SEPTEMBER 20, 2004




In His Light

by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron

Pray for Carmelite vocations and Eucharistic devotion

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

My remarks this week are about two distinct topics.

First, about an upcoming date: In a few days – Oct. 1 to be exact – I will celebrate the first anniversary of my becoming the Bishop of Oakland. The year has been filed with many wonderful graces, and I have come to think of Oakland as my home and you as the Christian community that I own as mine and that owns me as yours.

I particularly want to express my gratitude to Bishop Cummins for the fraternal support he has unfailingly shown to me through all these months.

To all of you, my brother priests, my beloved deacons, dear Religious women and men, and all the people of God in Oakland, I offer my most heartfelt thanks for accepting me as your father and brother in Christ.

October 1 happens to be the memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux. Last year when I was informed that this day would be the date for Bishop Cummins’ retirement and my succeeding him, I took note of whose feast fell on that day and considered it a happy sign.

As the months have passed along, I have come to read a more profound significance in the date.
I see now that God in his Providence was inviting me to take St. Therese as a sort of partner in my ministry as Oakland’s bishop. I have come to see St. Therese and me as engaged in a kind of team ministry.

The Carmelite vocation
This sense dawned on me from reading in a biography of the Little Flower how seriously she took her Carmelite vocation of supporting priests by her prayers and sacrifices.

In her own lifetime there were some seminarians that she specifically “adopted” as her own brothers in the priesthood and her partners in the Christian life.

That’s the kind of relationship with St. Therese I think God was inviting me to seek by having me become the bishop of our diocese on her feast day.

I am telling you all of this because it leads me to ask you to join with me in petitioning God for a very specific gift in these days leading up to my anniversary: three new novices for the community of Carmelite Sisters in our diocese.

Grace for ministry
While they live, pray and work in relative obscurity in their convent on the hillside in Kensington, the contemplative Carmelite Sisters are a very, very significant part of our diocese. They sustain all of us with their prayers.

Especially for my brother priests and me, their prayers are an irreplaceable source of grace for our pastoral ministry.

They — like St. Therese and all the other members of Carmel, past and present — make the work of interceding for us before God’s throne one of their fundamental services in the Church.

The Sisters in our Carmel are growing older, and I am concerned that there might not be a new generation of nuns to continue the blessing of their presence in our midst.

To speak more personally, I want to be sure that there are lots of prayers ascending from the convent chapel through all of the years God gives me to be your bishop.

So, please join me these days in asking St. Therese to obtain from our Heavenly Father the grace of three new vocations for the Kensington Carmel, three young women who will hear and answer the Lord’s invitation to be his alone in a life consecrated to hidden prayer and humble service.

Be bold: pray for someone from your own family to receive this grace. If you know a woman who seems to have the gifts for such a life, please take the initiative to tell her this and suggest that she prayerfully consider this vocation.

Don’t be shy; telling someone that she has the makings of an “American Little Flower” would be a very high compliment.

Look close at hand for the women to invite — in your family, your parish, the circle of your friends. I know that those called are here. By our prayers and through our support they will be able to hear and answer.

Year of the Eucharist
The second topic I want to address is the “Year of the Eucharist” proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II.

Next month Catholics from throughout the world will gather in Guadalajara to celebrate an International Eucharistic Congress.

In October 2005 bishops from throughout the world will gather in Rome to celebrate with the Pope a synod dedicated to reaffirming our faith in the Holy Eucharist and considering how we can strengthen our belief in and devotion to this Most Blessed Sacrament.

The months between these two events, so important for the whole Church universal, form what the Holy Father is calling the “Year of the Eucharist,” a time for all of us to be renewed in our love for the Eucharist, Christ’s own gift of himself to his Church under the appearances of bread and wine.

After consultation with the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council, I have decided on the basic elements that will go into our observance of the Year of the Eucharist here in the Diocese of Oakland:

Strengthen Eucharistic devotion
In the parishes, pastors, along with their parish councils, will be looking for ways to strengthen Eucharistic devotion in their communities. Such opportunities might include a series of extended periods of adoration or a renewed celebration of the traditional Forty Hours.

It will be for each parish to determine what approach will bear the best fruit in that community.

Diocesan web page
On the diocesan web page there will be special space dedicated to the topic of Eucharistic devotion.

There will be two sorts of items available there: (1) information about the proper way to celebrate ceremonies wherein the Holy Eucharist is worshiped outside of Mass and (2) a place for parishes to post information about how they are observing the Year of the Eucharist, so that others can benefit from their experience.

Feast of Corpus Christi
Provided we can work out all the practical details, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 29 next year, we will have a public Diocesan Eucharistic Procession from a gathering place yet to be determined to the site of our new Cathedral at Grand Avenue and Harrison, where we will conclude with Solemn Benediction.

My goal is to make this Procession an annual event. By the way, one of the most significant events in the life of our Diocese, breaking ground for our new cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Light, will take place during this Year of the Eucharist.

Regional Penance Service
Next Lent I will preside at a Penance Service in each of the five regions of our diocese. The aim here is to underscore the necessity of this Sacrament of Repentance as a way to participate ever more fruitfully in the Sacrament of Communion.

I am asking all of us to learn (or “re-learn”) two prayers that will, if we pray them wholeheartedly, help reinvigorate the Eucharistic piety of each one of us. They are the “Anima Christi” and “The Morning Offering.”

The first is a traditional prayer for making an act of personal thanksgiving after Holy Communion. Using this prayer will assist us in deeply appropriating the gift that Christ makes of himself to us in the Holy Eucharist.

The Morning Offering is a way to look at all the events of our day from within the perspective of the Holy Eucharist and to join these to the offering Christ makes of himself to God the Father in the Sacrifice of the Mass. The point of this Offering is to make our whole day, indeed our whole life, Eucharistic.

For your convenience I am including versions of these prayers here.

I ask that all of you who have the responsibility of helping children learn to pray, especially parents and catechists, will teach them these two prayers, not only helping them learn the words but also instructing them in their meaning and how to make the thoughts and feelings of the prayers the very sentiments of their own minds and hearts.

Thank you for letting me share with you what’s in my heart these days. God bless and keep you all.



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