JUNE 21, 2004


Displaced students find
new homes in diocese

Catholics, others ask forgiveness for persecution

Pope has dialog
in Switzerland

Jubilarians reflect
on their calling
New church dedicated
for Brentwood parish
Father Jerry Kennedy named pastor in El Cerrito
Franciscan friars make fraternal visit
Supreme Court says atheist has no standing to challenge ‘under God’
Asian Pacific conference draws youth leaders from the West

Is silence too old-fashioned for today’s liturgy?




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



Audits, politicians on the agenda
of U.S. bishops

The nation’s Catholic bishops convened a closed-door retreat in Denver, June 14-18, with discussions scheduled on whether to deny Communion to certain politicians and how to continue audits on sexual abuse reforms.

As The Voice went to press, it was not known whether any aspect of their deliberations would be made public. Any statements released at the conclusion of their retreat will be reported in the July 5 Voice.



Schools leave legacy as final grads depart

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

The end of the 2003-04 school year also marks the final dismissal for three diocesan schools – St. Augustine, St. Paschal Baylon and Sts. Cyril-Louis Bertrand Academy, all in Oakland. Although they will close their doors as Catholic facilities on June 30, the campuses are not expected to remain vacant. A private school is leasing space at the St. Paschal site, and the other campuses are negotiating with charter schools.

Northern Light School, a private school established in 1989 by former teachers at St. Cyril School, will open at the St. Paschal site by Sept. 1. The school, currently located in the Redwood Heights district of Oakland, signed a five-year, $10,000 per month lease with the parish, according to Father Michael Norkett, pastor.

Northern Light is made up of some 130 students in classes ranging from a Montessori pre-school through the 8th grade, according to a parish press release. The student population is 67 percent African American, 15 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Caucasian, five percent mixed ancestry, and three percent Asian.

Meanwhile, as The Voice went to press, charter schools were reportedly in negotiations for the sites now vacant at St. Augustine and St. Louis Bertrand parishes.

The transformation of the three schools follows an April 30 announcement by the Oakland Diocese that the schools would close June 30 because of declining enrollment and deficit spending.

Although the schools had hoped to stay open if they met goals set by the diocese, the College of Consultors, advisors to Bishop Allen Vigneron, determined that the schools would not be able to meet their quotas for increased enrollment. Parents and school staff were advised about the closings before the deadlines ran out, according to the diocesan school department, so they would have time to find space at other schools.

Schools leave historical legacies
The three schools that are closing June 30 leave behind the memories of hundreds of former students and legacies of service to their communities. Below are brief chronicles of the schools over several decades.

St. Augustine
St. Augustine School traces its roots back to 1908 when Father Bernard J. McKinnon, the parish’s second pastor, began a school with five lay teachers in grades one through five. In August, 1918, the Holy Names Sisters assumed teaching responsibilities for the parish’s youngsters. Led by Sister Mary Patritius, principal, the Sisters started with 99 students in grades one through six. Father John Egan was pastor.

In September of the following year, six Holy Names Sisters, then living in a newly renovated house on Colby Street, celebrated the opening of the school’s music department, and two years later, in 1921, the school held its first 8th grade graduation ceremony. Seven girls and eight boys, the “Primo Alumni,” made up the first graduates.

As the parish grew in size over the years so did the school. Four new classrooms – “each well-lighted and ventilated and furnished with a cloakroom” – were added in the 1926-27 school year, according to a 1984 St. Augustine history booklet. At that time six Sisters taught 207 students.

By 1951 there were 350 students enrolled at the school, and to accommodate the increase, the school opened a new wing in 1954 with four new classrooms, a gymnasium, library, cafeteria, clinic and enlarged music department. In 1961 the school’s enrollment reached its peak with 403 students, who were then taught by eight
Sisters and two lay teachers.

By the mid-1970s, however, the school had begun to experience a decline in the Catholic student population, raising concerns about the future of the school. The population decline, as well as an acute personnel shortage, led the Holy Names Sisters to leave the school at the end of the 1974-75 school year. A lay staff took over all administrative and teaching duties.

Over the past 30 years, St. Augustine School, with support from an active school board and parent teacher guild, has worked to upgrade the staff, facilities, and curriculum. These changes have included the addition in 1980 of a kindergarten program initially offered three days a week and an after school child care program. In 1987 the pre-kindergarten was discontinued and the kindergarten became a full-day program.

St. Paschal Baylon
The school opened in 1956 with Adrian Dominican Sister Mary Vincentia as principal and the first classes held at neighboring St. Louis Bertrand Parish. The school gained a home of its own at St. Paschal Baylon a year later.

That home became official when San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle blessed St. Paschal’s new combination church and school building in 1957. Two years later, when the new parish church was dedicated, the school took over more space, and during the 1960s the school continued to expand under the pastor, Msgr. Augustine J. Quinan.

The school was considered one of the strongest assets of the parish, according to a parish profile developed by the diocesan personnel committee in 1977. The committee also unanimously agreed that the school offers “the most hope for making the successful transition in the next few years from a mostly white parish to a mostly black parish.”

Another parish profile nearly two years later revealed that since the previous report the number of non-Catholics attending the school had “risen significantly.” The school then had a population 50 percent non-Catholic with a majority of the students black. The report also noted that the school is considered to “be a good school with an excellent staff.”

The report also said that principal Sister Barbara Carroll had the confidence of the parents, but Sister Carroll expressed concern about the high percentage of non-Catholics, which presented a challenge in religious education.

After a disappointing school year (1979-80) that saw a significant drop in enrollment, Penny Pendola was appointed principal in 1981. During her administration the school moved from an enrollment of 202 to a high of 245 students and opened a pre-school program, which remained in operation until September 1988. It was discontinued in favor of an all-day kindergarten program, and an extended day care program opened in 1984.

From 1989-91 the school experienced severe budget problems as a number of administrators came and left.

The Academy
Sts. Cyril-Louis Bertrand Academy, the youngest of the three schools, due to a 1999 merger, began decades earlier at two separate sites.

St. Cyril School
St. Cyril, staffed by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, opened its doors on Oct. 10, 1927 under the direction of Sister Nazareth, principal. Sister John and Sister Beatrice taught grades one through six. (The school history omits their last names.) Father Francis F. McCarthy served as pastor of the parish.

