Br. Gregory Travel Journal from Taiwan

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

Fr. Jerome on Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of the 2015 Lenten season.  The diocese sent out an email reminding the faithful of the Lenten practices that assist us in our spiritually during Lent so as to worthily prepare for our Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.  Here is what the email stated:

Lent prepares the faithful to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for reflection and spiritual renewal, a time to examine one’s relationships with God and with others. The Church also calls Catholics to a spirit of penance, above all to practice the “Acts of Religion”: fasting, prayer and almsgiving, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.1969 and 1434).

I. FAST AND ABSTINENCE (self-denial)   

To foster the spirit of penance and of reparation for sin, to encourage self-denial, and to guide us in the footsteps of Jesus, Church law requires the observance of fast and abstinence (CCC, nos. 1249-1253).Lent_SElfDenial

1. Abstinence: All persons who have already celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.

2. Fasting: Everyone, from the celebration of their 18th birthday to their 59th birthday, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Voluntary fasting on other weekdays of Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, is highly recommended. Fasting is generally understood to mean eating one full meal each day. Two other partial meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Other forms of “fasting,” especially regarding alcoholic drinks, needless television, video games, the internet and social entertainment, is of true spiritual value and is strongly encouraged. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, neither the law of fasting nor the law of abstinence obliges. If in doubt, one’s parish priest or confessor may be consulted. Airport workers, travelers, and others while on board ships or airplanes are dispensed from the laws of fast and abstinence for the duration of their journey (except on Good Friday). It is desirable that they perform some other pious act instead.


In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged to read and pray over sacred Scripture; to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church; to participate in devotions offered by the parish; and to pray more fervently — individually, as families, and in common with others. The faithful are exhorted to pray the rosary, to make private visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and to pray especially for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, for world peace, and for an ongoing implementation of the pastoral initiatives of the Third Diocesan Synod.

1. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: Lent_RepentenceLent is a privileged time for celebrating this sacrament. Parishes generally make readily available the Sacrament of Penance, including its communal celebration. (In this way, the social and ecclesial aspects of sin and reconciliation, as well as one’s personal reconciliation with God may be underscored.) At communal celebrations of reconciliation, however, general absolution is not permitted. People should attend also to reconciliation in every aspect of human life — personal, familial, societal, and ecclesial. During the Lenten and Easter time, Catholics are reminded that they are obliged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.

2. Lenten Mass Schedule: Daily Masses during Lent are so scheduled so as to facilitate the attendance and spiritual growth of the faithful. The faithful are urged to attend Mass on weekdays as often as possible.

3. The Stations of the Cross are celebrated publicly in each parish on Fridays during the Lenten season. Parishioners are urged to participate.

4. Day of penance and prayer, Wednesday, March 11: “A day of penance for negative attitudes and discrimination toward people of differing cultures, ethnicity and race; and prayer for unity in our diversity, for equality, mutual respect and peace among all peoples – the second Wednesday in March…” (Diocesan Statute no. 123, §3c.)

5. Easter Duty: All Catholics who have been initiated into the Holy Eucharist are bound to receive Holy Communion worthily at least once during the Easter Season: Easter Sunday, April 5 through Pentecost, May 24. (In the United States, the Easter duty may be fulfilled through Trinity Sunday, May 31) Catholics are encouraged to receive Communion as often as possible, not only during Eastertide, but throughout the liturgical year. However, “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.” (CCC, no. 1385)

III. ALMSGIVINGLent_Almsgiving

The act of giving to the poor, in the most ancient tradition of the Church, is an expression of penance, a form of piety, a witness of fraternal charity and an expression of Lenten conversion. Therefore, all Catholics are urged to support generously the charitable works of the Church, including ordinary the poor and the vulnerable through Catholic Charities, education of seminarians and children in Catholic schools, and local parish social service ministries. People are also encouraged to assist the sick, the aged, the needy and the imprisoned in other ways. Fasting and abstinence together with works of charity help Catholics live in solidarity with the crucified Christ reflected in the image of our brothers and sisters who suffer.

God bless you,
Fr. Jerome Cudden, O.P. 

New Dominican Novitiates

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God has blessed us with seven novices for this year’s novitiate.  The novitiate is the first year of our Dominican formation, which occurs at the other St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco.  In an effort to support our vocations, I ask everyone to write a letter or send a card to our soon to be new brothers.  They will be arriving on August 12th and it would be great if hundreds of cards were waiting for them when they arrive. The address to send the letters or cards is St. Dominic’s Church, 2390 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.  Here are the names and a little bit of information about our new brothers.

David Chiavetta, 23, is from Fort Collins, CO. He recently graduated from The Colorado School of Mines.

Richard Berquist, 25, is from Ojai, CA. He recently completed an MA in philosophy at CUA.

John Bausch, 31, is from Southern California and works as a CPA.

Josh Gatus, 29, is from Las Vegas, NV.  Josh is a graduate of Santo Thomas University.

