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placeholder September 19, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA

Father Moser, a ministry of welcome

Some people find the concrete structure of Newman Hall/Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley unwelcoming.

But those would be the people who never met the personification of hospitality on the corner of Dwight Way and College Avenue, who before every Mass had a word of welcome to all. Before one entered the bright red doors to the building, there was a handshake and greeting from the smiling, white-haired priest with the twinkle in this eye, who, on Berkeley's colder days, donned a jacket or sweatshirt in Cal's blue and gold.

Rev. Albert Moser, CSP

Rev. Albert Moser, CSP, who served the parish and campus ministry of the University of California at Berkeley since 1982 — for more than half of his days as a Paulist priest — died Sept. 11 in Oakland. He was 92.

Known to all as "Father Al," his was a ministry of welcome that went well beyond the greetings at the door. For years he accompanied adults seeking baptism or full communion with the church through the parish Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program. At the Easter Vigil, he stepped into the waters of baptism to welcome them.

The next morning, at the family Mass on Easter, he would captivate children and adults alike with a homily for all ages. One memorable homily included a puppet, which offered a bunny's-eye view on what he saw at the tomb on Easter morning.

He enjoyed his ministry with Cal students, helping to calm their stress at finals and other times during their time at the university.

In the parish, he initiated the community giving, in which 5 percent of each week's collection went to a local or global service organization. Catholic Relief Services was among the recipients of the parish's generosity.

Father Moser was born on Oct. 7, 1923. A native of the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, he served in the Army during World War II. He made his first promises with the Paulist Fathers on Sept. 8, 1954, and was ordained a priest on May 11, 1960.

From 1961 to 1971, Father Moser was on the staff at St. Paul's College, the Paulist Fathers' seminary in Washington, D.C., first as a professor of English and then as director of formation.

Rev. Frank DeSiano, the Paulists' current director of formation, said Father Moser's tenure in the role occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and that he helped to implement a reform at the seminary.

"Before his time, all of the faculty (Paulist priests in residence) voted by paper ballot on each student. Al invented the formation team which had the primary responsibility to know and support the students. They were then the ones who then made recommendations for advancement," said Father DiSiano.

Rev. Bruce Nieli, CSP, was one of the seminarians at St. Paul's in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He recalled that Father Moser led the seminarians to the Lincoln Memorial to hear Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963.

"I was always inspired by Al's profoundly prayerful, contemplative spirit, which he always connected to his enthusiastic, creative support to Vatican II theology, pastoral counseling and mission outreach," said Father Nieli said. "On a personal level, I deeply appreciated his encouraging support to me during those sometimes uncertain years of discernment."

Prior to moving to Berkeley, Father Moser served from 1978 to 1982 as pastor of St. Cyril Church in Tucson, Arizona, as well as superior of the Paulist Fathers in that city. From 1972 to 1978, he was director of the Newman Apostolate at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1971 and 1972, he was associate director of the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Father Moser's wake service was scheduled for Sept. 16, followed by a funeral Mass at 12:10 p.m. Sept. 17 at Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish. Burial was to be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

At the end of each Mass, as he sent forth the people to "Go in peace," he reminded them to share that peace with someone else.

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