The parish community gathered in December of that year to celebrate the dedication of a new school building.
The ceremony began with a parade led by motorcycle police in front of a large crowd of parishioners and a number of Catholic organizations. This festive crowd, according to the parish’s anniversary book, met San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty at the Seminary Station “when he arrived via the historic Southern Pacific Red Electric Train from San Francisco. They escorted him from the station to the new school building where a solemn high Mass was celebrated in the church part of the school building.”

The school population, which began with 40 students, had grown to 140 students within 10 months. Grades 7 and 8 were added during the two years that followed. The school’s first graduation took place in June 1930 with six students.

The school continued to expand during the 1930s and 1940s, and under Father Arthur Walsh, who succeeded Father McCarthy as pastor, two classrooms were added to complete the school building.

The school community was also enhanced during this time through the contributions of parents and other
parishioners. The Parent’s Club, originally known as the Mother’s Guild, was created in 1935 to organize fundraising activities, such as fashion shows, dinner dances, talent shows, hot dog lunches and parish festivals.

Over the years the focus on lay involvement in the school continued. In 1968 Msgr. Patrick O’Halloran, then St. Cyril’s pastor, established a school board made up of parents and parishioners who advised the pastor and principal. According to the parish’s 1976 history it was the first active school board in the Oakland Diocese.

St. Louis Bertrand
The Adrian Dominican Sisters, based in Adrian, Mich., opened a convent at St. Louis Bertrand Parish and established an elementary school there in 1946. The first school year began on Sept. 17 with six Sisters, lead by Sister Kevin Marie as principal, and an enrollment of 325 students in grades one through four. Msgr. John Silva was pastor. The number of Sisters grew to eight in August of the following year, and the enrollment swelled to 480 students in grades kindergarten through fifth.

1947 also marked the dedication of a new school building by San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty. According to a report in a parish historical booklet, the archbishop commended the parish and Sisters for “their fine work” in the creation of the new building. New grades were added to the school through 1950. In 1951 the first graduating class, with 47 students, received their diplomas from the pastor.

Over the next 10 to12 years the school continued to grow to 50 students per double-graded class. During the 1961-62 school year enrollment reached an all-time high of 955 students.

The 1960s were a time of transition. Lay teachers joined the staff in the 1962-63 school year. They were Mary Marques (5th), B. Killo (4th), Nancy Garcia (4th), and Daniel Teves (kindergarten). Changes in the school population emerged later as many Catholic families began moving to the suburbs while the majority of people moving into the community were non-Catholic. The school, however, remained viable because these families valued the academic and religious standards at the campus.

In 1988 Diana Adams joined Adrian Dominican Sister Diana Marie Pellegrino, principal since 1974, as interim administrator. This set the stage for the withdrawal of the Adrian Dominican Sisters the following year after 42 years administering the school. Adams became the first lay principal in the school’s history.

Declining enrollment caused by a downturn in the Oakland economy led the school to downsize from a double graded school to a single graded school in 1992. By 1995 the transition had been completed with a total enrollment of nearly 300 students.

After 52 years, St. Louis Bertrand School closed its doors in June 1999, merging with neighboring St. Cyril School to become Saints Cyril-Louis Bertrand Academy. It reopened at the St. Cyril School site in September. The merger was seen as a solution to the challenges of declining enrollment and increasing costs facing both schools. Diana Adams became principal of the new academy.

(Historical information courtesy of Jeffrey Burns, archivist for the San Francisco Archdiocese; Mary Carmen Batiza, archivist for the Oakland Diocese; the diocesan Schools Department, Adrian Dominican Sisters, and back issues of The Catholic Voice.)


Religious community for
deaf men begins in diocese

By Voice staff

A new religious community for deaf men is taking form in the Oakland Diocese under the sponsorship of Bishop Allen Vigneron and the leadership of Father Thomas Coughlin, administrator of St. Benedict Parish for the Deaf in San Francisco.

The community, known as the Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate, will begin as an Association of the Christian Faithful, the canonical designation that is the initial step for official establishment as a religious community. It is the first such community for the deaf in the United States.

Bishop Vigneron formally approved the community in February, and the first group of eight candidates will enter the novitiate in August. They will reside in the convent at Assumption Parish in San Leandro and participate in a collaborative novitiate program with the novices of the Western Dominican Province.

The program, to be held at St. Dominic’s Church and Novitiate in San Francisco, will teach the deaf candidates the basics of Dominican life, the order’s constitution and its charism of preaching.

Calling the new community a “worthy initiative,” Bishop Vigneron said there is a tremendous need for priests and Brothers to minister among deaf Catholics. The new community will train men to provide pastoral care throughout the United States using American Sign Language.

Father Coughlin, who is deaf, said it is very difficult for deaf men to live in a religious community of hearing persons. In the new community the men will use sign language as their primary mode of communication for community life, socialization, prayer and preaching.

“Deaf priests and religious Brothers need to live in their cultural milieu as deaf persons,” said Father Coughlin.
“History has proved that integrating deaf candidates into hearing religious communities is difficult, if not impossible.”

He knows these challenges first hand from his time as a Dominican Brother before leaving the community to study for the priesthood for the Diocese of Honolulu. He believes deaf men will be more likely to persevere in their vocation if they can use sign language in all aspects of their lives, particularly when living in a religious community.

Because of his familiarity with Dominican life, Father Coughlin wanted to incorporate those traditions and charisms into the new community, but the group will be an autonomous congregation, reporting only to Bishop Vigneron. The Dominicans “will be like ‘Big Brothers’ to us, helping us to be formed as a new Dominican community of deaf missionaries,” he said.

The Order will not have legal or fiscal responsibility for the new group, which will be “autonomous and self-reliant, primarily for the sake of the deaf apostolate which requires candidates who are deaf or who are familiar with sign language,” he said.

For novitiate classes, the men will be “mainstreamed” with the hearing novices in the Dominican novitiate, using the latest Internet technology. The instructor will speak into a microphone that will relay his words through the Internet to a sign language interpreter, probably based in Sacramento.

The interpreter will repeat the words in sign language, which will be digitially transmitted over a TV screen for the deaf novices to read in the same novitiate classroom in which they were spoken. “It will cost a great deal of money and I am looking for a grant to help defray this cost,” Father Coughlin said.