Matt Heynen, 23, is from Sacramento area.  He is a graduate from St. Mary’s College this past May.

David Lach, 24, is from Vancouver, WA.  He is a convert and graduate of University of Oregon.

Aaron Selinger, 23, is from Vancouver, BC.  He spent the past two years studying philosophy at  Dominican University College in Ottawa.

Please pray that God will continue to send us more vocations. For no other reason than I would like to be able to retire one day. 🙂
For more info on the Dominican Vocations click here.


God Bless,  Fr. Jerome










Pastor’s Corner- June

Since my arrival at St. Dominic’s Church, just under a year ago, the one person I could turn to when I had a question or needed a second opinion has been Fr. John Marie.  I could not have asked for a better associate to assist me in transitioning into the St. Dominic community and being your pastor.  While Fr. John Marie will be greatly missed, I know the Lord has wonderful plans to use him for the greater glory of the Kingdom of God. 

 You may notice another very tall Dominican walking around St. Dominic’s over the next five weeks.  Fr. Raphael Mary Salzillo is a PhD candidate in philosophy studying at Notre Dame.  He will be enjoying a little down time and exercising his ministerial priesthood.  Be sure to ask him questions like, “If God can do anything, then can God make a square circle?” and see him try to dance his way out of it.  However, I must warn you, being a philosopher you may get a four-hour answer.

 Last week Fr. John Marie and I celebrated the graduation Mass for our 8th graders.  I have renewed hope in the future of our Church and nation knowing that one day these young men and women will be in charge.  Please keep them in your prayers as they transition to high school.  

 On Monday I was cast to play Moses at our Wilderness Escape Vacation Bible Camp!  I am very excited because I get to part the red sea.  Picture, I am sure very embarrassing, to come.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Jerome


Back Story on the Little House on J Street

As Fr. Jerome mentioned in his Pastor’s Corner, St. Dominic’s has purchased the house on J Street between the “big “ school and the Preschool. Years ago the owner, Clarence

Salvador befriended and made a promise to Deacon Ed that when his family was ready to sell the home, they would offer first opportunity for the church to purchase it. Clarence and his grandchildren made good on that promise. To honor this sweet man we’d like to share the story of this home.

Clarence purchased and moved to the current house that is 434 East J Street in Benicia in December 1942 with his wife, Virginia and 3 month old son Vance.  His mother, Rose, and sisters, Luzil and Alyce, followed soon after.  The little family grew to include another son, Michael and daughter Luzil.  The Salvador’s were a part of the St. Dominic’s Parish and became close with a variety of priests, nuns, teachers and administrators throughout the years.  In fact, Brother Luke

planted the roses, that can be seen along the school yard fence, just for Rose Salvador.  From time to time

Clarence would offer to drive the nuns, who taught at St. Dominic’s, to their summer retreats.  The picture above is when they were leaving St. Dominic’s to visit a parish in San Luis Obispo. 

House on J Street


Clarence worked at the Benicia Arsenal until it’s  final closure. In his retirement he could often be seen sitting in a folding chair in the front yard, sitting strategically to catch the bay breeze that swings around the front of the house.  He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and he passed on a great love for the outdoors to his family.  At the time of his passing in December 2008, Clarence had 10 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 1 great, great grandchild. His life and legacy will not be forgotten in our town nor at St. Dominic’s. Please offer a prayer for

Clarence, Virginia, and the Salvador family for their special place in our history.


RCIA Recognition

RCIA Ministry Recognizes Sally Kinane!

A Special Thank you to Sally Kinane!

After 7 years of being St. Dominic’s RCIA Program Leader, Sally Kinane is passing the torch to a new leader Shannon Carter. Sally has made the difference in the lives of over 200 converts to the Catholic Faith and no doubt their families as well. We asked Sally to reflect on her role and time spent dedicated to this ministry.

Here is her story in her own words:



I was with the RCIA program at St. Doms since 2001 and was a coordinator since 2007. I thanked God all during those years for giving me the privilege of working with people who want to enter the Catholic Church. To try and help people realize God’s love for them and to help them love Him is awesome. Then to watch how God works in their lives as everyone’s life is changed after going through the program. But I tell e
eryone that I am just the dog that helps the Shepherd bring people to God. And to tell you the truth, God has really helped me run the program. People would cross my path and give me ideas of how the program might be improved, one of those ideas came to me when I was on a trip to Bolivia. God would put an idea in my head that I wasn’t even thinking about and would sometimes reinforce that idea with something concrete like an article that I happened to read soon after. I think that is what I will miss the most, but I know God will still work in my life other ways.

031I want to thank all the priests, team, and parishioners who have worked in the program with me. I especially want to thank the parish for your support and especially your welcoming of these new people who have entered the church. I don’t think you realize what you all mean to them.

Many tell us that when they went to St. Dominic’s for the first time, they felt at home and most of that is because of all of you. As for what I am going to do (not that I am “retired”), I will still be here at the parish but I have been taking care of my granddaughter in Campbell after school a couple of days a week and will continue that. And I think God is nudging me to try something different, will have to wait and see. RCIA is in great hands with Shannon Carter, a convert to the faith herself. God will continue to guide her now and this program that is so vital to our Parish.



