SEPTEMBER 20, 2004





Can you help?
In “Find a Need and Fill It” (Forum, Sept. 6), Carol Vogl spoke of searching to find a place where she could best use her time and talents, two of the three components which mark the foundation of stewardship. I read of her search with interest, and I applaud her success in finding what seems to be just the right “match” for her.

I wonder if there are others who find themselves facing a similar need...time to fill while contributing to self-fulfillment.

For their consideration, may I propose the following:

Take a look at one of the Catholic elementary schools in an urban area. They are located throughout the Oakland Diocese, but I will address the one with which I am most familiar — St. Paul School in San Pablo. I am humbled and privileged to be the principal of this school of 240 students from Hispanic, Asian, African, and Caucasian backgrounds.

The majority of our parents are proud blue-collar workers. Many work more than one job in order to meet the needs of their families; many work the graveyard shift in order to receive a higher night differential salary. The time and talent that remain to give back to our school community are limited.

How can you help?

Our School Advisory Board currently does not have a finance committee. If you have expertise in banking, budgets, or accounting, could you volunteer one night a month to attend a Board meeting?

We do not currently have a school brochure. If you have experience in graphic design or are a wizard with a computer, could you donate some “design time?”

We do not currently have a Spanish program in place. Are you a member of a parish who does not currently partner with a school? Could you help us brainstorm ways to finance such a program?

Is there someone who has grant writing skills? Is there someone who could spearhead a school newsletter-type publication to let the community know about us?

As you can see, we have many needs that can use your time and talent. Consider the benefits...they’re everlasting.

Teri Cullen
St. Paul School
San Pablo

Misguided policy
The new diocesan policy regarding ministry to minors (Voice, Aug. 9) has left me insulted and angry. How dare the diocese take such an extreme position that puts parents under the same umbrella of doubt as the culprits themselves?

I am very cognizant of the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church (none of which I am aware involved a parent), and yet I have willingly chosen to send my two precious children to a Catholic school.

Have I ever asked the diocese or the school principal whether or not the pastors were screened through Megan’s Law? Have I ever demanded that the priests be sent to a seminar to learn how to behave or not to behave around children? The answer is a resounding no! Having faith in God is what gives me faith in human beings.

I suggest that the Oakland Diocese and the Catholic Church are overcompensating for their own mistakes and are misdirecting their efforts at my peers and myself.

While I agree that steps must certainly be taken to ensure the safety of our children, I believe that this mandate is focusing in the wrong direction. Why must we, who have nurtured and loved these children, now be “taught” how to behave with them?

Furthermore, volunteering is mandatory at our school. If a family cannot meet the volunteering expectations, they are charged a large sum of money instead. Why doesn’t the diocese take the money they are spending on this new campaign and give it to the schools so parents aren’t obligated to volunteer?

I have lived with the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church all of my life and my faith has never wavered. I will always believe in God’s love and presence in my life. Unfortunately, the Church continues to alienate the very people who keep the Church alive.

The message that the diocese has sent is that we should not trust one another, we should not show our love for one another and that the very sacred churches and homes we have worked so hard to maintain are now considered unsafe until we have satisfied the diocesan “requirements”.

Molly Jorgensen

Anti-Semitic article
I don’t wonder any more after I read an article like the one about Lorin Peters’ trip to Palestine (Voice, Sept. 6) why anti-Semitism is growing in America.

Can we really blame the Israelis for not wanting to give away their land and water? “The Israelis appear to want their land, and water for themselves.” Wouldn’t the Americans resent the Canadians and Mexicans for wanting their land and water for themselves?

And after the Israelis and Americans are educated about this, what are we supposed to do? Maybe the homes were built on Israeli property for the Palestinians to provoke and antagonize the Israelis.

Let’s forgive all the bombings of civilians in Israel’s cities and complain about houses. Since when is the killing of human beings equal to demolishing houses?

To promote anti-Semitism I suggest articles like this one be in your paper more often.

Lillian Silver
Walnut Creek

A grateful mother
I saw the Forum letter (Sept. 6) on The Voice web site about my daughter Adriana and the need for blood. It has been a community of blood donors that gave her another chance at life, plus the staff at Children’s Hospital Oakland who put such passion into helping children and the many people in our community who have been praying for Adriana.
I tell her all of the time, “God bless so many people that have reached out to us.”

She is back to school after missing three years. Even in the middle of it all she thinks how she can reach out to help others.

Sister John Marie of Fremont, Sister Beatrice and Sister Bernice who checked up on us often at Oakland Children’s Hospital have been wonderful extra support for us and we thank them dearly.

Leanne Aboumrad
Via e-mail

Splendor of the Latin Mass
Although I belong to a wonderful parish in Walnut Creek, I have been attending Mass on an occasional basis at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland, where they still celebrate the Latin Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962. This is an “indult” (or specially “permitted”) Mass granted by John Paul II, as he acknowledged the different needs of practicing Catholics to celebrate the Eucharist.

