|July 13, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA|
Salute to our veteran priests
With this issue, The Catholic Voice salutes and thanks the religious men who have devoted their lives to serving the people of God. In the following pages, we honor parish priests who have given anywhere from 25 to 60 years in service of the Lord. Join us in offering them our thanks.
60 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. John Hilary Martin, OP
Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey
Ordination: June 10, 1955, St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco
Present ministry: Adjunct professor at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley; Professor Emeritus at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley as well as the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne, Australia.
Past service: Professor of Theology, St. Albert's Priory, Oakland. Visiting professor of History, Catholic Theological College, Melbourne, Australia. Formation/teaching, St. Albert's Priory, Oakland. Professor of church history/formation, St. Dominic's Priory, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia. Taught at the Graduate Theological Union for 50 years (a founding member of the faculty) and an Acting Dean; taught for 5 months each year in Melbourne, Australia at the Catholic Theological College for about 30 years.
I was ordained a priest 60 years ago, a Dominican with Oakland as my hometown. On that day I began a great adventure with the Lord and the 60 years has gone by very quickly. I was blessed by so many good assignments and met so many wonderful people in many places where I was sent in America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Everywhere the Faith of the church is wonderful to behold, a blessing for all who persevere with it. I pray that we may always find ourselves safe in God's hands.
Rev. Thomas Raftery, OP
Ordination: Sept. 24, 1955, San Francisco
Present ministry: Retired
Past service: Pastor, Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch. Prior provincial, St. Albert Priory, Oakland. Parochial vicar, St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Berkeley. Siena House, Oakland, chaplain to Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. Also served in the Diocese of Reno and Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Rev. Francisco Vincente, OP
Birthplace: Martiago, Salamanca, Spain
Ordination: July 3, 1955, Salamanca, Spain
Present ministry: Retired, Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch
Past service: Superior, St. Mary Magdalen, Berkeley; Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch. Parochial vicar, Most Holy Rosary Parish, Antioch. Judicial vicar for the Diocese of Oakland. Assistant to the Master of the Order of Dominicans for the American Provinces and Malta. Vicar General to the Master of the Order of the Order Preachers.
I am most grateful to God for the gift of my priesthood and my Dominican vocation. It has been truly a gift but also a challenge. During the ritual of my ordination, I committed myself to be a priest of Christ and at the service of the Church, aware of my own inadequacies. I asked God then for the gift of faithfulness and mercy in dispensing the sacred mysteries entrusted to me. Now looking back to that moment, I can say with St. Paul to the Ephesians: "I have been apprehended by Christ Jesus.." I have no regrets. I have been blessed so profoundly by God and by the people of God during my 60 years as a priest of Christ Jesus.
50 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. Bernardino Andrade
Birthplace: Ponta do Sol, Madeira Island, Portugal
Ordination: June 12, 1965, Diocese of Quelimane, Mozambique, Africa
Present ministry: Retired, Madeira, Portugal
Past service: Missionary, Diocese of Quelimane, Mozambique, Africa. Teacher, high school religion formation, Quelimane, Mozambique.; Portuguese Ministry, Diocese of Oakland. Assistant priest, St. Edward Parish, Newark. Pastor, St. Anthony Parish, Oakley. Pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Diocese of Funchal, Portugal. Chaplain of the hospital, Funchal, Portugal.
I was 12 years old and the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, from a poor family. I was having a little informal conversation with my mother and my sister when my sister, Agostinha, surprised me with this question: "Bernardino, wouldn't you like to be a priest?" It sounded like a very strange question but without any hesitation I said yes. My mother and I started getting all the necessary information and in a short period of time I entered the Seminary. It was October 15, 1950. In June 12, 1965 I was ordained a priest.
One day, in California, a newsman, after a few questions, asked me: "But… Father, when you were 12 years old, what did you understand about priesthood?" My answer was, "I am almost 70 years old and I still do not understand it." Priesthood has always been a fascinating mystery that God has been slowly revealing to me through the celebration of the Sacraments, my Pastoral ministry, my prayer life and especially in my contact with the poorest of the poor. Alleviating the suffering of the world, being a sower of hope and compassion, struggling for social justice, combating cruel bureaucracies and social inequalities, lay leadership and small communities have always been some of my biggest priorities with a few successes and lots and lots of failures. The poor have always been my main masters. They are the ones who have taught me what priesthood is about. When I entered the Seminary I didn't do it to study my vocation. When I entered the Seminary I did it to be a priest. I am 77 years old. If I could go back in life I would choose to follow the same road. I never thought that it would be so difficult to be a priest, but I never thought that it would be such a fascinating and happy life. Everything I do, I do it with love and passion. When I look at a host that I just consecrated during Mass, sometimes I still feel tears in my eyes. And I still do not understand why and I don't care to understand. I am passionately in love with Jesus and his project of "bringing good news to the poor" (Lk. 4:18) to build, starting in this world, the Kingdom of His Father who is, "Our Father who art in Heaven and on Earth."
