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Church must meet
people on their
own ground

Parish's gift might
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Diocese of
Oakland's 51st year
a memorable one

New pope
emphasizes call
to help the poor

28 groups net
Rice Bowl grants
to combat hunger

What is it to think
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Catholic
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to meet in Berkeley

Retreat for men considering priesthood

New year prospects
in Vatican initiatives

'All are welcome' at
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Presentation Sisters
distribute 325
handmade pillows

New Year's
resolutions that will
enrich your retirement

Senior events:
Aging and
spiritual growth

Pope: Don't forget
plight of elderly
abandoned by
own family

US longevity lags,
new report says

First person:
My journey to forgiveness and healing after abortion

Two days of
pro-life events scheduled Jan. 24, 25

Christmas offers
lesson in humility

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placeholder January 6, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
28 groups net Rice Bowl grants to combat hunger

Twenty-eight groups that feed the hungry in Alameda and Contra Costa counties shared almost $20,000 in grant money from the CRS Rice Bowl.

 

Grants awarded

Local Rice Bowl awards and grants from Catholic Relief Services:

Outstanding service award: Brian O'Reilly

Parish Award: St. Peter Martyr Parish, Pittsburg

Grant recipients:

• Ariel Outreach Mission, Oakland, $650

• Delta Christian Community Food Pantry, Byron, $900

• Ephesian Church, Oakland, $900

• Interfaith Sharing, Livermore, $900

• Kmhmu-Laotian Pastoral Center, Richmond, $900

• Monument Crisis Center, Concord, $650

• New Hope Baptist Church, Oakland, $900

• Oakland Catholic Worker, $900

• Open Heart Kitchen, Livermore, $650

• St. Mary's Center, Oakland, $650

• St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County, $900

• St. Vincent de Paul, Church of the Assumption, San Leandro, $650

• St. Vincent de Paul, Hope Conference, Central Contra Costa County, $500

• St. Vincent de Paul, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Brentwood, $700

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Anne Church, Byron, $500

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Augustine Church, Oakland, $650

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Bede Church, Hayward, $650

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Callistus Church, El Sobrante, $900

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine of Siena Church, Martinez, $650

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Columba Church, Oakland, $900

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Felicitas Church, San Leandro, $500

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jerome Church, El Cerrito, $700

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Joachim Church, Hayward, $700

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Joseph Church, Fremont, $500

• St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mark Church, Richmond, $900

• Sister John Marie's Pantry, Fremont, $500

• Sister Rose Carroll's Ministry for the Poor and Homeless, Concord, Oakland, $650

• Tri-Valley Haven Food Pantry, Livermore, $500

 
The annual offerings, collected during Lent, are shared, with 75 percent going to overseas projects of the Catholic Relief Services, and 25 percent staying behind in the diocese to help those who feed the hungry.

Food pantries, providers of hot meals, growers of community gardens and those who provide a hand with rent and utility bills were among the 2014 recipients, which included 13 parish-based St. Vincent de Paul conferences.

Grant checks ranged from $500 to $900 this year, with no applicant turned down, said Marc McKimmey, who is the diocesan coordinator for Catholic Relief Services.

The work of these organizations, many of them volunteer-driven, is desperately needed, he said. "Things seem to be getting worse for those on the bottom" despite news reports of economic recovery, McKimmey said.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, who offered the morning prayer, reflected that the groups represented at the tables in the parish hall at the Cathedral of Christ the Light were his right-hand workers.

"The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world, bringing relief and comfort aid to anyone in need, regardless of their religion, their race or their color," the bishop told the honorees. "Our church has over 1 billion members all around the world. We feed, clothe and shelter more people than other organizations in the world. I'm very proud that you are participating in this act of mercy in the church."

"You have been Christ's, and my, right arm in bringing love and mercy to the many in need, the poor and the sick and suffering of the Diocese of Oakland," he told the volunteers.

"Your actions speak of your great love for the mission of the Catholic Church, the mission of Christ, which is charity," he said.

Brian O'Reilly, a parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Livermore, was honored with the outstanding service award. While he might have been more comfortable with getting up at 5 a.m. to collect food from local supermarkets to bring to shelters and food pantries, he good-naturedly accepted praise.

The award was presented by Samantha Burrows, director of homeless and family support services, one of the Livermore-area agencies he helps support.

"Brian is a pillar in the Livermore community," Burrows said. "He's willing to do pretty much anything that needs to be done."

In the Dec. 8 St. Charles Borromeo Parish bulletin, Father Mark Wiesner elaborated on some of those ministries. "Brian has been a member of our parish for 40 years, and quietly goes about changing lives and helping people," he wrote.

Among the organizations in which he plays an active role include Interfaith Sharing, a Livermore-based group that received a $900 grant.

"He is actively involved in securing and delivering food to the Tri-Valley Food Pantry and Open Heart Kitchen," wrote Father Wiesner, who attended the awards breakfast. "Brian established the 'Golden Retriever' volunteers, who pick up food from grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown out, and sees that the food is used to feed the hungry."

Within the parish, "Brian connects with every family that has lost a loved one," he wrote. "Brian is also the go-to guy whenever anyone contacts the parish looking for assistance. Whether the need is for food, housing, clothes or furniture, Brian has the network and resources to help those who often have nowhere left to turn."

Among the CRS Rice Bowl grant recipients were organizations with many years of service in feeding the poor, to relative newcomers.

"We're the new kids on the block," said Elder Paul Cunningham of New Hope Baptist Church in Oakland.

The first step was giving out bread; followed by sandwiches, which volunteers deliver to people who live outdoors under the freeway overpasses in Oakland. At Thanksgiving, church members assembled 25 complete meals for Thanksgiving, he said.

As part of the church's Prepare the Table ministry, they plan to serve 100 hot meals at the church in January. In addition to those meals, the Hope on Wheels ministry will take to the streets to deliver hot meals. The church received a $900 grant.

 
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