|August 12, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
Thank you for your service
With this issue, the Catholic Voice salutes and thanks the religious men and women who have devoted their lives to serving the people of God. In the following pages, we honor hundreds of teachers, nurses, chaplains and parish priests who have given anywhere from 25 to 80 years in service of the Lord. Join us in offering them our thanks.
60 Years of Service
Most Rev. John S. Cummins
Rev. Howard Hall, OFM
Birthplace: San Diego
Ordination: Dec. 19, 1953, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Retired, Santa Barbara
Past service: Director: San Damiano Retreat Center, Danville.
Rev. Alexander Manville, OFM
Birthplace: Santa Monica
Ordination: Dec. 19, 1953, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Retired, Mercy Center, Oakland
Past service: Teacher, St. Elizabeth High School, Oakland; director, St. Francis Retreat House, San Juan Bautista.
50 Years of Service
Rev. Richard A. Chávez
Birthplace: San Francisco
Ordination: Feb. 23, 1963, St. Peter Martyr of Verona, Pittsburg
Present ministry: Retired, Pittsburg
Past service: Associate pastor: St. Cornelius, Richmond; St. Edward, Newark. Pastor: St. Edward, Newark; Our Lady of the Rosary, Union City; St. Leander, San Leandro; St. Peter Martyr, Pittsburg. Director of Hispanic Affairs, California Catholic Conference, Sacramento.
Someone wrote recently of me in a parish bulletin: "He is someone who has faithfully served the Lord for 50 years and is indeed reaping the just and humble rewards of what he has sown for all those years."
At our recent reunion, one classmate stated — and then the rest of us echoed — how people have come forth from across the spectrum of 50 years to witness to the multiple ways we have touched their lives and those of many others.
A significant blessing was ordination in the '60s and early ministry in that decade. In addition to the human and civil rights movements and the great personalities and events of that memorable decade was the factor of Vatican II. What a huge difference it brought about in my life and ministry; a new approach to liturgy and preaching, to relationships with the laity, to a profound sense of cooperation and collaboration with various categories of people and to dedication to social justice.
I was blessed with a calling to ministry among the Hispanic peoples. For eight years, I worked out of the California Catholic Conference to head up the Church's outreach to them at the State and national levels.
During the other years, I served in various parishes of the Oakland diocese, the last one being St. Peter Martyr of Verona in Pittsburg. Besides being a predominately Spanish-speaking parish, it is my home parish. I feel I have come full-circle, ending up where I began. I am indebted to our good Lord and to our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, for these and so many other blessings.
Rev. Michael Dallmeier, OFM
Birthplace: San Bernardino
Ordination: Dec, 21, 1963, San Roque Parish, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Pastoral ministry, Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside
Past service: Chaplain, Mercy Center, Oakland
Rev. Daniel E. Danielson
Birthplace: San Francisco
Ordination: March 2, 1963, St. Jarlath Parish, Oakland
Present ministry: Retired, Piedmont
Past service: Associate pastor: Holy Spirit, Fremont; St. Joseph Basilica, Alameda. Pastor: St. Paschal Baylon, Oakland; St. Augustine, Pleasanton. Diocesan director of Clergy Education. Diocesan vicar for Catholic Charismatics; formation director of Permanent Diaconate. Founder and first director of the Vatican II Institute of Clergy Formation, Menlo Park; spiritual director, Cursillo in Oakland Diocese; cofounder and president, National Organization for Continuing Education of Clergy; trustee, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley. Administrator of the Diocese of Oakland.
It has always been clear to me that the ordained priesthood exists in relationship to the baptismal priesthood that all Christians share. I am a priest not just for you but with you. I would not be the priest I am without you. I depend on you. You have borne witness to me of the presence of God, the depth of faith, the grace of forgiveness. I have learned from you at the same time that I have ministered among you with great joy. And I have also been graced by sharing that ministry with my brother priests as helpers and many wonderful lay staff members of the parish.