The novices, who range in age from 23 to 46, come from a variety of backgrounds. Two are from France, and the others are from Cameroon, Haiti, Ghana, Philippines and Congo, in addition to Father Coughlin. Three more candidates are applying for the summer of 2005.

A late-deafened Dominican priest from Dallas, Texas, will reside with the deaf novices as a live-in associate novice director for a year. Father Austin Green has worked with the deaf community in Texas for more than 30 years and is familiar with sign language.

Father Coughlin is also trying to help three deaf women who want to become Sisters. “We are looking at the possibility of forming a conventual Dominican Laity Chapter of deaf women living together as religious for the deaf apostolate,” he said. “It needs further exploration.”

In the meantime, he is looking forward to moving the novices into the San Leandro convent on July 1 and he is planning for a Sept. 2 ceremony at which the men will receive their new habits – white tunics with black scapulars. “This was the habit of lay Brothers and is no longer used,” he said. “It was the habit of St. Martin de Porres, a very famous Dominican Brother in Peru,” he said.

The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the reception of the habit by the Dominican novices. “The friars felt that this will bring a powerful message on the part of the Dominican Order assisting a group of disabled and marginalized to become a community in our society and Church,” he said.

“The Order of Preachers will be our mentor, showing us how we can meet the challenge of preaching to deaf people in sign language,” he added. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for their support and guidance.

Father Coughlin, a native of Malone, New York, obtained his high school education at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo, his BA in English from Gallaudet University and his MA in Religious Studies from Catholic University of America. He also has an associate degree in nursing and is a registered nurse at a Catholic deaf youth summer camp he founded in 1981 in Old Forge, New York.

Senators ask for stem-cell change

WASHINGTON (RNS) Fifty-eight senators have asked President Bush to ease restrictions on stem-cell research, with some noting that the late President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease could have been aided by expanded research.

In a June 4 letter to Bush, 42 Democrats, one independent and 15 Republican senators said the president’s policy adopted in 2001 is no longer adequate. A similar letter was sent last month by 206 House members.

The 2001 White House policy allowed research on 78 existing lines, or colonies, of stem cells, but banned the creation of new lines. Some scientists believe stem cells — which can grow into almost any human tissue hold treatments or cures for a host of debilitating diseases.

The senators said only 19 of the 78 colonies are still available to researchers. In addition, some of those colonies may no longer be viable because they have been “contaminated” with mouse cells.

“We would very much like to work with you to modify the current embryonic stem cell policy so that it provides this area of research the greatest opportunity to lead to the treatments and cures for which we are all hoping,” said the letter, whose signers included Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Opponents, including Catholic bishops and most evangelical Protestant groups, say the procedure is tantamount to abortion because it involves destroying a potential human life for research.

The bishops state on the U.S. Catholic Conference web site, “While some researchers still claim that embryonic stem cells offer the best hope for treating many debilitating diseases, there is now a great deal of evidence contrary to that theory. Use of stem cells obtained by destroying human embryos is not only unethical but presents many practical problems as well.”

Several of the letter’s signers, including Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, oppose most abortions but support expanded stem cell research.

“This issue is especially poignant given President Reagan’s passing,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who helped draft the letter. “Embryonic stem cell research might hold the key to a cure for Alzheimer’s and other terrible diseases.”

Feinstein and others have sponsored a bill that would ban human cloning but allow federally funded stem cell research on the estimated 400,000 embryos created for in vitro fertilization that would otherwise be destroyed or go unused.

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius told the Associated Press that Bush “continues to believe strongly that we should not cross a fundamental moral line by funding or encouraging the destruction of human embryos.”


Displaced students find new homes in diocese

By Voice staff

Students displaced by the closing of three diocesan elementary schools this month are finding warm welcomes in their new homes.

At St. Joseph the Worker School in Berkeley and St. Leander in San Leandro, families attended events held to smooth the way for their arrival at a new site. About 40 new families – half of them from the schools that recently closed – attended a pot luck dinner at St. Joseph earlier this month, and new families at St. Leander took part in a student council presentation and tour of the school.

Both schools were among those that received transfers from one or more of the schools that closed – St. Paschal Baylon, Sts. Cyril-Louis Bertrand Academy and St. Augustine, all in Oakland. The diocese closed the schools because they had suffered from declining enrollment and budget deficits.

At the potluck and reception for St. Joseph newcomers, each child painted his or her name on a 4 by 4 inch tile that will be incorporated into a mosaic at the school. “They will be able to walk past the tile in September,” said principal Natalie Tovani-Walchuk, “and know that they belong here.”

St. Leander principal Barbara McCullough said 10 new students and their parents who have transferred from St. Paschal, joined other newcomers in grades three through eight for pizza, soft drinks and testimonials from members of the school’s student council. They talked with teachers and took a tour of the school, she said.

“It was a welcome thing,” McCullough said, and the parents “thought it was wonderful.”

Mark De Marco, diocesan schools superintendent, said nearly all the displaced teachers looking for work in the diocese have been hired at new sites and as of May 31, 122 students had been accepted at other diocesan schools while 58 applications were still pending.

“It’s a difficult situation,” he said, “but we’re seeing success in being able to offer families Catholic education.”

Catholics, others ask forgiveness
for persecution of Anabaptists

By Rich Preheim
Religion News Service

In the early 16th century, groups of European Christians started splitting from the Roman Catholic Church in what is now known as the Protestant Reformation. But while Protestants and Catholics were at odds, they had one thing in common: Anabaptism had to be eliminated.

The Reformed Christians drowned Felix Manz, the first of thousands of Anabaptist martyrs over the next two centuries. The Catholics burned at the stake Michael Sattler, author of the first Anabaptist confession of faith.
Even Martin Luther, who is credited with ushering in the Reformation, urged the execution of all Anabaptists as heretics.

Such persecution helped drive the early Anabaptists—the spiritual ancestors of today’s Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites—into isolation, suspicious of the rest of the world.

But now nearly 500 years later, the Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches—the primary antagonists of Anabaptists in the 16th and 17th centuries—are seeking to make amends.

“We all have black sheep in the family. We all have ancestors that we aren’t proud of,” said Bishop Joseph Martino, head of the Vatican-appointed delegation that last fall concluded five years of meetings with a group from Mennonite World Conference, the global Mennonite fellowship.

In addition to the Catholics, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Mennonite Church USA this spring finished a two-year series of meetings, and on June 26 the Reformed Church in Zurich, Switzerland, will hold a reconciliation ceremony with participation by Anabaptist descendants from around the world.

