Holy Week & Easter Liturgies
'We've had a wonderful life.
We would like to contribute more.'
Berkeley may seem like an unlikely place for a self-described conservative to find himself at home.
But Ned Niccolls, retired engineer, military veteran, Stanford graduate and grandfather, will tell you that his place is beside Yvette, his wife of 41 years.
"She has shown me the Catholic life!" Niccolls declares in his short biography presented to fellow parishioners at Newman Hall, Holy Spirit Parish.
When he enters the church at the Easter Vigil, the sanctuary won't seem like a new place to him.
He had no relationship with Newman Hall, he said, until he started dating Annette 43 years ago, when she was, briefly, a student at the University of California.
"I was tagging along with Yvette," he said. "That's the story of my life: tagging along with Yvette."
It's a good story.
Ned and Yvette Niccolls, who met in a chemistry class at Stanford, were married in Modesto, her hometown.
Ned Niccolls, was born to a military family in Detroit. His father's service took the family to England and Virginia, before retirement to the family home in Berkeley.
"When I was growing up, I was never baptized," Ned Niccolls said. He did have some exposure to the Presbyterian church during his boyhood, he said, but no regular church-going "until I met Yvette. I'd tag along with Yvette."
He tagged along in a life that included military service, longtime employment with Chevron and a family of two children, both now adults. Ned and Yvette have two grandchildren.
"For years, Yvette has always been the spiritual leader of our family," Ned Niccolls said. Through those years, he kept tagging along with Yvette, observing "the variety of styles and diversity of the church," including Masses where "we didn't speak the language at all."
Niccolls, who lives in Walnut Creek, started getting more serious about becoming Catholic. The Niccolls began to visit churches near their Walnut Creek home, and those some distance away.
"We wanted to explore the possibility of being more engaged," Niccolls said. "Newman seemed to resonate the most with us."
Especially appealing are the outreach ministries. They have been involved in helping others at Newman and at San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church. "We've had a wonderful life," he said. "We would like to contribute more."
Life at Newman Hall should be able to help. "Newman Hall is well positioned to do that," he said. "The church is designed for service to others."
When Ned Niccolls is baptized at the Easter Vigil, Yvette will be there.
"She let me find my own way," he said of the woman whose steadfast faith has inspired him.
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