When I was ordained I had an image of priesthood in terms of a drama, a drama between God and the human spirit. I knew that I was not a principal agent in this drama, but, perhaps, "best supporting actor," someone who might have some key lines, serve to get the action going from time to time.
I forgot about that image for many years, but after 10 years, it occurred to me again. Only this time, I realized, in the light of my experience as a priest, that I was not really on the stage at all. But I had the front row/center seat. I had the best seat in the house to witness the action between God and the human spirit. I could pick up the nuances, the slight changes of expression. And I would celebrate this drama, applaud wildly and long. I would write very positive reviews and encourage others to come, see and be a part of this play. And occasionally, I could shout out a line from beyond the footlights if someone forgot their part for a moment.
I am very grateful to so many of you for letting me witness and celebrate the Lord's work in your hearts. A priest gets his greatest joy the same way that you do — in seeing your children grow and prosper, develop and joyfully live — individually and as a community.
May the Lord who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion. Amen.
Rev. Brian Joyce
Ordination: March 16, 1963, St. Anthony Parish, Oakland
Present ministry: Pastor, Christ the King Parish, Pleasant Hill
Past service: Associate pastor: St. Lawrence O'Toole, Oakland; St. Augustine, Oakland. Pastor, St. Monica, Moraga; diocesan director of Adult Education; diocesan chancellor.
In 1963 I was ordained after 12 years of seminary work, with all the answers! Six years of theology from Latin text books gave me a clear view of who I was and what I was to do. Obviously I had not figured on the Second Vatican Council. Actually, I looked forward eagerly to its "Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests" (published in 1965). For all my preparation, confidence and competence, the following line in the first paragraph blew me away: "Now, the pastoral and human circumstances of the priesthood have in many instances been completely changed."
Classmates like Father Danielson are always eager to point out that I was a conservative seminarian and a very slow learner as a parish priest, but looking back, it is absolutely clear that the job description of parish priests changed radically and enormously. If I look at my job description in 1963 as Associate Pastor at St. Lawrence O'Toole's Parish in Oakland, it's pretty clear that it came down to celebrating the Mass, offering the Sacraments and that always in a solo manner. By 1965, as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine's in North Oakland, my job description had changed radically. First of all to liturgy, which was no longer solo, but now had to be done in collaboration with many other ministers and a lot of persuasion as we introduced English for the first time in hundreds of years and also encouraged the congregation in participation and song. The second item of my job description became ecumenism with interfaith meetings and "living room dialogues." That was obviously a great change for someone who grew up across the street from a Presbyterian church and never once in 30 years dared to enter it. The third part of the job description obviously had to be adult education, which ranged from Christian Family Movement discussion groups to Bible Study and explanation and introduction of collegial structures such as parish council, priest senate and priest personnel board. A fourth part of the job description focused not on cult but on social justice, in fact with a team of Protestant ministers we bought a building in West Oakland and started the North Oakland Christian Parish, which continues today as more of a priority as does adult education and social justice.
Liturgy continues to be a major focus, but now with mature co-ministers like the environment committee, the worship coordinating committee, the liturgy planning committee and our sacristans and collaboration all along the way. Ecumenism is not the hot topic it once was. But development of lay leadership continues to be a priority as does adult education and social justice.
Whatever the future holds and whatever challenges develop in the years to come, we can be sure of the presence of the Holy Spirit and that She will surprise us and She will figure things out.
Rev. Msgr. Theodore W. Kraus
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York
Ordination: March 9, 1963, St. Joseph's New Cathedral, Buffalo, New York
Present ministry: Pastor, Santa Maria Parish, Orinda
Past service: Diocese of Buffalo: seminary formation; faculty member at diocesan preparatory seminary; faculty member and director of Community Services & Development, Wadham's Hall College Seminary. Diocese of Ogdensburg: diocesan director of Vocations and Permanent Diaconate. Diocese of Oakland: campus ministry, Holy Names College (University), Oakland; diocesan director for Permanent Diaconate Formation for Catechetical Ministries, Department of Faith & Ministry, School of Pastoral Ministry; parochial administrator, Our Lady of Mercy, Point Richmond.
