Beginnings…by Fr. David


Fr David Image for Blog

Beginnings are always good. Their freshness is attractive and invigorating but at the same time somewhat nebulous: we simply do not know the future.  Children go back to school after a long   vacation, some start a new job, others move into a new house , new friends, maybe new relationships. After a restful summer, we are ready to go. We are happy, satisfied, but we do not know where we will end up.

Maltese cross

At every beginning we are to take a hard look at our past and be careful not to burden ourselves with unnecessary things in the future. In our beginnings, in our planning let us remember  the Beatitudes, in which Jesus gives us a way of life , a revelation of the will of God found in the 10 commandments. Here, Jesus sets a new living of perfection. The love of God enables us to go beyond the commandments and to stretch ourselves a little further beyond. Love has no limits.

Jesus had his own way of getting his listeners attention to a new beginning. He would say, “Amen, I say to you”. This implies a fresh start, Truth without any doubt.  Christianity teaches that we depend  on God, our Eternal Truth . But our lives also depend on the life of each other, of each individual. Also the life of each one of us has an effect on the whole group, just as the life of the group has an effect on the life of the individual. It is this love of God and the love that we have for one another that keeps us united, though we are different. Unity is essential to a successful group living, though our individual jobs are different, we are glued by the Spirit of love.

In our beginnings, let’s hassle a little more than we did in the past. Hope and trust in your God. God loves each and every one of us as each one was his only creation; that alone should be enough to give you strength and to look to the future with the assurance that no one gets lost in God’s presence. His love is both universal and individual.  With this in mind, try to make this beginning the best of all your beginnings of the past.

God bless you and yours.                                           Fr. David, O.P.

Fr. Michael’s Funeral Homily for Fr. Victor Cavalli, O.P.

Fr Vic Funeral Homily by Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

St. Dominic’s Benicia

A few years ago, I was surprised by Fr Vic when he asked me to preach at his funeral. I told him that I might not be the best choice, since he had been a Dominican priest for almost 70 years and I had only lived with him for 3. I said “What would I preach about?” He responded, “I don’t know, I won’t be there, that’s your job!” He continued: “Whatever you preach about keep it short.” And so when I recently visited with him at Fr. Paul Scanlon’s Vigil, he reminded of the eventuality of this moment: “You’re preaching my Mass” he said. I said “I know, I know, keep it short.” And he again surprised me by saying “Well you don’t have to keep it that short. There are a lot of things you might say.” It was the moment I was waiting for. “Ok, I’m going to ask 3 questions and everyone is going hear your answer. It’ll be like your final preaching.” Agreed.

First question: “What inspired you to be a Dominican?” His response was typically practical. He knew the OP Sisters from boarding school in Ukiah and knew Fr. William Norton, aka “Blacktop Bill” because he always put in a parking lot at wherever parish he was. He saw all the good that the Dominicans did and thought “I want to do good for others too.” It was either that or the FBI, because he had family in law enforcement and the small Swizz village that he grew up in was the seedbed for the Papal Swizz guard. In the end, the priesthood made sense, because, as he said with a twinkle in his eye, “it was my best chance in keeping on the straight and narrow. I became a Dominican priest because I would have a chance to do good, and have a good chance at heaven.”  

Of course, we have our reasons for what we do, yet we know that for Fr Vic (and for us all), God is the ultimate source of our inspiration. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you to go and bear fruit.” Just as Jesus called those first apostles, who were not well versed in the Torah or particular educated and he gave them the gifts to preach and teach and heal, so too, God chose Fr Vic and gave him the gifts he needed to lead. We all have a responsibility to lead in various ways, but Fr. Vic had the gift of leadership. He was pastor and/or prior for almost all of our Priory Parishes, including Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and Benicia. For so many he was not just a priest but a pastor, a real shepherd. As one the Dominican graviori said “When Fr. Vic was in his heyday, if he thought it would have been good for our Province to get into basket weaving, well…we’d be weaving baskets right now!”

