DECEMBER 15, 2003
Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.






Champion for peace and justice dies in Berkeley

Authorities give harsh treatment to Ft. Benning protestors
Vatican cancels talks with Anglicans over ordination of gay bishop
Bishop Vigneron ordains
18 new deacons
New deacons tell
of their calling
Guadalupe celebration
Father Prochaska named pastor at Fremont parish
Diocese sues insurance company
Priest faces new lawsuit for sex abuse

The ‘O Antiphons’ honor
the many names of Jesus

Christmas is low-key in the Holy Land
Simbang Gabi
novena to begin
 What is your favorite Christmas carol?
‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is a catechetical song in disguise
 January 1 – a Holy Day
Between Man and Woman:
Questions and Answers
About Marriage and
Same-Sex Unions
2002 Financial Report
for the Oakland Diocese
New assistant

Site purchased for
new Oakland cathedral

By Monica Clark
Voice editor

The Oakland Diocese’s new Cathedral of Christ the Light will be built at the corner of Grand Avenue and Harrison Street, overlooking Lake Merritt, in downtown Oakland on property purchased Dec. 5 for $31.5 million. An independently funded, non-profit organization overseeing the cathedral project announced the purchase and said it was continuing its efforts to raise the additional $48.5 million needed to construct the church. Total cost of the cathedral complex, which includes several other buildings, is $131 million.

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron, in a statement to cathedral supporters, reiterated the importance of having a central worship space. “We need our cathedral for a strong diocese; a strong diocese means renewed strength for building up our community, strength for supporting our schools, and strength for serving people in need.”

He said it was fitting that the new church would be built “opposite the site of our first Mass, held on March 27, 1772, on a swamp that is now Lake Merritt.”

Major foundation grants, individual donations, and loans were used to purchase the land. Jack Smith, former mayor of Hayward and chair of the fundraising committee, said he is hopeful that additional donors will come forward with pledges to cover construction costs.

No funds from the diocese’s budget will be tapped for the project, said Bishop Vigneron. This will “keep diocesan operations vigorous during cathedral building.”

San Francisco architect Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill will design the cathedral and several other church-related buildings on the 2.5 acre site, which currently serves as a parking lot for tenants in adjacent buildings.

Hartman replaces Santiago Calatrava as the design architect. The cathedral project ended its relationship with Calatrava this spring after the committee determined that his design “could not be built within the Cathedral project’s (budgetary) guidelines,” said Lee Nordlund, spokesman for the project.

Hartman’s design features a 17-story, 33,000-square-foot elliptical structure made of native woods, stone, steel and glass, with permanent seating for 1,500. It will be pillar free and conform to the liturgical directives of the Second Vatican Council.

It will be set at the northeast corner of the site opening on to a public plaza that will be surrounded on the south and east by diocesan (chancery) and parish offices, meeting rooms and a conference center, a rectory for parish priests and a bishop’s residence, a library, archive and exhibit area, café and bookstore.

There will be a bell tower on the southwest corner, a mausoleum beneath the cathedral, and underground parking for 225 cars. Revenue from the mausoleum and parking garage will help pay off construction loans and then be available for maintenance and upkeep of the cathedral center, Nordlund said.

The cathedral’s name, Christ the Light, is taken from “Lumen Gentium” (Light of All People), the Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The document calls on Catholics to “bring to all that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church.”

The new cathedral replaces St. Francis de Sales Cathedral which was severely damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and razed in October 1993. Future of the site on 21st Street and San Pablo Avenue is still to be determined, Nordlund said.

In the fall of 1999, Bishop John Cummins formed a committee of volunteers, headed by Oakland attorney John McDonnell, choir director at St. Francis de Sales for 20 years, to explore the feasibility of building a new cathedral. When studies indicated that funding was likely to be available, the committee moved forward with architect selection, site plans, and fundraising. McDonnell is now the project director as well as chair of the steering committee.

In early 2000, a select group of parishioners, plus 40 priests, women and men religious, and deacons, met at Oakland’s Holy Names College to discuss what values should underlie the cathedral, if it were built. Although some participants voiced concerns that the project might negatively impact outreach to the poor, there was consensus that a new cathedral should reflect hospitality, ethnic diversity, and service to all.

Later that year, the diocesan Presbyteral Council, made up of 16 priests elected by their peers, voted their support for the project.

The new cathedral will be an active downtown parish, said McDonnell, with model liturgies in keeping with the reputation of St. Francis de Sales and “serious outreach to those in need,” another hallmark of the former cathedral parish.

Bishop John Cummins, who retired Oct. 1 of this year, will serve as Episcopal Vicar for the Cathedral.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place by the summer of 2004. Construction should be completed by late 2007.

Interplay of light is key to
design of new cathedral

By Monica Clark
Voice editor

For architect Craig Hartman, designing the new Cathedral of Christ the Light is a defining moment, one in which he steps into the Church’s strong historical tradition of creating works of architecture that illuminate, inspire and ennoble the human spirit.

He roots his inspiration for the design in the Genesis story of creation, taking the elemental materials of light, water, earth, and trees, and forming them into a place that nurtures both personal spirituality and communal worship.
“I consider light a sacred phenomenon and its introduction within the cathedral is perhaps the most visible manifestation of God’s presence,” he wrote in a concept narrative for the cathedral’s design commission.

He told of his “life-altering” visits as a 20-year-old architecture student to Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp where he gained new understandings of how light can inform sacred space.

He brings those understandings and more than 30 years of award-winning design experience to his work for the Cathedral of Christ the Light, whose name is taken from the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Light of All People).

The walls of the cathedral are defined by two spherical segments that culminate overhead in a “Vesica Pisces” roof shape, historically considered a sacred geometry and a symbol for the miracle of the fishes, he said.

The wooden vaulting will be covered in a sweeping glass veil connected by a trellis of wood and steel. Hartman likens this veil protecting the cathedral’s sacred space to that of the tent that protected the Ark of the Covenant.

The altar will be near the center of the church, emphasizing the participatory role of the worshipping community as declared by Vatican II. There will also be a chapel for daily Mass, weddings and other smaller liturgical celebrations.

Hartman’s preliminary design also calls for six to eight side altars, including a Marian chapel. The windows in the side altars will bring light of different colors and textures into the main nave.

A reflecting pool on the Harrison Street side of the cathedral’s exterior will create an additional interplay of light on and through the glass veil.

The baptismal font will be directly inside the cathedral’s front door. There will also be Reconciliation rooms. A mausoleum will be located below the cathedral floor in keeping with the longstanding tradition of cathedrals.

The cathedral will open onto a plaza that will lead to the diocesan (Chancery) offices, a café and Catholic book store. Below the plaza will be a conference center opening directly to Harrison Street. Also located in the complex will be parish offices and a parish hall, a rectory for parish priests and a bishop’s residence, and a library, archive and exhibit area.

There will be three gardens on the various levels and a fountain in the plaza.

Cathedral architect is noted for design

By Voice staff

Craig Hartman brings an impressive set of credentials to his design of the Cathedral of Christ the Light. He has received over 50 awards including five National AIA Honor Awards and a Federal Design Achievement Award in the 2000 Presidential Design Awards program.

In 2001 he became the youngest recipient of the Maybeck Award of the American Institute of Architects California chapter for “lifetime achievement in architectural design.”

In addition to his architectural achievements, he is likely to draw on the understanding of liturgy and sacred space he has gained as a member of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in San Francisco. His wife, Jan O’Brien, is a theology student at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Bay Area residents are probably most familiar with Hartman as the architect of the San Francisco Airport’s International Terminal. He also designed the 101 Second Street office tower in San Francisco.
He is currently working on the 42-story mixed-use museum tower adjacent to SFMOMA and affordable housing for the Tenderloin Development Corporation.

His completed design for the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the largest in U.S. history, was unveiled at the White House in October.

Hartman, 53 and the father of two, received a BArch degree with honors from Ball State University in Indiana where he was selected for advanced studies at the Architecture Association in London.

Affiliated with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, San Francisco, he has lectured at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and other educational institutions.

In 1995 he was elected to the AIA’s College of Fellows. In August 2003 he won an AIA award for his design of the Oakland cathedral in the unbuilt design category. The cathedral is his first church design.

Apology services for parishes
where sex abuse occurred

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

The Diocese of Oakland, recognized nationwide for its work with victims of clergy sexual abuse, is now reaching out to local parishes in order to heal the wounds of the past and apologize to members of the community.

According to St. Joseph of Carondelet Sister Barbara Flannery, diocesan chancellor, Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron will preside at apology services each month throughout the coming year, beginning with St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch in January.

Sister Flannery also said that the diocese has been found to be in “full compliance” with the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in Dallas last year.

In a letter to Bishop Vigneron, William Gavin of Boston, head of the group hired by the bishops to audit all U.S. dioceses for compliance, stated that Oakland has met its deadlines in complying with the three recommendations made by the two auditors who visited the diocese in July.

