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Retreat for men considering priesthood

New year prospects
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'All are welcome' at
St. Joseph Seniors

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New Year's
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Senior events:
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US longevity lags,
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First person:
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Two days of
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Christmas offers
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placeholder January 6, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA

St. Joseph Seniors have bus trips and day outings, including a visit to Mission San Jose in Fremont.

'All are welcome' at St. Joseph Seniors

You could say that Bill Gahan is a man of well-chosen words. None might be better chosen than the three which he ends each announcement for events for St. Joseph Seniors: All are welcome.

Even the name of the group bears the mark of inclusion and simplicity. Ten years ago, when he approached then-pastor, Father Quang Dong, about forming a group for senior citizens at the Pinole parish, he was given the go-ahead for a meeting.

Thirty to 40 people turned up, Gahan recalled, and names for the group were considered. Cutesy didn't make the cut.

"Why don't we simply call it St. Joseph Seniors?" he recalled suggesting at the time. "It tells you who we are."

St. Joseph Seniors it is.

There are no dues. Membership is not checked by age ("If they think they're a senior") or parish ("I never ask.") People from nearby parishes attend, sometimes with friends.

All are welcome.

The group continues to be strong, with about 40 people attending the monthly events, which might include 11 a.m. Mass, potluck lunch and a speaker, or an excursion.

One speaker, a cardiologist, told the group that "as seniors, we could do nothing better for our health than what we were doing right then — being together and socializing," Bill and Susan Gahan wrote in an email.

"We have bus trips and day outings," said Bill Gahan, who serves as group leader. Events include a yearly bus trip to a casino; ferry ride to Angel Island; bus trips to the Disney Museum and deYoung Museum in San Francisco and to Mission San Jose in Fremont.

Susan Gahan recalled a particularly memorable trip: "We took a train to Sacramento, walked all around Old Town and had lunch and took the train back."

The Pinole seniors were among the first to take part in a new feature of the annual Crèche Festival. A recent excursion brought 40 seniors on a bus trip to the Cathedral of Christ the Light, where they toured the cathedral to see the professional crèche and floral displays, and the Cathedral Event Center to see the parish and school Nativity scenes. They also attended a lecture on the meaning of the crèche, and ate lunch before boarding the bus to return to Pinole.

Festival organizers said 125 seniors from six parishes participated this year.

"Our seniors had a nice time," said Susan Gahan.

In early December, the St. Joseph Seniors enjoyed one of their favorite events of the year, the potluck Christmas party. Sixth-graders from St. Joseph School assist in setting up the parish hall for the festive event, and later sing Christmas carols while their elders eat dessert.

Another highlight of the event is the gift exchange. Seniors are asked to bring a white elephant from home, or a gift that costs no more than $10, to exchange.

January's speaker will be from Kaiser, speaking about diabetes and heart health, Susan Gahan said.

St. Joseph Seniors "gives people a chance to get out, and be with other people." Sometimes the group plans an outing to the Pinole Senior Center to introduce participants to other opportunities for seniors in the area.

St. Joseph Seniors usually get together the first Thursday of the month. Check the parish bulletin, which is available online at www.sjcpinole.org. All are welcome.

"We mean it," said Bill Gahan. "We want everyone to come."

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