The Protestant Reformation was born in 1517 when Catholic monk Martin Luther challenged the church by posting his 95 thesis in Wittenberg in what is now Germany. He went on to found the Lutheran church. Another pivotal development came in the early 1520s, when priest Ulrich Zwingli renounced Catholicism but remained in the pulpit of Zurich’s main church, leading to the start of the Reformed movement.

But some Christians thought Luther, Zwingli and other reformers did not go far enough. Particularly at issue was infant baptism. For generations, newborns had been baptized, but some believers argued that only adults can make a decision to follow Jesus Christ and join the church. Anabaptists insisted on believers’ baptism—first conducted in Zurich in 1525 – and refused to have their children baptized as babies.

But the Anabaptist position, while religious, was also political. Baptism was not only into the church but also into citizenship in the state, since state and church were one, be they Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed. So rejecting infant baptism was seen as threatening the civic order.

As a result, Anabaptists were severely persecuted, forcing them to frequently flee across Europe and eventually to the Americas in search of security to practice their faith.

But that was then and this is now, according to church leaders. In fact, said Paul Schreck, ELCA associate for bilateral dialogue, many church members are unaware of that chapter of their church’s history.

“I think most Lutherans around the world would be horrified that their forebears put to the sword people who disagreed with them,” he said.

Both the Catholic and Lutheran dialogues covered many topics, but they also included repentance. In the final report of the Catholic-Mennonite meetings, released this spring, the Vatican delegation said Catholics “can express a penitential spirit, asking forgiveness for any sins which were committed against Mennonites, asking God’s mercy for that, and God’s blessing for a new relationship with Mennonites today.”

Dialog in Switzerland

Pope John Paul II waves alongside Swiss President Joseph Deiss upon arrival at the Payerne military airport outside Bern, June 5. The Pope spent 36 hours in Switzerland. During his visit he addressed thousands of young Catholics at a rally in the Swiss capitol.



Jubilarians reflect on their calling



Msgr. John T. McCracken

Birthplace: Palo Alto, California
Ordination: September 23, 1944, St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Anne, Walnut Creek
Past ministry: Assistant Pastor, St. Augustine, Oakland. Assistant Director, Catholic Social Service, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Director, Catholic Social Service in Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties. Taught Medical Ethics and Sociology at Providence School of Nursing and was the President of Sunshine Camp.

My standard response to “Sixty years a priest—Wow!” is “Time flies when you’re having fun.” And there’s Andrew Greeley’s conclusion in his most recent study of priests (1972-1992): “Priests who like being priests are among the happiest men in the world.”

I must admit the Church didn’t give me much time to be bored. In 1962, Bishop Floyd Begin appointed me director of Catholic Charities of the East Bay with responsibility to organize the Charities and also the Charities Appeal.

Then to make it certain he smilingly admonished me, “The buck stops on your desk. I know you want a parish, but I want you for 10 years.”

I made a note of the date and 10 years to the day (October 15, 1972) I put my letter of resignation on his desk. He let me go as long as I agreed to be a consultant to the Charities. Then followed pastoring five parishes and spending vacations at sea as a cruise chaplain.

What made it all possible? Daily Mass. Between office hours and endless day and night meetings it seemed my only consistent priestly sacramental experience was offering daily Mass before heading off to the offices and mundane subjects: budgets, reports, renovations, new needed programs, administration details… the Mass and a battalion of wonderful people – staffs, volunteers and the People of God in parishes.

Lacordaire once wrote of the priest, “To get from men to God and offer Him their prayers. To return from God to men to bring pardon and joy. My God, what a life!”

And that’s only the half of it! Would I do it again? If asked, you betcha!






Father Ciaran Dillon, OMI

Birthplace: Roosky, County
Roscommon, Ireland
Ordination: December 18, 1954, Dublin, Ireland
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Rose of Lima, Crockett
Past service: Assistant Pastor, St. Benedict, Seattle, WA. Pastor, Little Flower, Billings, MT. Port Chaplain, Catholic Seamen’s Club (Apostleship of the Sea), Seattle, WA. Provincial Treasurer, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Western U.S. Province.

At an early age my family moved to Dublin and the home was located next to the Oblate Church and residence. When I decided to follow the call to the priesthood it was natural for me to pursue the calling as a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In those days in Ireland, vocations were numerous. Many diocesan and religious priests were assigned to foreign countries. I was assigned to the Western U.S. Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

I am ever grateful to my parents, brothers, sisters and relatives who have supported me along the way with their prayers and encouragement. I am also grateful to the people of God whom I have served over the years and who in turn have touched my life.

In everyone’s life there are the highs and lows, however, I have never regretted accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow Him in the priesthood and would do it all over again.

Father Milton Eggerling

Birthplace: Orient, South Dakota
Ordination: June 11, 1954, St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco
Present ministry: St. James Missionary Society, Boston, MA
Past service: Cathedral High School teacher, Sioux Falls, SD. Priest Assistant, St. Joseph Cathedral, Sioux Falls, SD; Priest Assistant, St. Mary’s, Marion, SD and country parishes. Pastor, St. George, Howard, SD. Chaplain of the Aquinas Student Center at Northern State Teachers’ College, Aberdeen, SD. Director, Clinical Pastoral Education at Providence Hospital, Oakland. Pastor, St. Augustine, Oakland. Director, Clinical Pastoral Education, Stanford University. Missionary priest, St. James Missionary Society, Lima, Peru and Boston, MA

I am deeply grateful for my calling to the priesthood. I have been honored to serve others in a spiritual way.



Father Raymond J. Bucher, OFM

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Ordination: December 19, 1964, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Director, San Damiano Retreat Center, Danville
Past service: Parish and Novitiate Team, Guardian, Sacramento. Director of Post Novitiate Team, Oakland/Berkeley. Guardian, Franciscan Headquarters, Rome. Director and Guardian, Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, Arizona. Provincial Vicar and Definitor. Professor at FST, Berkeley, University of Santa Clara and Loyola University, New Orleans, LA

1964! A great year to be ordained. By then I had a sense that Vatican II was for real. Renewal in Scripture would nurture my preaching and prayer. Liturgical reform would encourage a more personal presiding presence. And “People of God” would promote more lay participation than the “mystical body” metaphor. Hope.

