Pastor’s Desk ~ June 23, 2024

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Now that we are nearly at the midpoint of the calendar year, I would like to do a “lightning round” of completed projects and coming events, in no particular order of importance.

Restoration of the church façade: thanks to your support of the Maintenance Fund, the restoration of the front facade of the church is now complete. The colors had begun to dim, and there were calcium deposits from moisture seepage which would have continued to spread if not corrected. The next time you are outside the main entrance, take a look up, and see the beautiful work done by local artist Ruby Newman. In recent years, she has been limiting her artwork to that which she can complete in her studio. Because of her love for the architecture and artistry of our church, we were the last client for whom she would do on-site work, scaffolding and all. When you visit our Stations of the Cross, it is her artistry that brings them to life.

Some long-time parishioners will remember that it was Fr. James Kiely (1871-1968) who built the church in 1926-27. A few days ago, I received an email from his grand-nephew, Dr. Paul Martin, M.D.; (he bears a strong resemblance to his great-uncle). We will be meeting for lunch before this Pastor’s Desk hits the press. I will report back in this space about our time together.

St. Vincent de Paul High School: as of May 31, 2024, our parish school of 106 years, St. Vincent de Paul High School, has closed, and re-opened as “St. Vincent College Preparatory” (SVCP), an independent Catholic school with limited ties to the Diocese of Santa Rosa for the maintenance of academic and religious instructional standards. SVHS was one of the very few remaining parish high schools left in the country. I, the diocesan financial officer, and the Chair of the Board of SVCP, Inc., executed a long-term lease of the school facility to the new school board. If this long-term lease continues to term, I will by then be gazing upon the campus from the opposite side of Magnolia Avenue.

As an alumnus myself, I’ve had feelings of ambivalence and even a bit of sadness at altering a parish-school arrangement which has served for 106 years. My own requirements for keeping SVHS as a parish school were a) that it be a spiritual ministry of the parish, b) that it be financially viable and self-sustaining, and c) that its service to SV parishioners justify the continued burden of sponsorship and affiliation. On reflection, the greater wisdom was to know the right time and manner of yielding what it is no longer possible to keep. In my view, the far wiser course is to concentrate our efforts on our elementary school, which now comprises 10 grade levels.

During these past years, while I served as the fiduciary of the parish and two schools, my responsibility for the parish above all has guided my approach and decisions. From time to time, articles of varying accuracy and completeness will appear in the media, regarding both the school and particular individuals, including me. (Social media is a hundred-armed creature to which it is nearly impossible to respond effectively.) While other issues remain to be addressed, I’m confident we’re on the right path.

And now, on to summer!

Blessings, Fr. Bill Donahue

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