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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 23, 2015
VOL. 53, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
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Loved by his parishioners, Father Seamus laid to rest

Hundreds of people and many priests gathered to say farewell to Rev. Seamus Genovese.

He was a people person.

For proof one only needed to look about Our Lady of Lourdes Church on March 17 — if you could.

Every seat was filled. Those who couldn't sit stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the walls of the church. A few sat in the grotto just outside of the church. Others stood at the entrance of the Oakland church. They came with tears in their eyes and love in their hearts.

They all came to celebrate the life and ministry of Rev. Seamus Genovese, who died on March 11 at age 67. He served over 27 years as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church — only the third pastor in the parish's 94-year history.

"He loved people. He loved his family, he loved all of the people in every parish in which he served," Father John McGarry, SJ, said to the multitude of people that had gathered for the priest's funeral Mass.

Rev. Seamus Genovese

Father McGarry was one of several priests who helped keep the parish running during Father Genovese's courageous two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. When he was able, the ailing pastor would come to the church to preside at Mass and when he did, he would be so happy to be at a Mass, Father McGarry added.

The Eucharist was central to Father Genovese's life, and bringing people together around the altar came a close second in importance to him, Father McGarry said.

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Seamus Genovese was born on Christmas Day in 1947. After attending elementary schools in Ireland, he graduated with his high school diploma from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach. He continued his education at St. Patrick's College in Mountain View, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree and later he graduated with a master of divinity degree from St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park.

He took a leave of absence in April 1972. After leaving the seminary he traveled to Florida and Chicago and then New York, where he lived for 17 months. During that time, he served as a deckhand on a sight-seeing boat, taught third grade in Harlem, New York, and worked as a bartender.

A seminary classmate, Rev. George Mockel, vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland, recalled that Father Genovese "joined our class in the middle years of our theological studies, but he melded in very easily to what was already a rather diverse and eclectic group of guys."

"I will always be grateful for his welcome to me when I was first appointed Vicar General by Archbishop Vigneron after our other classmate, Bishop Larry Silva, was made bishop of Hawaii," Father Mockel said. "The Chancery Office was next door to Our Lady of Lourdes in those days and he was always good for a dinner invitation and, of course a martini!"

When his sabbatical ended, Father Genovese returned to the Diocese of Oakland and was ordained to the priesthood on May 2, 1975, by Bishop Floyd L. Begin at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. He went on to serve as parochial vicar at the following parishes: St. Joachim in Hayward, Our Lady of Grace in Castro Valley, St. John's in San Lorenzo, St. Cornelius, Richmond and St. Agnes in Concord. He was also on the diocesan school board, diocesan senate and diocesan personnel board.

Under his leadership, Our Lady of Lourdes has become one of the most beautiful churches in the city — on the inside. Father Genovese supervised a massive renovation that created a modern and spacious sanctuary that is equally striking in appearance as the structure's exterior, Romanesque style structure featuring a 110-foot tall bell tower.

In fact the beauty of the church attracted filmmakers in 2004 who were in Oakland to film scenes for the movie, "The Bee Season," which starred Richard Gere. While onlookers and neighbors came to the church hoping to catch a glance of the Hollywood actor, another "star" was born. Father Genovese was cast as a priest presiding at a Mass
In his remarks, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, mentioned another of the parish's beautiful features — its parishioners. The parish family at Our Lady of Lourdes took loving care of their pastor, the bishop said. They cooked for him, they drove him to his hospital appointments — they stayed with him 24/7 so that he always had company.

Bishop Barber thanked the Oakland community for its outpouring of support. "May God bless you for what you gave to him," he said.

Father Genovese is survived by three younger brothers and their families.

The funeral was held March 17, St. Patrick's Day, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Oakland.

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