I haven’t always lived up to the promises of Vatican II, and for that I apologize. But the challenge of change—knowing what to hold onto and what to surrender—has been life-giving. Through it all I still believe my priestly task calls me to embody in my unique way, Christ’s holiness.

I have tried to honor the words on my two ordination cards: “In bearing one another’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ” Gal. 6:2. (40 years of funerals and pastoral counseling!)

The other quote is from Teilhard: “…because I am a priest I wish to be the first to become conscious of all that the world loves, pursues and suffers…and be more nobly of the earth than any of the world’s servants.”

I’m grateful for the trust I’ve so readily been given these 40 years. I’ll keep trying to adhere to the counsel given me at my ordination: Lord, make me interruptible

Father Paul Devine

Birthplace: New York, NY
Ordination: March 14, 1964, New York, NY
Present ministry: Director, Apostleship of the Sea, Oakland
Past service: Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist, El Cerrito. Associate Pastor, Good Shepherd, Pittsburg. Pastor, St. Bernard, Oakland. Pastor, St. Ignatius, Antioch.

I initially pushed away the idea of the priesthood, imagining the life to be too sedate and boring. It has turned out to be more than I could have hoped for. Every assignment has been of happy memory. The closeness to Jesus, the number of wonderful people I met, would not have been possible otherwise.

I would like to mention some epiphanies: joining the long march with Cesar Chavez, ministry in East Oakland, the call to the Third Order of the Carmelites (OCI), the Apostleship of the Sea.

Twenty years at the Apostleship of the Sea in ports of Oakland/Richmond has engaged me with merchant seafarers, the most marginalized of people. They come to ports and their work is finished in a few hours and they leave. Why bother about “them”?

“Them” are lonely, isolated people with no support system. “Them” endure that life as the only wage earner in an enlarged family unit of perhaps 30 people in an impoverished foreign homeland. And the majority of “them” are Catholics.

Bringing “them” Mass and the sacraments, taking “them” off ship for some R and R seems so little but for “them” it means so much. At sea 10 months a year they cannot go to church. So the Church goes to “them.”
Their courage and dedication inspires and energizes me. This is the best ministry I have been blessed to have had.

Father Michael Guinan, OFM

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Ordination: December 19, 1964, San Roque Church, Santa Barbara
Present ministry: Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley
Past Service: Pastoral year at St. Mary’s Parish, Stockton. Taught at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park; Holy Names College, Oakland; Notre Dame College, Belmont; School of Pastoral Leadership, San Francisco and Oakland; St. Bonaventure University, New York; Franciscan Seminary, Manila, Philippines. Taught in the Permanent Diaconate training programs for the dioceses of Oakland, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco. Participated in Religious Education Conferences for the dioceses of Oakland, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Jose and Monterey. Taught at St. Bonaventure University, New York; Franciscan Seminary, Manila, Philippines.

Almost my whole priestly life has been spent in the apostolate of education; this is not quite what I envisioned when I entered the seminary in 1957! I have taught seminarians, permanent deacons, and lay men and women called to different kinds of ministry in the Church, students from all over the world. And, I hasten to add, I have been taught by them as well.

It has been both a humbling and tremendously enriching experience. I have felt it important for me to keep some contact with “the Church out there,” and I have been blessed to spend half of my priesthood doing weekend help-out at St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, CA (I began in September of 1984). It is a very special place.

While there have certainly been a few ups-and-downs in 40 years (as in all life), these have been years of great joy and fulfillment.

Father William Macchi

Birthplace: Concord, California
Ordination: May 28, 1964 Queen of All Saints Parish, Concord
Present ministry: Retired, Oakland
Past service: Associate Director/Director of Catholic Charities. Associate Pastor, St. Clement, Hayward. Director of Catholic Social Services. Vicar General and Financial Secretary, Diocese of Oakland. Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi, Concord.

(Because of illness, Father Macchi was unable to write his reflection. His friend and classmate, Father Paul Schmidt, has done so for him.)

Father Bill Macchi has always been devoted to parish ministry, even when he was assigned to special diocesan work, in studies for a master's degree in Social Work, as director of Catholic Charities, and as vicar general.
While in his first assignment at St. Clement in Hayward, he also served as the first Catholic campus minister at Cal State, Hayward. His many years in residence at St. Benedict, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Callistus, St. Cyril, and St. Theresa parishes have left good memories of his imaginative preaching and eager involvement in parish
life. Everywhere he went he made good and lasting friends.

During most of his years, Father Bill has been an avid hiker, familiar with the many trails located in the Bay Area. He has often spent his weekly day off walking and talking and later dining with a regular group of priest friends or with parishioners who shared his enthusiasm for the outdoors. He has taken many vacation trips in the USA and abroad, his last major journey being to Italy, the country of his Old World roots.

Father's last assignment was as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, in the city where he grew up, Concord. There he had the formidable task of supervising the rebuilding of the church, which had suffered from faulty construction. In Concord he was available to care for his parents, who lived in the family home nearby and eventually moved to residential care. Most of his days off were spent attending to their needs in later years.

As director of Catholic Charities, he was instrumental in founding the Handicapables, little expecting that he would one day become one of them. In these later years of sickness and confinement he has been a steadfast example of good cheer and acceptance. With the devoted help of his caregiver, Bruce Hunter, and others, he lives a life of priestly sacrifice which is an inspiration to all who know and love him.

Father James A. Schexnayder

Birthplace: Louisiana
Ordination: May 26, 1964, St. Perpetua, Lafayette
Present ministry: Retired; Liturgical Ministry at St. Paschal, Oakland and St. Anne, Byron
Past service: Director, Ministry to Gay and Lesbian communities and their families, Catholic Charities. Director, HIV/AIDS Services, Catholic Charities. Pastor, St. Augustine, Oakland. Director, Permanent Diaconate Program. Director, Campus Ministry Center, Hayward. Diocesan Director, Campus Ministry. Associate Pastor, St. Clement. Hayward; St. Augustine, Oakland; St. John, San Lorenzo.

I have been privileged to serve as an ordained minister during the challenging years that followed the Second Vatican Council. The vision of John XXIII and of the Council expanded our sense of Church and of the action of the Spirit of Christ in our times. Such a vision gave energy and hope to my early parish work and also to the special work ministries that I was called to do in the Oakland Diocese.

