Toby the Wonder Dog

November 5, 2017

This is the first parish I’ve been in where the pastor wrote a weekly update for his parishioners. I think it’s a great idea, since there isn’t always an opportunity to share what’s going on here in the parish or at our schools during or after Mass.

Since I became your pastor shortly before the start of a new school year, I have focused much of my attention on our two schools. During that time, we have hired a new principal, Mr. Patrick Daly, for the high school. Mr. Daly comes with vast experience and knowledge of Catholic high schools. He is working on tightening academic standards, strengthening Catholic identity, and actively recruiting new students.

We have also hired a new Athletic Director, Assistant Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, Director of Admissions and head maintenance man, plus a new teacher at the elementary school. Within days of the fires that severely damaged Cardinal Newman High School, our mighty Mustangs hosted a Mass with Bishop Vasa followed by a pasta feed fundraiser for over 700 guests. It was an enormous undertaking. We raised over $25,000, but far more importantly, we inspired a lot of community cooperation and goodwill, and reminded ourselves of the great residual strength there is in both of our parish schools.

I am also working closely with Ms. Katie Salmassian and Ms. DeAnn Sarlatte, the co-principals at the elementary school. I have visited all classes, and I’m happy to say that brought me back many years to my own days at the school. Somehow, it seemed that nearly every class I visited was studying math or arithmetic–long division, fractions, multiplication tables, etc. The second graders shouted out addition problems for me to work out in my head. I think I may have gotten them all correct.

We are dealing with deferred maintenance issues at the high school, and have already patched the convent roof in anticipation of a wet rainy season. Additionally, we will be re-roofing the convent in the near future. Almost miraculously, there appears to be little to no dry rot or termite damage in the 87-year-old attic, which is built of first quality redwood. Every day I thank Fr. Kiely, our pastor from 1915-1968, for the fine buildings he left for multiple generations.

Every time I enter our church building, I am struck by its beauty, which I believe reflects our community of believers. I am just becoming familiar with the many ministries and good works that originate here through the workings of the Holy Spirit, and the hands and hearts of so many of you.

Thanksgiving, Nov. 23: I want to announce changes in our Thanksgiving Day Mass schedule, by which I intend to encourage participation by all parishioners and school families. The “Early Bird” Mass at 8:00 a.m., for those who are cooking a bird at home or traveling out of town for the day; a “Family and School” Mass at 9:00 a.m. in English, for those who want a simple celebration with their families and have food items blessed to take home to their Thanksgiving tables; and a Mass at 11:00 a.m. in Spanish, for our parishioners who prefer a similar celebration, but in Spanish for the whole family.

On a personal note, I have joint custody of a Border Collie, Toby, who is living with another couple in Napa until he grows up a bit. During the recent fires, the couple was evacuated by the sheriff out of the fire zone at the last minute, but was not allowed to take Toby with them. After an anxious day and a half, I was delighted and relieved to know that Toby the Wonder Dog somehow escaped the flames and was found at a neighbor’s house. Lucky dog! Lucky me!

With blessings,
Fr. Bill Donahue