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St. Peter Martyr
Parish celebrates 100th year

'Collegial'
discussions should mark 2015
synod meeting

Synod ends by affirming tradition

Mission to Burundi: hope in the midst of poverty

Blue Mass honors those who say,
'I can make
a difference'

Bishop's Appeal passes goal

Elizabeth House
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Classy Crafters
help fill food pantry
in Concord

Black Catholic
History Month

Blessing of
the animals

A new director takes over at San Damiano

A sampling of upcoming retreats

Walks for the poor
aid East Bay
St. Vincent de Paul

10 anniversary couples win drawing

List your
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Come to the
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to serve

Three who are called
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Knights' vocations dinner

Vocation stories
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Week celebrates vocations

Report looks
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placeholder October 27, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA

Masses at St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish fill the church every weekend.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice

St. Peter Martyr Parish celebrates 100th year

Rev. Ricardo A. Chavez

My relationship with this parish is long and enduring. I began my life here. I expect to end my days here.

My parents, Pascual and Maria Chavez, met in Pittsburg and were married at St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish in 1927. I received Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation there and then had the joy of being ordained a priest at my home parish in 1963. I was privileged to serve as its pastor from 1997 until 2010, when I retired.

Since 1853 Dominican Friars assumed responsibility for the fledgling communities on both sides of Suisun Bay and established Catholic centers in many localities, including present-day Pittsburg. They created St. Peter Martyr of Verona Mission on Dec. 12, 1884.

Father Albert Lawler was the first to celebrate Mass in the new building the following spring. People showed up from all over the area by horseback and horse-drawn carriages. The parish is indebted to St. Dominic in Benicia, St. Catherine of Siena in Martinez and Most Holy Rosary in Antioch for sending priests over land or water to tend to the people's needs.

 
Anniversary events

Mass and receptions
Nov. 1, 4 p.m. Bishop Emeritus John Cummins

Feb. 8, noon
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ

June 7, 2 p.m.
Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu and a former pastor at St. Peter Martyr Parish.

Information: 925-432-4771
St. Peter Martyr Parish
740 Black Diamond St., Pittsburg
www.stpetermartyr.org
 
With the growth of the immediate vicinity due to coal mining, ranching, fishing, canning and manufacturing and the presence of many Catholics, particularly those of Italian-Sicilian heritage, St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish, counting 800 members, was officially established under the direction of Dominican Friars on Nov. 1, 1914. Father Reginald Fei would serve as its first pastor for six years.

The Catholic populace, always ready to face any need, oversaw the construction of three worship spaces, the first two at West Second and Cutter streets in 1884 and 1910, and the third, still standing, at West Eighth and Black Diamond streets in 1931.

Father Louis Naselli led the effort in construction of the church, considered one of the most beautiful in East Contra Costa County then and now. He returned 15 years later for another term as pastor and built the parish school and convent.

St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish, as an integral part of New York Landing, Black Diamond and Pittsburg, has always shown resilience, courage and stamina in the challenge presented by peoples of diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic traits and included them within its fold. The Sicilian-Italians made up the vast majority of parishioners. Today the overwhelming population is Hispanic. Both have filled the Masses with about 3,200 worshipers every weekend.

With its large Italian-Sicilian membership, the parish became, at least until the middle of the 20th century, intimately identified with the city of Pittsburg, sharing the same geographical area and to a great extent the same populace and served as the heartbeat of the community. The two coalesced to bring about a group of people with the important priorities of work, family and faith.

The parish, while attending to the spiritual needs of its Catholic members, has never lost sight of the material needs of all citizens, with food pantries, educational and civic involvement, attention to human and civil rights at the local, county, state and national levels and maintained its own parochial school system for over 60 years.

The parish has accompanied its parishioners at all stages of their lives, with Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, weekend Masses, weddings and funerals, literally from the womb to the tomb, and assisted men and women of Pittsburg to recognize and live their Christian Catholic values.

St. Peter Martyr of Verona parish has survived many challenges to its own life, at first thriving, then almost dying and now flourishing again, as well as being divided up into three parishes and changing over from the Dominican Friars to priests of the Oakland diocese and the destruction and reconstruction of entire neighboring areas of old Pittsburg. To its credit, it has engendered the parishes of Our Lady Queen of the World in Bay Point and The Church of the Good Shepherd on the south side of Pittsburg.

For all these reasons and more, St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish is now gratefully remembering its past, joyfully celebrating its present and excitedly preparing for the future.

(Father Chavez heads the Centennial Committee at St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish.)

 
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