FEBRUARY 23, 2004





Yes on Measure A
The ballot box on March 2 calls us to be good neighbors, to care about those less fortunate, and we will by voting YES on Measure A.
Measure A is the Alameda County initiative to increase the sales tax in order to save county clinic hearth services and Highland Hospital. Whether you use these services or not, you may very well need some day to use the trauma center, which is the finest in Northern California. Without a Yes vote on Measure A, it will not be there when you or family members need it.
Social justice is a word that frequently lacks visibility in concrete action. Yes on measure A will give an opportunity to make social justice real and tangible. An increase in the sales tax is a small price to pay to ensure that those who may need health services have a place to go.

Building Ministerial Community

Real evangelization
I wish to acknowledge and thank Msgr. Ted Kraus, and Atonement Father Paul Ojibway for their spiritual guidance and leadership during the Winter Nights Shelter controversy in Orinda. While many remain divided in their opinion on the shelter, our priests delivered homilies with care and tact in transmitting the truth, based upon Scripture, to help a people of faith in finding a meeting point beyond the real tensions. A fine example of evangelization.

Margaret Govednik

Setting the record straight
The Voice article (Jan. 26) headlined “At risk schools must meet goals or lose subsidy” is incorrect in fact and in implication regarding St. Barnabas School.

Sadly, this misstatement was printed during the application and enrollment process for our 2004-2005 school year. Captioning our school as “at risk” has undone much of the very hard work of the St. Barnabas parent body, our school leadership, our superintendent, and the Catholic School Management team.

The article implied that if St. Barnabas does not meet the enrollment goals set by CSM and does not receive a subsidy from the diocese, our school will close. This is simply not the case. We regret your misunderstanding.

St. Barnabas has never received a subsidy from the Diocese of Oakland. We are in our first year of a deficit. In order to reach the goals we’ve set with our CSM team, additional finances are required this year. We are grateful to have been approved for a grant of funds generously donated through the Bishop’s Appeal. We intend to spend each dollar wisely, setting ourselves up for independence once again in the coming year.

St. Barnabas is a financially independent school with stellar academic achievement. Our academic record includes winning the Academic Olympics five out of the last six years. Our fully credentialed faculty, 60 percent of whom have master’s degrees, is a close-knit and highly professional team.

We are hardworking Catholic families. We are here together at St. Barnabas to serve a very special part of God’s plan. Our mission is to instill in our children the Catholic values we grew up with – hard work, respect for people of all backgrounds, and reaching for God’s best inside us so we can share it with our neighbors.

We believe that God’s world is full of gifts and there are more around the corner for all of us if we work together. Today at St. Barnabas, we are dreaming of possibilities and making them happen. We know we have the full support of Superintendent De Marco, the Alameda Catholic elementary schools, and the high schools for which we are a pipeline. We believe in our leadership and we believe in ourselves.

Jeff Georgevich
St. Barnabas School Board
and 27 signatories

(The Voice stands by its story as published.)

Thank you, Bishop Vigneron
For those of us privileged enough to have attended the Jan. 31 ordination to the diaconate, it was a testimony of faith for the chosen men who will soon grace our faith by becoming priests and for us, the active laity. The liturgy, always rich in symbolism, was alive with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Every element of worship was excellent — the beautiful worship space of St. Pius X Church in Redwood City, the choir, and the Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist. But the most impressive presence was that of Oakland’s Bishop Allen Vigneron, who presided. His forceful rich voice resonated with his chanting of the entire service and filled the worship space.
His homily inspired the new deacons and the entire congregation. As one deacon told me later, “It was as if he really cared for us and was directing his homily and wishes to us.” Another deacon told me, “Your bishop rocks.” It was a magnificent example of a shepherd and servant.
We are very blessed. Thank you, Bishop Vigneron, for accepting the challenge and promise that is the Diocese of Oakland.

Clarence S.A. Zamora
Menlo Park

The healthy example
Kudos to the folks at Oakland’s St. Elizabeth School who have taken action to improve the food available for the students there. (Voice, Jan. 26).
I’m a nutritionist at UC Berkeley working in the area of childhood overweight prevention and I applaud them for taking a stand against fast food and teaching the children by example that healthy food can be fun and tasty. What they have done is a great example of people at the local level seeing a problem and being empowered to make a positive change. Maybe other schools will follow the example they have set.
Keep up the good work!

Rita Mitchell

Cathedrals honor God
From the diversity of opinions in the Reader’s Forum regarding the planned cathedral for the Oakland Diocese, I can see that we can be both proud of architectural structures of our faith and still humble and caring toward the poor.

From all ages, religious structures like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris or the Blue Mosque in Turkey, and temples and synagogues in the U.S. and the world, were built with many poor people around. However, around these great structures, usually great economic progress occurred. And although all faiths aim at charity toward the poor and the needy, it seems the poor will always be with us so that those who have can share of their abundance, if not their substance.

Furthermore, the Forum dialogue brought to mind what David Macaulay, author and illustrator, said of religious architecture: “It seems to me that the best examples of religious architecture are among mankind’s proudest accomplishments…. Guided ultimately by common sense, their greatest achievement, as well as the ultimate indication of their success, lies in their ability to impress and move even those whose personal beliefs they do not necessarily serve.”

