I bid you all a very blessed and Merry Christmas! As I look back at the year gone by, I think that probably the most significant thing that happened to me this year was turning 65. That meant a lot of things. For instance, I now have a Medicare card! Also, I now receive a retirement check each month. That is the limit of my retirement. I still have three jobs and three bosses. If I ever want to get away, I have to make sure all three are in synch.
January 2018 saw me at the Walk for Life. I always enjoy going when 60,000 people take over the city of San Francisco and the local media does its best to ignore it. It is always a time to reconnect with friends from the South Bay that I only get to see once a year. In February, I was heavily into teaching. I generally teach two sessions of Sophomores: First, Church History in the Spring semester and then, Sacred Scripture in the Fall semester. This is my third year teaching at the high school level and I am enjoying it. Most of the students are not practicing Catholics, so it presents some challenges, but you never know what kinds of seeds are being planted. February also saw some growth in the practice of Solemn High Masses at the Cathedral. We had a beautiful Mass for the Feast of the Purification in early February and another one soon after for Sexagesima Sunday. For 2019, it looks as if we may be able to do this twice a month.
In March, it was the regular round of Holy Week services … and Holy Week, by the way, is getting more and more extraordinary! By this, I mean: The Mass for Holy Thursday is offered in the Extraordinary Form at the Convent; Good Friday is Extraordinary Form at the Cathedral; Holy Saturday is Ordinary Form at the Cathedral, and Easter Sunday is Extraordinary Form (also, at the Cathedral.). Life is an extraordinary journey! In April, I served as a Deacon (for the second time in my life) for the Extraordinary Form Mass, as Fr. Roa served as the Priest at his first Solemn High Mass.
Serving at the Convent is always a delight. In May, I learned about Rogation days as we celebrated that at the Convent, and at the end of the month, two Sisters made their first vows with Bishop Vasa presiding at the Cathedral.
June meant school was over, graduation was happening, grades were in and it was time for vacation! Vacation, of course, meant Rome, Umbria, Orvieto, Manoppello, and Lanciano. Rome meant a new Roman red vestment in Watered Silk from Gammarelli, and a new Chalice, purchased with Silver Jubilee gifts from the generous parishioners at St. Eugene.
The handmade silver chalice arrived in July and was blessed in a Solemn Sung Mass at the Convent, the Sisters presenting the chalice for blessing.
The main event in August was my birthday party - a fabulous BBQ at the Ruiz household in the hills above Santa Rosa. Many family members and friends were in attendance. It isn’t every day that 65 years lands upon us, so the day was a very special one. September saw another one of my special “Sunday Feasts”, this time it was offered as a prize for several parishioners who had won a silent auction held in the earlier part of the year. It was a five-course Italian feast served on Italian pottery. Not bad for an Irish kid from Hayward!
The Main event in October was being vested in a Dominican Habit, as I made a lifetime profession in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, a new venture recently begun in the Western Province. In November, I was elected Prior of the new chapter.
And, did I tell you that I have written a short book that I hope will be published by the Regina Foundation in the coming year? It is a chronicle of the last 27 years and my “Journey to the Extraordinary.”
At our Cathedral Parish, we seek to celebrate the ancient faith of the Church with reverence and grace. The celebration of Christmas calls us back to our origins. This birth is the beginning of a decisive new stage in the long history of God's hunger for human companions. It is this relationship that we live and renew in this moment of grace. This is my prayer, as you gather around your tables at home, that we all may experience again, the promise of His new and everlasting covenant. Amen … and God bless you all.