I have learned so much from students and young adults through campus ministry, permanent deacons and their wives, people living with HIV/AIDS, and gay and lesbian Catholics and their families. Today I experience that Spirit alive in the people of St. Paschal, Oakland, and of St. Anne, Byron, where I preside and preach.

I still rejoice in the words from Ephesians that I chose for an ordination theme: “God, whose power is now at work in us, can do immeasurably more than we can ask for or even imagine.”

Father Paul J. Schmidt

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Ordination: May 27, 1964, St. Benedict, Oakland
Present ministry: Diocesan Director of Priest Personnel and Parochial Administrator, St. Margaret Mary, Oakland
Past service: Campus Minister, DVC/Mills College. Columnist, The Catholic Voice. Administrator/Pastor, St. Agnes, Concord. Dean, East Contra Costa County.

The Second Vatican Council has been the most pervasive influence on my 40 years of ministry as a priest. First came the liturgical changes, then the renewal of catechetical ministry, the increased interest in the Bible, and the greater involvement of the laity in the life of the Church. Each of these has shaped my vision of priesthood and my own spirituality.

As a priest of this era, I see myself as one commissioned to put the documents of the Council into practice and to bring the Gospel into the modern world. This is exciting, liberating, and never-ending work. Pope John XXIII asked us to pray for “a new Pentecost in our time.” I feel privileged to have witnessed the continuing answer to that prayer.




Father Leonardo Alban Asuncion

Birthplace: Agoo, La Union, Philippines
Ordination: April 21, 1979, Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, Agoo, La Union, Philippines
Present Ministry: Parochial Vicar, St. Joseph, Fremont
Past service: Associate Pastor, St. William’s Cathedral, San Fernando, La Union, Philippines. Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, San Fernando, La Union, Philippines. Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist, El Cerrito.

When I was ordained I thought I was launched into a priestly ministry that was exciting and adventurous. However, it was not always that easy. But those challenges in ministry that shook my confidence made me realize that God is not the only mystery; priesthood is also a mystery, a mystery grounded in the saving love of God.

A priest’s spirituality is first and foremost Eucharist centered. There is nothing more important than sharing in the Eucharist with the faith community to which one belongs. Priests do a lot of important things from proclaiming and teaching the Gospel, administering sacraments, etc.

All these activities of ministry and many more are important and naturally affect their prayer life. But the heart and soul of my spirituality remains the Eucharist.

These past years have revealed to me that the Eucharist is the summit and font for my day, my week, my priestly life.

The Eucharist is the means by which I stay connected with the faith community I serve and work with.
I also recognize the power that lay people play in my life as a priest.

The people of God are not only crucial in the life of the Church; they are also an indispensable source of spiritual vitality for me.

Father Joseph Boenzi, SDB

Birthplace: Inglewood, California
Ordination: June 23, 1979, St. Viviana Cathedral, Los Angeles
Present ministry: Theologian and Educator: Institute of Salesian Spirituality, Berkeley. Assistant Professor of Theology and Spirituality at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley
Past service: Teacher and campus minister, St. Mary’s Salesian School, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Vocations and Formation Ministry, De Sales Hall, Bellflower, Los Angeles. Youth Ministry Delegate, Salesians, San Francisco Province. Director, Don Bosco Hall, Berkeley.

I am a Salesian and I was educated to the faith in a family and parish where there was always a great emphasis on the presence of God and the need to love and serve neighbor. Before ordination, I had already been active in ministry—in fact, immediately after my Confirmation at age 11, the Salesians at my parish invited my companions and me to minister to children other than ourselves.

One thing led to another and I entered the Salesian Society after high school. My community trained me in catechetics and in special education.

The last years of formation were a special blessing as I lived and learned theology in Turin, Italy, within walking distance of the Oratory that St. John Bosco founded and where he lived a century before.

In the years since ordination, my life did not change, but it perhaps called me to go more deeply into the essence of community and the mission to young people.

Since 1983, I have been involved in the formation of young adults, lay and religious, who want to deepen their response to God’s call. This has moved me into areas of spiritual direction, teaching theology, giving workshops and animating retreats.

Although I was attracted to Salesian community and consecrated life to minister directly among young people in need, within four years of ordination that ministry became indirect, as I have journeyed with others who educate and minister.

This means that through 25 years of priesthood, and 36 years as a Salesian, I’ve been blessed to continue in formation, discovering day-by-day, what it means to follow Christ the Good Shepherd.

Father Nicholas Glisson

Birthplace: Sarasota, Florida
Ordination: May 26, 1979, St. Patrick’s Church, Gainesville, FL
Present ministry: Parochial Vicar, The Catholic Community of Pleasanton, Pleasanton
Past service: Parochial Vicar, Sacred Heart Church, Jacksonville, FL. Instructor, Bishop Kenny High School, Jacksonville, FL. Parochial Vicar, Catholic Student Center, University of Florida. Pastor, Holy Family Church, Williston, FL. Assistant Professor, Seminary of Saint Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach, FL.

Priesthood has taken me in directions I never thought would happen. After ordination I expected to remain a parish priest all my life. Yet, I went on to get two additional degrees. I expected to return to Florida following my doctorate where I would teach in the seminary and continue pastoral work. The Holy Spirit had other plans for me and now I am a priest of the Diocese of Oakland.

I hope that the promptings of the Spirit will enable me to continue ministry in the East Bay for the rest of my life.

Father John Kasper, OSFS

Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio
Ordination: April 27, 1979, Toledo, Ohio
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Perpetua, Lafayette
Past service: Director of Music and Worship, St. Joseph Basilica, Alameda. Associate Pastor, Corpus Christi, Piedmont.

When I look back over the past 25 years I see faces of thousands of parish members who have enriched my life. For me it has been a rich and rewarding pathway.

As a member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, my ministry has given me the opportunity to work in various parts of the country, expanding my horizons as a citizen of this country (there really is life beyond the Bay!) and a member of the universal Church (St. Perpetua’s is only one parish among thousands).

I have had privileged access to people’s hearts and lives, celebrating with them the joys of childbirth, the pain of losing a loved one in death and every imaginable human experience in between. Both at times of sadness and in times of joy God has given me the opportunity to be a source of comfort and hope, a channel of grace and peace. For this I am humbly grateful.

Shortly before I was ordained, the leaders of the Church set out a daunting agenda with the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council. That agenda has made priestly ministry an exciting adventure.