I normally attend the 12:30 p.m. High Mass, but there is also a sung Latin Mass at 10:30 a.m. I can’t express fully what a wonderful experience this Latin Mass is.

I believe it would serve your readers well if The Catholic Voice did an article (with pictures!) on this. The rewards of this High Latin Mass are many: the sonorous splendor of the Latin language, the reverence and solemnity of the congregation, the sheer beauty of the choir as it sings Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony, the well-thought out and thorough homilies (this part in English, of course!), and so many more graces.

For me it was a very heartwarming way to reconnect with fond memories of my pre-Vatican II childhood. It was also a way to “hear” the Mass in a different setting, which forced me to concentrate more on what was going on and not just simply “go with the flow” of the regular Mass, taking for granted what was coming up next.

It was surprising to see that the congregation was not just a bunch of nostalgic, white-haired retrogrades, but that it consisted of lively young couples, many with children, of many single young people, as well as the middle-aged and seniors.

At the entrance, bilingual English-Latin missals are available to follow the service. Veils are worn by many of the ladies and girls, and the congregation itself is overall more dressed-up, more well-put-together, than at your average parish. Not a pair of shorts in sight! The confessionals at the side aisles are kept busy right into the first part of the Mass.

Although I continue to attend Mass at my regular parish, on occasion I delight in the Latin Mass at St. Margaret Mary’s, as it lifts my soul out of the ordinary and the humdrum and makes me feel I am indeed in a very special place.

Perhaps more parishes in the diocese should consider offering at least one service as a Latin Mass. In these times of crisis, it anchors us in an incomparable stability and it reassures us of continuity.

Oscar M. Ramiraz

He who is without sin…
I wish to respond to John Malaspina (Forum, Sept. 6).
Sir, I marvel at the burden under which you labor. It must be a trial to be surrounded by people who are “steeped in sin” while you yourself are not. Indeed, it is miraculous, and I intend that the Church should publicly recognize as much.

However, in order to offer proof we must be specific. Please tell us exactly to whom you are referring. Give us a name, so that we can compare and be edified. Who is it that is more sinful than yourself?

Stan Coppock
El Cerrito

De La Salle’s greater victory
Like many people I have been following the amazing progress of the De La Salle High School football teams for years. To me, their success was more than just coaching and physical prowess and skill. That team is in a category by itself. It is a living legend.

It is like Albert Einstein and Bob Dylan and Babe Ruth and Saint Francis. It defies any analysis you can give to try to explain the incomprehensible.
But the members of the team and the staff, and the coaches and the students do understand because their work, their victories, are acts of love and charity. They did not care about winning because they had faith. They trusted in God.

They did not care about winning. But they did care about their fallen comrade who was shot to death in Richmond. He was their brother. They loved him.

If you see things in perspective, you will realize that what was described as a great loss when De La Salle was defeated in Seattle was really their greatest victory ever — in memory of their beloved teammate who is now sharing in the greatest victory of all — Heaven.

Joe Trevors

Right about Iraq
After the understandable flamboyant bombast of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, we are faced with the reality of Iraq and the stark fact of the death of 1,000 young Americans and of thousands of Iraqis.

One serious and critical event, probably regarded by the media as rather inconsequential at the time, and quickly forgotten, was the March 2003 visit of Cardinal Pio Laghi to President Bush three weeks before the war in Iraq. Every one of Cardinal Laghi’s dire predictions at that meeting are sadly becoming true.

That event was serious and critical for a number of reasons. Cardinal Laghi had been sent by the pope himself to Washington to plead his case against the war with Bush and his aides. The pope had also sent Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to Baghdad with the same plea for Saddam Hussein.

Cardinal Laghi did not think his arguments were given much weight. “I had the impression that they had already made their decision,” he said in a speech at Camaldoli (Arezzo), Italy on October 4, 2003.

Laghi spoke at length with the president about the terrible consequences of a war quickly won: “Do you realize, Mr. President,” Laghi said to him, “what you will unleash inside Iraq by occupying it? Do you realize the difficulty of the language, the disorder, the conflicts between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds?” America’s formidable war machine would make quick work of Hussein’s inferior defenses, but unmanageable human problems would quickly follow.

President Bush had been offered the best Iraq intelligence available. What was sadly ignored was the fact that the Catholic bishops in Iraq are constantly in touch with the Apostolic Nuncio in Baghdad, and he with the Vatican; that they speak the people’s language and have their hand on the pulse of the nation; their knowledge of Iraq is more reliable than that of our highly paid intelligence agencies who cost us billions but whose information has been repeatedly proven embarrassingly wrong and misleading!

That is what President Reagan understood so well 20 years ago when he appointed the first U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican because of his conviction that the Vatican is the world’s greatest listening post.

Cardinal Laghi recalls his sense of failure when President Bush tried to end the meeting on a positive note: although they disagreed about many points, at least they held common positions on the defense of human life and opposition to human cloning. The cardinal replied that those issues were not the purpose of his mission to Washington.

Father Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B.
San Francisco

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