Rev. Vincent R. Brylka
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Ordination: Dec. 18, 1965, Seraphicum Pontifical Seminary Chapel, Rome
Present ministry: Retired, Bishop Begin Villa, Oakland
Past service: Spiritual support, St. David Parish, Richmond. Parochial vicar, St. Anne Parish, Union City. Parochial administrator, St. Catherine Parish, Martinez. Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Martinez; St. Clement Parish, Hayward. Also served in St. Bonaventure Province, Chicago, Illinois.
The favor, the love, the grace of God is a basic element in life which fills the heart with an awareness that will soothe and comfort the search for what to do with one's life. And how wonderful a feeling it is to be assured that you have found the right person to complement your every activity. In some mysterious, divine way, it is Jesus who is there to complement and reassure what I wanted to do, should do.
How profound a thought, then, to even entertain the idea of being a priest! And even after years in seminary preparation, I recall that only God's loving grace would enable life with the energy and direction which points me where He wanted me to be. So it has been time and again, over these 50 years that while people of every age, men and women, from different ethnic backgrounds, needing a priest, came to me. And thus it was that I was able to discover the Church, the very presence of the life of Jesus, making that sharing of grace come alive, which in reality, makes alive what it means being a priest.
Certainly, to be able to create in the lives of people the sharing in God's life, which we know as grace, provides a humbling awareness. Surely that is why the sevenfold sacramental life of the Church brings about the request for God's blessings, providing the ministers, both celebrant and congregation, beginning with the origin of life all the way to the fulfillment of one's hope of heaven.
To have been granted the calling which fulfills such a request manifests both the continuing presence of creation and the supernatural means to maintain the beauty of it. So it has been that while keeping alive the life of the Church in every kind of circumstance, whether with grandeur and solemnity with throngs of faithful, or simply with one or but a needy few, being a priest has opened for me the window to view the landscape of the human heart. And while the members of the Church bring about, each in his or her own distinct manner or need, I have discovered that being a priest to be a necessary element of celebrating the presence of God. Time and again I have experienced the reality of the love of God in my life by bringing about a celebration of God's grace and blessing in the lives of the Church.
Rev. Patrick LaBelle, OP
Ordination: April 23, 1965, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland
Past service: Assignments: Chaplain, University of Oregon; University of Washington. Personnel director Western Dominicans, Oakland. President, St. Albert's College, Oakland. Chaplain and faculty, St. Mary's College of CA. Newman director, University of Oregon. Dean of Student Life, St. Mary's College of CA. Pastor, St. Mary Magdalen, Berkeley. Director, Catholic Community at Stanford University. Director, Vallombrosa Center, Menlo Park. Community positions: Prior, Blessed Sacrament Priory, Seattle, Washington. Vicar Provincial, Western Dominican Province. Prior, St. Thomas More, Eugene, Oregon; St. Dominic's Priory, San Francisco. Council of Priests: Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Oakland; Diocese of San Jose; Archdiocese of San Francisco.
While I was a student in college I was asked by the chaplain if I had ever thought about being a priest. That simple question started in me a process of reflection that resulted in my beginning studies for priesthood in the Dominican Order. While studying in Berkeley I realized that I wanted to exercise my priestly ministry working in universities. The better part of my ministry has been dealing with academic communities on the West Coast. There is nothing I regret about this vocation or ministries. Being available to make the journey through higher education has been rewarding in every way. I hope now that God will bring a happy conclusion to the work I have been given by that loving God.
40 Years of Priestly Ministry
Very Rev. George E. Mockel
Ordination: May 2, 1975, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland
Present ministry: Vicar General, Diocese of Oakland. Pastor, Santa Maria Parish, Orinda
Past service: Deacon, St. Bonaventure Parish, Concord. Associate pastor, Church of the Assumption, San Leandro. Adjutant judicial vicar; Judicial vicar, Diocese of Oakland. Pastor, St. Agnes Parish, Concord.
We have all heard the saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." That is an apt description of my life. From teenage years telling God what I wanted to do and be (not a priest) through the seminary to all the assignments and responsibilities that have been entrusted to me, none of them were part of my plans. Yet each of them has been unique blessings and I would not exchange any of them for anything else. I am grateful to my family that transmitted the faith to me, many good loyal friends and parishioners who nurtured and supported my vocation and taught me that God has better plans for us than we could ever have for ourselves. It has been a great journey and for whatever remains, I trust God's plan and His Providence.
Rev. Vincent Scott
Ordination: May 2, 1975, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland
Present ministry: Pastor, Church of the Assumption, San Leandro.
Past service: Parochial vicar, St. Jarlath Parish, Oakland; St. Theresa Parish, Oakland; St. Felicitas Parish, San Leandro. Pastor, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Livermore; St. John Vianney Parish, Walnut Creek.
When I was ordained 40 years ago, I feel the seminary I attended did a great job in preparing me for the priesthood. However, what I was not expecting is the level of trust that people would put in priests. I have been honored to be a part of people's lives at key moments, experiencing their joys as well as their sorrows. This was especially true since I was one of the Catholic chaplains at John Muir Medical Center for the 15 years I was pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek. I like to tell people that I have been formed as a priest by all those whom I have encountered these many years. I am grateful to Our Lord for being there to support me in difficult moments and to all those who have welcomed me into their lives.