Making Holy Week Holy with Tenebrae

Making Holy Week Holy with Tenebrae

What is Tenebrae?

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week.  With Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem, a series of historical transforming events is put in motion; events which lead from the Upper Room of the Last Supper to the hill of Golgotha where Jesus is Crucified.  In order to enter more fully into the sacred mysteries of this Holy Week, our Catholic prayers give us many traditions to help us.  One such tradition is Tenebrae.   Tenebrae is the name given to the prayers of the Church (Divine Office) during Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday as they were observed prior to the reform of Holy Week by Pope Pius XII in 1955.  Dominicans have continued to pray Tenebrae each year as a particular tradition of our Order.  From the Latin word for “darkness,”

Tenebrae is prayed during the morning hours of shadow in order to reflect the darkness of this sacred and sober time.  With the only light in the Church coming from a large candelabra (called a hearse), the gloom of our surrounding unites our prayers to the suffering Christ, and all those experiencing the darkness of life.

How Do we Pray Tenebrae?tenebrae-candlestick

Since its inception in the 7th century, Tenebrae has taken many forms.  In the contemporary rite, this Office contains five Psalms and one Canticle.   In keeping with the darkness of the surroundings, these six prayers are penitential in tone.  After each psalm or canticle, a set of candles is extinguished, representing the fleeing of the Apostles, until there is only one lit candle left, the “Christ candle.”  During the Benedictus on Saturday, the Christ candle is taken away signifying the burial of Jesus.

The psalms are separated by three lessons taken from the Book of Lamentations, a collection of poems which grieve over the Babylonian destruction in 587 B.C. of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people of Israel.  By describing the horrible situation which they now endure, the poems exhort the Israelites to mourn for having turned away from God to worship foreign, pagan Gods.  The great “Prayer of Jeremiah”, which ends Tenebrae on Saturday, is a plea to God to remember His covenant and rescue His chosen people, despite their waywardness.

The chanting of these Lamentations is powerful. The mournful, if haunting tone connects us with those moments in our own lives when we have fallen.  The final line of each Lamentation rings out with soulful purpose: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God.”

When Do Pray Tenebrae?

Tenebrae begins at 8:15am Thursday through Saturday of this week.  You are invited to come and immerse yourself in the mysteries of Holy Week.  As we pray Tenebrae, we make these psalms and lamentations our own.  We seek pardon for our own sins, as well as the whole world.  We reflect on any of the ways in which we as human beings have turned away from being the image and likeness of God.  We unite ourselves and our suffering with the suffering of Christ and those in physical, emotional and spiritual need.  We turn again to God as the source of our life, our sweetness and our hope.

Join the Rosary Confraternity

Enliven your prayer life

As an effort to help you deepen your Lenten journey, we are passing along an invitation from Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, OP and Parochial Vicar at St. Dominic’s in San Francisco.

“Lent offers us many opportunities to enliven our prayer lives.  This Lent, join the Rosary Confraternity.  Women and Men, for over 500 years, have devoted themselves to pray the rosary three times a week, contemplating the Passion of Jesus Christ.  You join the mission of the Dominican Order and receive spiritual benefits by your membership”

You can read the obligations, benefits, indulgences, and Fifteen Promises of the Blessed Virgin to Christians who faithfully pray the Rosary online. There is also a Rosary Confraternity Prayer.

Fr Jerome’s Book Reviews

As you’ve all figured out, I love to read. While these two recent books were not in our St. Dominic’s book club, I wanted to pass along the recommendations anyway.  Perhaps you have a long commute and listen to audiobooks in the car, you enjoy a great read on the weekend, or maybe have an avid reader in your life you’d like to surprise with a new recommendation.

I reRace with the Devil: My journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Loverecently finished two books whose author’s converted to Catholicism or Christianity.  The first was entitled “Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love” by Joseph Pearce.  Joseph grew up in nominal Anglican who became an international leader in the white supremacist movement.  When he started to read authors such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis he started to rethink his positions about God and religion.  Two prison terms also gave him ample time to contemplate what he was doing with his life. Then through a series of “coincidences” he found himself in the Catholic Church.

The second book is entitled “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim EncouSeekingAllahFinding Jesusnters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi.  Nabeel was raised in a very devout Muslim family and befriended an evangelical Christian in college.  Throughout college these two friends charitably challenged each other’s religious belief.  Nabeel came to believe that Christianity’s claim of Jesus Christ’s divinity, Crucifixion, and salvific death for the forgiveness of our sins were more historical and plausible than Islam’s claim of the reliability of the Koran and the moral character of Muhammad.  [The next step for Nabeel is the challenge the founding tenets of the Protestant reformation.  J]

Both books are fascinating reads of the conversion of two of the least likely people to become Catholic or Christian. I hope you find them as fascinating as I. God Bless.