When asked why I became a priest, the only response that makes sense to me is that God has called me to be a priest and, over these 50 years God's people continue to validate this call. My life and ministry have been filled with deep joy, profound challenge, and always with a firm commitment made possible through encountering the fidelity and witness of the women and men who accompany me. I have served as a teacher-formator of seminarians, priests, permanent deacons, women religious, catechists, lay ministers, and parishioners. But the most memorable experiences have been as a minister of the Eucharist, of healing and forgiveness, preaching the Gospel — all privileged moments of communion with Christ in the continuance of this mission.
Rev. William Marshall
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
Ordination: March 30, 1963, Fribourg, Switzerland
Present ministry: Retired, Alameda
Past service: Chaplain/teacher: St. Louis High School, Honolulu, Hawaii; Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii; St. Paul's College, Melbourne, Australia. Chaplain/teacher/associate pastor: St. Joseph, Alameda. Associate pastor: St. Isidore, Danville; St. Anthony, Oakland; St. Philip Neri, Alameda. Vice-Officialis/Vicar for Religious, Oakland diocesan tribunal; secretary to Bishop Floyd L. Begin. Pastor: St. Albert the Great, Alameda; St. John the Baptist, San Lorenzo; St. Catherine of Siena, Martinez. Administrator, Santa Maria, Orinda.
To celebrate 50 years of priestly life is an occasion for gratitude, humility and trust. God has been so good to bring to fruition a desire planted in my heart in the fifth grade. The priestly life has been like a Rosary with its joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries. In all of it, God has been there with His mercy, wisdom — and forgiveness. Preaching, confessions, RCIA, tribunal work, sacramental ministry — especially the offering of the Holy Sacrifice, care of the sick and the grieving-these and so many other dimensions of priestly ministry have all provided joys, sorrows, great light and, occasionally, even a glory or two! God does write straight with crooked lines! So many years serving so many wonderful people (and occasionally, perhaps, a few not so wonderful!). One of the greatest joys has been the example and friendship of many wonderful brother priests. How human we all are! Sacerdotal charity covers a multitude of human limitations! Deo gratias for it all!
Rev. E. Donald Osuna
Ordination: March 30, 1963, St. Louis Bertrand, Oakland
Present ministry: Retired
Past service: Associate pastor: St. Jarlath, Oakland; St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland; rector, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland; parochial vicar, St. Joseph the Worker, Berkeley; pastor, St. Jerome, El Cerrito; St. Mary, Walnut Creek. Diocesan director of Music, Office of Worship.
The seeds planted in FAMILY and cultivated in SEMINARY blossomed in MINISTRY. That ministry, begun in 1963, required special preparation because we were the first priests to implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Had it not been for gifts inherited from family and academic tools and theological formation received in seminary, we would not have been up to the challenge. As it turned out, our background and training gave us the capacity and the eagerness to adopt and adapt Pope John's aggiornamento (bringing up to date) and the Council's vision.
So, after 50 years, I remain grateful to parents, siblings and extended family for shaping my character; and to the dedicated educators who broadened my mind and gave me a spirituality large enough to embrace the new and unexpected. Above all, I am thankful to the Lord of the Harvest for inviting me to work in his vineyard during such an historic time. It has been an exciting challenge, a fruitful blessing and most rewarding experience.
Rev. Josef Prochnow, OFM
Birthplace: Flagstaff, Arizona
Ordination: Dec. 21, 1963, San Roque Parish, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Care for the sick and temporal needs; residing at San Damiano Retreat Center, Danville
Past service: Novice director and prefect of formation, Guardian at St. Elizabeth Friary, Oakland; ministry to AIDS victims.