Some have asked me, "Do you ever get bored being a priest?" My answer is unequivocally, "No." Others have asked me, "If you had to do it over again, would you still be a priest?" Without hesitation I would say, "Yes."
Rev. Stanislaw Zak
Ordination: May 14, 1975, Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, Poznan, Poland
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Margaret Mary Parish, Oakland
Past service: Parochial vicar, Stargard Szczecinski, Poland. Parochial vicar, Putney; Manchester, London, England. Pastor, Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester; Southampton, London, England. Celebrated liturgies in the Ukrainian-Bizantine Catholic Rite (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is 1600 years old). Worked shortly in Los Angeles. Pastor, St. Brother Albert Polish Pastoral Mission, Diocese of San Jose. St. Perpetua Parish, Lafayette. Parochial vicar, Queen of All Saints Parish, Concord. Served, Polish Pastoral Center, Martinez. Assisted Ukrainian Catholics, Sacramento. Parochial vicar, St. Isidore Parish, Danville.
Since my early childhood I wanted to be a priest. Pastoral ministry was always my biggest joy in my life. God reworded my priesthood when 15 of my students in Poland entered the seminary and 12 of them became priests. Every day I am praying for the new vocation to the Priesthood and Religious life.
25 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. Augustine Joseph
Birthplace: Mutholapuram, Kerala state, India
Ordination: January 2, 1990, Mutholapuram, India
Present ministry: Parochial administrator, St. Augustine Parish, Oakland
Past service: Lecturer in philosophy and education; librarian and media coordinator, Salesian College, Dimapur, India. Visiting lecturer in philosophy, St. John's Regional Seminary, Andra Pradesh, India. Assistant parish priest and school principal, Catholic Church, Borduria, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Visiting lecturer in philosophy, Don Bosco Vidyaniketan, West Bengal, India. Lecturer, youth director and liturgical animator, Salesian College, Dimapur, India. Associate pastor, St. Patrick Parish, Rodeo. Parochial vicar, St. Isidore Parish, Danville. Founder and principal, Salesian College of Teacher Education, Dimapur, India. Parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Pleasanton; Church of the Good Shepherd, Pittsburg. Parochial administrator, St. Felicitas Parish, San Leandro.
Going down the memory lane priesthood for me has been a great opportunity and a challenge. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to grow in spiritual life and relationship with Jesus. It helped me to dedicate my life to the service of my fellow human beings in a dynamic way. At the same time it is a challenge — a challenge to live the commitment every day of my life and forever.
Therefore, in spite of hurts, disappointments, sins, failings and what not, I consider them as wonderful years of grace, love, growth, learning and ministry. It is a time of thanksgiving to God and all the people who helped me in my faith journey.
Most of my priestly ministry was in teaching. Docet (he taught) in Latin quite applies to me. About 15 years of my priestly ministry was spent teaching philosophy (both Western and Indian), educational psychology and theories of education. I was a student at the University of San Francisco for four years and obtained a doctorate in education. Then I had the privilege of establishing a credentialing college for teachers in the Mission where I worked. The college graduates about 100 teachers every year who are eligible to teach in high schools.
Probably the highlight of my priestly ministry was working as a full-time missionary in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India. I had the opportunity to visit many villages on foot, at times walking 7 to 8 hours a day, to bring the "joy of the Gospel" to the people living there. I have baptized hundreds of people during these visits. The simplicity of life without all our modern amenities is a unique encounter which is hard to fathom. Living in the womb of nature, one might stumble upon the Master architect and Designer. "Grace builds upon nature." I was allowed to work there for about a year.
Thank you Lord for all your blessings. I also thank the Blessed Virgin Mary who has a special role in my priestly ministry.
Rev. James E. Starbuck
Birthplace: Waterloo, Iowa
Ordination: August 24, 1990, St. Felicitas Parish, San Leandro
Present ministry: Parish missions, retreat director, spiritual director, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Past service: St. John the Baptist Parish, San Lorenzo; St. Raymond Parish, Dublin. Various United States Air Force assignments. Founder of the Institute of the Holy Name of Jesus (national communities and internationally of 380 lay persons and 3 priests performing catechetical education).
As I reflect and pray about the last 25 years of being given the great gift of priesthood I am in awe of God's goodness to me. Even though I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease over 18 years ago, I have been sustained by God's holy people and the loving grace of a gracious Father. I have had the opportunity to serve The Church both domestically and internationally as I travel giving parish missions and retreats. No matter where I have been my heart has always remained in the Diocese of Oakland and the wonderful memories I have of beginning my priesthood among the good people of the diocese. Please pray for me and as always I promise you my prayers.
The following priests who have served in the Oakland diocese are also observing a major anniversary of ordination this year:
Rev. Ervan Beers, OFM
Rev. Gavin Griffith, OFM
Rev. Benjamin Owens, CSSR
Rev. Andrews Amritharaj, SDB
Rev. Stephen M. Kelly, SJ
Rev. William Rosario
Rev. David Staal
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