The recommendations were to develop a better plan for monitoring nine priests forced into retirement because of abuse claims, to reach out to ethnic communities beyond Latinos and English-speakers, and to consolidate various diocesan policies concerning the protection of children and young people into one.

The auditors had also praised the diocese for its outreach to victims.
Now the diocese is taking a further step with the parish ceremonies, even as it continues to support victims through its Ministry for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse.

“In conversation with our ministry outreach group and the bishop,” Sister Flannery said, “we decided that we needed to do this. There’s a whole group of people that we also need to apologize to, and those are our parishioners, especially in the parishes where there has been sexual abuse.”

Three services have been scheduled: at St. Ignatius at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13; at St. Philip Neri Parish in Alameda at 7:30 p. m. on Feb. 5; and at St. Bede Parish in Hayward at 7 p.m., March 1.

Services will also take place during 2004 at the following parishes: St. Joseph in Pinole, Queen of All Saints in Concord, St. Raymond in Dublin, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fremont, Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, St. Anne in Byron, St. Cornelius in Richmond, St. John in San Lorenzo and St. Mary-St. Francis de Sales in Oakland.

Two more parishes will have services during 2005, Sister Flannery said.
In preparation for the series of apology ceremonies, she said, the diocese is working with St. Ignatius Parish to create a format that will be followed, with minor adaptations, in other parishes. It will include prayers and comments from Bishop Vigneron.

The service will be “an opportunity for the diocese to recommit itself to this particular parish,” Sister Flannery said, promising to ensure a safe environment for children and young people and to stand behind the bishops’ charter of 2002.

“The bishop is coming to apologize and, hopefully, to restore the bond of trust between the parishioners and the leadership of the diocese and to recommit himself personally to the implementation” of the Charter, she said.

St. Ignatius, the first parish set to hold the service, has already been the scene of healing and reconciliation for at least one abuse survivor.

Last March Robert Thatcher, a former altar boy, returned to the church, with reporters and supporters on hand, to publicize his case of alleged abuse from former pastor Robert Ponciroli.

He had no intention of going inside, he said in a telephone interview later, but St. Ignatius parochial administrator, Father Geoffrey Baraan, reached out to him with an embrace, and he found himself attending Mass for the first time in 16 years.
“After I talked to Father Geoffrey,” Thatcher said, “I just felt the hand of God on that church. He has really changed my life.”

For his part, Father Baraan gave credit to the Holy Spirit. “I thank God that He allowed that to happen,” he said.

Thatcher had decided to revisit his former parish after reading that Ponciroli had been arrested in Florida last February and faced extradition to California.

The arrest was based partly on his own testimony of abuse 20 years earlier when he was about 10 years old. His brother, then 8, had also been a victim, Thatcher said, and was equally moved to hear of Father Baraan’s warm welcome.

Ponciroli is one of 29 priests with accusations of abuse in the Oakland Diocese. One, Stephen Kiesle, has been laicized, 14 have died, and accusations against five priests were declared false after investigations by police, Child Protective Services or psychologists trained in determining sex abuse, said Sister Flannery.

The other nine priests have been removed from ministry. All of the abuse charges date back more than 10 years, she said.

The status of the nine accused priests placed on leave was of concern to the auditors who visited the diocese earlier this year to assess compliance with the bishops’ Dallas charter. The diocese lacked a policy to monitor offenders who have left priestly ministry, the audit stated.

“This could conceivably put additional victims at risk,” it noted, and could damage the reputation and finances of the diocese.

Now, Sister Flannery said, the diocese has remedied that problem by developing “a plan to monitor the nine priests in forced retirement.”

She added that Bishop Vigneron is committed to a policy of transparency and openness in releasing information about policies and financial implications surrounding charges of sexual abuse.

To date, she said, the Diocese of Oakland has paid out $1.2 million to victims in addition to paying for counseling fees. Diocesan funds provided $250,000 of this cost, and insurance paid the rest.



Champion for peace and justice
dies in Berkeley

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Father Bill O’Donnell, an untiring champion of the oppressed, died suddenly last week, leaving thousands of mourners who loved him for his humanity, compassion and in-your-face style of protest.

He was found dead at his desk at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, the morning of Dec. 8. Father O’Donnell, 73, had served there as pastor from 1973 to 1995 and more recently as parochial vicar. He was active until the end, joining in protests and helping with parish duties, even though he had undergone bypass surgery about 10 years ago and a second operation to insert a stent in his artery some two years ago.

Father O’Donnell was the friend of celebrities such as actor Martin Sheen and labor organizer Cesar Chavez, as well as parishioners, union members, politicians, street people, local residents, fellow priests and many others who met him in jail, on the picket line, at meetings and in church.

The morning of his death Father O’Donnell said Mass at 8 a.m. and after breakfast and his daily reading of the sports page, went into his office to write. He had finished three sentences, when he was stricken and died. He was found slumped over his desk at 9:30 a.m. Medics arrived quickly but were unable to revive him.

In response to the news of the priest’s death, retired Bishop John Cummins said that Father O’Donnell’s ministry “embraced the larger Church and the entire world” and ranged from “Berkeley to Delano to the Caribbean and to North Korea. Yet he remained very close to so many of us. We will miss the fond affection and joy that he continually gave us.”

Father O’Donnell was arrested some 230 times for civil disobedience – with United Farm Workers organizers in the fields of Santa Barbara County, at the Concord Naval Weapons Facility, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Ft. Benning, Ga., in El Salvador as he accompanied refugees returning to their homes, at the White House and Pentagon, at the Federal Building and Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco, at Safeway headquarters in Oakland and many other sites.

His activism was often filled with drama. During a protest at Livermore Lab, a highway patrol officer deliberately broke his wrist; at a demonstration targeting Lucky Stores he pulled out a penknife and challenged an overwrought security guard to a duel at dawn; during another protest he watched officers arrest Martin Sheen as the actor recited Hamlet.

He was always ready to lend a hand to unions, joining picket lines, endorsing boycotts, celebrating Mass. He joined in fasts for peace and justice, and he traveled abroad, frequently in protest of U.S. policy – to Latin America, Iraq, the Gaza Strip of Palestine, Haiti, Korea, the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere.

In the 1970s and 80s he organized patrols of University Avenue in Berkeley, where prostitutes had moved in and attracted other criminal activity. With groups of St. Joseph the Worker parishioners he tried to convince the women to leave their work on the streets. In recent years he worked with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts at Options Recovery Services, a program in Berkeley founded by Dr. Davida Coady.

For one protest he spent a week in tents set up on the grounds of Santa Rita Prison with 1,500 other demonstrators, but in recent years local law enforcement officers have avoided jailing peaceful protesters, and he was usually cited and released. Father O’Donnell, a football fan, once remarked that his most difficult day in prison was one Super Bowl Sunday when he could see the reflected glow of the television screen as guards watched the game across the hall from his cell.

From September 2002 to March of this year he served a sentence in the Federal Penitentiary in Atwater for trespassing at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) in Ft. Benning, Ga., whose graduates have been linked to human rights abuses in Latin America.

During his trial for the trespass charge, Father O’Donnell refused, as usual, to pull his punches and told the judge, “This court for years has been pimping for the Pentagon, and as a pimp does, it covers up the crimes of its prostitutes.”

His stay in Atwater, he said, was “real punishment.” There he was locked up with other non-violent offenders in a concrete structure set in a barren stretch of the Central Valley and forbidden to celebrate Mass or carry out any priestly functions. He did, however, manage to hear confessions and counsel his fellow prisoners.

It was the grace of God that helped him survive those months, he said. “It’s hard to put into words how many times God helped me,” he remarked after his release last March, “with loneliness, with the challenge of being respectful to people who were disrespectful.” Prayer in prison, he said, was “very intense, very focused, a constant need.”

Father O’Donnell’s deep spirituality was as evident as his commitment to social justice, and even in childhood he searched for the meaning of life and a relationship with God, contemplating the night stars and the natural world. He was drawn to the priesthood, he once said, because it seemed to promise “insights into the mystery of God.”

He was born Jan. 2, 1930, 10 minutes before his identical twin, Gene. They had an older brother Ed, and four more children followed - Martin, who was hydrocephalic and lived until his early teens, Mary, Betty and Jim. Mary has been living at the parish rectory and was there the morning he died. His sister Betty, a nun, and his twin preceded him in death.

He grew up in a farmhouse, built in 1878, which is still standing on North Flynn Road in the Altamont Hills. His parents, Maude and Anthony O’Donnell, lived on the site as sharecroppers and worked several hundred acres, growing wheat, barley and red oats and raising cattle and horses. The children attended St. Michael School in Livermore, where Father O’Donnell was encouraged by some of the nuns and priests to enter the seminary.

At the age of 13, he entered St. Joseph College in Mountain View, a minor seminary, and moved to St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park in 1950, graduating in 1956. He was ordained June 16, 1956, in St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco and assigned to St. Jarlath Parish in Oakland as associate pastor. He became part of the Oakland Diocese when it was formed in 1962 and served at Corpus Christi in Piedmont, St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda, St. Joachim in Hayward, and Sacred Heart in Oakland before becoming pastor of St. Joseph the Workman (later changed to Worker) in 1973.