In the Gospel, Christ identifies himself as a Good Shepherd who guards and guides the flock. This image hearkens back to famous and familiar Psalm 23 where the Lord acts as a shepherd for the people of his flock. The Good Shepherd leads with rod and staff: rod to protect sheep from predators and nudge them away from danger, and staff to lead them to green pastures for grazing. In the Gospel we see Christ guides: leading with care, tending to the wounded, searching out strays. But also guards: warning with the woes of the self-righteousness, challenging the indifferent or nudging his flock around the pitfalls of unbelief. Christ the Good Shepherd has twofold office: to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

For nearly the past 70 years of his life, Fr. Vic has joined Christ in this role of guarding and guiding.   When it came to guarding, Fr. Vic was old school. In these days when sentimentality is often substituted for spirituality, Fr. Vic was no nonsense when it came to preaching and living the faith. Keenly aware of the reality and power of original sin, the disciplines of the faith were alive and well in his life. It wasn’t just Fridays in Lent; every Friday was an occasion for clam chowder over his favorite chicken soup. On the occasions when he discerned that someone was taking advantage of another person, he’d let them know the woes of the Gospel. For those who might darken the door of church only on Christmas and Easter, he reminded them in a healthy and unvarnished way that none of us escape death and final judgement. The Good Shepherd guards and course corrects the flock.

Likewise, Fr. Vic embodied the guidance of the Good Shepherd. I think of the countless ways in which he brought Jesus Christ to life for so many. Who of us here was not guided closer to Christ because of Fr. Vic. Through him, Christ gave us new life through baptism, fed us in the Eucharist, forgave us in the confessional, anointed and cared for us in our illness whether physical or spiritual. When were lonely, it wasn’t Fr Vic who visited us, it was Christ. When we were in distress, it was Christ who comforted us through him. When fears and anxieties clouded our minds and hearts, Fr Vic brought the encouragement of Christ to our hearts. I’m sure each of us could share a story of how Fr. Vic guided you closer and made Christ present and real in your life.

Beyond guarding and guiding, Jesus says what set his pastoral office apart from others, is that he is willing to lay down his life for sheep. He is all in. So too with Fr. Vic priesthood was not just a ministry but who he was. He told me: “You never retire from being a priest. If you’re lucky you can retire from administration and paperwork, but never as a priest.” This gift of self, the giving of his life naturally inspired others. This is why an essential part of leadership is not simply doing, but enabling others to do good. I live in SF, and although Fr. Vic was pastor there 40 years ago, there are aspects of the parish that are still impacted by his leadership. When there was a need to reach out to the poor and homeless around the Church in SF, Fr Vic hired an OP Sr. Anne Bertain to lead a community service program. The Rose of Lima center is as active and vibrant as ever. In fact, when I announced that Fr. Vic died last week in SF, I had a woman who told me that 40 years ago, she had come to the children’s Mass and that it was so bad that she went up to him after Mass and told him that she was never coming back because she was trained in music and couldn’t abide their ineptitude. So Fr. Vic asked her if she would help to train the children and start a program and she’s been a parishioner ever since.

Fr. Vic’s leadership extended to the brothers. Fr. Vic spoke with great fondness for the time when some of the students were transferred from St. Albert’s to St. Dominic’s. He loved that they brought a fresh energy to the parish and started so many programs together. Fr. Felix Cassidy of happy memory loved to tell the story of how, early in his studies, he began to despair of learning Latin and passing the required classes. Seriously contemplating leaving when he asked Fr Vic who was finished and was about to be ordained for advice and guidance. “I’m from Switzerland and had to learn English, I failed out of elementary school, but I kept at it and passed the classes. If I can do it, you can too.” And the rest is history.  

