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July 10, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
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New pastor Rev. Mathew Vellankal joins Father Richard Mangini outside St. Bonaventure Church.
ALL: ALBERT C. PACCIORINI/THE CATHOLIC VOICE

Father Mangini retires after 50 years in priestly ministry

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Father Richard Mangini distribute communion at a June 24 Mass celebrating St. Bonaventure Parish's 60th anniversary and Father Mangini's retirement.

As he sat in his office at Concord's St. Bonaventure Parish on June 26, Rev. Richard Mangini paused briefly to catch his breath. It was his last week as pastor of the Concord faith community and although he had cleared a stack of books out of a cabinet, his desk was filled with cups, statues and pens that he was hoping to pack up or give away.

He had just completed a weekend where he had presided at seven Masses — three of which he had been the homilist — and one Mass that marked the 60th anniversary of the parish.

Before that marathon weekend the 76-year-old priest, who had served as pastor at St. Bonaventure for more than 20 years, had spent the previous weeks at prayer-filled farewells with various parish groups. He also celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in May with a Mass that brought together a large gathering of family, friends, colleagues and fellow priests.

 
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Father Mangini's Reflection
 
"I feel that my mission here is ended," said Father Mangini of his ministry as a pastor. But while he admitted feeling tired both psychologically and physically after years of working long hours, his priestly ministry will continue. He made a point of addressing his future plans as a result of several inquiries he received in an article — one of a series of reflections on his life and ministry that have appeared in the parish bulletin in the weeks prior to his departure from the parish.

"I will continue to be a priest, celebrating all the Sacraments of the church and being available for personal and spiritual counsel," he wrote for his "Thoughts of Father Richard" column that appeared in the May 21 issue of the parish publication. "Believe it or not, a number of people asked me if I was going to get married. It is surprising to realize what people do not know about their Catholic Faith: 'Once a priest, always a priest.' I want some peace and quiet. I have had my 'honey-list' with the church. Why would I replace one list for another?"

A native of Concord, Father Richard Mangini's vocation to the priesthood came to him as a child. In a 2007 reflection composed on the occasion of his 40th anniversary as a priest for The Catholic Voice he wrote: "I remember being drawn into the liturgy of the old Tridentine Mass and to personal prayer. I went to catechism, and then to Queen of All Saints School when it opened in 1949. And as was the custom then, I entered the minor seminary high school of St. Joseph's College in 1954."

After he was graduated from St. Patrick College in Mountain View and then from St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park with a master's degree in divinity, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1967, at Most Precious Blood Church, now St. Francis of Assisi Church.

Those were "tough old days," Father Mangini recalled about his high school days. "It was very regimented and somewhat militaristic," he said. There was "old monastic prayer and communal prayer. It was a very set world."

After serving as an associate pastor at a couple of parishes Father Mangini was sent to study at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was graduated with a master's degree in journalism. After a stint as associate editor of The Catholic Voice, he succeeded founding editor Msgr. Francis Maurovich as editor of the diocesan newspaper in 1972, a position he held until 1979.

Although during his tenure as editor the paper won numerous journalism awards, Father Mangini maintained that he did not have ink in his veins like his predecessor, who went on to serve as editor of Maryknoll magazine for a number of years.

While serving as Voice editor Father Mangini served briefly as administrator at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Livermore before being named pastor at St. Leander Parish in San Leandro in 1976. He served as pastor there until 1990 when Bishop John S. Cummins asked him to serve as director of the diocesan strategic planning process.

In 1995 he took a sabbatical year that included travel to Israel and Mexico, where he studied Spanish. Upon his return to the diocese he served as pastor of Concord Hispanic Ministry (from 1996-2003), which was a regional ministry of three parishes that was formed to minister to a growing Latino community in that part of the diocese. That pastoral outreach was subsequently subdivided and integrated into three Concord parishes, St. Francis of Assisi, Queen of All Saints and St. Bonaventure. He was named pastor at St. Bonaventure in 1996.

After more than 20 years as pastor, Father Mangini has left his mark at the Concord parish in countless ways.

"He has definitely helped me in my ministry," said Rosann Halick, the parish's director of children's religious education. "I have learned so much from him. He has been a great mentor and leader."

"Father Richard has always been very welcoming," Halick said, adding that "his ultimate goal has been about bringing families and their children closer to God."

Members of the Resurrection Choir took a break from their weekly rehearsal session in another parish building to point out that the longtime pastor has been supportive of the choir's efforts to bring peace and comfort to those who are grieving. The choir is an ecumenical ministry that has 30 members

The priest's ministry has also spread into the local community where he has attended numerous civic and community meetings on such concerns as rent control and affordable housing.

During his pastorate the Concord parish has sponsored a food pantry to help the needy in the local community and is also sponsoring a family of Muslim refugees. Additionally the parish is supporting a maternity clinic in Kenya, a Catholic school in El Salvador and street kids in India.

As a member of the so-called Vatican II generation of priests and a personal admirer of Pope Francis, Father Mangini said that the focus of his ministry has been about helping people find God at a human level. "I tried to be a user-friendly priest — one who was not always saying no."

As for his immediate future Father Mangini will be saying "yes" to a calendar-free life — at least for three months. He will spend that time in a small town near Lucca, Italy. The first month will be spent with his sister and a cousin and the remaining weeks with other relatives and friends who plan to drop by. He wrote it much more eloquently:

"The purpose is to rest, to sit and to stare — down time! Absolutely no agenda!"

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