To Our Community

As of February 8, 2021, the Church re-opened with new guidelines. We are still closing the doors after each mass.

Please wear a mask and keep socially distant.

Mass times are as follows:

Daily Mass Monday through Saturday 8 am mass.

Weekend Mass:

Saturday, 5 pm English and 7:30 pm Spanish

Sunday, English–7:30 am, 9 am and 10:30 am, Spanish–Noon


February 26, 2021

Dear Fellow Parishioners–

Much has changed over the last few weeks. We have returned to our beautiful church and our regular Mass schedule, and the season of Lent has begun. There are many people who are not yet aware that we are back in the church building. Spread the word!

In the meantime, I would like to thank all of you who attended outdoor Mass at the high school over these past several month– especially those who did the work of transporting all of the books, vessels and equipment for Mass. While it has been an adventure, I’m more than grateful that we’re getting back to normal.  

For the past several months, the first part of the morning paper I looked for was the weather section, to study the forecast for the next weekend. Even for the dry winter this has been, we were very lucky that only one weekend of Masses (4th Sunday of Advent) was canceled because of weather. Scheduling (or re-scheduling) of individual sacramental celebrations– baptisms, weddings and funerals– has already begun. Last summer, every single time-slot available for weddings and quinceaneras was spoken for. Most of those dates were postponed because of COVID-19, and are now being re-set for this coming summer. Others have postponed their celebrations to 2022. This ripple effect will continue for another year or two.

There are a few other re-adjustments that are being made:

SV is one of the few churches that still uses votive candle racks for lighting a real votive candle in church. They are now uncovered and ready for use. Because of fire danger, only the metal-bottomed votive lights provided can be used. For reasons of fire safety, anything else will be removed.

The Book of Petitions (in which prayer intentions can be written) will not be returned quite yet. Since the book and pens are touched by many hands, it seem to be prudent to wait a bit longer. Our shared worship already joins our personal prayer intentions with those of the entire community, so that we may support one another in what we ask for in faith.

Ash Wednesday went very well. In order that ashes be given touchlessly, we used Q-Tips. They made a much more distinct cross than when imposed by the minister’s right thumb.

The form of the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter is still pending. When we have a better idea of what conditions will permit, an announcement will be made.    

On a lighter note, many years ago I asked a manager of a fast-food franchise whether there was an increase in sales of their fish sandwich during Lent, and he said that definitely there was. Apparently that hasn’t changed. This morning I read that Lent is still the biggest time of the year for sales of fish and shellfish. Because of COVID-19 and the freezing weather across the US and beyond, seaports are backed up with ships carrying fish and seafood destined for stores and restaurants. It was the first time in ages that I can remember the reporting of a current event in connection to Lent.  

After a record-cold Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the signs of spring are here in Petaluma: warmer temperatures, bright sunshine and blossoming trees. Let’s enjoy it.


Fr. Bill Donahue


February 12, 2021

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Every year, Ash Wednesday and Lent seem to appear out of nowhere. There is no warning, because Easter– the miraculous event for which the 40 days of Lent prepare us– falls on a different day each year.

As you know, Easter falls on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox. In other words, Easter is calculated by three simultaneous reckonings of time which are as old as the scriptures themselves: 1) the Sabbath of a seven-day week; 2) the lunar calendar; and 3) the solar calendar. In addition to being our preparation for Easter, the reason Ash Wednesday and Lent resonate so deeply within us is that they are connected to our deepest  consciousness: the cosmology of the universe, the underlying anthropology of creation and our awareness of our personal need for salvation.

Nothing reflects that deep consciousness more powerfully than the words spoken as ashes are imposed on our foreheads: “Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” or, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The first of these two phrases comes from the account in Genesis of the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:19). The alternate formula, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” is a quotation from the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:15)– especially appropriate this year because this is the Year of Mark in our 3-year cycle of Sunday Gospel readings. Either formula may be used.

The power of Ash Wednesday arises also from its universality. Every Catholic (plus members of many other churches) is equally called to bear this mark of repentance, from the Pope down to the smallest child. The ashes are the mark of the one Christian doctrine which has never required much independent proof or reinforcement: original sin and the fallen nature of human existence. The ashes are the mark of a struggling humanity which we then see in ourselves and others, made equally in the image and likeness of God.

It is unlikely that any of us will ever forget this Ash Wednesday. It coincides with one of the first times in many months that we have been able to return to our beautiful church. For Sundays and weekdays, we will be returning to our regular pre-COVID Mass schedule. One of the luxuries of having such a large church building is that we can comply with the COVID directives with little noticeable restriction on attendance. Apart from the continued requirement of masks and social distancing, we will be returning to nearly “normal” operations.

Recorded Masses will continue for those not yet returning to communal worship. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect. Lenten regulations for fasting and abstinence are available in the bulletin and on the parish website.  