I pray that our cathedral of light will serve and inspire all of the faithful in our diocese as well as everyone everywhere. After all, the cathedral’s purpose is to honor God.

Fe Baran

Jesus didn’t need a cathedral
How many cathedrals did Jesus build? The apostles? Jesus taught in the fields, on the hills, from a boat. He sorely damaged the Temple. In what way do cathedrals follow the Beatitudes or Jesus’ commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self?

How will a new cathedral in Oakland help the poor, the murdered, the dying, the sick, the lost , the hungry, the naked, those who thirst for knowledge? St. Paul built the church without a cathedral.
The diocese cannot afford six elementary schools in Oakland, but we build a cathedral. There are more than 100 murders a year on the streets of Oakland, but we build a cathedral. The homeless fill our sidewalks, but we build a cathedral. Our teachers are not paid a living wage, but we build a cathedral.

Eugene I. Malone

Cathedral could bring benefits
I realize some disagree with the plan for a new cathedral in Oakland, stating such a project would take away funds or do little to help the needy. This argument does have merit, though it should be recognized that a large construction project could contribute to the local economy and benefit skilled labor and their families.

Perhaps a scaled back version could be considered, with the project itself including housing for the elderly and struggling families. The diocese has played an active role in bringing attention to affordable housing needs here in the Bay Area. While we wait for the appropriate government agencies to respond to this need, the Church can play a visible and active role by actually constructing homes.

Dan Tracy

A beacon of hope
As someone who chose to become Catholic as an adult, in part because of our faith’s traditional commitment to social justice and emphasis on living out one’s beliefs in the context of community, I observe Church controversies with the idealistic openness of a newcomer. On the other hand, I consider myself progressive-minded and independent, and I can look at such issues with an outsider’s critical eye.

I understand the concerns of those who believe that building the cathedral will drain resources from solely needed social service programs. However, I trust my pastor and diocesan leadership when they maintain that money for the cathedral will come from independent sources of earmarked for that purpose, rather than coming from funds budgeted for existing programs.

I will continue to give to my parish’s weekly collection; whenever possible, I will support Catholic schools through FACE, and give to the many programs that Catholic Charities supports. I may not have the means to support the cathedral financially, but I will offer my prayers and hope that others with the wherewithal will support it as another way to joyfully and freely express gratitude to God.

I am confident that the individuals who work tirelessly to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and speak for the powerless will continue to serve, whether the cathedral is built or not. Moreover, it is rather paternalistic to suggest that those who might benefit most from social service programs would not want the cathedral, could not be moved and inspired by its splendor, would not find value in its presence.

Granted, God does not need elaborate temples to glorify Him. And anyone who has felt His presence while walking on the beach or through a forest will confirm that we don’t need a church to find God. However, if the Diocese of Oakland has the opportunity to replace the cathedral because of generous benefactors, then I am grateful and look forward to its completion.

Christ the Light Cathedral will be another jewel in the unique landscape of downtown Oakland. While surely becoming a landmark attracting positive interest in our diocese, hopefully it will also serve as a reminder that as followers of Christ, we are challenged to be the living light for others here in our community.

Lori Arnold

Let priests marry
Why is it that wisdom found in the Bible continues to be ignored by the Catholic Church? In his commentary on priestly celibacy (Voice, Jan. 12), Bishop Vigneron documents some biblical references that encourage an unmarried status. But he does not mention those references that specify the ideal qualifications for men desiring a life in ministry.

In 1Timothy 3:1-5 and in Titus, St. Paul wrote that members of the clergy should be the husband of only one wife. To support his claim he wrote that if a man cannot manage his own household with dignity, how can he take care of the church of God? That is very sound reasoning.

St. Peter was married. It is believed that most of the apostles were married. Jesus did not impose celibacy on the men He chose to lead His church. Pain is the result of ignoring the ideal that St. Paul wrote about in his letters. I’m a lifelong, practicing Roman Catholic. Priests and bishops should be allowed to marry at any time of their lives. Women are good.

Ronna Devincenzi
Palo Alto

Church teaching unchanged
I disagree with the person who wrote in the Reader’s Forum (Feb. 9) that civil unions won’t harm.

We all have our views based from our consciences, but when the bishop speaks or writes on behalf of the church, it’s safe to say his teaching can’t have any reason for argument. Jesus made it clear — in order to join the kingdom of heaven, we must be like children. So let us be spiritually simple minded because the bishop is our local shephard and we are the sheep.

God created the union between man and woman so we could be co-partners in his creation. Clearly then all unions belong to the authority of God, which Jesus handed down to the church through St. Peter.
Look at our society today: divorces, abortions, broken homes and lifeless couples because we allowed our governments to permit contraceptives which we also thought “won’t harm.”

Governments can weaken people’s wills because of their authoritative positions, but laws also change at will and governments come and go. The church’s teachings have been the same for over 2000 years through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Michael Pereira
San Leandro

Eritreans say Thank You
Thank you to all the people of the Oakland Diocese who contributed $33,883.75 to the Catholic Eparchy of Keren, Eritrea, for famine relief. This contribution has made, and is still making, a big difference to the food supply to our seven clinics and two hospitals, plus several famine relief centers associated with parishes and centers in villages.
In all about 10,000 people are still being helped because of critical hunger conditions here. Thank you again for your concern about us.

Abba Kidane Yebio
Eparch of Keren

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