Second question: What is your greatest joy in being an OP priest? With hesitation, he said “The children.” Certainly Fr. Vic is well known among the brothers for his time as teacher and principle of St. John Vianney/Daniel Murphy high school. Fr Vic took great pride in the education the school provided in his leadership. His students were the chief of police and fire, many lawyers and other successful in business. But more than that, he found joy in teaching the faith. It was a worst kept secret that Fr. Vic had a drawer with candy in his office for students. When they would come over, he would always be handing out little sweets. I would tease him about being too indulgent and he told me the story of how Fr. Blacktop Bill used to give him sweets/money/trinket every time he saw him. As a young boy, Fr. Norton embodied God. And so when he gave him sweets, it was like God giving him a gift. Fr Vic said “I give sweets so that children will learn and remember that God always wants to give us good things if they look for it.” And this kind of spiritual pedagogy was present all through his life. I remember during one of our daily walks before we were hearing the 1

st confessions of 2nd graders, I asked him how I might put them at ease. 1st

confessions can be fearful. He said “Teach them God’s love in a practice way.” He told me that the penance he would often give is to “Give your Mom and Dad a big hug and tell them how much you love them.” There is nothing better to see how a child begins to understand God’s own love through a love they know. When they experience God’s love, anything is possible.”


Third Question: What is your favorite Bible verse? Wasn’t sure of reference. Like a good Catholic, when it comes to the Bible we neighborhood really well, but not the specific addresses. Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose which endures.” In reflecting on this verse, he shared with me, how often in leadership the choice he was faced with weren’t easy or clear. He shared that there were dark moments of doubt and feelings of his unworthiness to be a priest. He was comforted by knowledge that he wasn’t in control of the results and outcomes. If he was simply faithful in his vocation and did the best he could, God’s purpose and plan would come to be, even despite his weaknesses and failings. In this regard, he always had recourse with the Blessed Virgin, with whom he had a special relationship. Early in the morning and into the evening, you would find him in prayer clutching his small hand rosary. Many times I discovered him in the church or in his room in front of the statue of our lady, seemly having a conversation with her. He would say “when I come face to face with God, I am hoping that Mary is there to hold out the rosary and pull me up into heaven. She’ll get me there.”

As we mourn for our loss, we pray in gratitude for life and legacy of Fr. Vic. We ask our Lord through the intercession of his mother that, he who lived his life as a faithful shepherd of the Good Shepherd, might be led to the rich pastures of his well-deserved heavenly reward.   Amen.
~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

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.





A Lonely Place

 A LONELY PLACE, a Parishioner Testimonial for St. Dominic’s Grief Support

The Lord is close to the broken heated: let us give Him thanks and praise! – Psalm 34

The suicide of Robin Williams hit me like a bomb.  My first thought was “no one understood or knew how to help him in his time of distress.”  The reason I want to address this tragedy is because there are so many people who carry burdens of which others are not aware and if they were, would not know how to be of assistance or the person suffering and feeling vulnerable, is willing to share. I speak from experience.

This is the 3rd year in a row that I have experienced deep sadness and depression among other feelings, all around about the same time and for different reasons.  Three years ago I felt as though my heart was broken and I wanted nothing more than to be dead and gone from this world and to be with the Lord.  Trying to understand some situations was beyond me and then I was among people who did not agree with my spirituality but I had to keep on smiling.   It was only the Lord Jesus who got me through those tough times. I just couldn’t imagine life without my Lord.   Since 3 is my favorite # because of the Trinity – I am happy.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and have to learn to throw my heart “over the wall” and have my emotions follow. Being misunderstood is so easily done and leaves me feeling worse than before. The desire then is to stay away from people believing that I will be poor company when in fact they are the ones I need the most. I shared with a friend in New Zealand about this difficult time and was surprised when she shared with me of her own depression, with which she has struggled all her life – and I NEVER KNEW!!  We share a wonderful friendship encouraging each other in the Lord.

I finally came to the conclusion that this is a grace and that I should consider this a blessing for the Lord to use and also to thank Him in all things.   Here is the most awesome part.  When I consider the pain Jesus experienced for all the sins of the world – I also realize that in His great love for us He promises never to give us more than we can bear and then gives us the strength to overcome. It is only through personal experience that I am able to understand another’s plight and the crosses they bear and then can bring them the comfort that we were given by our precious Savior.  “Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation!  He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from Him………..”  2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Our Church is filled with many people who carry their crosses of which we are blissfully unaware, most of the time.   How many are so desirous of some comfort?   We are in the best place in the whole world; in the Church, where we can support and pray for one another if only we are aware of their travail. Since I am not, I have decided that I will support in prayer  all who are suffering and are heavy laden – that the Lord will comfort and guide them and to direct me to be a friend in need.   “Be patient in suffering, be constant in prayer” – Romans 12:12

The Grief Support group is just such a place.   Last year I accompanied 2 friends, one who had lost her husband and the other who had lost her father.   Speaking about our losses is therapeutic especially when in the company of like minded people where it is a safe place and expression of thoughts are welcomed.   One thing I have learned, even when I don’t feel like it, to Praise Him anyway!  Praise chases the gloom!