Sadly, some in the Church would opt for the comfort and security of the past; some in the Church are having success at achieving just that. I believe that the example of Jesus and the prodding of the Spirit will not allow fear and complacency to rule the day or chart the course.

Jesus told Peter: “Put out into deep waters.” That’s the only place where the miraculous catch will take place.
So I pray that the Lord will continue to push me and all of us into those deeper waters where the abundance of His life and grace awaits us.

I’ve often been challenged by the insightful words of the Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel: “When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.”

I pray that my ministry and our mutual faith will never be meaningless, but always be a source of enrichment, compassion and joy.

Father Jesse Montes, SDB

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Ordination: June 23, 1979, St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, Los Angeles, CA
Present Ministry: Vice Director, Salesian Community, Richmond. Associate Editor, Salesian Bulletin. Latino/Hispanic Ministry, St. Ambrose, Berkeley. Drama Chairperson and teacher, Salesian High School, Richmond.
Past service: Teacher and Director of Religious Education, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Salesian High (So.Calif.), St. John Bosco High School. Associate Pastor, St. Mary’s, Los Angeles. Worked with Migrant families in Watsonville. Founded the Watsonville Theatre Company, The Teatro de la Comunidad de Watsonville, and the St. Francis Young Actors’ Guild. Served on the Ford Foundation Collaborative on the Latino drop-out issue. Board member, Sante Fe Hospital. Chaplain, White Memorial Hospital, Los Angeles. Interpreter, 1984 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles. Founded the Salesian Information Agency after attending the Salesian Correspondent course in Rome.

Wide-eyed and staring at me, a young sophomore student came up to me on the first day of class. I had just finished leading the Performing Arts class in an intense A.C.T. -based rigorous warm-up. She was speechless. I said, “Yes, may I help you?” “Father, I…I have never seen a priest do fun stuff with us.”

And that was it. I not only like, I love what I do. I am a Salesian priest and I thank St. John Bosco (Don Bosco) daily for the charism of our Family Spirit he has imbued us with. It is simply the Pauline model of “be all things to every person” we come in contact with.

My Salesian consecrated life, which I have professed for 40 years, is paramount in my life and sustains my priesthood. I pray to Mary Help, our patron, that she bless our Oakland community with unity and peace.

Father Raymond Sacca

Birthplace: Vallejo, California
Ordination: June 15, 1979, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland
Present ministry: Pastor, St. Michael, Livermore
Past service: Parochial Vicar, St. Francis of Assisi, Concord. Parochial Vicar, Corpus Christi, Piedmont. Parochial Vicar, St. John the Baptist, San Lorenzo. Co-Pastor/Pastor, Sacred Heart, Oakland. Director of Seminarians. Director of Vocations. Pastor, St. Joseph, Pinole. Administrator, St. Alphonsus, San Leandro. Chaplain, U.S. Navy Reserve. Presbyteral Council Member. Chair, Pastoral Leadership Placement Board. Diocesan Design/Review Board.

Over the course of years many people have asked me whether I have had any regrets about my decision to become a priest—if given the chance to do it all over again, would I make the same choice. This question always offers me a welcome opportunity to reflect on my vocation.

Twenty-five years ago, I never imagined the challenges and struggles that I would encounter in priestly ministry. Neither, however, did I imagine the profound joy and fulfillment that I have experienced as a priest. I continue to feel honored and grateful to Christ for inviting me to serve in this way.

Father Timothy Stier

Birthplace: Oakland, California
Ordination: June 15, 1979, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland
Present ministry: Pastor, Corpus Christi, Fremont
Past service: Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of the Rosary, Union City. Parochial Vicar, St. Bede, Hayward. Parochial Vicar, St. John Vianney, Walnut Creek. Parochial Vicar, St. Raymond, Dublin.

My greatest joy and fulfillment as a parish priest have come as a result of experiencing the Lord in the Word, the sacraments, and in the many wonderful people I have met along the way in five parishes.

I have always felt supported and affirmed in my vocation of preaching, teaching, and community building.

My greatest source of discouragement has been the unwillingness or inability of our bishop and other diocesan leaders to name and deal with the shortage of priests and the painful impact this crisis is having on priests and parishes. This crisis is the proverbial elephant in the room.

Meanwhile, we are asked to pray for vocations with little or no reference to the signs of the times: the changing role of women, the clergy sex abuse scandal, and the highly problematic nature of mandatory celibacy, among others.

In short, the ongoing silence and denial about the elephant in the room are causing priests to burn out and parishes to go under-served by incompetent priests.

The Church is not lacking in vocations to the priesthood. The Church is severely lacking in vision and courage among its ordained leaders to meet the needs of today’s parish. Happy jubilee—not!

New church dedicated for Brentwood parish




Parishioners wait for the start of the Mass of Dedication at 12:00 noon. 
The Brentwood congregation long ago outgrew the original 1949 structure.  The new owners, Ed and Heidi Calvin, look at the keys to the old church presented to them by Bishop Vigneron. 
Bishop Vigneron removes the relics from the old altar.
During a leave-taking ceremony at the old Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Bishop Vigneron removes the Blessed Sacrament, which was carried in procession to the new sanctuary.
Deacon Frank Bustos processes out of the old church with the consecrated Eucharist wrapped in his cloak. 
The relics are carried toward the new church. 
Bishop Vigneron knocks at the door of the new church.
Rev. Joseph Fiedorowicz unlocks the door to the new church. 
  Bishop Vigneron incenses the Blessed Sacrament in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, a separate room behind the main altar. To his right is Father Joseph Fiedorowicz, parochial administrator. The glass wall sketched with two angels allows the tabernacle to be seen from the main church as well as the chapel.
Sprinkling the new church with holy water. 
Bishop Vigneron gets ready to place the relics in the new altar.
Stained glass window.
Bishop Vigneron anoints the altar during the dedication ritual.
Using holy oil, Bishop Vigneron makes a sign of the cross on the church wall.
Bishop Vigneron incenses the altar.
As part of the dedication ceremony, a parishioner lights a candle, symbolizing the presence of Christ’s light in the church.
Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron preaches to the congregation gathered June 5 for the dedication of the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brentwood. The church, with seating for 600, replaces a 1949 church that could seat only 200.
Jim Hopwood stands in front of the Tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Jim managed the new church building project during the past seven years. Shirley Smith of Tesserae designs places tiles into a mosaic sign at the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. 
Bishop Vigneron releases a dove after the Mass of Dedication.