He got his first taste of social activism during his stay at Corpus Christi, when he was appointed to the Catholic Interracial Council. At that time he worked on a survey to document police brutality and took up the fight to oppose Proposition 14, which repealed a fair housing act. In the summer of 1965, while he was at St. Joseph in Alameda, he traveled to Mississippi with a van full of materials for blacks living near Greenville. His first arrest came in 1969 when he was demonstrating at Safeway headquarters on behalf of the United Farm Workers grape boycott.

By then he was fully committed to justice work, and many who knew him then and later say he inspired them to become involved. His example “formed a whole generation of social justice activists,” said Mary Doyle, social justice coordinator for the diocese. Toinette Eugene, director of the diocesan African-American Pastoral Center, said, “Bill introduced me to witnessing for justice,” and because of him she went to jail for picketing on behalf of farm workers.

Father Jayson Landeza, pastor at St. Columba Parish in Oakland, told a local newspaper that it was Father O’Donnell, with his commitment to justice, who inspired him to become a priest.

His warmth and compassion, however, extended beyond the community of social activists, and his mourners include everyone from Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who keeps a photo of Father O’Donnell in his office, to recovering alcoholics in the Options program.

As Eugene said, “He touched so many lives.”

Hundreds of mourners attended a 4 p.m. community memorial service, Dec. 14, at the Berkeley Community Theatre. Retired Bishop John Cummins was the principal celebrant at the Dec. 15 funeral Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church with current Bishop Allen Vigneron as co-celebrant. Father George Crespin, pastor, and several priest friends of Father O’Donnell were concelebrants. Franciscan Father Louie Vitale of San Francisco was homilist.
The life and work of Father O’Donnell is chronicled on a new web page at

Authorities give harsh treatment
to Ft. Benning protestors

By Barbara Erickson
Associate editor

Louise Lynch, a parishioner at St. Joseph in Fremont, joined more than 40 other protestors last month in trespassing at Ft. Benning, Ga., during an annual demonstration at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly called the School of the Americas.

Because of her action, Lynch, the mother of 10 and a member of Pax Christi, now faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. “I want people to know about the School of the Americas,” she said on her return to the Bay Area. “It’s the only thing to hope for.”

About 120 protestors from the greater Bay Area took part in the protest, according to local organizers. Three of them were arrested, including Lynch. The others were Leisa Faulkner Barnes and Elizabeth Bradley, both of Sacramento.

They were among some 10,000 who showed up to protest at the gates of Ft. Benning, where the school is located. Graduates of the institute, which trains military personnel from Latin American countries, have been linked to assassinations, torture and other abuses, including the killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador.

A demonstration calling for the closure of the school is held each year on the anniversary of the deaths of the Jesuits and their co-workers. This year, protestors said, the local federal magistrate and military authorities reacted more harshly than in the past.

The military blasted loud music to drown out the voices of speakers near the gates, according to participants. “Sister Helen Prejean spoke,” said Faye Butler, also a parishioner at St. Joseph in Fremont and a Pax Christi member, “and she was shouting to be heard over this music. They did it deliberately.”

As in years past, the protestors carried crosses in a solemn procession while the names of victims were read out. At each name demonstrators raised the crosses and called out, “Presente!” The crosses were then arranged on the Ft. Benning fence. This year they were accompanied by an army uniform, decorated with military honors, placed there by Lt. Col. (ret.) Byrne Sherwood, Jr., who left a note renouncing his former ties to U.S military and foreign policy.

According to the late Father Bill O’Donnell, senior priest at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, soldiers emerged from the fort when the media left and tore down the crosses, trampling on them and tossing them into a garbage truck. “The thin wood breaking under their boots sounded like bones cracking,” Father O’Donnell, who died on Dec. 8, wrote in a statement Nov. 30, and the shock of “this desecration” brought tears to the eyes of the protestors.

This was another new development. “As far as I know,” Butler said, “this is the first year they have torn down crosses like that.”

For their part, the military authorities held an open house at the former School of the Americas, which some 600 protestors attended. Col. Richard Downie, commandant of the institute, told the Associated Press that he was encouraged by this response, but he found it “somewhat frustrating that this group is trying to close an institution that is working for the same principles they are.” He added that the school teaches soldiers and police how to behave in a democratic society.

The mayor of Columbus, Ga., Bob Poydasheff, also said at a news conference, “I don’t deny them their right to demonstrate, but don’t do it when people at Ft. Benning have died and are recovering from their wounds.” He was referring to soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division, headquartered at Ft. Benning, which helped lead the invasion into Iraq.

Demonstrators, however, said their treatment at the hands of military police showed contempt for their attempt to exercise free speech. Women who were arrested said female police subjected them to demeaning and invasive body searches, and men and women officers shackled them and subjected them to shouts, insults and brutal handling, even as they tried to cooperate.

Leisa Barnes, who was the first over the line, said, “It was horrifying to watch,” and her own treatment reduced her to tears. Lynch said it was especially difficult to see how MPs treated a group of young people, who had been arrested after making a wrong turn onto the base. “They separated all of them and put them with the inmate population,” she said. “That was the most upsetting thing to me in jail – the kids.”

Lynch was near Kathy Kelly, a well-known peace activist who helped found Voices in the Wilderness, an organization devoted to supporting the people of Iraq. Kelly wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services describing how she was thrown to the floor and kneed in her back as she gasped for breath and tried to say that she had twice suffered from collapsed lungs.

“How can they possibly teach respect for human rights or set a good example for soldiers,” she wrote, “when, for purposes of intimidation, they themselves respond to non-violent protest with physical abuse? If this is what U.S. Army MPs will do with witnesses present…what would they do in secret to voiceless and unknown victims?”

The detainees appeared in court before U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth, who has presided over the processing and trials of Ft. Benning protestors for several years. This year the judge doubled the bail amount from $500 to $1,000 for the defendants, saying that they were all flight risks, even though none of them have failed to appear in the past.

Lynch said the trial date is set for Jan. 26 in Columbus, Ga. Until recently, trespassing trials for protestors took place in the summer after the demonstration and first time offenders were given warnings, but this year and last the date has been moved up to January. Last year first offenders were sentenced to prison. Father O’Donnell was among several Bay Area residents who have already served prison terms for trespassing at the school.

Lynch said this year marked her second appearance at the protest, and she “had a good idea” before she went in November that she would cross the line. She expects to spend up to six months in federal prison.

“I can’t say I’m looking forward to it,” she said, but she noted that all of her children have been “really supportive,” and one daughter, a professor at the University of Maryland, joined her at the protest.

Vatican cancels talks with Anglicans over ordination of gay bishop

By Peggy Polk
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY—Because of the controversy over an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the Vatican said Dec. 2 it has canceled a formal meeting on a common Catholic-Anglican statement of faith, but will continue dialogue with the Anglican Communion on the gay issue.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said joint talks would start soon on the “ecclesiological issues” raised by the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire on Nov. 2. The Episcopal Church (USA) is part of the 77-million-member communion.

It appeared that the price for continued dialogue was the resignation of the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, as co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the main vehicle for dialogue between the two churches.

It was Griswold who consecrated Robinson, and the controversy stirred by the new bishop is so heated both within and without the Anglican Communion that Griswold wore a bullet-proof vest to the ceremony in Durham, N.H.

Bishop Griswold said in a letter to the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, that he had decided to resign “not without regret, but in the interest of not jeopardizing the present and future life and work of the Commission.” The Harvard-educated bishop has been co-chairman of ARCIC for five years.

The letter was dated Nov. 26, one day after a decisive private meeting in Rome between Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The council said the prelates discussed “the future of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue—especially in the light of recent developments within the life of the Anglican Communion.”

Cardinal Kasper had failed to attend a regularly scheduled informal ARCIC session on Nov. 25-26 at which Bishop Griswold was present in his capacity as co-chairman along with his Catholic counterpart Archbishop Alexander Brunette of Seattle. Anglican bishops took this to be a sign of the Vatican’s displeasure.

Lambeth Palace, the London seat of the archbishop of Canterbury, announced Bishop Griswold’s resignation on Nov. 29, and the Vatican’s council responded with its statement on the course of Anglican-Catholic relations.

The statement said that as a result of “ecclesiological concerns” raised at the Kasper-Peterson conversation it was decided to “put on hold” the plenary session of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, scheduled for early February.

The commission was created in 2001 to seek practical initiatives expressing faith shared by Anglicans and Catholics. It works in parallel with ARCIC’s theological dialogue and has been preparing a “Common Statement of Faith.”

The council made clear that cancellation of the commission’s meeting was not a break in relations because the commission’s subcommittees would continue to meet. It said that ARCIC also would keep to its schedule of meetings with a new
Anglican co-chairman soon to be appointed.