I highly recommend attending a Grief Support session or calling a Priest when the need is urgent.    I will try and smile more often even when I am feeling low and unknowingly then encourage someone else who could be in pain.    

I remember the words of a Priest “I am a unique creation of God” when being introduced to someone. That is what each of us is to God.  Think about it, each and every snowflake which is different as we are, and we are very much more loved than snowflakes.   Our self esteem comes from God alone.  What an awesome God we serve!

“To God, the darkest depths of the human heart are as clear as the page of a book lying open in the sunlight.  He knows us through and through-and loves us as deeply as He knows us!   Rather than hide from Him, let us put our life in the hands that fashioned us and allow Him to lead us in the path of life eternal……….” – Read Psalm 139

Loving Father, You watch over each one of us in our trials and our troubles.  Help us to understand what Your will is, to trust You, and to stay close to You.  Through Christ our Lord , Amen.


August 28, 2014

St. Augustine!

RCIA Testimonial

It’s Never Too Late

Sisters and Brothers in Faith, The Divine Mercy Chaplet Makes a House Call

My current RCIA journey is directly related to the manifestation of my now deceased husband’s, Prem’s, three year sojourn with the diagnosis of carcinoma of the liver bile duct (cancerous tumor).  Prem was originally given a six month prognosis, but by the grace of God, our merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we were provided for through God’s servant, Dr. Kenneth Benmoeller, a gifted, humble physician who flew in to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco on 11 different occasions to perform stent procedures for Prem.  My husband was able to “outlive his prognosis” by almost three years.  During my husband’s illness I lived “frozen by fear” of the uncertainty of each day and the horror of my husband’s physical demise.  These factors hastened my becoming totally dependent on God’s love and mercy to truly live on a day-to-day basis.

During this trial God sent members of the Catholic community to our home to bring us comfort and support with His “good news.”

In the last year of my husband’s illness, his best friends of more than thirty years, Pat and Ilona Helmholz, who have attended St. Dominic’s for many years and are members of the Dominican Laity, had just returned from three years in Africa as Maryknoll missionaries.  In Prem’s last year they, Pat and Ilona, made weekly visits to our home to pray with us, frequently bringing flower bouquets to cheer us. Sharing their faith with us, they walked with us and supported us during that difficult time, our journey “through the shadow of the valley of death.”

 Additionally, during the last year of my husband’s life, two friends of ours, Linda Perkins and Chuck Prejean, and two of their friends, Lena and Rudy D’ Antonio, all of whom are parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Vallejo, frequently came to pray with us.  Through these devoted Christians we were introduced to the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  When fear plagued me, St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy Chaplet calmed me steadily increasing my trust in the love and mercy of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Subsequent to my husband’s death, I continued to experience an amazing depth of relationship with The Trinity through the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  As I navigated the loss of my husband, I was very lonely, but not alone because of my ongoing relationship with the source of my strength, our Heavenly Father, His Son Our Lord and the constant, subtle voice of the Holy Spirit.  I had truly learned to trust in the Lord during my husband’s illness, and now in my loss, I trusted in and relied on the Lord to guide me forward on a daily basis as I ventured alone.

Saint Faustina, the conduit of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, made a house call through those Catholics who introduced me to her works.  Subsequently having read The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and having committed myself to the chaplet, it was apparent to me that she would be my patron saint because of the peace the chaplet, which attested to her intimate relationship with God,  had provided me during my husband’s illness and death.

