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

Chautauqua was last celebrated at St. Lawrence O'Toole Parish in 2006, above. The celebration returns again this year for the parish's 100th anniversary.
FILE PHOTO

Chautauqua, parish jubilee combine for big celebration

Chautauqua — the "gathering of the people" planned by the Ethnic Pastoral and Cultural Centers of the Diocese of Oakland, which brings together people of more than two dozen nationalities — is usually celebration enough. Add the jubilee of St. Lawrence O'Toole-St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish in Oakland, which will be the host, and it becomes one huge event.

 
Chautauqua 20
"My Soul Rejoices:
Celebrating Faith,
Hope and Mercy"

What: Chautauqua 20 and Jubilee celebration of St. Lawrence O'Toole- St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish
When: Oct. 8,
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: 3725 High St., Oakland
Mass celebrant:
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ
After Mass: Entertainment, food booths
 
The two East Oakland parishes merged in 2001. It was St. Lawrence O'Toole that began its parish life in 1916, but you can count on the celebration to include them both.

Terry Gleeson has been a member of the parish for nine years. Among the first events she participated in, working side by side with her fellow parishioners, was Chautauqua, which the parish hosted in 2006.

It was, Gleeson recalled, "an absolutely wonderful experience."

As the chair of the parish jubilee celebration, she suggested that the parish host the joyous event as part of its yearlong celebration.

"What a wonderful way to have a celebration of the community," she said. The request, she said, was made a year ago and they were happy it was approved.

It will be the third time the parish, at 3725 High Street, has hosted the gathering, known for its procession, Mass, entertainment and variety of ethnic foods.

The church's accessibility, right off High Street exit off Interstate 580, makes it a convenient destination, Gleeson said, noting the parish has a parking lot and there is ample street parking.

In the course of preparing for the jubilee and Chautauqua, Gleeson said, the parish planning committee discerned, Gleeson said, "what are the core values of our parish."

"They are diversity, hospitality, outreach and history," she said.

The image of Mary reflects those values. The Blessed Mother is depicted with her cloak enveloping children of all races.

Not only did they dovetail with the core values of Chautauqua, the parish incorporated them into the jubilee year activities.

"We've been trying to do something special each month," Glesson said.

The parish began the jubilee celebration to coincide with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, beginning Dec. 8, 2015. At St. Lawrence O'Toole, the jubilee celebration will end with the 11 a.m. Mass on Nov. 27, with Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, presiding. A reception will follow the Mass.

The birthday may be St. Lawrence O'Toole's, but even though St. Cyril Parish joined later, everyone is celebrating.

"We're one family," Gleeson said.

That family has gathered for Masses, dinners, picnic and Lenten retreats. It has been a busy and faith-filled year.

"We're doing a 100-year book," Gleeson said, with photos, highlighting various ministries. "We have pictures of a lot of people," she said. She attended a luncheon for parish seniors and put out the call for photos to share. The response provided her with many photos to scan for the book, and share in a slideshow.

For the Chautauqua celebration, the parish reached out to neighboring faith communities. The celebration will begin with the sound of the shofar — the musical instrument made of a ram's horn used in Jewish religion traditions — by Aaron Paul of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland.

"In Biblical times, the blowing of the shofar signified the start of a jubilee year," Gleeson said.

Parishioners are engaged in making the preparations. Claire Elmore has been a parishioner for 40 years. "I'm just helping out, doing whatever I can," she said. Among her roles is recruiter of cooks for the popular Filipino food booth.

"I'm doing whatever is needed," she said. "I know this is a beautiful celebration."

The parish, home to 700 families, is involved in the preparations. "We're looking forward to a very successful Chautauqua," said Jerry Wong. The church seats 650. "It may look like Christmas Eve," Wong said.

Five years ago, Augustine Sung became the Korean community representative to the Ethnic Pastoral council; this year he and the Brazilian representative are working with the ethnic communities with food booths.

The Korean Community of the Tri-Valley has 275 families attending Sunday Mass. It's no small task: They turn a Pleasanton middle school multipurpose room into a place of worship. Classrooms house Sunday school for their children.

Chautauqua, he said, is a priority for the Tri-Valley community. "We're very blessed to have the variety of cultures come and celebrate as one," he said. "All are different and unique, and all the same."

Chautauqua, he said, represents the Oakland diocese. "Every year, we see God's miracle," he said. "It turns out wonderful."

 
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