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April 11, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
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In 2015, Lucille "Penny" Pendola receives an award acknowledging her service to the Diocese of Oakland from Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, during the annual employee appreciation event at the chancery.

Pendola leaves legacy of faith and service

Lucille Joan "Penny" Pendola, director of human resources at the Diocese of Oakland, died on March 29, at her home in San Ramon. She was 68.

She received an award from the diocese in August honoring her years of service in school, parish and chancery roles.

Born in Boston and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, Pendola was graduated from Manhattanville College, and received a master's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a doctoral degree in education from the Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco.

She began her career as a teacher and administrator in Michigan as a religious of the Sacred Heart, but left the order before her final vows. In 1980, she was appointed director of religious education at St. Paschal Baylon Parish in Oakland, becoming principal of the school a year later. Ultimately she became pastoral co-administrator.

Rev. Leo Edgerly Jr., pastor at Corpus Christi Parish in Piedmont, recalled when he and Pendola "came up" with the plan to be co-administrators after the pastor, Rev. Dan Danielson, was reassigned, and no one had been selected to succeed him.

Pendola was the first woman in the Diocese of Oakland to serve as an administrator of a parish, even before Cath McGhee's appointment (as parish life director) at St. Monica Parish in Moraga," Father Edgerly said. "She was wonderful," he said of Pendola, "so gifted and full of life."

Pendola "loved her work — whether she being a parish administrator, a principal, assistant superintendent of schools or as director of human resources for the diocese. And that love showed," said the priest.

In an interview with The Catholic Voice in 2012, Pendola described her time as pastoral co-administrator as "the happiest job I had until becoming director of human resources, because I was helping people experience the presence of Jesus in their lives. I did a lot of sick calls. I was with people when someone died. I loved being able to help people. I loved to be able to minister to people and pray with people. And that's what we're all about: to know Jesus better and make him better known."

She did a lot of that in her time in Oakland, recalled Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins, describing Pendola as a "very contemporary Catholic lay minister."

He noted her "humble service," and said the readings Pendola had selected for her funeral Mass reflect that attitude she lived daily.

As assistant superintendent for the Department of Catholic Schools, Pendola had responsibility for its human resources function and brought that expertise into her role at the diocesan human resources department. She was notable for her compassion, her dedication, her accessibility, and the clarity and fairness she brought to her mediation skills.

Receiving her doctoral degree from the University of San Francisco came at the same time as her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which in later years affected her mobility but never her zest for life.

"She was so determined she was going to walk across the stage," Bishop Cummins recalled of graduation day.

She did, to the thunderous applause of family and friends.

Pendola is survived by her sister, Jean McClelland, and brother-in-law, William McClelland, of New Jersey. After services at her parish, St. Perpetua in Lafayette, she was interred at Queen of Angels Cemetery in Lafayette.

Donations may be made to the Capital Campaign at St. Perpetua Church, (http://bit.ly/1qt6gSn) or to the Family Aid — Catholic Education (http://bit.ly/1RMB4o2).

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