Although as an infant and youth, I had been baptized and confirmed in the Methodist church, and I was subsequently married and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, the depth of my relationship with the Trinity was never significantly tested until my husband’s illness and death.   The Catholics came to my rescue at the time when my spiritual needs were the greatest.  While one of my sister’s converted to the Episcopal faith as I had, two of my sisters had previously converted to Catholicism many years ago, so I was aware and somewhat familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the beauty and depth of the Catholic mass.  In the 1970’s I had taken an Inquiry class in Catholicism, but did not join the church.  During my husband’s illness and upon his death, I was called to Catholicism through the ministrations of these friends, previously noted, as well as by the Holy Spirit and Saint Faustina.  I began to walk in faith and by attending midnight mass at St. Dominic’s on Christmas Eve after Prem’s passing, I was greeted by Shannon Carter and Gaye Rose, who so generously share their faith by serving others.  Although I was attending regular grief counseling through Kaiser Permanente for what would ultimately be for a year, I also began to attend the grief group at St. Dominic’s led by Shannon.  Then, I attended the series Catholic’s Returning Home (although I was not a Catholic) also led by Shannon, Gaye, and Teresa Schneider.  When RCIA began in the late summer, I was hungry to know more about Catholicism.  Shannon, Kelley Curtis, Gaye, Fr. Corwin, and Dr. Marco Roman along with my sponsors, Ilona Helmholz and Rose Usura, were consistent shepherds leading me in the ways of Catholicism. 

During the year of my RCIA journey, initially all was smooth sailing as I continued to learn and share with my fellow journeyers.  Our text, The United States Catholic Catechism, provided the intellectual knowledge I desired to begin to cognitively understand Catholicism while Bible readings reinforced “the heart and spirit” of faith.  The spiritual aspect of the cognitive pursuit of Catholicism was extended by the outreach of the leaders, sponsors, fellow RCIA inquirers, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, who like the parable of the lost sheep, never let us wander too far off course.  As the Tuesday night meetings progressed, my faith found a spiritual home.  Attending the 5:30pm mass on Sundays provided me hope and gave me direction for the coming week.  I felt like I had been swimming underwater a bit too long during the week, and surfaced for a much needed breath of air during Sunday the mass.  The mass continues to surprise me each week as I increase my level of understanding and involvement of the liturgy, symbolism, and the Lord’s word as I drink from His well.

One of the highlights of the RCIA journey came in early February when we attended the overnight retreat at Villombrosa in Menlo Park.  The serene garden surroundings and spiritual events designed for the growth of our faith, individually and collectively, are a gift I will always treasure.   The stained glass and religious appointments in the Church of the Nativity was especially inspiring, as was attending Vespers at the convent of the cloistered Dominican Nuns.  Quietly walking the Stations of the Cross at night with the moon and stars witnessing from Heaven was ethereal and touching.  Fr. Corwin provided an inspirational activity which encouraged us to write down any personal obstacles which might cause us resistance to our RCIA journey toward confirmation.  During a special mass we presented our “obstacles” for God’s grace on the chapel’s alter.  Afterward the mass these “obstacles” were collectively burned providing many of us a feeling of cleansing and release.

Having said that, I must admit that I was seized by two weeks of debilitating uncertainty about converting to Catholicism just prior to the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election.  It was Shannon and Gaye who calmed my troubled waters, reminded me that all humans are all sinners, and that I was worthy of God’s mercy, grace, and love.  Gaye and I celebrated when my doubts ceased by attending the Chrism Mass in Sacramento at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament where the very chrism which would be used in the RCIA members’ baptisms and/or confirmations was blessed by Bishop Soto, who through the Holy Spirit, breathed faith and life into the sacred oil. 

My intense personal self-reflection of about two weeks prior to my first confession was much more agonizing than the actuality of the sacrament of reconciliation with Fr. David.  I will never forget how I felt God’s mercy through confession to Fr. David.  To receive the feeling of forgiveness was humbling and freeing and mystical. 

Another humbling experience was when Fr. Jerome washed our feet during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  This act of love and humility was welcoming in a way that words cannot express.  God’s touch was manifested by Fr. Jerome’s hands.  This ceremony was so intense that it helped me to better understand how the Eucharist is consecrated by the priest.