In addition, Cardinal Kasper agreed to a suggestion by the archbishop of Canterbury that the commission establish an ad hoc body “to reflect jointly upon the ecclesiological issues raised by recent developments within the Anglican Communion in the light of the relevant Agreed Statements of ARCIC.”

This was seen as a significant indication that the churches intend to continue collaborating despite the New Hampshire stumbling block.

The council said that ARCIC’s calendar of work will not be affected by the current controversy, and when the present round of talks concludes next year, “attention will be given to planning the future agenda and the next phase of theological dialogue.”

ARCIC, established in 1970 following the historic Vatican meeting of Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI in 1966, has produced joint statements on such key areas as Eucharist, ministry and authority. It is currently examining the role of the Virgin Mary in the life of the Catholic and Anglican churches.

In Portsmouth, England, Bishop Crispian Hollis, chairman of the Department of Mission and Unity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and a member of the Anglican-Catholic commission, said in what he called a personal statement that he felt “genuine ecumenical sadness” over the cancellation of the meeting and hoped it would be rescheduled.

“Although there have been many difficulties and differences to be overcome, I really felt that there was beginning to be indications of real and genuine progress. There were signs that were promising so much,” he said.

Bishop Vigneron ordains
18 new deacons

By Voice staff

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron ordained 18 men to the permanent diaconate, Dec. 6, at St. Felicitas Church in San Leandro. The men had completed at least three years of formation, including theological and liturgical instruction, training in homiletics, and experience in various pastoral ministries.

The men represent the ethnic diversity of the diocese. Eleven were born outside of the United States in China, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines and Vietnam. All are married; their wives participated in the formation process and were required to give their full consent to their husbands’ ordination.

Each new deacon has both a liturgical ministry and a service ministry.
For their biographical information and pastoral assignments, see pages 14-15.


New deacons tell of their calling

Jose Antonio Ambriz
Jose Antonio Ambriz, 42
Wife: Eloisa
Children: Antonio, Christian, Denisse
Birthplace: Mexico
Occupation: Warehouse manager
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Peter Martyr Parish, Pittsburg
Cuando Jesús llamó a sus discípulos, “Vengan y siganme,” ellos lo dejaron todo y lo siguieron. Hay diferentes maneras de seguir el llamado de Jesús, diferentes ministerios, diferentes caminos, pero la meta es la misma y el premio es el mismo: “conocer a Dios, amarlo y respetar su manera de pensar.”
Estos son puntos fundamentales para llegar al conocimiento del amor de Dios que se manifiesta a través de los mismos seres humanos. ¿Por qué escogí este camino?
Porque de esta manera, mi compromiso con Dios, con mi comunidad y mi familia se hace más fuerte, pues no es sólo el conocer, sino el vivir plenamente el Evangelio.

Jeffrey Burns
Jeffrey Burns, 49
Wife: Sabina
Birthplace: Ohio
Occupation: Archivist, San Francisco Archdiocese; Director, Academy of American Franciscan History, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Lawrence O’Toole/St. Cyril, Oakland
I want to deepen my service to the Church in Oakland. I was raised in a deeply Catholic family that taught me the importance of service to the world and to the Church.
The diaconate seemed a logical vocation to fulfill both of these imperatives. In addition, service to others is the most practical way of encountering Jesus: “When did we see you hungry, Lord?” “Anyone who says he loves God, but hates his brother is a liar.”
So I want to become a deacon to serve, and for the selfish reason of drawing closer to the God I love.
I have worked for many years with the youth and Confirmation programs at St. Lawrence O’Toole/St. Cyril Parish. I have found the work extraordinarily rewarding. For those despairing of our youth – don’t. In them we have a vast reservoir of hope, love and enthusiasm.

Dac Cao
Dac Cao, 40
Wife: Yung
Children: Tranh Tam, Tri An
Birthplace: Vietnam
Occupation: Mr. Mom
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Anthony Parish, Oakland.
Youth Ministry
As a child growing up in a family of 11 children, I was taught the importance of sharing and putting others’ needs first. I have learned to extend my family’s table to a larger circle that we often called “community.”
During the deacon formation process I have learned who a deacon is and the lifelong commitment involved in this vocation. My desire is to learn, to love, and to serve God in all people.
My background is as a catechist and I will continue to explore this ministry. I feel that the young and adults alike can take a few moments each day to think about Jesus’ messages and the teaching of the Church, we will discover what it means to love and be loved.

Ernesto Dandan
Ernesto Dandan, 61
Wife: Yolanda
Children: Dennis, Carmela
Birthplace: Philippines
Occupation: BART station agent
Liturgical Ministry: St. James the Apostle Parish, Fremont
Service Ministry: St. Rose Hospital, Hayward
Jesus calls us through Baptism to continue his ministry and each of us responds to this invitation with gestures of welcome, apathy or rejection. It is not my choice to be a permanent deacon.
I am not taking this call upon myself, but accepting it, which has been initiated by God. I will remain faithful and continue to nourish it and persevere with prayers and vigilance through the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What were Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s legacy and powerful weapon while living? She practiced God’s teachings by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and the afflicted, and loving all without boundary because she was move, inspired and claimed by the Love of God.
These embody the word “diaconia” – to serve, which I will be embracing unregrettably by being a permanent deacon.

Alberto Dizon
Alberto Dizon, 47
Wife: Yolanda
Children: Eugene, Cheryl Anne, Catherine
Birthplace: Philippines
Occupation: General manager
Liturgical Ministry: St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Martinez
Service Ministry: Ministry For Survivors Of Clergy Sexual Abuse, Diocese of Oakland
My love and passion for the Eucharist as well as my willingness and commitment to serve the people of God inspired me to become a permanent deacon.
My involvement in the celebration of the Eucharist as well as other liturgical celebrations in the capacity as a cantor and member of the choir has deeply touched me and drawn me to serve and celebrate with the community.
I always believed that a liturgy that is well thought out, planned and implemented properly becomes the real worship of the entire Church. Being involved in the parish liturgy committee, I was able to share my God-given talents towards the renewal in the liturgy as initiated by Vatican II.
With the liturgy follows the work of the people; we are sent forth “to love and serve the Lord.” Service with charity, humility and love is another driving force for me.
This could be very well fulfilled through the grace of ordination to the diaconate, by organizing the laity and empowering them with their God-given baptismal commission to do the work of Christ here on earth.

James Garcia
James Garcia, 57
Wife: Barbara
Children: Jessica, Adam
Birthplace: Los Angeles
Occupation: Sales support manager
Liturgical Ministry: St. Philip Neri Parish, Alameda
Service Ministry: Catholic Charities,
Youth Detention
Over the last five years of my preparation, I have asked myself why I want to be ordained as a permanent deacon. Simply stated, I believe that God is never going to give up on me, never going to stop loving me, even with all my faults. God’s love continues to call me and I am trying to respond.
I want to do so well as a deacon that I tend to forget that it’s not about me, but about God’s work being done. I’ve learned so much in the last five years, and I have so much more to learn.
I know that I will be ordained to the ministries of the Word, of the liturgy, and of charity. I want to serve wherever I am needed. The call from apostolic times is the same call for me. “Here I am, send me.” Please keep me in your prayers.

Joseph Gomes
Joseph Gomes, 55
Wife: Hilda
Children: Gina Marie Obrochta, Stacy Marie Kroeze
Birthplace: Germany
Occupation: Maintenance technician
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. John the Baptist Parish, San Lorenzo,
Elderly and Shut-Ins
My desire to serve the faithful springs from my fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church. I owe Jesus my life because he freed me from the grips of alcoholism through AA. He healed my marriage through Marriage Encounter, and he kindled the flames of love within me for his Bride the Church through Cursillo.
I have been serving God’s people for the past 25 years. Now it is time to humble myself to the ministry of permanent service as a deacon for the Diocese of Oakland.
I am ready, willing and able to dedicate my life to the service of the Church for the glory of God and the good of souls.

Gary Hack
Gary Hack, 57
Wife: Diane
Children: Matthew, Jennifer Castelli, Allison Hawkins
Grandchildren: Dominic and Giovanna Castelli, Aiden Hawkins
Birthplace: Sacramento
Occupation: President of teachers’ union
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Ignatius Parish, Antioch
Throughout our lives, each of us progresses through any number of stages and/or experiences; they form the basis of who we really are. It took me a long time to fully understand that all I’ve done, all I have, and all I am is a gift from God. As a result, I’ve become truly aware of how blessed I am.
The future is always murky, but the past is crystal clear. God has always been there with me. It only makes sense that he will continue to be there. I feel comfortable following his lead.
Being a permanent deacon allows me to continue my personal journey of conversion through serving others – by sharing God’s word with them, and by being a representative of his will.

