Pastor's Desk

September 18, 2020


St. Vincent’s Outdoor Mass-will be held at St. Vincent’s High School at 849 Keokuk St. at 9 am in English and 10:30 in Spanish every Sunday until further notice and while weather permits.  This will be held at the High School back parking lot.  Bring your own folding chair and please stay 6′ apart and wear a mask.  We will continue to record mass and post on the website.

To Our Recipients of St. Vincent de Paul Society: Our volunteers will resume helping out in September 2020. To receive help, go to the church garage located on 6th Street. Please wear a mask. We will not be at the Parish Hall, but at the garage.


Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Now that we have celebrated our first two outdoor weekend Masses, our staff and schools have been working hard to adapt several other sacramental celebrations to the current COVID-related guidelines. This is great news for our parish and our families.

1.  Several First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies originally planned for Spring 2020 have now been re-scheduled to take place at St. Vincent de Paul High School. The first of these re-scheduled celebrations will take place on Saturday, September 26, and the others will follow until they have all been completed. If your child prepared to receive these sacraments, you will be hearing from your teacher or catechist regarding the particulars of your child’s First Communion or Confirmation.

2. Baptisms are now again being scheduled in English, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 2:00 p.m., as is the parish custom. Baptisms in English will normally take place in the church building, in groups no larger than permitted by current COVID-19 guidelines.

3. Baptisms are once again being scheduled in Spanish, for the first and third Saturdays of each month at 10:00 a.m., as is the parish custom.

4. Weddings are once again taking place in the Church, adapted to COVID-19 guidelines. Wedding preparation will be adapted to current circumstances. Please call the rectory office at (707) 762-4278 for details.

Many people have asked me why we do not have Mass in the church plaza by the fountain. It is a very good question, especially since the days are becoming more temperate. In addition to the traffic noise, it could be difficult to accommodate all those who might wish to attend. The biggest reason, in my experience, is the potential danger posed by a random bicyclist or skateboarder flying around the corners without regard to the safety of others.

Speaking of the fountain, you may have noticed that our beautiful plaza fountain has been deactivated and drained. Over the past several weeks, there has been a sharp increase of incidents of people pouring detergent into the fountain. (It’s probably a sign that COVID-19 has left some people with far too little to do…) While it may seem otherwise, this is not a harmless or inexpensive prank. The soap is a contaminant that must be cleaned up without allowing it to enter the storm drains. It also causes expensive repairs of the pumping equipment. In the meantime, I will be consulting with our maintenance team for a more pleasing, and permanent, solution.  Fountain maintenance was not something taught in the seminary!  

While official fire season will continue for many more weeks, the air is beginning to clear in Petaluma– at least for the time being. Great challenges remain, but bluer skies and milder temperatures are most welcome signs after so many hot and smoky days. The first day of fall is less than a week away, and fall is perhaps the most beautiful season of the year. While we continue to pray for our families, our parish and those in any need, let us also appreciate the beauty around us, and within each of us.


Fr. Bill Donahue    


by  Maria McCaffrey

The spring and summer of 2020 seem to have delivered a perfect storm with the combination of coronavirus, economic disparity, social unrest, political upheaval, police brutality, extreme heat waves, and now, the imposing threat of fires.  Our faith typically provides that spiritual fix needed

to prioritize, regroup, and remain positive, but recently it feels like the overwhelming reality of current events can crowd God out of our thoughts.  Fortunately, when the shelter-in-place restrictions were lifted, we had the opportunity to return to Mass for a couple of weeks.  It felt good to be back in a pew, and at least I can hang on to and reflect back upon that last homily I heard.  While referring to the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13, Father Pacheco made a simple yet powerful analogy about gardens, weeds, and our souls.
If I remember correctly, Father didn’t fully explain the parable; he simply touched on the idea that Jesus’ parable is a parallel to tending to our souls as if they are gardens.  In Matthew 13:7, Jesus says, “Some seed fell on thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”  Father said something about how our internal strife is like a vine of thorns that prevents us from growing in our faith, but if we continually address and eradicate that inner turmoil, we will have a healthier outlook and more space for God.  As the current news of the world continues to boggle me, I have spent more and more time out in the garden, a quiet place where I relax and regroup.  Sometimes I ponder Father’s analogy of the weeds, and I even added my own twist to his parallel. 
When I walk around my garden, I deadhead, pluck weeds, water, putz, pray, and marvel at the gift of flowers.  With the parable in mind, I wonder how I can tend to the garden within.  I not only think about how to weed the rough spots, but I also wonder what seed we could plant in our souls that might grow and overpower the never-ending issues that inhibit growth and goodness.  l find great joy in the success of certain plants, but I have given special consideration to one surprise plant this year because it has exhibited such health, beauty, and exponential growth that if we could somehow plant a facsimile of this seed in our inner gardens, it would do our souls a world of good. 
I didn’t expect much when I planted a sunflower sapling because my garden space is small and crowded, but it has grown into a surprisingly large sunflower “tree” that catches the eye of all those who come down our little court.  This sunflower has fallen “on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty, or thirty-fold” (Matthew 13:8).  Bees and butterflies flit around it, and birds actually land in it.  I can’t tell you how many Fed-Ex and UPS drivers have commented on it.  Comcast folks, AT&T folks, contractors working on the block, gardeners, passersby, the mail carrier, and fellow neighbors have all mentioned the joy that they get from seeing such a grand plant.  Last week my son-in-law said that he came around the corner and saw the plant with its many arms, which are loaded with flowers, welcoming him and all who see it.  I have weeded around it a bit, yet the plant has grown so large and so strong that it seems to have overpowered any weeds in the garden with its presence. 

