If you’ve been by the parish at all in the last months, you have noticed that all the construction going on next door has spilled into our parking lot. I thought I’d take a moment to update you on the history of the process and how things are progressing.
To increase the seminary’s endowment, the archbishop, the seminary board and the seminary administration decided to develop St. John’s lemon and avocado groves. They hired Shea Homes to manage the project. This decision affects the parish, as the development borders our campus on two sides.
In the early planning stages architects determined that the best road entrance to the new homes lay immediately west of our property. The city planners foresaw traffic problems if our old exit entered Upland Road right next to Arboleda, the new road. Either the plans for the development had to change, or our entrance needed to move. The archdiocese requested that we cooperate with Shea’s plans and reroute our western exit onto the new road, assisting the development, for the seminary’s sake.
Shea Homes agreed to reconfigure our front parking lot and replant our borders. In compensation for the inconvenience and the extended period of disorder, they also agreed to provide the curbing and paving for an extension to our parking lot in the back of our campus. You will remember our gravel overflow that we only used on holidays! It is currently being developed into an additional parking lot for us. The parish is financially responsible only for lighting and planting the back lot.
These developments will lead to some changes. Our eastern exit will remain the same. However, when we use our rerouted western exit, from our parking lot, we will make a left onto Arboleda using two lanes. We will then come to the new signal they have put in, giving us the opportunity to turn either right or left onto Upland. If you recall, the island in the middle of Upland formerly prevented anything but right hand turns from our old western exit. So this is a positive. This new configuration will also allow car access, for those travelling east on Upland. We will be able to use a left hand turn lane at Arboleda, off of Upland, with a left turn arrow. This should be a marked improvement for us. On the down side, we will lose 4 spaces in the front, but will gain around 70 spaces in the back.
I hope that in the fall, we can resurface the entire church parking with funds coming from the archdiocesan Called to Renew funds. This might be complicated by the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders affecting churches. The archdiocese has made a blanket request of all parishes that we delay all major capital expenses due to the decrease in parish incomes. We will have to see if those funds are still available to us in the months ahead.
Whenever the resurfacing happens, we will be able to add more handicapped spaces in close to the church, the parish offices and the Serra Center. We have needed to do this for some time. We already have the number of handicapped spaces required by the city, but the number is insufficient for the actual number of handicapped parishioners, who arrive early for Mass, only to find every handicapped space already occupied. Since handicapped spaces absorb three regular spaces to make two handicapped spaces, and since city codes require us to maintain a certain number of regular spaces, we had to wait until the construction of additional parking in the back of our property, behind the church.
At this time, both projects are in progress. I am uncertain when they will be completed. It should only be a matter of another month, maybe two. In a certain graced way, the vastly reduced numbers present for Mass, due to the pandemic, has made this less catastrophic a change than I first thought…though the pandemic is calamitous enough.
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1940 - 2020
Saturday, August 15
Serra Center Backyard
Dear Faith Family,
I want to thank you for all the support during these difficult times. As you may know, along with our Vigil and Sunday night liturgies, we have been celebrating both First Communion and Confirmation liturgies outside in the courtyard throughout the week. Although the process of planning these brought a lot of anxiety, we have learned that the reward outweighs the difficulties we had to endure.
Obviously, when it comes to Confirmation, we are used to one large liturgy with a bishop celebrating. These outdoor liturgies, although different, have been beautiful in their own special way. While celebrating with all the candidates and their families during the outdoor Mass, this Mass somehow has had a sense of intimacy that is so different than the traditional way we have done it in the past.
I had no idea how bright the glimpse of heaven would be when we started envisioning the outdoor Masses. It is indeed vibrant.
I just wanted to take an opportunity in this letter to thank all those involved in the Confirmation process. Our leaders have been so patient and adaptable during this confusing time. Zoom meetings are difficult, but our leaders pulled through! I am constantly amazed by the servant leadership that our leaders adopt and practice.
I want to thank all of the families for their patience during this process. It would’ve been so easy to lose faith in church programs while everything is up in the air, but it is because of your domestic church that we are able to celebrate these beautiful Sacraments. As you know, church programs are the secondary source of catechesis, the domestic church is the primary source. I am so grateful that you take your faith so seriously within your homes.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the Confirmation Candidates and the recently confirmed. Your patience has absolutely brought our program hope in these scary times. Not just hope that our program can withstand any disaster, but it gives us hope in the parish that our Church is in good hands. I know it’s cliché and you may have heard it many times, but you are not the future of the Church, but you are the Church. Without you, our Church wouldn’t be so vibrant and full of hope. I can honestly say that you are wonderful examples of the faith and that I look up to you all.