David Holland
Dave Holland, 50
Wife: Iris
Children: Iris, Peter, Paul
Birthplace: Ireland
Occupation: Mail carrier
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Martinez, Prison/Detention Ministry
Becoming a deacon was not something I aspired to. In fact, I did not know married men could become deacons. But my pastor asked me to consider it. After discussing it with my wife, we decided to look into it. From that point, a fire started inside me and I became aware of my vocation.
What inspired me most about deacons is that they are called to bring the Gospel out into the world, particularly into the work place, not just by proclaiming the Gospel, but by living it.
As that famous deacon, St. Francis of Assisi said: Preach always, use words when necessary.

Earl JOHson
Earl JOHson, 61
Wife: Carol
Children: Tiffany JOHsonThigpen, Suzanne JOHson Paulette
Grandchildren: Dana Thigpen
Birthplace: New Orleans
Occupation: President of real estate management company
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Louis Bertrand Parish, Oakland
A deacon’s call in general and specifically mine is a call to service to the underprivileged, deprived, marginalized, and the voiceless segments of our society.
I was not born into wealth, status or influence, but by the grace of God, I continue to be blessed.
Here are some of the many things that I did not earn but were freely given: the capacity to love (from my mother, the Holy Family Sisters at St. Joseph Parish in West Oakland, and my 1961 classmates at Bishop O’Dowd High School); a work ethnic and sense of appreciation (from Father Ernest Brainard, Bishop Cummins and the O’Dowd religious faculty); quality and value of humility (from Father Ed Haasl); marvels of spirituality (from Cursillo and Kairos); sacramental and liturgical celebration (from the diaconate formation process).
My payback debt is simply enormous.
When I count my blessings at the end of the day, my conclusion is always the same: “My cup runneth over.” Then I fall on my knees to give the Lord thanks and praise.
One of my mother’s favorite songs was, “What A Friend I have in Jesus.” I am a living testimony to the fact that Jesus is also a friend of mine.

Manuel Moya
Manuel Moya, 59
Wife: Maria
Children: Maria Cristeta Dologmandin, Manuel Moya, Jr., Anselmo Moya, Aurora Caalaman, Vickie Moya-Ponce, Grace Moya
Grandchildren: Jordan Moya, Jorami-Ian Moya, Mariel Dologmandin, June-David Caalaman, Jovy-Louis Moya, Elijah-Luis Ponce
Birthplace: Philippines
Occupation: Alameda County Sheriff’s technician
Liturgical Ministry: St. Anne Parish,
Union City
Service Ministry: St. Vincent de Paul
Dining Room, Oakland
My whole life, God has been wonderful to me. God has been watching over me and my family. He has provided me more than I could possibly ask. He gave me life, a wonderful wife, beautiful children and grandchildren, decent jobs and countless opportunities to be close to Him. Without Him and his guidance my life would be empty.
My faith in God has brought me physical, emotional and spiritual strength to be the best person I can be. And now, it is with gratitude and with a great honor to repay God for all the endless and countless blessings that I have received and will forever receive from Him. There is no better way to serve God, to repay him for all the graces he has bestowed upon me, and to serve His people than to be a permanent deacon. I believe that it is only in being a permanent deacon that I can fulfill my dream of returning to the Lord all the good things He has done for me.

Jose Manuel Perez
Jose Manuel Perez, 38
Wife: Maria Elena Jauregui
Children: Jose Manuel, Jonathan
Birthplace: Mexico
Occupation: Painter
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Berkeley, Hispanic Formation & Evangelization
Since I was very young, one of the things that I enjoyed was helping people and I found that the Church is the right place to do it. That was why I wanted to be a priest, but economic and family problems made it impossible for me to continue my seminary studies in Mexico.
When I arrived in the United States, I started serving at St. Mark Parish in Richmond and the community of Verbum Dei in San Francisco. Now I serve at my current parish, St. Joseph the Worker in Berkeley.
God’s love moves me to enhance my compromise with the needs of the community in such a way that together we are called to build up the body of Christ with our participation, our charity to one another, and by being an example of love to our brothers and sisters. I wish to continue doing this and more as a permanent deacon.

Lawrence Quinn
Lawrence Quinn, 44
Wife: Marivic
Children: Michelle Guerrero
Birthplace: Illinois
Occupation: Health plan trainer
Liturgical Ministry: St. Joseph Parish, Fremont
Service Ministry: Ministry For Survivors
Of Clergy Sexual Abuse
When St. Anne Parish began the Renewal Program several years ago, my wife and I were facilitators and we had the opportunity to meet with several other couples. This was my first experience in any face-to-face ministry. We then joined Couples for Christ, which is similar to Renewal in that couples meet in small communities.
One Sunday, a friend whispered in my ear that I should explore being a deacon. I decided to enter the School of Pastoral Ministry, which led to the diaconate program. It was in that program that my eyes were opened to the need for social justice in this world. I learned that all is gift, and that one gift is listening to those in need and acting upon what I hear.
I liken my call to be a deacon to what Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that had he been asked to lead the civil rights movement, he would have run 100 miles away. Once he was involved, however, the movement and he were inseparable.

Antonio Reyes
Antonio Reyes, 67
Wife: Zenaida
Children: Sharlene Reyes-Tingin, Anthony
Birthplace: Philippines
Occupation: Regional vice president, financial services company
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Agnes Parish, Concord, Sick/Dying/Elderly
It has been my sincere and humble desire to serve God by serving His people. God’s people have many great needs – the sick, homebound, the grieving. We all know that there are not enough priests to do those important tasks, and that they are often overtasked with pastoral responsibilities. As a permanent deacon, I humbly believe that I could assist in my very small ways.

Jose Sicat
Jose Sicat, 64
Wife: Sylvia
Children: Joseph, Josefina Sicat-Duarte, Jason, John, Jonas
Grandchildren: Joseph Sicat, Jacob Sicat
Birthplace: Philippines
Occupation: Administrator of residential care home for the elderly
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Raymond Penafort, Dublin
My father died when I was 12. My mother, widowed at 40, was a very devout Catholic. To give us a Catholic education, she raised us five brothers and a sister into Catholic schools. Under the tutelage of the Christian Brothers, I found Jesus Christ and a new meaning in a daily prayerful discipline, theology, and Gregorian chant. I embraced the La Sallian motto: to know, to love, and to serve God.
Having experienced and seen poverty in the Philippines, I found gratification and joy in bringing the love of Jesus to poor people by leading or supporting community projects that feed the poor and homeless, providing clothes to them, finding books for poor children, raising funds for medicine and healthcare for those who are unable to help themselves. As a permanent deacon, I hope to be able to expand my service to the poor and marginalized and to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to them.

Gerald Waters
Jerry Waters, 62
Wife: Jane
Children: Jerry Jr., Denise (deceased)
Grandchildren: Jerry
Birthplace: Illinois
Occupation: Retired
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
St. Ignatius Parish, Antioch, Hospital & Homebound
I have this calling to serve God’s people. I feel that through my ministry as a permanent deacon, I will have more opportunity through my proclaiming the Word of God and meeting the people of God in my daily ministries. I have already started to realize this in my journey to diaconate.
Part of my service internship was in the hospital and ministry to the sick, bringing the Eucharist to them and listening and praying with them. I had a short time in detention ministry and I look forward to being able to being involved in that ministry also.
I feel that God has given me so much in my life that now it the time for me to repay in a small way what I can share.

Danny Wong
Danny Wong, 51
Wife: Rosanna
Children: Matthew, Stephanie
Birthplace: China
Occupation: Insurance and financial service agent
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
Chinese Pastoral Center, Evangelization/Shut-Ins/Elderly
I wish to respond to God’s call to spread the Good News and to serve Chinese-speaking people through evangelization programs and outreach to the elders. In responding to God’s love and mercy, I am making the lifelong commitment to Him as a deacon, serving the Church and the people of God with love.

Gary Wortham
Gary Wortham, 40
Wife: Carol
Children: Courtney, Elizabeth Anne
Birthplace: Merced
Occupation: Senior environmental scientist
Liturgical & Service Ministry:
Catholic Community of Pleasanton
The primary ministry of the deacon is one of service to God’s people. It is in this role of servant that I feel a very strong calling.
Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose.
Fundamentally, helping, fixing and service are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: all suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. I believe that my calling to serve as a permanent deacon emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Guadalupe celebration

More than 5,000 Catholics gathered in Richmond, Dec. 7, to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is Dec. 12. The observance began with a mile-long procession from Richmond High School to the Richmond Civic Auditorium. The procession included dancers, singers and musicians as well as five cars decorated to represent the continents.

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron celebrated Mass in the auditorium. A outdoor fiesta of dance and music concluded the festivities. Four parishes sponsored the event – St. Cornelius and St. Mark in Richmond, St. Joseph in Pinole and St. Paul in San Pablo.

Father Prochaska
named pastor at Fremont parish

By Carrie McClish
Staff writer

When he becomes pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fremont on Jan. 1, Father John Prochaska will be returning to the parish where he realized his vocation to the priesthood. While working as a chemical engineer in the 1980s after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, he was active in the RCIA program at St. Leonard Parish (which later merged with Santa Paula Parish and recently took on the name Our Lady of Guadalupe).