Rev. Msgr. Antonio A. Valdivia
Ordination: April 6, 1963, Our Lady of Lourdes, Oakland
Present ministry: Retired; bishop's liaison with the Latino priests
Past service: Pastoral associate: Our Lady of Grace, Castro Valley; St. Bernard, Oakland; St. Clement, Hayward; Our Lady of the Rosary, Union City. Pastor: St. Anthony, Oakland; St. Leonard, Fremont; St. Cornelius, Richmond; St. Catherine of Siena, Martinez; St. Louis Bertrand, Oakland. Vicar of the Spanish-speaking, Diocese of Oakland.
I started my priesthood at the foot of the altar with the words of King David: "I will go unto the altar of God to God who gives joy unto my youth" (Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam). Those words still ring loud and clear in my heart for the joy of the Lord has been my strength these past 50 years. In the ups and downs, in the good times and bad times, in moments of doubt and certainty, the good Lord has been there.
I was highly influenced by the French Jesuit, Cardinal Jean Danielou, especially by his book: "The Lord of History." He opened my eyes to that whole world of Biblical Typology … To find the Lord in the signs of the times. My 50 years in priesthood have given me many signs of the good Lord: The Civil Rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the La Causa Farmworker of Cesar Chavez, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 experience of the Twin Towers.
In the midst of all this there was that great Church event: Vatican Council II. That push to bring the Church up to date, the aggiornamiento of Pope John XXIII gave energy to my priesthood in the parish and in the diocese at large. I am most grateful to my first bishop, Most Rev. Floyd L. Begin, who set on the right track in Hispanic ministry. I bless my second bishop, Most Rev. John S. Cummins, who supported my ministry in good times and in bad.
Someone asked me if I have ever seen the Lord. My answer is YES! In the faces of all those people I have worked with in all the parishes and cursillos, and diocesan events. For me they are the PEOPLE OF GOD. ALLELUIA! My sister and brother, my nephews and nieces, my grand nieces and grand nephews join me in thanking all the People of God who walk by faith and build up the Church here in the Diocese of Oakland. THANKS FOR THE MEMORY! PEACE and JOY/PAZ y ALEGRIA.
Rev. Louis Vitale, OFM
Birthplace: Los Angeles
Ordination: Dec. 21, 1963, San Roque Parish, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Retired; active in peace and justice ministry, St. Elizabeth Parish Friary, Oakland
Past service: Provincial minister of St. Barbara Province at Provincial office in Oakland; world-renowned ambassador in justice and peace ministry.
25 Years of Service
Rev. Johnson Abraham
Birthplace: Neendoor, India
Ordination: Jan. 7, 1988, Neendoor, India
Present ministry: Parochial administrator, St. Agnes Parish, Concord
Past service: Parochial vicar: St. Edward, Newark; St. Augustine, Pleasanton. Chaplain, Washington Hospital, Fremont.
It is with great joy and gratitude that I look back on my 25 years of priesthood. I consider it a privilege to be a priest to serve in the Church of God. Priesthood is a pilgrimage in love. It is a walk in love with God and the community whom you are called to serve. Walking with God is an awesome experience when one sees His presence and absence. Even in His absence we know that He is close. Walking in love with the community is more interesting. It's a journey together with each other's bag and baggage; nagging, complaining and yet trying to lift each other up; frowning less and smiling more. As St. Paul commands "walk in love" (Eph.5.2) is a pilgrimage in progress. Yes, I have walked, but I know I have miles to go.
Rev. Roberto Corral, OP
Birthplace: Los Angeles Ordination: June 17, 1988, Saint Mary's College, Moraga
Present ministry: Pastor, Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch
Past service: Parochial vicar: All Saints Newman Center at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona; Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch. Pastor: St. Dominic, San Francisco; Most Holy Trinity, Phoenix, Arizona. Provincial superior of the Dominican order in the Western United States.
My priesthood has been an amazing adventure filled with more blessings than I can count and more challenges than I could ever have imagined. Through it all God has been faithful to me and helped me grow, give of myself, overcome self-doubts and obstacles and find the joy that only he can give. It continually amazes me that as a priest, people whom I do not know all that well will share with me their deepest joys, sorrows, struggles and dreams.
