|August 10, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
| Year of Consecrated Life
Precious Blood Missionaries celebrating
On Aug. 15, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, also known as the Society of the Precious Blood, throughout the world will rejoice. The congregation is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding by St. Gaspar del Bufalo.
St. Gaspar was born in Rome, Italy, to a father who was the servant of a wealthy man. His mother Annunziata, was a pious woman who sensed that her son was destined for religious life. St. Gaspar also felt called to the priesthood as a youth. He would visit the sick, poor and the lonely every day.
Ordained to the priesthood at the age of 22, the young priest started a society for farm workers and laborers. His plan was to draw people back to the Church.
A year later Napoleon came to power. The new government — which was anti-religious — ordered all priests to sign an oath of allegiance to Napoleon. St. Gaspar refused and reportedly uttered the memorable response: "I cannot. I must not. I will not." For his punishment he was sent into exile and imprisoned for four years. Other priests, bishops and even the pope suffered a similar fate.
Challenged by despair, the future saint managed to survive his ordeal through prayer and his devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. After Napoleon's defeat he returned to Italy in 1814 and picked up from where he left off.
An eloquent preacher, Gaspar del Bufalo attracted followers. On Aug. 15, 1815 he established the Congregation of the Precious Blood, with an initial membership of four men. But even with that small group that included del Bufalo, the men traveled from city to city in Italy preaching missions and attracting more followers.
Today the Missionaries of the Precious Blood exist as a society of Apostolic Life made up of priests, religious brothers and lay associates (also called companions) throughout the world. They believe that the Precious Blood of Jesus offers healing and redemption to all.
The Missionaries have made numerous contributions to the life of the diocese. After first arriving in the East Bay in 1955 they assumed responsibility for St. Barnabas Parish, which they staffed for 49 years. Over the years many CPPS priests have assisted in parishes of the diocese, said Rev. James Sloan, CPPS, a former pastor who served at the Alameda parish for 10 years.
On the diocesan level, Rev. John Bosch, CPPS, built and ministered at the Apostleship of the Sea at the Port of Oakland, said Father Sloan. Both Fathers Sloan and Bosch served on the diocesan building committee (Design Review Board) for many years. During some of those years Father Sloan was chair of that committee. He also became a member of the Senate of Priests.
The Precious Blood Missionaries took over St. Edward Parish in Newark, which began as a mission church of Mission San Jose in 1880, on July 3, 1979. Father Marvin Steffes, CPPS, was the first Precious Blood pastor.
Rev. Jeff Finley, CPPS, served as both pastoral director at Washington Hospital in Fremont and as chaplain of the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. Father Finley also served as co-pastor and pastor for several years at St. Edward and was succeeded in 2004 by Rev. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, whose term as pastor recently ended. Rev. Jayababu Nuthulapati, CPPS, succeeded him in July.
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood are also involved in the media and social media. The province publishes a quarterly magazine called CPPS Today, and maintains a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google plus.
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