on it because you're not meant to stay on the bridge."
It is "not an easy day" the bishop said, for Father Dillon or the Missionary Oblates who've taken care of the parish over the years.
"I know the love and respect of your parishioners of the past 20 years here goes with you," he said, thanking the Oblates, the Dominicans, who earlier operated the parish, and diocesan priests. About a dozen priests joined in the Mass.
"Looking back, it doesn't seem like 20 years," said Father Dillon. To the parishioners, he said: "You are the stewards of the parish. I am grateful and I will miss you all."
Very Rev. William Antone, OMI, provincial for the U.S. Province of the Oblates, came to Crockett from Washington, DC, for Father Dillon's retirement. Father Antone has visited Crockett several times before.
He noted that a fourth vow of perseverance is taken by Oblate members, and that Father Dillon "has shown that throughout his life."
Father Dillon was born on March 6, 1929, in the Irish village of Rooskey on the banks of the River Shannon, and later lived in Dublin. He attended the Oblate novitiate and seminary, and was ordained Dec. 18, 1954. The next year he was assigned as assistant pastor at St. Benedict's Parish in Seattle, Washington, part of the western province of the Oblates. In 1956, he was made pastor at Little Flower Parish in Billings, Montana, and in 1962, he was made port chaplain with the Apostleship of the Sea in Seattle. Father Dillon was working as treasurer of the western province when he was assigned as pastor of St. Rose in September 1993.
In his tribute, Olson, the historian, presented a plaque to Father Dillon on behalf of the parish and in "everlasting appreciation of the Oblates."
After the Mass, several hundred people gathered in the parish hall for a reception. They presented Father Dillon with a new laptop computer and case.
The Diocese of Oakland will resume administration of St. Rose and St. Patrick. Rev. Fred Riccio is temporarily assigned as administrator at the parish.
Father Dillon has moved to Sacred Heart Parish in Oakland, also administered by the Oblates.
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