Rectory Project: How Will we Answer the Call?

 Parishioner Perspective on the Rectory Project

A new rectory? My thoughts…and a personal story.

When a new rectory is finally built, all the parish ministries and organizations will benefit from the addition of new space and the reconfiguration of office and meeting spaces in the ministry center and old rectory.   However, that is not the main reason I was particularly pleased to learn that a new rectory is in the planning stages. From my experience of teaching at the secondary school level for nearly forty years, and in particular, my experience of teaching for eight years at Catholic high schools conducted by the Brothers of Holy Cross, I have been wishing for a long time that our priests could have a private space of their own.

I started teaching at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks in the late 60’s when there were still many teaching Brothers in the classroom. The Brothers’ Residence was on the other side of the campus from the school buildings. At the end of their teaching day, and after supervising sports and activities in the afternoons and evenings, the Brothers could return to their private house, garden and chapel. Three years later I transferred to Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. The school was quite new with beautiful up-to-date facilities. The main building was a large three story block with offices, classrooms and labs on the first two floors. The Brothers’ Residence, although nice, was located on the third floor overlooking the parking lot and playing fields. It was not a good situation. At that time, and at later years teaching in the public schools, I was always glad to be able to go home at the end of a long day and not have to climb a set of stairs and sleep over my classroom. Unfortunately, our Dominican Community is housed like the Holy Cross Brothers in Hayward. If you ever have business to do in the Rectory during the day, you see that there are endless comings and goings as well as the noise of the parking lot and playground.   Do you ever just like to stay home and rest on a day off? Our priests have to leave their home on their one day off during the week just to get some peace and quiet.

In the summer of 1980 I was checking out Benicia to see if it were a place I would like to live. I wanted to find what would be my parish church. When I walked into the church one quiet summer afternoon, I immediately thought, “I would love for this to be my spiritual home.” And over the last thirty five years, it has not disappointed. The credit is due to our wonderful parish community and staff. However, it has been a special blessing to be a part of a Dominican parish. When so many parishes across the country have only one priest or have to share a priest among parishes, we are blessed to have our own Pastor and Parochial Vicar. Many times, when a room has been available, we have enjoyed the presence and ministry of a Dominican Student Brother during the Residency Year which he participates in as a part of his Formation. And I cannot imagine being without the presence of Father Vic and Father David, our “retired” Dominicans who contribute so much through their Sacramental Ministry as well as just being there for us.

A new Rectory would provide these men with a quiet space to call home. One of the Dominican mottos is “To share with others the fruits of Contemplation.”   We definitely benefit from the rich formation and spiritual life of our Friars as we participate in the Sacramental Life of the Church, enjoy instructive and inspiring homilies, and just get to know them as persons. They not only deserve a quiet Rectory space, but it would help them in the practice of their life as Religious. A new Rectory with sufficient bedrooms would guarantee a space for a Student Brother during his Residency year, and it would provide rooms adequately outfitted for the care of an aging priest. The presence of these men among us has indeed helped to provide a wonderful spiritual home for me. I hope we can all participate in whatever way we can, large or small, to make the proposed Rectory a reality.

John Lydon , O.P. L.