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placeholder September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA

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Bishop Barber, pope offer prayers for Syria

Pope Francis called all to a day of prayer and fasting for peace for Syria on Sept. 7, days before U.S. lawmakers vote on President Barack Obama's proposal for a military attack on Syria.

In the Oakland diocese, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, asked all the priests of the diocese at a meeting Sept. 4 to encourage their parishioners to join in the vigil for peace.

"I call upon our diocese to be in concert with the pope's request for a global prayer vigil for peace. The pope suggested worldwide observances on Sept. 7 that focus on prayer, fasting and liturgical observances. I met with many of our priests on Sept. 4 and discussed ideas, including Eucharistic Devotion, Holy Hours and prayer services. This day is also the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace and family prayer and rosaries can also take place."

Other Catholic organizations in the diocese also were to have participated, including the Maryknoll Regional Mission House in San Lorenzo, with a candlelight peace vigil on Sept. 6.

"We will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God's great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world," the pope said Sept. 1, before praying the noon Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter's Square. "Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace."

The Vatican vigil was to include a recital of the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, Scripture readings, a papal blessing and remarks by Pope Francis. During the evening event, priests were available to hear confessions.

For all Catholics, the pope proclaimed Sept. 7 a "day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world." On fast days, adult Catholics in good health are expected to eat only one full meal.

Obama has called for military strikes to punish the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which the U.S. blames for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, including children.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, according to the United Nations, a civil war between Assad's government and rebel forces has killed more than 100,000 people, driven 2 million refugees out of Syria and displaced another 4.5 million inside the country.

On Aug. 29, a committee of U.S. bishops called for a political solution, and Catholic leaders in Europe warned military intervention could lead to an escalation of hostilities.

Twilight by the Lake returns
Several hundred people were treated to live music, food and wine as the Diocese of Oakland began its Twilight by the Lake series Aug. 15. All are welcome to enjoy live music, a beautiful lake view and complimentary appetizers at the next event on the Plaza of The Cathedral of Christ the Light from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19. Dance to the band Vocal-ease and The Boogie Men, who delighted the crowd at last year's event. Twilights by the Lake are free and take place the third Thursdays of August, September and October. Everyone is welcome.
Dexter Valencia/The Catholic Voice

New assignments

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has made the following new assignments, all effective Oct. 1:

Rev. Jesus Hernandez to pastor at St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish, Pittsburg, from St. Louis Bertrand Parish, Oakland.

Rev. Olman Solis to pastor at St. Louis Bertrand Parish, Oakland, from St. Anthony Parish, Oakley.

Rev. Kenneth Sales to parochial administrator at St. Anthony Parish, Oakley. Father Sales is already serving at St. Anthony.

Youth ministry jam

On Fire at NorCal Jam, the youth and young adult ministry day, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 21 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo. This amazing day for youth and young adults will include Mass with four bishops, numerous nationally known speakers, a Christian concert, unlimited rides, food and a vocations fair. For details and to sign up go to www.OnFireNorCal.com.

Aid for Philippines

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has approved an optional second collection for disaster relief in the Philippines. Funds should be sent to the Diocesan Finance Office for transfer, clearly marked for Philippines disaster relief. Catholic Relief Services is collecting aid to assist the people of The Philippines after recent floods. Floodwaters have begun to recede and families are returning home. As of Sept. 1, there were an estimated 48,000 persons in evacuation centers. CRS is providing household items and sanitary kits to families in evacuation centers. For information, go to http://emergencies.crs.org and click on the Philippine flood item.

Crèche Festival dates

The fourth annual Crèche Festival celebrates the family tradition of the nativity scene and will feature musical performances, an event for children and a guest lecture on the origins of the crèche. It is set for Dec. 13-15 at The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland.

The weekend will begin with a performance by the group Chanticleer on Dec. 13.

As part of the three-day festival, all parishes will be invited to display a crèche that has been used by the parish or that is created by parishioners. The crèches will remain on display throughout the festival.

Blood drive results

The American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region reported results from the 2013 Interfaith Blood Drive. Via 42 individual drives, this year's event collected nearly 1,800 pints of blood. The interfaith effort has collected a total of 7,293 pints of blood over the past three years and is the largest single blood drive held by the Red Cross in the Northern California region.

Catholic Charities CEO

Catholic Charities of the East Bay is conducting a national search for a chief executive officer to replace former CEO Solomon Belette, who left his position Aug. 30. CCEB noted that Belette's leadership had "enhanced CCEB's visibility and reinforced the agency's perception as the social justice arm in the East Bay." Visit www.cceb.org.

Sign up for Fatima statue

The National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, San Bernardino, is available for visits to parishes in the diocese. Details and planning assistance may be obtained from Aurelio "Ying" M. Palmos at 909-287-9268, or palmosam@yahoo.com, representative of the World Apostolate of Fatima, San Bernardino Diocese Division. The World Apostolate of Fatima, formerly known as the 'Blue Army, is a Vatican-recognized public association of the faithful under the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

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'Culture of encounter'

PITTSBURGH — Citing the words of Pope Francis, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs called for a "culture of encounter" among Catholics and Lutherans during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's churchwide assembly in Pittsburgh. Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore told the assembly Aug. 13 that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 offers an opportunity to "point the way toward Christian unity" rather than focusing on what keeps the two faith communities divided.

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Field art
An aerial view of an image of Pope Francis by Italian artist Dario Gambarin is seen in a threshed wheat field in Castagnaro, Italy, Sept. 3. Gambarin used a tractor with a plow and a harrow to create the image.
Cns photo

Pope names No. 2

Although Pope Francis has not hesitated to break with convention during his brief pontificate, in appointing a seasoned member of the diplomatic corps as the top Vatican official, he resumed a long-standing tradition.

The pope appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, a longtime official in the Vatican secretariat of state and nuncio to Venezuela since 2009, to be his secretary of state.

On Oct. 15, Archbishop Parolin will succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, who came to the post in 2006 after serving as archbishop of Genoa, Italy.

The secretary of state is the pope's highest-ranking collaborator, coordinating the work of the entire Roman Curia, overseeing the operation of the Vatican press office and newspaper, coordinating the preparation and publication of papal documents, and supervising the work of Vatican nuncios, in their relations with Catholic communities in individual countries and with national governments.

For years, Archbishop Parolin led Vatican delegations to Vietnam each year to discuss church-state issues with the country's communist government, a process that eventually led Vietnam to accept a nonresident papal representative to the country. The move was widely seen as a step toward establishing full diplomatic relations.

In the current Vatican organizational framework, the secretary of state is responsible for ensuring that the pope's policies and priorities take concrete form in the work of Vatican offices. The secretary typically has been very close to the pope and meets with him often.

Archbishop Parolin was born Jan. 17, 1955, in Schiavon, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980. He studied at the Vatican diplomatic academy while earning a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1986, he began working at Vatican embassies, serving in Nigeria and in Mexico before moving to the offices of the Vatican Secretariat of State. He was named undersecretary for foreign relations in 2002.

Legionary priest promoted

A Legionary priest who led a major overhaul of the Vatican's telecommunications infrastructure and set up public email addresses for two popes has been named the new secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City. Spanish-born Legionaries of Christ Father Fernando Vergez, 68, fills a vacancy recently left by Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, whom the pope named Aug. 24 to the Vatican's supreme tribunal as adjunct secretary under U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

— Catholic News Service

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