MAY 24, 2004



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




Jazz musician honored
East Bay Catholics have two remarkable opportunities this month to celebrate the life and music of jazz icon Mary Lou Williams. The late composer-arranger-pianist, a convert to Catholicism who dropped out of the music world at the height of her career to focus on charitable works, is the subject of the 10th Berkeley Public Library Jazz Festival, June 4-6, as well as the streaming video page of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).

She re-emerged in the early 1960s to create several sacred works including “Black Christ of the Andes,” in honor of St. Martin de Porres, who was canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1962.
The Vatican later commissioned her to write a “Mass for Peace” also known as “Mary Lou’s Mass,” which she performed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York in 1975. Williams died of cancer in 1981 at age 71.

Born in Atlanta in 1910, Williams was a musical child prodigy who taught herself to play the piano. A working musician by her early teens, she performed in several bands before she began to arrange her own music. Soon she was arranging and writing music for such Big Bands as Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. She formed her own bands and became a stellar solo performer who was heralded as a leading jazz pianist in a world where jazz instrumentalists were mostly men.
She left music during the 1950s to focus on charitable works and her religious search. She found her spiritual home at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Harlem.

The 10th Berkeley Public Library Jazz Festival will celebrate her with three free concerts of women-led piano trios in the Central Library Reading Room at 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. The Tammy Hall Trio will perform on June 4, the Mary Watkins Trio on June 5 and the Dee Spencer Trio on June 6. Each concert begins at 8 p.m., doors open at 7:30 p.m. Jazz educator Dee Spencer will present a free lecture of the musician’s life and work on June 3 at 7 p.m. also at Berkeley’s Central Library.

CyberCatholics can visit the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at and click on the “streaming video” link to view highlights from the 1990 film, “Music On My Mind,” that features Williams’ music and interviews with her contemporaries and friends. Joanne Burke produced the film, narrated by musician Roberta Flack, with funding from the CCC.

Around the parishes

St. Monica Parish in Moraga honored Cath McGhee, who has served the parish for the past 26 years, most recently as parish life director, on her retirement. The May 22 celebration included Mass and a reception.

Bonita House, an organization founded with the help of several members of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley in 1971, was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its outstanding treatment of persons with mental illness and substance abuse. Parishioners have also served on its board of directors over the years.

Around the schools
Looking for fun and enrichment for your middle school daughter? Oakland’s Holy Names High is offering a summer camp, June 21 to July 2, at its campus at 4660 Harbord Dr. Classes will be offered in musical theater, multimedia adventures, art, science, physical fitness to music, and team sports. Contact Nancy Barrett at (510) 540-1110, ext. 119.

While at a conference in Guam earlier this month Anne Comiskey, the 7th grade religion teacher at St. Catherine of Siena School in Martinez met Therese Pangelinan of the Inarajan Elementary School in Inarajan, Guam. When she returned to the U.S., she had her students help the kindergarten class write letters to their counterparts in Guam. They’re hoping to hear from their new penpals before the school year ends.

Two thumbs way up for the 4th grade class at St. David School in Richmond which raised more than $300 for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

And speaking of St. David School… many congratulations to Dominique Ortega, an 8th grader, who was selected to participate in the 2004 Summer Session of the U.C. Berkeley Academic Talent Development Program.

Depression-era and Broadway favorites Little Orphan Annie, Daddy Warbucks, the evil Miss Hannigan and the adorable mutt Sandy will come to life in performances of Annie Jr. this week at San Leandro’s Assumption School. Under the direction of instructors Jean Sawyer and Pam Lyons, student actors will perform the American classic tomorrow (May 25) at 1:15 p.m. and Wednesday (May 26) at 7 p.m. All shows are open to the public. For tickets, contact (510) 357-8772.

Members of the St. Martin de Porres School community in Oakland gathered May 14 for a liturgy and a luncheon to thank principal, Sue Taylor, who will be taking a sabbatical after six years as principal at the regional school. The community also thanked Jesuit Fathers Tim Godfrey, pastor at Oakland’s St. Patrick Parish, and Sean Carroll, parochial vicar at St. Patrick, for their contributions to the school. Both priests will complete their service at St. Patrick Parish this summer.

Barbara Kringle-Fabiani recently announced her retirement as principal at St. David School in Richmond. Kringle-Fabiani has been affiliated with the parish and school for 30 years, 19 of those years as principal.

Records at CYO
New records were set at the Oakland Diocese CYO Track and Field Meet at Diablo Valley College May 7 and 8: Eighth grade boys – Tetherball Toss, 193’5”, Donald Arriola, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish; Sixth grade boys – 1600 meter run, 5:13.2, Gregory Harper, St. John Vianney; Fifth grade boys – 200 meter run, 26.98, Carlyle Garrick, Our Lady of Grace; Fourth grade boys — Long Jump, 14’5”, Floyd Williams. St. Bonaventure; Fourth grade girls – 400 meter run, 1.08.9, Nicole Mass, Holy Rosary; Third grade girls – 800 meter run, 2.46.3, Stephanie Amack, St. Isidore; 400 meter run, 1.09.89, Sasha Wallace, St. Paschal Baylon.

Among the Religious
Congratulations to Bishop Emeritus John Cummins who celebrated the 30th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop last week. He was ordained Titular Bishop of Lambesi and Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento on May 16, 1974.

Kudos go to Msgr. Ted Kraus, pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, recipient of the National Association of Diaconate Directors Special Award 2004 in gratitude for his contributions to the organization and the development of its “National Directory on the Life, Ministry, and Formation of Permanent Deacons in the United States.” The Directory recently received the “recognotio” approval from the Congregations for Catholic Education and Clergy in Rome.

Names, News, Notes

Congratulations to Francine and William Zimmerman, and Ilene and Dennis Horgan, members at St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek, who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversaries.

Boy Scouts from the Martinez site of the diocesan Polish Catholic Pastoral Center are raising funds so they can participate in a Polish Boy Scouts Rally commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in Poland. Contact Krzysztof Jesionek at (925) 930-8210 or e-mail:

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