The most overwhelming experience of my RCIA journey was totally unexpected with the Veneration of the Cross.  The quiet, solemn procession of parishioners kneeling before the Cross and kissing the Cross one-by-one as it was held by Fr. Corwin in the candlelit church touched my very soul with the Passion of our Lord in a way I never expected!  I felt a heartbreak that was so real I could not hold back my tears.

By the night of Confirmation, the Vigil Mass, Saturday, April 4, 2015, I had no feelings of trepidation or uncertainty, instead feelings of peace and joy prevailed.   The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and first communion honestly did feel like a “marriage” to God and to the Catholic Church.  True to “marriage-like” form, during the mass and sacraments, time seemed distorted as if time itself was surreal like time lapse photography being quick and slow at the same time…like a dream.

I had not really given particular thought to the charismatic evangelists’ concept of the “born again” phenomenon, but I certainly understand the experience now since my RCIA journey which culminated in my conversion to Catholicism through the sacraments of confession, communion, and  confirmation.  At sixty-four years of age, I do feel “born again” in Christ Jesus!

I am unable to adequately thank all who have been so self-less and instrumental in my RCIA journey:  RCIA leaders, Shannon Carter and Kelley Curtis, Fr. Jerome, Fr. Corwin, Fr. David, Fr. Vic, Dr. Marco Roman, Deacon Flanagan, and my sponsors, Rose Ursua and Ilona Helmholz, as well as all the sponsors who shared in and contributed to our confirmation experience!  Your commitment and support during my/our RCIA journey has been AMAZING!

Thank you to the entire active community of faith at St. Dominic’s Church for your support and welcome.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Katherine “Faustina” Jefferies Dhawan

From the Choir Stall- Fr. Corwin on the Sign of Peace

Fr. Corwin explains the Sign of Peace

April 19th, 2015
Many of you approached me this past weekend thanking me for giving catechetical instruction on the Sign of Peace. I thank you for this. All of us priests here at St. Dominic appreciate your feedback, even if it critical, because it helps us to adapt our message to you. We Dominicans sometimes have an awfully heady approach to theology, which is one of the reasons we have historically spent so much time teaching at universities. However we do try and make our points as accessible as possible. That said; if something we say in our homilies doesn’t make sense, then by all means, let us know and we’ll try and clarify.Peace be with you

Do not forget that most of our homilies, along with tons of other fantastic resources, are available to download on our parish website. And this particular homily is already posted and available (I checked). So if you happened to be traveling and could not be here, or if you just want to hear it again, you can find it, along with others, at:

Regarding the document I mentioned regarding the Sign of Peace (as approved and signed by His Holiness Pope Francis via the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments), its title is the Circular Letter on the Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also published a document on how we, as Americans, should interpret and understand this letter in light of our own culture. Both can be found in their newsletter at the following address:

We often find rules and regulations regarding our actions to be stifling, particular ones that govern our liturgy. That’s understandable because knowledge is always one generation away from extinction, given our life spans. It’s frustrating when we’re asked to do something without some sort of explanation of why. However, if we spend the time understanding their historical development as well as their theological symbolism, then we see how important they can be in our worship. Our actions are not just beautiful; they are meaningful.

God, on his part, has no need for our worship. He is perfect and lacks nothing. But we do it because it is fitting that we do it. And if we’re disposed to this worship, then it elevates us and brings us closer to Him. Who wouldn’t want that?
~Fr. Corwin Low, O.P.


Answered Prayers and Intercessions

Parishioner Story- The Carpenter’s Intercession

Jesus Saves! I’ve seen those flashing signs and wondered why people wasted the neon. But this time Jesus really did save the day, as the expression goes. It all started when I agreed to do some property management for someone who was going to be out of town. I expected paper work, rent collecting, and consequently, some human relations work. Those expectations were all fulfilled!Jesus Saves Home Decor Display Neon Light Sign

But then, out of nowhere, in one of the apartments, someone stepped on a bathroom tile between the tub and the toilet and the floor fell out under foot. Sure enough, water, rot, and time had conspired against the structural integrity of the plywood in the sub-floor making every trip to the toilet a precarious adventure. Unfortunately, the tenant in that apartment is wheelchair bound with limited upper-body dexterity. Needless to say, I was very concerned, ok, ok, downright worried about the guy. 

