A Publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland
Catholic Voice Online Edition
Front Page In this Issue Around the Diocese Forum News in Brief Calendar Commentary
Mission Statement
Contact Us
Publication Dates
Back Issues

Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland

Movie Reviews

Mass Times

Catholic Voice
articles list
placeholder Jubilarians:



Pope Francis' simple, artless actions resonate powerfully

'Who am I to judge?' Pope's remarks
do not change
church teaching

FACE scholar is on
her way to Amherst

Chautauqua celebration set
for October 12

Maryknoll offers mission training September 13-15

Principals change
in Fremont

Youth, young adult events on calendar

Younger sisters
see smaller orders ahead, but say
future still bright

Presentation Sisters' gathering

Rev. George Matanic, OP

Sister Nancy Teskey, SNJM

Sister Mary Thomas Magee, PBVM

Mercy Center
provides a home
for a lifetime

Sisters' bathroom remodel project
gets a boost from
SOAR! grant

Senior group 'Tuesdays with Larry' keep Assumption grounds neat

Latin America too
is facing an aging demographic earthquake

First signs of
Alzheimer's can
occur on vacations

Care fits health mission, but too
few aware of it

Different paths
bring doctors,
patients to palliative
care, hospice

placeholder August 12, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
The photo above left is what the area next to the rectory looked like before improvements;
on the right, as it looks now.
Courtesy photos

Senior group 'Tuesdays with Larry'
keeps Assumption grounds neat

Oscar Borin, at age 92, tends to the roses.

Assumption Church in San Leandro hasn't had a professional gardener or maintenance person for the past 18 years. However if you stroll around the parish grounds looking for weeds, peeling paint or unkempt bushes, you won't find any.

That's because a group of senior volunteers of the parish — known as Tuesdays with Larry — have been at work all these years transforming the property from an embarrassing eyesore into beautiful and eye-pleasing landscaped gardens.

In the mid-1990s no one cared to be photographed near the church after weddings, First Communions and other celebratory events because of its sad and ragged appearance. In 1996 a newly retired Larry Graves and Gloria Calegari, both members of the parish council, glanced out of an open door at church and instead of just cringing resolved to improve the look of the church grounds.

They had little difficulty in recruiting and organizing a small group of volunteers who set out to beautify the property. Slowly and methodically, these volunteers planted more than 400 shrubs on land adjacent to the church and designed and constructed eye-catching spiritual and memorial gardens that are now used as areas for meditation and prayer.

Church of the Assumption

Founded 1951
Pastor, Rev. Vincent J. Scott
1100 Fulton Ave., San Leandro
By 2001 the volunteers had completed three major projects: a rose garden and shrine for Our Lady of the Assumption, a gazebo and garden retreat and a plaza named for longtime parishioner Mary Seese. Not about to rest on their laurels the church volunteers assisted a group of volunteers at the parish school in building the Jean Schroeder Terrace, a lunch area for pupils. Built in 2004 the terrace was a "thank you" to Schroeder who served as principal at the school for some dozen years.

Explaining that it isn't always easy to tap into the impressive talent pool of a parish, Larry Graves, who ran a tire shop founded by his father, took on the role of the "pusher" or as he described it, someone has to push to get things done. The volunteer group soon became known as "Tuesdays with Larry," a title inspired by the book, "Tuesdays with Morrie."

Larry Graves

The volunteers, most of whom work three to four hours a week, have diverse backgrounds and come from all walks of life, Graves said. They have included a volunteer who had been a carpenter, another was a telephone company technician, a retired stenographer and a former city councilman of San Leandro.

Oscar Borin, who used to supervise machine shops, has the distinction of being "one of our best workers," a "wizard with the roses," and at age 92 is the oldest volunteer "and still going strong," Graves said.

In 2005 the volunteers designed and helped construct a bathroom in the church that was more accessible for parishioners and others visiting the church with physical disabilities. This work supplemented what Graves called "a tiny three foot by eight foot bathroom."

Other projects tackled by the TWL workers include removing and replacing 93 feet of badly cracked concrete sidewalk in front of the church; remodeling and painting the kitchen adjacent to the parish social hall; and rewiring the school office so that portable heaters could be turned on in the winter without tripping the circuit breakers.

Over the years and under the umbrella of maintenance work, the volunteers have cleaned roof gutters, repaired and stained fences, painted the sacristy and church bathrooms, waxed the church floor and pews, and maintained the kneelers.

From 1996 to 2013 Graves has estimated that the volunteers have put in 32,000 hours of physical work, saving Assumption parish more than $500,000. However the attrition rate for the senior volunteers is high. Many have moved away or can no longer do the physical work. A few have died.

"Nevertheless, we carry on the best we can," Graves said. "When people donate their talents and treasures, there is almost no limit to what can be accomplished, albeit at a slower pace."

back to topup arrow


Copyright © 2013 The Catholic Voice, All Rights Reserved. Site design by Sarah Kalmon-Bauer.