I remember even as a youth in high school thinking that I wanted my life to be different and fulfilling, and it has certainly been that and more. My favorite aspects of priesthood are preaching and presiding at Mass, walking over to the parish school and giving and receiving hugs from the kids, trying to explain the faith to someone who is spiritually hungry, hearing a very sincere penitent in confession and singing and dancing at parish social events.
Certainly, there are challenges, struggles and frustrations in the priesthood, but most of them are due to my own imperfections, limitations and sinfulness. Continually, I have to learn to let go of my need to control my life and the outcomes I want. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by all the demands placed upon me and the expectations I place upon myself, and during those periods I can neglect my own spiritual needs. But time and time again, I have found God's mercy always calls me back to who I am — his beloved child and a priest for his people. There are times when I wonder what life would be like as a married man with children, but I cannot imagine myself being happier and more fulfilled than I am as a priest. God is good!
Rev. Joy Kumarthusseril, MF
Birthplace: Shertally, Kerala, India
Ordination: Dec. 10, 1988, Rome, Italy
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Phillip Neri-St. Albert the Great Parish, Alameda
Past service: Parochial vicar, Our Lady of Grace Parish, Ponte Galeria, Rome. Regional superior, Philippines. Faculty, MF seminary, Nadippally, Andhra Pradesh, India. Procurator general and rector of MF formation house, Rome, Italy. External collaborator for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Vatican; pastor, St. Cajetan Parish, Colfelice, Italy. Parochial vicar, St. Augustine, Pleasanton.
Vocation to priesthood for me has been a chance to experience God's love and to touch the life of many people at such a deep level. I am filled with gratitude to my parents, family, friends and parish community for the inspiration I received. As a priest lives his vocation, he falls in love with the people entrusted to his pastoral care. At the moments of birth and death, times of union and separation and events of reconciliation we are invited to be there in the midst of God's people to share their pain and joy.
Being a religious priest is not so much what I do, but who I become. I have never regretted my choice and it fills me with joy to think that every time I celebrate the Eucharist, I become God's instrument to accomplish his mission here on earth! What a privilege, what a gift — is that call to be a priest.
Rev. Armando Lopez, OFM
Birthplace: Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Ordination: Aug. 27, 1988, St. Elizabeth Parish, Oakland Present ministry: Parochial vicar, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Los Angeles
Past service: Parochial vicar, St. Elizabeth Parish, Oakland; itinerant preaching and mission ministry in Diocese of Oakland
Rev. Salvatore J. Ragusa, SDS
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Ordination: May 14, 1988, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Columbia, Missouri
Present ministry: Priest/campus minister and resident director, Saint Mary's College, Moraga
Past service: Parochial vicar, Our Lady of Lourdes, Columbia, Missouri. Campus minister: University of California at Santa Barbara; University of Wisconsin at Parkside and Carthage Lutheran College, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
My journey to the priesthood began when I was very young thanks to the guidance and support of my parents, Larry and Marie Ragusa. It was not a straight path to ordination, but one of many twists and turns, ups and downs and included another call to be part of a religious community, the Salvatorians. I learned throughout those challenging times that God is ever faithful, and when God calls, God is persistent! I am thankful that I was ordained after I had time to mature more fully, and experience more of life's joys and sorrows. I believe all these experiences have served me well and allowed me to serve others better. One of my great joys as a priest is that I have been able to walk with young adults as a campus minister, for they are the future of the Church. In my service to and with others, I have come to understand what Jesus means when he tells us we will be "repaid one hundred fold." I thank God that I have had these past 25 years to serve the People of God as a priest of Jesus Christ and as a member of the Society of the Divine Savior. I ask for prayers that I may continue to serve with faith, hope and love.
The following priests who have served in the Oakland diocese are also observing a major anniversary of ordination this year:
Rev. Norman Ruffing
Rev. Sergius Propst, OP
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