Driving around town, I now see sunflowers everywhere.  Some single sunflowers seem to hang their heads as they carry the burden of bearing the seeds for next spring.  Some are covered with loads of bright yellow flowers while others have flowers with dark reddish petals.  There are some with skinny stalks and some with incredibly thick stalks.  There are those that look east in the morning and follow the sun toward the west in the evening.  The sunflowers are strong, bright, and hearty, and they seem to resist the threat of weeds as they grow taller and grander.  It’s no wonder that sunflowers are a symbol of happiness and optimism as they bring a sense of cheer to those of us who need a reason to smile.  When I see sunflowers, they now remind me of the parable of the weeds.  They remind me to not only tend to those internal thorns to make more room for God, but also to plant seeds of wisdom, hope, and grace that will grow with the same strength, heartiness, and joy. 
It has been an incredibly challenging year for the world.  The coronavirus has changed our lives as have the uncertainty of economics, the political divide, the social unrest, and the threat of fires.  I miss my spiritual fix of attending Mass, but for now, I will continue to revisit the parable of the weeds and Fr. Pacheco’s analogy as I tend to both the garden outside and the problem spots in my soul.  If the news regarding the elements of the perfect storm of 2020 begins to crowd out God, let us notice the sunflowers all over town – and let them be a reminder of the necessity to position ourselves to receive the Son’s warmth.  Let them remind us to weed our problem spots to make room for planting something exciting.  If we take control of the weeds that prevent us from growing closer to God, possibly we could develop that sense of inspiration that a simple sunflower has with its open-arms and positive joy.  Let us read and pay attention to the parables about seeds.  Let us be gardeners who make room for planting sunflowers in our souls.


Father Mychal Judge. an Authentic American Hero.  Fr. Mychal was the first casualty of 9/11.  He was a chaplain for the NY Fire Dept.

“Lord, take me where you want me to go,
Let me meet who you want me to meet,
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way”
Amen (so be it)

–Father Mychal Judge


COPING WITH COVID by Alice Forsythe

Times are tough.  Our lives have been turned upside down.  We are feeling restricted, alone, frustrated.  Some of us feel we’re locked up in this lock down.  We’re unable to share in our usual activities that keep us in touch with family, friends, co-workers,and keep us going.
If we’re cooped up with others, we may feel like there’s no “me time.”  If we’re alone, we may feel isolated, lonely,  cut off from the life we’re used to.  Some only feel safe at home.  No one comes in or goes out.  Our homes become sanitized safety havens.

Uncertainty adds to our frustration.  We don’t know how long these temporary restrictions will be in place, leaving us with a future with no discernible structure; no comfort there.  How long can we tolerate this limited existence?

This is where your Faith steps in.  With Him, you are never alone.  You may have much more time now to get in touch with God.  He is locked down with you, but He always brings peace with Him.  Use some of your available time to do the Scripture reading you always said you’d do one day.  Make Jesus your constant companion and you won’t feel alone.  Make your days into one long sacrifice of prayer.  Offer up everything you’re doing to keep your family and others safe.  Your burden will be lighter.

Take it one day at a time, and be thankful for all the beauty you find in it.  Leave the future to our Father who is watching over us.  He always sneaks in the bright side of things for us to find if we keep looking UP.  Keep looking!


The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will commence in altered form on Thursdays, 10 am to 11 am led by Fr. Andrew Pacheco at the steps of the church, starting with the Rosary, and ending with the Benediction.

Confessions will be heard by Father Andrew Pacheco on Saturday 3:30 pm to 4:00 pm on the grounds of St. Vincent’s Church at the Veteran’s Memorial Bench located next to the church garage on 6th Street. Please be sure to wear a mask.

Rectory Porch Ministry Table — Please check out the table on the front porch of the rectory for prayer books, medals, and rosaries. If you want to donate books or religious items, please leave in a bag on the bench and we will add them to the display.

About our Parish and our Website

Our parish mission statement identifies St. Vincent’s as a Eucharist centered people who, as the Body of Christ, live our faith in word and deed by sharing our time, talent, and treasure to support one another and serve those in need.

This website is intended not only to provide you with the information you need about our parish but also to help us build up our life as a community and so help us in our mission. It provides a way for us to connect with each other; and we invite you to use it to share stories, to learn about what’s happening and what’s coming up, and to provide information you think we all need to hear. This site will evolve as our parish evolves; it belongs to all of us. I hope you find it helpful.

“All are Welcome in this Place.”

This hymn speaks to the atmosphere, design, and heart of St. Vincent’s parish: there is a place here for everyone.  In fact, you are not only welcomed, but needed!  As we explore and expand our ideas of just what a Church community is, we recognize first that pivotal life events occur in church: weddings, baptisms, First Communion, Confirmation; but, we also find that we need community in order to be a Spirit filled Church where we praise God, share our faith, and help one another by way of fellowship, and the numerous ministries available to all parishioners. Through our stewardship, the gift of our time and talent, there is a wonderful opportunity to give and receive, to make friends, to help friends, to see how our talents are a gift from God made for sharing.  We are bonded to a group of people with whom we already have at least one thing in common, and that is our faith.  It is our hope that you will use this community website to build bridges and connect with one another, and see that each of us, too, is a gift from God meant to be shared.