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placeholder September 8, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA

Above, Pastor Rev. Paul Vassar and Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins, at rear, are joined by some of the altar servers at St. Leander Parish, San Leandro, on Aug. 9, after a celebratory outdoor Mass in the schoolyard concluded three days of festivities marking the parish's 150th anniversary year. Left, Revs. Herman Leong and Jayson Landeza assist as
Rev. Paul Vassar offers up the bread and wine.
Staff photos

St. Leander closes 150th celebration year

About 600 people attended a final Mass Aug. 9 in the school parking lot of St. Leander School as the parish concluded a year of celebration marking its 150th anniversary.

"For 150 years, the people of St. Leander have gathered here in prayer," said Rev. Paul Vassar, pastor, at the jubilee Mass, conducted in English and Spanish.

"Very few churches have been around this long," he said. He noted that as the parish celebrated its 150th anniversary, it has always been a parish answering the call of social justice.

He singled out three things the parish is doing now, in its year of jubilee:

The parish offers English as a Second Language classes mornings and evenings, six days a week — "A big commitment and a gift to the community."

The people of St. Leander open their church every Monday so that one night a week, "there is a place of refuge, shelter for the homeless in San Leandro." The third thing, Father Vassar said, is that the parish houses a local Spanish language radio station at the church office.

Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins, who observed he had taught Father Vassar at Bishop O'Dowd High School, recalled the sentiments of Pope St. John XXIII — that "an anniversary is not an opportunity. It's an obligation. The things that we treasure and give meaning in life can get dusty, and an anniversary is a time to pause and look back."

"As we celebrate the past, we embrace the future," Father Vassar said. "We plant the seeds of faith in ourselves and nurture them in others."

After the Mass, a parish pot-luck dinner was held in the hall. A family fiesta celebration with food and live entertainment drew about 1,000 people Aug. 7 and about 600 on Aug. 8.

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