I had jury-rigged a patch under the broken tile so that it would hold for a couple of days until I could get a professional in to take care of the job. Well, one thing led to another and five days later cancellations and missed appointments put me back at square one with the floor still full of rot and my stomach in a knot every time I thought of the guy having to go into his bathroom. And, still, no one could find the time to get this one job taken care of.

I couldn’t wait any longer. Tuesday night I decided I would have to figure out some way to brace the floor. I didn’t have any construction background, but I did have Google “How-to” sites and YouTube. Something had to be done and I was the only one available. I didn’t like it much. I told my ‘boss’ so.  I also poured my heart out in prayer. I prayed differently Tuesday night than I usually do. I spoke to Jesus directly. Usually, I address the “Father”, or I speak to my “Lord”.On Tuesday I spoke to Jesus, “Jesus, I need your help! You were the son of a carpenter. You did carpentry. You know how to do this. I don’t know what I’m doing and I can’t afford to mess this up because I don’t want anyone tjm_200_NT1.pd-P7.tiffo get hurt.”  (For the record I did also ask St. Joseph to give me some directions and tell me what to do too.) As I finished talking to Jesus I felt peace. I knew I had been heard and I slept well.

The next morning “stuff” interrupted my intended schedule, but it did not bother me as much as it usually does. I finally got to the apartment, and despite my trepidation, was able to dismantle the toilet and do the demolition on only the section of the floor that was in dire need of repair. I took measure of what I needed to do the bracing and headed to Home Depot for the 2×4 and necessary hardware.

As I approached the cashier, lumber on my shoulder, cash in hand, purse-strap tangled in my hair, juggling screws, a jug of glue, a new toilet flange, and some of that black PVC piping stuff, a friend spotted me, stopped to say hello and asked if I was now getting into the carpentry business. No longer experiencing any of the peace I had felt the night before, I said no and explained the situation. Appalled, he asked for the address of the apartment and told me to head back over there and “stay put.”

“I’ve got three guys working on the house I’m renovating,” he said, “I’ll bring one of them over there to help you finish up this afternoon.”

Extremely relieved I thanked him and said I would look forward to seeing him whenever he was able to get there. I paid for my supplies and headed back to work. It seemed only 30 seconds later that my friend’s truck pulled up. He got out, as did a guy with a tool bag. My smile stretched from my heart to my fingertips when my friend introduced the guy:

“This is Jesus,” he said, “He’s going to help you finish that little project of yours.”

All right, in the interest of full disclosure he did pronounce the name “Hey-Soos” But that didn’t bother me at all. Jesus helped me – actually he totally took over – to finish the job. 

I am at peace again. I have no worries of anyone falling though that section of flooring. I am thankful for friends, for help, and for God’s perfect and miraculous timing. And, I have an awesome Jesus story. … Not to mention a new contact number if I ever need help again. Thank you Jesus!
Anonymous St. Dominic’s Parishioner

Why we skip the Alleluia during Lent

From the Choir Stall by Fr. Corwin Low, O.P.
allelulia blog post image


For the entire season of Lent the Church has banished the use of the word Alleluia from its public liturgies (e.g., Mass). Alleluia (Halleluja as spelt in older uses of English) is a Hebrew word that means, literally, “Praise to God.” This praise has a joyful overtone to it and we use it especially during happy celebrations. And while we do praise God all year round, during Lent we withhold a bit of our joy and happiness because of the season’s penitential and sorrowful character. After all, we are anticipating Jesus’ very passion and death.

Throughout the year, before the proclamation of the gospel we sing an Alleluia. We sing our joy because Jesus Christ gave us the gospels, the Word of God, containing his good news—our instruction manual for salvation. But during Lent, we dial-down that quality. And while we still praise God before the Gospel, we reserve the word Alleluia, the highest form of praise, for happier times.