Because of COVID, Ash Wednesday will be observed slightly differently this year. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation. There will be one Mass (with both ashes and Holy Communion) at 8:00 a.m. The remaining liturgies will be a simple reading of the Ash Wednesday Gospel in English and in Spanish, followed by distribution of ashes. Since offering both ashes and Holy Communion at a Mass would extend the length of the Mass and require the faithful to make at least two visits to the sanctuary, this plan will permit all those who wish to receive Communion and/or ashes to do so with a minimum of possible exposure to others. Except for the 8:00 a.m. Mass, ashes will be distributed in the vestibule of the Church which opens into the plaza (aka, the Piazza Lombardi). This will allow for social distancing and immediate departure after receiving ashes. The imposition of ashes will be contact-free and done with single-use applicators.

Please see the Ash Wednesday schedule in the bulletin as well as on our parish website.

Devotional materials continue to be available at the entry of the Rectory, including our annual Lenten devotional booklets, in English and Spanish, while supplies last. The devotional table has been so popular that it will continue until further notice.

I wish you all a blessed and fruitful Lenten season, and look forward to seeing you in our church in the days and weeks to come.    

With every blessing,

Fr. Bill Donahue

February 5, 2021

TODAY, I AM GRATEFUL…Here we are in 2021. The challenges of the past year are behind us. I am grateful for the blessings of 2020 despite the restrictions of the pandemic. My family is healthy and working, thanks to a generous God. I was able to tour the Holy Land in February before Covid shut everything down. Wonderful pilgrimage memories continue to comfort me.

My daughter’s house, barn, and orchard were spared during the fires around Healdsburg. When I feel stressed, I journey up 101 for a walk in Julie’s woodsy property. The fire scars are still apparent, but they remind us of God’s good graces.

A dear friend died at Thanksgiving after a painful bout with bone cancer. God didn’t make her suffer too long before He took her home. I am grateful for the St. Vincent Faith community with their caring support during her illness and the loving remembrances of her passing.

As I sit in my “prayer chair,” I can see the salvia waving in my front yard. Occasionally, shiny, green hummingbirds flit about sipping the nectar from the blossoms. God’s little helicopters encourage me in their beauty. My backyard azalea blossoms make me smile as I think of my late mother who planted them.

Let’s all pray for continuing rain; an end to the pandemic and a speedy rollout of the vaccine. I’m sure we’re all making plans to see family and friends once the restrictions are lifted.

Today I am grateful for the simple blessings in my life such as warm water on my hands and face.

God bless you.
Donna Piezzi

January 29, 2021

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

It’s hard to believe that Ash Wednesday and Lent are a little more than two weeks away. In the meantime, we have a stretch of Ordinary Time to focus on the Gospel of Mark and on the various feast days during this time. Notable among them are The Presentation of the Lord (Feb. 2), St. Paul Miki and the Japanese martyrs (Feb. 6), and Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11). Due to the ongoing pandemic, the last of those three feasts – which coincides with World Day of the Sick – will almost certainly inspire more attention and prayers.

One loving force that has helped countless millions endure COVID – related lock-downs and isolation from loved ones is their pets. They can be such wonderful companions that many people consider them members of the family, and even include them in family portraits. For those living alone, they bring life to an otherwise empty home. They are always glad to see us.

Without revealing anything confidential, one of the things that has delighted and amazed me over the years of hearing children’s confessions is how they love their family pets, and regard them almost as siblings, with personalities and feelings. These children experience genuine contrition if they do not treat or care for them as they should. Under appropriate circumstances, caring for a pet can be a good way to teach a child the responsibility of caring for another sentient being.

One of the hardest aspects of having a pet is that they do not live as long as humans do – that is, unless the family pet happens to be a tortoise or terrapin. The death of a pet can cause intense and searing grief, if only because our love for them is so uncomplicated, unambivalent, and fully reciprocated.

I doubt that there are many Catholic school elementary school teachers – especially sisters – who haven’t been asked by a child, “Do dogs/cats go to heaven?” The traditional teaching of the Church has been that they do not, since they do not have souls. But who knows?  How can we have such sadness of the passing of a being that has no soul? That comes from an age when there were far fewer pets than working animals from whom owners had greater emotional distance. The best fudging answer to a child that I’ve ever heard is, “If Heaven won’t be Heaven for you unless Rover is waiting for you, then yes, Rover is in Heaven.”

That’s roughly the same answer Pope St. Paul VI gave to a young boy mourning the death of his dog: “One day we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” Of course, that is not a dogma of the Church but a theological opinion, one intended to give comfort to a child. Not too long ago, Pope Francis voiced similar thoughts, again in order to comfort a child mourning the loss of a pet.

The only person with the authority to speak to this issue from personal experience is Jesus. At the very least, we are allowed to hope. And we can rejoice in their company and affection while they are with us.

With blessings,

Fr. Bill Donahue