MARCH 8, 2004



Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.




Honors at Guadalupe School
Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Fremont gave its Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton Award to Karen Murray during Jan. 29 ceremonies.

Miller, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont, was honored for her many years of service at Guadalupe School, where her son Nick is a student.
Dominican Sister Susanna Vasquez cited her presence at Saturday work parties, her leadership with the parent-teacher group, and her efforts to support fundraising activities.

She also praised Murray for consistently modeling Christian values “through her positive attitude and willingness to go the extra mile.”
Murray also serves her parish as a catechist and lector.

Hollywood comes to Oakland church
If all goes as planned – meaning his performance doesn’t wind up on the cutting-room floor – Father Seamus Genovese may soon get his close-up in an upcoming movie starring actor Richard Gere. That’s because both the dashing pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Oakland and the picturesque parish church flanking Lake Merritt caught the eyes of moviemakers who came to the East Bay in late January to film the feature-length movie, “The Bee Season.”

Filming took place around Lake Merritt on Jan. 28, including some scenes with the striking church exterior as a backdrop. Then the crew moved inside the church where Father Genovese was cast as a priest presiding at a Mass.

Because of the “specialty of the part” Father Genovese did not have to join the actor’s union to be included in the film. “I don’t have to belong to the Screen Actors’ Guild unless I do this a second time,” he said. None of his parishioners appear in the film, he said, because SAG extras were employed to play the congregation.

He was paid for his part in the film and the parish received a “generous donation” for scenes of the church as well as use of the parish hall for meals for the crew. He declined to reveal the amount of the donation.

Filmmakers were initially drawn to the church after viewing the building on a city website. The movie’s two directors, Scott McGehee and David Siegel, “thought the church was magnificent,” said Father Genovese, noting their appreciation of the design of the altar and the crucifix.

While the movie, based on the best-selling book by Myla Goldberg, focuses on a young girl’s experience in a spelling bee competition (as well as some drama involving her parents) it is basically about a search for God, Father Genovese told The Voice. The spiritual nature of the movie influenced his decision to allow filming to take place at the church.

Asked if he suffered from stage fright, Father Genovese laughed and admitted a brief attack of nervousness early on. But after a couple of minutes he felt calm. “They are a very relaxed people. Everybody – the lighting crew, assistant directors, the make-up people – they were all very, very friendly. And so that puts you at ease.”

The priest said he gained deep appreciation for the work of the moviemakers. “They work hard.”

Probation for trespassing
Louise Lynch, a parishioner at St. Joseph in Fremont, will spend 12 months on probation and pay a $500 fine for trespassing at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation last fall at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Lynch received the sentence Jan. 26 from Magistrate Judge G. Mallon Faircloth during a trial of 28 defendants held in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ga. The defendants trespassed on federal property during an annual protest at the site, the former School of the Americas. The school has trained military personnel responsible for assassinations and other human rights abuses in Latin America.

Theology on Tap returns
Theology on Tap, the casual forum that brings together young adults in their 20s and 30s for stimulating discussions on faith and life issues, returned earlier this month at the Black Diamond Brewery, 2330 N. Main St. in Walnut Creek.

Sponsored by St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord, the Monday evening gatherings begin with socializing at 7 p.m., followed by a guest speaker and discussion.

Tonight (March 8) Rabbi Rachel Miller, education director at Congregation B’Nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, will focus on “Religion a la carte”; on March 15 Jesuit Father Thomas J. Scirghi, associate professor of liturgy at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, will discuss spirituality in a fast food culture.

Father Brian Joyce, pastor at Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill, will speak, March 22, on “Harry Potter…Atkins…The Da Vinci Code,” Because of limited seating for this presentation, reservations are required for this session. (Contact St. Bonaventure at address below).

The series will conclude on March 29 with Victoria MacDonald, former program administrator at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, will address “Igniting the Spark: Experiencing the Sacred.”

The evenings are free with food and beverages available for purchase. For more information, phone: (925) 672-5800, e-mail:, or website:

A good steward
When Marge Perez, diocesan stewardship coordinator, steps down this month as president of the board of directors of Mt. Diablo Habitat for Humanity, she leaves the organization with more capacity to build homes for families who cannot compete in the current real estate market. This capacity comes from improved financing and staffing and a healthy relationship with cities who have helped the non-profit organization acquire land.

“Land is a critical factor in developing affordable housing,” said Perez, who volunteered with Habitat as a way to live out her personal stewardship of time and talent. Her most rewarding moments are the “home dedications,” when Habitat representatives give a key and a Bible to the new homeowner families.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to the sponsors, donors, volunteers, city and county officials, staff and family members for all the hard work behind the scenes and at the job site that make the home a reality,” she said.
Several parishes in the Oakland Diocese are also active in Habitat chapters.

