|August 10, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
Year of Consecrated Life
Redemptorists fulfill mission
of bringing Gospel to the poor
St. Alfonso Maria de'Liguori, better known as St. Alphonsus Liguori, founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1732 in Scala, Italy. Members of the congregation are commonly called Redemptorists, a religious community of priests and brothers dedicated to preaching the Gospel, especially the poor, mostly through parish missions and retreats.
The Redemptorists came to America in 1835 where they later formed two provinces. In 1925 they bought 43 acres of land in Oakland where they established Most Holy Redeemer College as a minor seminary in the western province. After its closure in the 1960s, the seminary was turned into a retreat center that continues to operate.
In addition to the seminary, Redemptorist priests were stationed in Oakland for various ministries, said Jennifer Murphy, archivist for the Redemptorists Denver province. "The Redemptorists are called to serve the poor and most abandoned, so some of their ministry was to the migrant workers and Spanish speaking population," Murphy said. They did much of this by transforming cars into traveling chapels as a way of bringing church to people working in the fields and those in rural communities.
In the 1930s, the Redemptorists established a mission house for the province called Villa San Clemente. According to the diocesan history book, "We Are the Church: A History of the Diocese of Oakland," the mission house was used as a place to send "parish missionaries" to assignments throughout the East Bay.
Today there are 11 Redemptorists in northern California, including five in Oakland and Berkeley. Of the five is Rev. Donald MacKinnon, who, though officially retired, continues to serve as director of the Kmhmú/Laos Pastoral Center in Richmond.
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