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Music concert
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placeholder May 5, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic Women

Strong group aids St. John
St. Gerard's
Women's Club

Brenda Silva, president
St. John the Baptist Parish,
San Lorenzo


St. Gerard's Women's Club initially began as a mother's club that offered social activities for many of the parish's women who were raising young children. The group was named for St. Gerard, the patron saint of mothers and mothers-to-be.

A core group eventually spun-off into a PTG (parent-teacher) group and the Women's Club continued with a focus on providing financial assistance to the church and occasionally the school, if needed.

The club has been around for 63 years at St. John the Baptist Parish in San Lorenzo, making it one of the oldest Catholic women organizations in the area.

The club has about 180 members who meet once a month. Most of the members are parishioners at St. John. A few of the members come from other parishes that do not have a women's club, said Brenda Silva, club president, who has been a member of the club since 1970.

Most of the group's activities involve fundraisers such as the upcoming Salad Bar Luncheon on May 10. Other fundraisers include events like Trinkets and Treasure, a kind of rummage sale, a continental breakfast, bake sales and Western Night. The club has also organized two annual retreats for women, one at San Damiano Retreat in Danville and the other at St. Clare's Retreat Center in Soquel.

Proceeds raised from the fundraisers mostly go to the parish. Silva said that St. Gerard's Women's Club gives St. John Parish between $10,000 and $16,000 a year. The group has also donated funds to the local chapter of Birthright.

The club vigorously recruits new members from other parish groups, including the PTG group. Silva said that there is a lot of interest because for many of the members their children are grown and the women have the time.

Silva, who has served as president of the group three times, noted that the women are all cooperative with one another and are generous. "We help each other" like sisters, she said.

In addition to keeping the club going for 63 years, the club has also sponsored a seminarian and had three stained glass windows installed in the church.

New members must be sponsored or brought in by a current member. Other than that there are no requirements. Dues are $10 a year.

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