Dear Parish Family,
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us three parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. The wheat and the weeds, the mustard seed, and the yeast. He speaks in parables (stories) because not everyone is ready to hear the truth. Just like when we have something difficult to explain to a child, we choose our words and how much detail we share, especially if we feel it will be perceived as very sad or scary. Jesus spoke to us in the same way; not everyone is ready to hear the truth clearly. This gives us time to absorb and be able to understand what has been revealed to us.
All three parables use commonplace experiences to describe aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven. The parables give us a warning and much encouragement. Jesus’ explanation to the disciples cautions, any effort to judge the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven is premature. As the wheat and the weeds must grow together until the harvest, so we may not know whether our actions contribute to God’s Kingdom until God’s final judgment. With this word of caution in mind, we act always in prayer that our actions will be consistent with God’s plans. How often are we quick to judge others’ behavior and not see our own? To judge and uproot the “weeds” prematurely will harm the wheat; final judgment rests with God.
In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, we are consoled by the message that God can work wonders and produce abundance from even the smallest beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as a mustard seed — the smallest of all seeds — will become a large bush, so too God will bring His Kingdom to full bloom. As a small amount of yeast will leaven the entire batch of bread, so too God will bring about the expansion of his Kingdom.
This means that even the little things that we do can make a big difference in the lives of others. What are some of the little things that we can do in our family that help to make things better for others?
1934 - 2020
Friday, August 14
Serra Center Backyard
What exactly is a parable? In C.H. Dodd’s book, The Parables of the Kingdom, he defines a parable as “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
In today’s gospel the Parable of the Sower from Matthew would have been contemporary to a Jewish farming culture. Dry, rocky or thorny soil would have been understood as foolish for a favorable future harvest. This parable of the soil teaching by Jesus was offered to the inquiring or non-believing “large crowds because they do not see and hear and do not listen or understand” his prior teachings that the revelation of the Kingdom of God was at hand.
If we “tease” today’s parable into “active thought” we need to ask ourselves are we too part of the “large crowds” Jesus was speaking to who did not see or hear, listen or understand him? Or are we truly a disciple of Jesus encountering him and living his teachings in good soil of our own lives? Maybe we find ourselves at one moment being an inquirer in the “large crowd” and at another time an active disciple living in Jesus.
Contemporary times for us present different types of challenging “soil” to be tilled with good seed. Contemporary dry soil may be our growing and enveloping secular and materialism culture or the challenge of living a life filled with the rocky soil of anxiety, busyness, loneliness, and siren songs distracting us from balance, solitude and silence. Thorny soil abounds with challenging political and cultural divisions, civic unrest, collapse of families, injustices in education, health and economics, and least we forget a pandemic with many deaths and the social and economic effects of the lock down.
Like so many Americans, in the past few months, I've felt confused, fearful, sad, and outraged related to the recent black deaths, peaceful protest being met with police violence, and violent protests causing destruction in major cities across the United States. I've engaged in conversations with family members and friends about the anxieties that we are carrying. During one conversation, my niece stated, "It's different for you. You have Jesus!" To which I wanted to balk and ask, "What difference does that make?" Instead, I took a deep breath and let her continue talking.
At that time, I had no idea that the text for this Sunday included these words of Jesus: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
During the past few weeks, I've thought about the words my friend said to me, "It's different for you." I've asked myself what Jesus' words about our anxieties and burdens mean in the context of the world of coronavirus and civil unrest.
Today's gospel begins with Jesus praising His Father for revealing to little ones what remains hidden to the wise and the learned. He adds a declaration that the Father has delivered into His hands all power, authority, and judgment. He knows all our weaknesses and that sometimes the little strength we have can fail us. Therefore, He invites us to offload all our problems on Him and in return, He will give us His yoke, to learn from him, which is easy to bear and light. Jesus tells us that in Him, we will find rest.
Don't we all seek this deep-down sense of peace, of healing, of rest and refreshment? Why do we struggle along with so many things? We often do, though. We forget to pray. We forget to turn to Jesus and give Him our cares and concerns, our worries, our heartaches. We carry them like weights sometimes on our shoulders, disturbing the peace of our hearts. Jesus said, "learn from me", and this is excellent advice.
His life was founded in prayer. We, too, need to revive our prayer life. In a single moment, God can impact the grace we need to handle the things that cause us the most heartache if we only give him half a chance.