Of course, Easter Sunday has arrived and it is indeed a happier time. Not only has Jesus’ passion and death passed, but he has also been resurrected. And it is through this resurrection that we can be assured of salvation, of everlasting life. So how do we express our joy? Not only do we bring the Alleluia back, we bring it back in triples. For the entire Easter octave (Easter lasts 8 full days from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday), at the end of Mass, we sing a very special, Alleluia—3 times.

In various Semitic languages doubling of a word draws attention to its meaning and amplifies it. This is why when Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, I say to you…”, the doubling of the word Amen, which means “let it be done” is not just a suggestion, it’s practically a commandment. So if you think that doubling a word increases its significance, can you image what tripling a word implies? So while the tripling of the Alleluia ends after the Easter octave, we still continue to use Alleluia a whole lot more than during other times of the year.

We tend to take the word Alleluia for granted. We hear it so often that it tends to lose its meaning. This is why the Church removes its use for the 40 days of Lent. By removing it, we miss it. And when we miss it, we tend to long for it. And we long for it, when it comes back we rejoice—bringing its significance back into full force. Listen for it! And rejoice.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

~Fr. Corwin



Walk for Life West Coast

By Marco Roman, PhD. Director of Catechesis & Evangelization at St. Dominic’s

Lidia and I had the great pleasure of participating in the 2015 West Coast Walk for Life along with approximately 50,000 other pro-life defenders, both Christian and secular. We began the day by attending the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordilione, the Archbishop of San Francisco at the Cathedral only a few blocks away from where the Walk for Life rally was held.  We walked from Civic center plaza down Market Street and concluded approximately two miles at the Embarcadero.  It was an awe-inspiring and sobering walk as we marched with countless young people from around the Bay Area and across our great country stretching from East coast to West.  walkforlifewc

 It is truly hopeful to be united with so many people who are willing to make a public testimony for the culture of life in the midst of a society which still seems to ignore, misrepresent and distort the truth regarding the horror of abortion and its wide-ranging effects. It’s sad to learn of the lasting effects abortions have on the women and men including struggle with sorrow, loss and deep regret for the decision they have made, many of whom shared their stories at the Walk for Life.

It is clear and undeniable that the civil rights issue of today is justice and equality for the most vulnerable; those who wait in their mother’s womb to be born into a world were the most basic law for any civil society is upheld and preserved for all: Do not kill. It is no wonder the lack of dignity of life is spreading its error and evil and is infecting and eroding other fundamental beliefs, particularly the truths regarding marriage, human sexuality and family life.  Every time I attend a weekday Mass at St. Dominic’s and see the many young and innocent faces of our children I become very emotional, knowing the prevailing secular culture they face is constantly attempting to indoctrinate them in an illusory and false gospel. We live in a time when courageous Catholicism is needed to take back virtue from vice and to build a culture of life and civilization of love built on the truths of God’s commandments. The promises of Jesus’ presence in the Church must be our constant hope and inspiration as we build the kingdom of God and a culture of compassion, without compromising the truth of the Gospel. 

For more information and pictures of this annual event, I encourage you to visit.
To hear Fr. Jerome’s Homily on this subject click here






An Epiphany

Poem Submitted by St. Dominic’s Parishioner, Ed Simonsen

 An Epiphany
My soul cries out in the deepest
darkest depths of despair and foreboding
Oh my God what is it all about and why
am I here and what should I be doing?
Relentlessly time ticks on as time
perpetually always will
unimaginable anxiety creeps over me, 
but my brave heart beats on still
when then, oh when will it cease so at 
last I shall come to my nest
But time with it’s own agenda races
on like some herculean Olympic test
A journey strewn with pitfalls, hypocrisy,
stress and strife
How then will I overcome these hazardous
obstacles in my life
Then suddenly between the dark clouds
a ray of sunshine breaks through
The sun in all its splendor makes an
appearance overdue
Then as bright as a lightening flash
I know what I was born to do and be
For in the echoes of my mid and the 
depths of my soul, Christ whispers
“Follow Me”Fresh Start Email Image
Ed Simonsen, Christmas 2014