I arrived in Antioch, CA 100 days ago and immediately jumped into my new life as part of the Pastoral Team at Holy Rosary Parish. Never having worked as a priest in a traditional parish, there has been a learning curve. This is a very diverse parish community with myriads of groups, ministries, and activities. I have visited Holy Rosary in various contexts in the past, but. Of course, have never ministered here before. And I must say that I am really enjoying it.
Of course, the relocation means that I am adjusting to living in a new Dominican Community too. I have lived in community with Father David before as he was my first Student Master at St. Alberts when I was in formation. Fr. Edward was one of my favorite teachers when I was studying theology. And Fr. Roberto and Fr. Edward and I worked together closely in Province administration when Fr. Roberto was Provincial. So, of our present community, only Fr. Vicente was an unknown to me, and I have admired him from afar for as long as I have been in the Order. In fact, all four of the other friars in my community are men for whom I have had a great deal of respect and affection and I am enjoying living with them.
I am still getting to know parishioners. It is such a large parish that every day I meet more and more people. I have a feeling that this will be going on for a long time. The parish community has received me warmly and enthusiastically and have made me feel very much at home from day one.
In the last month, I have experience four big events that have helped me have a deeper understanding if the parish I have come to be a part of. The first was Fr. Vicente’s 60th anniversary celebration. The remarkable love expressed for him, and the amazing hard work that went into that celebration was mind-blowing. I was sort of on the sidelines looking in as parishioners took on the daunting tasks of planning and executing a perfect combination of worship and celebration for that occasion. Fr. Vicente was honored and the parish had a wonderful celebration of community.
Next was the Harvest Fair. I have never been a part of a parish that had anything remotely similar to our Harvest Fair. The scale of the event and sheer scope of the HUMAN resources involved is quite inspiring. I met so many people who grew up in the parish or the school who return year after year to enjoy this unique fair. I was blessed to see so many people working so hard in service of the parish community. It is part homecoming, part international potluck, part entertainment, and ALL great fun. Like with Fr. Vicente’s celebration, I feel that I got to see the entire parish put their best foot forward (and “best food forward”!).
2 weeks ago, I attended the “White party,” a fundraising dinner put on by the School Board. It was a fun evening of great food and music, and fun. I met many parents and others who are committed to excellence in our parish school. I have never worked in a parish with a school before so I am learning a whole new dynamic that exists between a parish and school. And Holy Rosary is a great place to experience that.
Finally, last weekend, I took part in the Parish Evangelization Retreat. I have been a part of dozens of retreats over the years. Retreats have been a hallmark of my ministry and I think they are an important medium for community development, evangelization, catechesis, and conversion. The retreat that happens here twice each year is very impressive. Again, the coordination of the various aspects of the retreat by very competent lay leadership is really great. I loved working with the team, getting to know many more parishioners, hearing their stories and praying and sharing with them all weekend.
I have known of Holy Rosary from afar for my entire Dominican life. It is a wonderful parish with a truly remarkable and diverse community of parishioners. It is amazing to watch (and become involved with) the groups which make up the parish: Hispanic (keep in mind that this is not a homogeneous group of “Mexicans.” They are from all over the Hispanic world!), Filipinos, Africans, and the “Anglo” community (every bit as heterogeneous as the Hispanic Community). Because of the Parish school and because we are in a Bay Area suburb, there are lots of families and the campus always seems to be crawling with little ones. That is a new experience for me as a priest and, again, I am enjoying it. The parishioners have received me beautifully and constantly let me know how happy they are that I am here and that they appreciate my “energy” and “humor.” I am still learning, but a happy to have found a new home in Antioch. I look forward to the adventures that lay ahead.
GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM THE HARVEST FAIR (Click to enlarge)
Anyone who knows me, knows my love for all things movies. I was bitten by that particular bug early in life because my parents liked movies and sometimes took my brothers and me to the movies. But the very first time I went to the movies without my parents (I went with my brother and some other kids in our neighborhood.) was to see a DOUBLE FEATURE (remember those?) on the 2 Disney films: The Jungle Book, and The Love Bug. I was 6 or 7. The double feature cost us 75 cents and the popcorn and Coke another 75 cents. And with that inexpensive entry drug, an addict was born. Dean Jones played Jim, Herbie's driver in The Love Bug. And just at a moment when I was beginning to grasp the difference between characters and the actors who played them on television and the movies, Dean Jones became my favorite! He showed up a lot in on television, most notably on the movies that Disney brought into our living room on Sunday night's The Wonderful World of Disney and The Wonderful World of Color. Dean Jones did a lot of acting (IMDB has 88 acting credits for him) but all my life I could never see him without thinking of the whacky antics of the willful Volkswagen that kept Jones so befuddled in that wonderfully funny and innocent film from my childhood. Whether his costar was That Darn Cat, That Ugly Dachshund, The Million Dollar Duck, or The Shaggy D.A., or he was trying to make a a bunch of Monkeys, Go Home, he had amazing comic timing and facial expressions and was always, always funny. R.I.P., Mr. Jones and thanks for the childhood laughter!
I have been in Antioch for a month and am slowly settling in and becoming accustomed to the demands of parish ministry in a busy suburban parish. This weekend, we celebrated the Feast of Saint Dominic at all the Saturday and Sunday Masses. The Dominican Laity hosted a "novena" (in quotes because it was only 6 days) all last week, with a Rosary, a talk, and a Mass of St. Dominic, and refreshments each evening. This all culminated with the multi-cultural celebration at the Saturday Evening Mass. I celebrated and preached that Mass in English and Spanis.
I learned a little bit of a lesson on Saturday. When I have preach bi-lingually, I need to shorten the homily (cut it in half) - preaching it word for word in both languages meant that the homily that was 15 minutes long at ll the other Masses this weekend was a half hour long on Saturday night. Too much. This bi-lingual preaching thing is new for me. I am still learning.
I had a wonderful surprise at the Saturday Evening Mass. As I reached the presider's chair after the procession, I caught sight of Evan and Ashley Richards, beloved friends from Tucson whose wedding I celebrated 7 years ago, in the congregation. They both work for Facebook and live in Santa Clara. They had driven up for the evening to surprise me. And Surprised I was. After Mass I was able to go with them to dinner (at the Red Caboose!) and spend a couple of hours catching up.
Preaching 7 Masses in 2 languages is exhausting. But it was a wonderful weekend. I am excited for the coming weeks as school gets started at our parish school and things begin to return to "school year normal" in parish life and programming. It has been great to have these weeks of reduced summer programming to get settled in. I have had great times with Fr. Roberto (pastor, superior and friend) sharing ideas and getting energized for the coming year. I feel really blessed to be here!
Monday (day off) was kind of a lazy day. I slept in a little and kinda lazed around in the morning because I pretty tired from the weekend. I edited and posted the text and audio files of my weekend homily (over on the "Joy of the Gospel" blog page) and did some more sorting and cataloguing of my huge cache of sabbatical photos. In the evening, I went to see Meryl Streeps new moving "Ricki and the Flash," which I enjoyed.
The Joyful Friar
These are the everyday musings and reflections from the life of Father Bart Hutcherson, OP, a Catholic Priest and Dominican Friar from the Western United States. I toyed with the idea of using the title "Ordinary Time" for this blog, but was afraid that people might be looking for deep liturgical reflections under that title. Nothing so sublime here - just the day-to-day. My friend, Carrie Rehak, suggested the title "The Everyday Mysteries." I love it. it captures my understanding of the everyday. God makes himself known in the everyday. I hope he reveals himself in some of these reflections too.