DC shrine on EWTN
A television documentary that tells the story of the building of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC and the creation of a new work of art that now resides there will be rebroadcast on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) on March 13 at 1:30 p.m. The program, called “American Byzantine,” follows the creation of a 38-ton marble relief called “Universal Call to Holiness” which completes the rear wall of the shrine. It was designed by American artist George Carr and carved in Italy.

New Lenten tradition
Operation Rice Bowl, the official Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, has launched a new Lenten tradition with the establishment of an Online Lenten Community at Catholics can sign up to receive weekly e-mails that offer suggestions for prayer and a guide to help participants deepen their faith and to develop a relationship with those who are poor.

Around the parishes
Members of St. Leo Parish in Oakland will attend the Mel Gibson film, “The Passion of the Christ” as a group on March 10 at 7 p.m. After the film they will return to the church for a discussion led by Jesuit Father Tom Scirghi.

Parishioners at Concord’s St. Agnes Parish are raising their voices in praise of nice neighbors. Pastor Don Smith of The Church of the Living Way, across the street from St. Agnes, and his congregation recently presented St. Agnes with a contemporary cross made from wood and wrapped wire for the parish’s new ministry center.

Two St. Francis of Assisi parishioners, Basil Fedynyshyn and Mike Rogers, have started a job networking group called Triple-C (Concord Catholic Connections) that helps people develop job-hunting skills, share ideas, provide peer support and learn about potential job opportunities. The group, which bases its work in Catholic spirituality, meets every other Monday at De La Salle High School in Concord. For more information, contact Rogers or Fedynyshyn at (925) 977-9381.

Around the schools
Several schools in the Oakland Diocese have signed up to participate in the Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Lenten Food Drive. They are: St. Bede School in Hayward, St. Paschal Baylon School in Oakland, Moreau High School in Hayward, Holy Names College in Oakland, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Church groups and schools can sign up until March 15. For more information contact (510) 834-3663, ext. 318 or e-mail:

Alexa Gramulich
, a 7th grader at St. Mary School in Walnut Creek, is the winner of the school’s spelling bee. Her winning word was “retinue.” She will compete in the regional finals on March 27. John Vaccaro, also a 7th grader, finished second.

Congratulations to Patti Archer, a senior at Holy Names High School in Oakland, who is among five seniors to be named a Spring Hill Scholar. She will receive a four-year scholarship totaling $100,000 to attend Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Archer, a member of the National Honor Society, was interviewed by a faculty selection committee and participated in an essay-writing contest. She is captain of Holy Names varsity basketball team and recipient of the 2003 North Coast Section Scholar Athlete Award. She is a campus minister and volunteers with the mentally and physically challenged. The daughter of Spring Hill alumnus John Archer (1978), she plans to major in theology and communication arts.

Instead of indulging in chocolate on St. Valentine’s Day, students at St. Bernard School in Oakland jumped rope and slammed hoops for the American Heart Association. Grades K-4 raised $992.73 for the Jump for the Heart program while Grades 5-8 raised $424.98 for the Hoops for the Heart program for a total of $1417.71.

The drama club at Holy Names College in Oakland will present “Pride and Prejudice” March 18-19 at 8 p.m., and March 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Regents’ Theatre at the campus at 3500 Mountain Blvd. General admission is $10, students and seniors $5. For reservations, call (510) 436-1081 or e-mail:

Among the Religious
The Adrian Dominican Sisters last month completed a 12-day planning and election process in which they committed themselves to confront racist attitudes and systems that deny women full personhood, to walk in solidarity with people who are poor and challenge structures that impoverish them, to practice nonviolent peacemaking and promote decision-making in the Church. The Sisters, headquartered in Adrian, Mich., have a convent in Oakland and other Sisters live in apartments in Oakland and Castro Valley.

Names, News, Notes
Congratulations to the following couples who are celebrating wedding anniversaries: Cathy and Dave Kral, members at St. Leander Parish in San Leandro, 25 years; and Sue and Jerry Beresh, St. Isidore Parish, Danville, 25 years.

The diocesan Polish Catholic Pastoral Center recently completed a campaign to collect school accessories, new toys, and blankets for the Children’s Medical and Orphanage Institution in Wierzbice, Wroclawskie in Poland.

Over 60 Tri-Valley youth groups, including members from Livermore’s St. Charles and St. Michael parishes, will participate in the Second Annual Tri-Valley Youth Food Drive.The youth will collect non-perishable food for food pantries serving many needy local residents. A week before the food drive – on March 27 – more than 700 youth volunteers will walk neighborhoods and pass out empty paper bags to the 25,000 homes. The youth will return to the homes on April 3 to pick up the filled bags.

St. Mary’s Center in Oakland held its annual Health Care for All Fair on Feb. 26 which offered health screenings, tips on nutritional foods, lessons on how to exercise correctly and information on how to lobby elected officials on health care issues.

Speaking of health care, the Better Health Foundation is now making its annual Bay Area Breast Cancer Resource Guide available online at Visitors will find the latest information on breast cancer programs, support groups, and facilities that offer aftercare services in the Bay Area.


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