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Catholic Voice
  September 4, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Volunteers and evacuees watch TV coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey Aug. 28 at a Sacred Heart Church shelter in Conroe, Texas. Officials blocked traffic after the storm brought heavy flooding to the area. The north Houston parish opened its doors when the massive storm crippled the Galveston-Houston region with continuous rains, causing rivers to overflow their banks and prompting mandatory evacuations.

A woman holds her dog as she arrives to high ground after evacuating from her home because of floods caused by Tropical Storm Harvey Aug. 28 in Houston.

Thank you for being faithful, generous followers of Jesus

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

This month on Sept. 9 and 10 we are taking up our annual second collection for our retired priests.

Since I have become bishop, two pastors of our parishes have suffered heart attacks. Both of these men were serving in "one priest parishes." They were rushed to the hospital, underwent heart surgery and spent some weeks in recovery. Priests from neighboring parishes and religious orders covered the basic Masses in their absence.

Both men, although well over the age of permitted retirement, reported back to their parishes as soon as they were patched up. They resumed their full schedule of Masses, confessions, sick calls and all the thousand duties that make up the life of the parish priest.

This should tell you something of the caliber of men who are serving you and our Diocese of Oakland.

And these two are not even among the retired!

Our retired priests continue to help with Masses and confessions, penance services, quinceañeras — all to serve the people of God.

Some priests who have been long retired have returned to pastor parishes full time when we have had some "emergency gaps." We could not operate all our 84 parishes without the kind and cheerful help of these men.

Help storm victims
Give in your parish or send directly to the Chancery.

Make checks payable to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland, and in the memo field write, "for Hurricane Harvey relief."

If sending directly to the diocese, mail to Diocese of Oakland Accounting Department, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland, 94612.

All funds forwarded from the parishes or sent to the diocese will be sent to Catholic Charities USA.
Like fatherhood or motherhood, you never retire from being a priest. When we were ordained we were told "Tu es Sacerdos in aeternum" — You are a priest forever. I am forever grateful to them, and I thank you for your generosity is helping us to help them with this special collection.

We have all been watching with great concern the hurricane in Houston. Seeing whole families — children, parents, grannies, pets — floating on rafts or small boats down their once-placid streets, I can't help but think, "That could be me. That could be us."

I saw a video on You Tube of a flooded Catholic church. The water completely covered the top of the pews, and rose up the five steps flooding the sanctuary. You could see just the top of the Blessed Mother's head, as her statue was nearly engulfed. A parishioner in a rain jacket filming with his iPhone said, "We've lost our beautiful church!"

The Catholic bishops of the USA are organizing a special collection in all churches to be taken up on one of the weekends in September, at the discretion of the pastor.

The funds will be distributed through Catholic Charities USA to help those in the affected areas. Although there are few if any survivors left now from the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco and parts of Oakland — similar collections were taken in Catholic Churches around the country to help us.

So great is the love of the Heart of Christ living in his disciples, we cannot just stand by and watch while people suffer. God bless you, and thank you for being, such faithful and generous followers of Jesus.

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