Through this involvement with RCIA and other ministries, he discerned his vocation, attended St. Joseph College in Mountain View for a year of pre-theology and then St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park. He was ordained by Bishop John Cummins in 1993.

He served two years as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole and the past eight years as parochial vicar, then administrator and finally pastor of St. Leander Parish in San Leandro.

Father Prochaska, who turns 44 on Dec. 27, talked with gratitude of his time with the parishioners and staff at St. Leander. The multi-ethnic community includes a large number of Spanish-speaking parishioners as well as Filipino and Portuguese Catholics. About 2,300 people attend weekend Masses at the parish that offers liturgies in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

“I felt like I’ve been able to give and grow in leadership,” he said. “It has been a wonderful experience being a pastor.”

Walking with people in their spiritual journey of faith had a profound effect on him at St. Leonard and at St. Leander, but his inspiration for ministry first came from his parents who were “very active” in church. His mother, who raised eight children in Pleasant Hill, was a dedicated volunteer in a number of ministries, including the choir, Eucharistic ministry, and the RCIA.

He acknowledges that he is gifted with the ability to interact and bond with people of various ages and economic, ethnic and cultural groups. “I even remember in high school that I could always connect with people from different backgrounds,” said the priest, a graduate of De La Salle High School in Concord.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, like St. Leander’s, is ethnically diverse. At least 40 percent of the parish’s 3,500-4000 households are Latino, said Father Prochaska, who speaks Spanish. About 2,000-2,5000 attend weekend Masses, offered in both of the parish’s churches known as the Fremont Boulevard campus and the Blacow Road campus.

The parish plans to build a central worship center that will bring everyone together, he said. This will be another step in the process, begun by his predecessor, Father Larry Silva, of uniting the community following the consolidation.

“I will be continuing what he started,” Father Prochaska said. Father Silva is now Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Oakland Diocese.

In a separate pastoral assignment, Salesian Father Thomas Mathew was named parochial vicar at All Saints Parish, Hayward, effective Nov. 15. He had been serving at St. Raymond Parish in Dublin.
Father Athanasius Abanulo, new to the diocese, has been named parochial vicar at St. Jarlath Parish in Oakland, effective Dec. 1.

Diocese sues insurance company

By Voice staff

The Diocese of Oakland has filed suit against an insurance company in an effort to force the insurers to defend the church against sexual abuse claims.
According to Los Angeles attorney Stephen McFeely, who represents the diocese, the company, OneBeacon Insurance Group, has refused to fulfill its obligation to defend the diocese in court against five claims of abuse that allegedly took place in the 1970s, when the diocese held a policy with the group. Over six months ago, he said, the diocese asked the company to take up the defense of the suits, but they have refused to do so.
“This is a very simple lawsuit,” McFeely said. “It’s saying they have an obligation to us under the terms of the policy. It’s my hope we don’t have to pursue this lawsuit very far.” The suit was filed Dec. 2 in Alameda County Superior Court.
A lawyer for the insurance company, Tom Ryan of Resolute Management in Boston, said he hadn’t seen the complaint and could make no comment.
McFeeley said the suits in question are “in early stages” and are “new allegations that have come up in the past year” when the state modified the statute of limitations to allow for cases to be filed as long as the alleged victim lives. “These came forward because of the modified law,” he said.
The primary responsibility for defending the diocese in cases of this kind, McFeeley said, belongs to the insurance company. Other companies have fulfilled this obligation, he said, and have defended cases against abuse claims.

Priest faces new lawsuit for sex abuse

By Voice staff

Days after settling a sexual abuse lawsuit, a former Fremont priest has been sued by a second man who also charged that he was a victim of molestation.

In the second lawsuit, a 33-year-old man claimed that Robert Freitas molested him on at least two occasions in 1980 when Freitas, then assigned to Santa Paula Parish in Fremont, was filling in for a priest at nearby St. Leonard Parish. The two parishes merged in 2000 and the community was renamed Our Lady of Guadalupe earlier this year.

According to the news reports, the lawyer of the unidentified accuser said his client had been plagued by emotional and psychological problems for years as a result of those incidents. He decided to come forward this year following extensive therapy.

In January, Freitas received a six month jail sentence and five years’ probation after pleading guilty to molesting Mark Bogdanowicz, now 39, in 1979 and 1980. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the criminal case in June when it ruled that the state of California could not retroactively prosecute child molesters for crimes committed decades earlier.

Last month Freitas, who has been removed from ministry, settled a lawsuit by Bogdanowicz by agreeing to pay him $16 million. The Oakland Diocese, named along with Freitas in the civil suit, agreed to pay $1 million through its insurance company. The diocese also agreed to pay as much as $50,000 to cover counseling costs of the victim.

The ‘O Antiphons’ honor
the many names of Jesus

By Julie McCarty

In an old science fiction story by Arthur C. Clarke, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a group of Tibetan monks is working on the arduous task of compiling a list of all the names or titles for God. They estimate this project will take them fifteen thousand years to complete by hand. However, with the help of the new invention, the Mark V Automatic Sequence Computer, they hope to reduce the time to a mere three months.

As the Mark V spits out list after list of letter permutations, the monks carefully transcribe all the words that name the divine, such as Supreme Being, Jehovah, or Allah. As they near the end of their task, the anticipation builds: they expect something dramatic and awesome, something involving the fulfillment of all humankind, to occur when the nine billionth name is uncovered.

Christians have many names for God. During the Advent and Christmas seasons, we pray using many titles for Jesus. We call Jesus the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Wonder-Counselor, and Prince of Peace. We also call him the Holy Infant, the Son of God and Son of Mary, and Savior. We sing of the “little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

As the celebration of Christmas draws near, the liturgical prayers of the church include seven titles for Jesus in the traditional prayers called the “O Antiphons.” Each antiphon, or short prayer verse, begins with the poetic and pleading “O” and contains a different name for the Messiah. Jesus is hailed as Wisdom, Lord, Flower of Jesse’s Stem, Key of David, Radiant Dawn, King of All Nations, and Emmanuel (God-with-us). Each O Antiphon also includes a statement about the Lord and a plea that Christ might come to us, and help us in some particular way.

The O Antiphons are prayed one per day during the week prior to Christmas (Dec. 17-23). The verse is prayed before the Canticle of Mary during evening prayer (vespers). The O Antiphons are also recited in the gospel acclamation during the weekday Mass.

Catholics or other Christians who have never heard of the O Antiphons will be surprised that they have probably been singing them for years, albeit in a slightly altered format. The titles for Christ and other basic ideas are contained in the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Meditating on the meaning contained in the O Antiphons is a good way to pray during the frenzied days of December. Focusing on just one O Antiphon per day, while you are standing in line at the store, stuck in holiday traffic, or even brushing your teeth, is one way to make this time of year a little more reflective and Christ-centered.

The petitions in the O Antiphons remind us that, although Christ came to earth two thousand years ago, we also need Christ’s presence today. When we ask Christ, the Radiant Dawn, to “shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,” we can recall those who suffer ongoing illness, starvation, the insecurity of job loss, or the terror of war. When we pray to Christ, the Key of David, to “break down the prison walls of death,” we can pray for those who are aborted, detained unfairly, tortured, or put to death by capital punishment. When we petition the sacred Lord to “stretch out your mighty hand to set us free,” we can think of our own need for freedom from materialism, greed, lust for power or sex, or addictions. In the O Antiphons, we pray that Christ will give us the wisdom, prudence, and the genuine compassion that brings about true inner harmony and world peace.

Come, Lord Jesus.

For more information on the O Antiphons, see “The Essential Advent and Christmas Handbook,” edited by Thomas M. Santa (Liguori Publications, 2000).

(Julie McCarty, M.A.T., is a freelance writer from Eagan, Minnesota whose syndicated column on prayer, “The Prayerful Heart,” appears in diocesan newspapers around the country. Contact her at


Christmas is low-key in the Holy Land

By Voice staff

St. Elizabeth High School in Oakland is one of four Catholic secondary schools in the U.S. chosen to take part in a program to improve management, development and Catholic identity over a four-year period.

The school was selected out of a pool of more than 50 Catholic secondary schools nationwide and will receive about $160,000 over four years as well as support from Catholic School Management, Inc., a consultative firm located in Connecticut. The firm will visit St. Elizabeth monthly to help improve its long-range planning, fiscal management, governance structure, student services, enrollment management, marketing and development, according to Dominican Sister Liam Brock, principal.

In notifying St. Elizabeth of the award, CSM president Richard J. Burke wrote, “Our research – and your comments and actions – clearly indicate that St. Elizabeth High School is very much wanted and deserves every opportunity to continue providing a Catholic education for young men and women for many years to come.”

The grant comes through the National Program for Consultative Guidance to Catholic Secondary Schools in Governance, Management, Catholic Identity and Development.