Visit the website for Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Brentwood, CA at

Father Jerry Kennedy named pastor at
El Cerrito parish


By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

After spending the past six months as interim administrator at St. Leander Parish in San Leander, Father Jerry Kennedy has been appointed pastor at St. Jerome Parish in El Cerrito, effective July 1.

“The St. Jerome parish community and school are warm, welcoming and vibrant,” said Father Kennedy. He added that he is “delighted” to be assigned to a parish with which he is somewhat familiar. “I was first introduced to St. Jerome by Msgr. Jim Rohan (who served as founding pastor at the parish from 1941-73) and got to know the parish better during the years my brother, John, was pastor there (1980-84).”

Father Kennedy, who turns 64 next month, paid tribute to the contributions of his immediate predecessors, Father E. Donald Osuna who was pastor from 1990-2001 and Father Paul Minnihan, who had been parochial administrator from 2001. Father Minnihan starts his new assignment as pastor at St. Monica Parish in Moraga on July 1. “Both have done wonderful work in recent years and I look forward to building on that work,” Father Kennedy said.

The veteran pastor is eager to begin collaborating with the many parishioners, the Sisters working in the parish, and the school faculty, students and school families.

Father Kennedy brings a wealth of pastoral and administrative experience.

The Oakland native received his theological education at St. Patrick’s College and Seminary in Menlo Park and was ordained to the priesthood in 1966. He was secretary to the late Bishop Floyd Begin and vice chancellor of the diocese before becoming vocations director in 1971. He served in that post for nine years and for a second five-year term ending last June. He has been director of field education at St. Patrick Seminary (1985-89) and diocesan director of the pre-seminary, the permanent diaconate, and campus ministry programs.

Father Kennedy has served as pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda (1979-83), Sacred Heart Parish in Oakland (1983-85) and St. Philip Parish in Alameda (1990-98). He has also been associate pastor at parishes in Oakland and Hayward.

As with his previous assignments as pastor, Father Kennedy said that he joins the El Cerrito parish and school community as both student and teacher. “I go open to learn and hopefully ready to contribute something to parish life.”



Fraternal visit

Father Jose Carballo (center with hands clasped), minister general of the Franciscan Friars, stands in the sanctuary of St. Elizabeth Church in Oakland during a recent visit with members of the St. Barbara Province. Beside him are Father Melvin Jurisich (left), provincial minister, and Father Finian McGinn (right), former provincial minister.

Supreme Court says atheist has no standing
to challenge ‘under God’

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (June 14) sidestepped a volatile dispute over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that a California atheist had no standing to challenge the phrase on behalf of his daughter.

The court, in a lopsided 8-0 decision, dismissed the challenge brought by Michael Newdow because he does not have sole custody of his 10-year-old daughter and therefore cannot act as her legal representative.
The girl’s mother, Sandra Banning, had told the court she does not object to her daughter hearing the words “under God” in the pledge.

The ruling preserves—at least for now—the traditional language of the pledge, but does not address the larger question of whether the phrase violates the separation of church and state.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas, issued a separate opinion supporting the ruling and said “under God” is not unconstitutional.

Justice Antonin Scalia had recused himself after publicly saying he thought Newdow’s case had no merit.
The decision reverses a lower court decision from 2002 that found “under God” unconstitutional. It also lifts that court’s temporary injunction that kept schoolchildren in nine Western states from reciting the full text of the pledge.

Newdow, who claims he was recently awarded joint custody, vowed to continue his quixotic legal fight against the pledge.

“The suggestion that I don’t have sufficient custody is just incredible,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “This is such a blow for parental rights.”

In 1954, Congress added the words “under God” to the pledge written in 1892 to distinguish the United States from godless communist countries at the height of the Cold War.

While the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against prayer in public schools, it has allowed the pledge to be a staple of school mornings, but said in 1943 that children could not be forced to recite it.

Asian Pacific conference draws youth leaders
from the West

By Voice staff

Asian Pacific leaders from the Diocese of Oakland shared their struggles, hopes and visions for the future with other Pacific Rim Catholics during a four-day institute over Memorial Day weekend.

More than a dozen representatives from Oakland joined their counterparts from Northern California and Pacific Northwest dioceses to explore the needs and strengths of the Catholic Asian Pacific community. The participants, many of them young adults, came from a wide variety of ethnic groups - Burmese, Palestinian, Lao, Hmong, Kmhmu, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese, Tongan and Korean.

The Asian Pacific Pastoral Institute was held in Burlingame and followed others held last year in New York and Chicago. The Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, a department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sponsors the institutes and is planning more this year in Miami and Los Angeles.

The Northern California institute was the most diverse of the gatherings held so far, according to Cecile Motus of the Pastoral Care office, and it had the largest attendance of young adult leaders. The participants broke into 10 ethnically diverse groups that shared their stories, prayed and worked together throughout the weekend.

“The energy was electrifying from day one,” said Simon Rebullida, director of Filipino ministry for the Oakland Diocese. “Pentecost Mass was a powerful experience,” he said, with ethnic attire and religious symbols, a shared homily and a procession with drums.

Rebullida said that as the participants told their stories, the groups gained a sense of unity and a depth of understanding that helped bring about healing. “I was surprised to discover that the Chinese, Vietnamese, Lao and Koreans shared many of our struggles and our hopes and dreams,” he said.

Some Oakland delegates said they had suffered discrimination in the church and had felt unwelcome at their parishes. With their remarks in mind, Bella Comelo, an Asian Indian from Our Lady of Good Counsel in San Leandro said, “It is imperative that the parish priests and the parish councils be sensitive to the needs of the ethnic groups.”

Eunice Park, a member of the Korean community and young adult ministry coordinator for the diocese, said she was touched to see the openness and receptivity of the delegates and their “desire to be a larger community of Asian Pacific Islanders.”

Elsie Lam, a Chinese participant from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Union City, wrote in an evaluation, “We want to see more and more Asian Pacific clergy and religious take part in the decision making and more Asian Pacific bishops in the U.S. Catholic Church.”

Rebullida summed up his advice to Catholic bishops with these words: “Get to know (the Asian Pacific Islanders). They are your people, too. They have so much to offer. They have so much struggle and pain.”