February included a trip to Houston, TX to attend the ordination as Bishop of a great friend and former student, Bishop Steven Lopes. He now serves as the first bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. And in March, I moved to Santa Rosa. I celebrate Mass at the Convent on Weekday mornings, teach at the High School during the day, and on weekends I hear confessions and celebrate Mass at the Parish. Also during the week, I teach an Adult Faith formation class and conduct a rehearsal for the Chant Schola.
March included Holy week and Easter and for the first time I presided in the Extraordinary Form for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In April, I was one of the speakers at the National Planned Parenthood protest in Concord, CA. In May, I was able to experience the full Pentecost Octave for the first time in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
In June, I took a vacation in my favorite place, Rome. There, I made a pilgrimage to the seven major and minor basilicas. I had friends to visit and places to experience, but I also had decisions to make. As more and more the Missionaries of the Precious Blood are known as the gay friendly congregation in California, and after living in a rectory for several years with members who believe in woman’s ordination and same-sex marriage and who question all the moral teachings of the church, it was time to go. I did not leave my community. My community left me. In July, I requested incardination in the Diocese of Santa Rosa. So far it has been a great decision because I am in in a place where my gifts and talents are appreciated. No one questions the Catholic Faith, but professes the faith with great gusto.
As a priest, the greatest compliment that could be paid you is to have someone invite you to vest them at their ordination, or to preach at their first mass or ordination anniversary. In May, I was honored to vest a new priest, Fr. John Carillo at his ordination, and in June, I was invited to be the homilist at the Silver Anniversary of Fr. Joseph Illo. In August,I was asked to celebrate the wedding of two friends from St. Edward. They are exiles as I am from what was once a great parish and are now part of the diaspora at St. Margaret Mary or other places. Felipe and Adriana’s wedding took place at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland, celebrated in the Ordinary Form, but the continuity was so evident people could wonder if it was Extraordinary Form.
In September I was in full swing as a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School participating in all the activities as I could. They even asked me to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a Football game.
In October, I celebrated twenty-five years as a priest, my Silver Jubilee. It had been my hope to celebrate it at St. Edward, but they made it pretty clear I was not welcome there. But it was a glorious celebration nevertheless. We celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Margaret Mary, and a Missa Cantata, in Latin, in the ordinary Form, at St. Eugene. Beautiful receptions were prepared at both places and a festive dinner was held as well. After the last Mass, several friends were feasted at St. Eugene. I cooked.
This November, I was able to celebrate with my family for the first time in two years, and December sees the end of the Semester, a few days off, and the celebration of the Mystery of Christmas.
So, there is this young woman in a far off place, not in the centers of power, certainly not in Rome. Insignificant, unknown; who knew her? She was not known by anybody outside her village, but this is where God visited. She recognized the words, “Do not be afraid” –this is what God had said to Abraham, to Joshua, to Daniel. She had heard the echo throughout the centuries: God was building a house. She did not realize it was going to be her. When we think of God building His own house, that God said to David, “I will build a house,” we are thinking of a huge temple even bigger than St. Peter’s; we are thinking of grandeur. But this is where God came –Mary. The king of Israel thought he knew better than God. We all have expectations. God will take the smallest place. The smallest crumb, the place in the universe that no one expects.