Simbang Gabi novena to begin

By Voice staff

East Bay Filipino Catholics will begin their nine-day novena in observance of Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) on Dec. 16. The novena is a time of spiritual preparation for Christmas and transcends cultural boundaries, explained Simon Rebullida, director of the Oakland Diocesan Filipino Pastoral Center.

Simbang Gabi is an adaptation of the Filipino Catholic traditional pre-Christmas devotion originally known as Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) or Misa de Aguinaldo, (Mass of the Gift). Spanish friars introduced the novena to the Philippines during the 16th century.

The liturgy was traditionally celebrated as early as four in the morning to accommodate farm workers setting off early for the fields, Rebullida said.

It is now common to celebrate the novena in the evening, hence the name Simbang Gabi, (Night Mass), Rebullida added. In the Oakland Diocese, 10 parishes will following the traditional early morning celebrations beginning between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., while four will host evening celebrations. Several other parishes are hosting one-day observances.

Simbang Gabi officially concludes with midnight Mass on Christmas, followed by home celebrations of Noche Buena, a midnight Christmas feast, which features caroling, children’s programs, and gift giving.

Early morning Simbang Gabi, Dec. 16-24:

St. Albert the Great, Alameda; St. Ignatius, Antioch; Holy Spirit, Fremont; St. Clement, Hayward, and St. Joseph, Pinole, all at 5 a.m.
St. Francis of Assisi, Concord; St. Joachim, Hayward; St. Bede, Hayward; and St. Anne, Union City, at 5:30 a.m.
All Saints, Hayward, at 6 a.m.

Evening Simbang Gabi, Dec. 16-24:

St. John the Baptist, El Cerrito — Dec. 15; 17-19; 21-23 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 20 at 5 p.m.
St. Patrick, Rodeo, at 5 p.m.
Our Lady of Good Counsel,
San Leandro,at 7:30 p.m.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fremont — Dec. 16, 17, 19, 20, 22 at 40382 Fremont Blvd. and Dec 18, 21, and 23 at 41933 Blacow Rd, all at 8 p.m. The Dec. 24 service begins at 5:30 a.m. at the Fremont Blvd. church. On Dec 18 and 20, the novena will be preceded by a 7 p.m. concert, “Christmas Around the World,” presented by the parish music ministry

Shorter celebrations:
St. Callistus, El Sobrante, Dec. 20 at 5:30 a.m. and
Dec. 22-23 at 8:30 p.m.
St. Joseph , Fremont, Dec. 20 at 6 a.m.
St. Leander, San Leandro, Dec. 21 at 5:30 a.m.
Our Lady Queen of the World, Pittsburg, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?


Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming

Every year the elementary school I attended, St. Charles in North Hollywood, celebrated an evening candlelight Advent ceremony in which each grade was assigned a carol. We walked from our classrooms to the church with our candles, singing our assigned songs.

My seventh grade class sang “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming.” I had never heard the song before and rarely hear it today, but it has remained my favorite Christmas song because of its beautiful lyrics and melody.

Recently I found a CD of Mahalia Jackson singing a haunting version of the song. Now I sing along with Mahalia and remember that evening at St. Charles so many years ago.

Name withheld by request
St. Paul Parish
San Pablo

Angels We Have Heard on High

I attended grammar school at St. Gertrude’s in Stockton. The school was administered by the BVM nuns. Each year our Christmas vacation began with a lovely candle lighting ceremony in the parish church. While not revealing my age, it is safe to say that in those days Latin was often the preferred language.

One of the carols which the nuns always chose was “Angels We Have Heard on High” which, of course, includes the lovely refrain, “Gloria, in excelsis Deo.”

As a first grader I was struggling to sing this phrase when my older sister, Mary Anne, gave me a similar phrase to use — “Gloria in Eggshell sits.” When sung quickly,it works!

Singing this and the other traditional carols at our annual candle lighting ceremony was the cherished beginning of the Christmas holidays in my hometown.

Jan Corder
Assumption Parish
San Leandro

O Holy Night

“O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas song. To attain tonal quality it is to be sung moderately slow with feelings coming from the heart and be moved by it. It is a song about our salvation. I believe that the song’s theme is about faith, trust, love and humility.
The brightly shining stars signify the birth of our Savior.
God’s plan of salvation that had been foretold has now reached its fulfillment in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ who guides human beings in their journey through life.
The Lord Jesus comes as a light in the darkness so as to restore the light of faith and love that has been darkened by the power of sin. This light will continue to shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.
The birth of our Savior is a great and significant event that the angels join in the praise for God and proclaim that those who find favor with God will experience peace and joy. This peace is a harmony and contentment that comes to those who know that they are living in the presence of God and they feel its worth.
In gratitude, praise, adoration and reverence, let us kneel and bow down to God with humility on the divine night when our Lord Jesus was born and listen to the angels’ proclamations and messages for us.

Bessie Carino
Sacred Heart Parish

The Little Drummer Boy

A fairly new Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” portrays the true and holy spirit of Christmas and the innocent love of a young boy for the baby, Jesus. I can hear a group of youngsters still singing this song as they went from house to house in my old neighborhood.
The boy honors and brings all he has to offer to the new born King, as we should do also.

As Mary sees and hears the drummer boy, she smiles at him for the gifts he brings. She knows they are all poor, but the light of their love warms and shines all over the manger. Mary looks down in approval.
In the simplicity of the boy’s love for the Baby Jesus, we can find the heart of our faith.

Lillian Silver
St. John Vianney Parish
Walnut Creek

Ave Maria

My favorite Christmas song is “Ave Maria”. My wife Marie and I were married in Chicago on January 3, 1976. We had gone to midnight Mass and were married nine days later.

We started a tradition of going to midnight Mass that has lasted for 27 years. The “Ave Maria” epitomizes what Christmas is. The blessed Mother giving birth in a manger, surrounded by Joseph, angels, animals, and a bright star shining above.

Of course, the song is always a solo. And at St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord, we have had some beautifully voiced soloists, especially the late Dario, the more recent Roxanne and others. Being at midnight Mass with my wife Marie and hearing the “Ave Maria” gives me a wonderful feeling of Christmas.

Dave Rost
St. Bonaventure Parish

O Little Town of Bethlehem

My favorite Christmas carol is “O Little Town of Bethlehem” written by Phillips Brooks prior to his death in 1895. I feel that it still sums up so completely over a century later the story of Our Lord’s birth and the world-wide influences which resulted.

I learned this in verse form in December 1930. My sister and I were boarding students at St. Joseph’s Academy in Berkeley for just one year, when our folks first moved near Tracy. We had come home for the Christmas holidays to our house on the Standard Pacific Gas Line lease on Patterson Pass Road and renewed acquaintanceship with the children next door.

They invited us to walk with them to their one-room school for grades one to eight, about a mile away. We were welcomed with open arms by the teacher. (Did she have the average daily attendance in mind?). We were asked to participate in the annual Christmas program scheduled for the end of the week. I was assigned to memorize and then recite this carol at the evening celebration for the pupils and their parents.

Ever since, I have recalled this poem, enjoyed it, and been reminded of our traditions and blessings each Christmas season.

Carol Joan Kennedy Ozanich
St. Paul Parish
San Pablo

O Antiphons

My favorite Christmas music is the O Antiphons chanted or sung Dec. 17 through Dec. 23. To me they embody all that Christmas really means.
Arvo Part has a glorious version in his Seven Magnificat Antiphons available on a CD.

Perhaps these don’t qualify as Christmas songs but writing this gives me an opportunity to say “thank you” to The Catholic Voice for all the imspiration and good reporting it gives me.

Dorothy C. Wills
St. Paul Parish
San Pablo

O Holy Night

There are so many wonderful carols, but the one that moves me the most is “O Holy Night.” This song sums up what Christmas means. It’s not about presents, toys and whatnot; it’s about this Child Jesus who was born on Christmas Day.

Oftentimes, it is sung during Christmas Eve Masses. The song reminds us that “this is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.” Whenever I hear it, it reminds me that Christmas is, more than anything else, a religious holiday. It’s great to get presents and get the family together, etc., but there is a deeper meaning about this holiday. The rest is secondary.

When I hear it on the radio at work, it stops me in my tracks and reminds me of the many Christmas Eve Masses I have gone to with my family when I was a child. When I listen to the words, I feel humble and glad that I am connected with this faith, this belief in God by choice.

I especially like the words, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” It’s a good feeling. In today’s world, sometimes, hope is really all we have.

Terri N. Porcuna
Assumption Parish
San Leandro

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’
is a catechetical song in disguise

By Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
Special to The Voice

A popular English Christmas carol, one which is known and sung around the world, embodies much more than a catchy and repetitious melody with picturesque phrases describing unusual gifts. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a carol that is more hymn than ordinary song. It includes layers of meaning.

Recall that during the severe persecution of the Catholic Church in England over three centuries, Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith openly. From 1558 to 1829 the faithful lived a clandestine life. During this period Catholic teachers composed “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to be a catechetical song for youngsters. The disguised meanings of the song’s gifts were a mini-catechism to help children remember the basic lessons of their faith.

