Pastor’s Desk – December 4, 2022

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Last time I wrote about the visit of Fr. Kiely’s great-grand nephew (Fr. Kiely was the pastor of St. Vincent’s from 1915-1968, and built our church.) I was very happy to meet him and to pass the news on to you. Our visitor, whose name is Dr. Paul Martin, contacted me to thank me after reading the previous Pastor’s Desk on our parish website. He indicated that it is very likely that he will be returning to the Bay Area at some point, and looks forward to the possibility of coming back to SV for another visit. I will keep you all posted. In the meantime, I will be sending him a copy of our beautifully bound and produced 150th anniversary history of the parish, in which Fr. Kiely figures so prominently.

Over the past several months, I have been asked to give tours of the church by individuals and groups. Fairly recently, the Rev. Kathryn Gulbranson, Pastor of Elim Lutheran Church and I exchanged tours of our respective churches. (It had been about 40 years since I had been inside Elim Lutheran.) We both learned a lot about each other’s church buildings and congregations. A number of SV parishioners make regular visits to Elim Lutheran as volunteers to the Interfaith Food Pantry. After the New Year, I will look into offering periodic tours of the church, as there are many parishioners and others who have never seen features of the church up close, or heard the history behind its construction.

One specific reason I wanted to return to Elim was to re-imagine the church as it would have been configured in our parish. Though Elim has made a few modifications over the years, it remains largely as it was a century ago, reflecting the similarity of our religious traditions. One exception was the removal of the image of the Crucifixion over the main altar before the church was moved.

We are all familiar with the image of the Crucifixion done in mosaic over our current main altar. Our former church had a similar image over the altar, but done in oil on canvas. That former image was the model for the current mosaic, and is still preserved and on display in our sacristy. It was, and is, the unifying image carried forth from the old church into the new. Just as the emperor Augustus claimed to have found Rome a city of brick, and left it a city of marble, Fr. Kiely found St. Vincent’s a church of wood and paint, and left it a church of mosaic and marble (not tomention earthquake-resistant reinforced concrete).

I also met Rev. Rob Herrmann, pastor of the First Methodist Church on D Street, next door to the Post Office. Though it is architecturally more modern than our church, it is only 15 years newer. After years of preparation and building, Pastor Herrmann told me that the first services were planned and happened to take place on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a date no one will forget.

Blessed Advent,

Fr. Bill Donahue>