The “true love” is not a human suitor wooing his lady, but God Himself, who loves us and redeemed us. Every baptized person is the “me” who receives the presents. Jesus Christ is “the partridge in a pear tree,” symbolically represented as a mother partridge who feigns injury to deter predators from her helpless nestlings.

The other symbols have these religious meanings. Two turtle doves refer to the Old and New Testaments. Three French hens recall faith, hope, and charity. Four calling birds are the four Gospels. Five golden rings are the first five books of the Old Testament, which give the story of the human race’s creation, fall from grace, and promise of redemption. Six geese a-laying recall the six days of creation. Seven swans a-swimming, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Eight maids a-milking represent the eight Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. Ten lords a-leaping, the Ten Commandments. Eleven pipers piping are the 11 faithful apostles. Twelve drummers drumming refer to the 12 articles of faith in the Apostles’ Creed.

When you hear or sing this carol again, make it an act of faith and a review of our basic beliefs.

(Marianist Brother John Samaha, a former high school and adult education teacher in the U.S., including the Oakland Diocese and Lebanon, is now retired and residing at Villa St. Joseph in Cupertino.)


January 1 – a Holy Day

Bishop Allen Vigneron has dispensed Catholics of the Oakland Diocese from the obligation of attending Mass on Jan. 1 for this year. However, he encourages all who can to attend Mass on that day and he asks those who are sick, homebound or using the dispensation to pray on that day “for justice and peace for our world during this new year.”

Jan. 1 is the octave day of Christmas and the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Between Man and Woman:
Questions and Answers
About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions

By Bishop Allen Vigneron

When the Catholic bishops of the United States met in Washington last November, all of us shared a common concern about the ever-increasing pressure in our nation to give so called “same sex unions” a legal status equivalent to marriage.

The serious duty of all Catholic Christians to reject such a proposal is clear from the teachings the Church has received from her Lord. To offer that truth in a readable format, we bishops developed the “Question and Answer” document that appears below.

As the chief pastor of the Church in Oakland, I take this occasion to reaffirm that these teachings are an essential part of the saving message of Christ. Accepting them without reservation is implied in any claim to belong to the Church.

Integrity demands that all Catholics conform their conscience to these teachings and act in accordance with such a rightly formed conscience. To do otherwise jeopardizes not only the health of society, but – more importantly – puts at risk one’s saving relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Let us pray for one another and for our whole nation, that in this issue and in all the other important questions of the day, we will have the moral fortitude to persevere in building a civilization founded on God’s plan for the human person.

A growing movement today favors making those relationships commonly called same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage. This situation challenges Catholics—and all who seek the truth—to think deeply about the meaning of marriage, its purposes, and its value to individuals, families, and society. This kind of reflection, using reason and faith, is an appropriate starting point and framework for the current debate.

We, the Catholic bishops of the United States, offer here some basic truths to assist people in understanding Catholic teaching about marriage and to enable them to promote marriage and its sacredness.

1. What is marriage?
Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. They commit themselves completely to each other and to the wondrous responsibility of bringing children into the world and caring for them.

The call to marriage is woven deeply into the human spirit. Man and woman are equal. However, as created, they are different from, but made for each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should be always open to the procreation of children (see Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1602-1605).

These truths about marriage are present in the order of nature and can be perceived by the light of human reason. They have been confirmed by divine Revelation in Sacred Scripture.

2. What does our faith tell us about marriage?
Marriage comes from the loving hand of God, who fashioned both male and female in the divine image (see Gn 1:27). A man “leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gn 2:24). The man recognizes the woman as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2:23).

God blesses the man and woman and commands them to “be fertile and multiply” (Gn 1:28). Jesus reiterates these teachings from Genesis, saying, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mk 10:6-8).

These biblical passages help us to appreciate God’s plan for marriage. It is an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. By their mutual gift of self, they cooperate with God in bringing children to life and in caring for them.

Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan for creation. In addition, the Church teaches that the valid marriage of baptized Christians is a sacrament—a saving reality. Jesus Christ made marriage a symbol of his love for his Church (see Eph 5:25-33).

This means that a sacramental marriage lets the world see, in human terms, something of the faithful, creative, abundant, and self-emptying love of Christ. A true marriage in the Lord with his grace will bring the spouses to holiness.

Their love, manifested in fidelity, passion, fertility, generosity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing, makes known God’s love in their family, communities, and society. This Christian meaning confirms and strengthens the human value of a marital union (see CCC, nos. 1612-1617; 1641-1642).

3. Why can marriage exist only between a man and a woman?

The natural structure of human sexuality makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage.

The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife (see CCC, nos. 1639-1640).

In marriage, husband and wife give themselves totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity (see CCC, no. 1643). They are equal as human beings but different as man and woman, fulfilling each other through this natural difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage.

4. Why is a same-sex union not equivalent to a marriage?

For several reasons a same-sex union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by a same-sex union. Persons in same-sex unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.

5. Why is it so important to society that marriage be preserved as the exclusive union of a man and a woman?
Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance.

Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other.

The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.

Laws play an educational role insofar as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially permissible and acceptable.

In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral.

When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened. The weakening of this basic institution at all levels and by various forces has already exacted too high a social cost.

6. Does denying marriage to homosexual persons demonstrate unjust discrimination and a lack of respect for them as persons?
It is not unjust to deny legal status to same-sex unions because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. In fact, justice requires society to do so.

To uphold God’s intent for marriage, in which sexual relations have their proper and exclusive place, is not to offend the dignity of homosexual persons. Christians must give witness to the whole moral truth and oppose as immoral both homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church urges that homosexual persons “be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (no. 2358). It also encourages chaste friendships.

“Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all” (no. 2347).

7. Should persons who live in same-sex relationships be entitled to some of the same social and economic benefits given to married couples?
The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life.

The legal recognition of marriage, including the benefits associated with it, is not only about personal commitment, but also about the social commitment that husband and wife make to the well-being of society. It would be wrong to redefine marriage for the sake of providing benefits to those who cannot rightfully enter into marriage.

Some benefits currently sought by persons in homosexual unions can already be obtained without regard to marital status. For example, individuals can agree to own property jointly with another, and they can generally designate anyone they choose to be a beneficiary of their will or to make health care decisions in case they become incompetent.

8. In light of the Church’s teaching about the truth and beauty of marriage, what should Catholics do?

There is to be no separation between one’s faith and life in either public or private realms. All Catholics should act on their beliefs with a well-formed conscience based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

They should be a community of conscience within society. By their voice and their vote, they should contribute to society’s welfare and test its public life by the standards of right reason and Gospel truth.

Responsible citizenship is a virtue. Participation in the political process is a moral obligation. This is particularly urgent in light of the need to defend marriage and to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions as marriages.

Married couples themselves, by the witness of their faithful, life-giving love, are the best advocates for marriage. By their example, they are the first teachers of the next generation about the dignity of marriage and the need to uphold it.

As leaders of their family—which the Second Vatican Council called a “domestic church” (Lumen Gentium, no. 11)—couples should bring their gifts as well as their needs to the larger Church. There, with the help of other couples and their pastors and collaborators, they can strengthen their commitment and sustain their sacrament over a lifetime.

Marriage is a basic human and social institution. Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.

Marriage, whose nature and purposes are established by God, can only be the union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children.

The union of husband and wife becomes, over a lifetime, a great good for themselves, their family, communities, and society. Marriage is a gift to be cherished and protected.

For Further Reading
Second Vatican Council. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), nos. 47-52. December 1965. Available online at

Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 369-373, nos. 1601-1666, and nos. 2331-2400. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops–Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.

Pope John Paul II. On the Family (Familiaris Consortio). Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1982.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. July 2003. Available online at

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Follow the Way of Love: A Pastoral Message of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to Families. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003.

Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions was developed by the Committee on Marriage and Family Life of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their November 2003 General Meeting and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned.
Msgr. William P. Fay

General Secretary, USCCB

Scripture texts used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, copyright © 1991, 1986, and 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. 20017, and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C., are used with permission. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2003, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions is available in print editions in English and Spanish and may be ordered by calling toll-free 800-235-8722. Ask for publication number 5-611 (English) or publication number 5-905 (Spanish).

Para ordenar este recurso en español, llame al 800-235-8722 y presione 4 para hablar con un representante del servicio al cliente, en español.

November 18, 2003 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


New assistant superintendent

Mission San Jose Dominican Sister Johnellen Turner recently joined the diocesan schools department as assistant superintendent in charge of faith formation, the new teacher program, and the new principal program.
The Los Angeles native received her associate of arts degree from Queen of the Holy Rosary College, located at her community’s Fremont motherhouse, her bachelor of arts degree in history from Holy Names College in Oakland, and her master’s degree in pastoral theology from Notre Dame University in Belmont.

In addition to her part-time position in the schools department, she is the director of schools for her congregation. She is a former principal at St. Edward School in Newark.