1965 - 2022
As has been our tradition for years, decorating for Christmas in our house begins just after Thanksgiving. After taking down and packing the Fall and Thanksgiving decorations, we move some furniture around to make room for the Christmas tree. The rest of the day is spent putting up and decorating the tree and the rest of the house. When we finish, we sit down to enjoy the newly decorated tree and think to ourselves, “our home is prepared for Christmas.” Our Gospel today teaches about a different kind of preparation.
While his followers are being baptized, John the Baptist is teaching them (and us) to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). For John, repentance does not only mean acknowledging our sinfulness and whatever it is that keeps us away from God. It also means a willingness to live our lives in a new and different way. John scolds the local religious leaders who come out to be baptized for the sake of appearing repentant but are not willing to demonstrate their repentance by their actions.
When we hurt someone we love, we feel sorrow for having caused the hurt and if we truly love the other, we will experience a desire to right the wrong and restore our relationship with the one we hurt. But, if we don’t confront the root of what caused us to hurt, we are likely to repeat the hurt. A lasting change requires a conversion of heart.
In our relationship with God, the sacrament of reconciliation provides us the opportunity to encounter our loving God in a deep and personal way. In the sacrament, we acknowledge those times when we have fallen short and express our desire to do things differently.
If we can take that incredible moment of grace and really work on that constant relationship and conversation with Jesus, He will guide you toward being a more selfless, kind, tolerant, and centered soul. If we allow this time of Advent to truly prepare for Christ’s birth into our heart and world, we will experience the love of God in a new and transformative way.
As we near the celebration of Christmas and the coming of our LORD into our world, we can prepare by examining how we treat each other and making a genuine effort to remove that which prevents us from being disciples of Jesus. When we can do this, then we can say that we’ve prepared our hearts for Christmas.
Deacon Joe Torti
Dear Faith Family, Happy Advent to you all!
As our liturgical year begins anew, we set our sights on celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, the reason we have to celebrate the rest of the liturgical year.
Obviously, during this time of the year, it is easy to get caught up in the hubbub of the errands we need to run for our friends and family. All of these errands are necessary and do lead to something beautiful and necessary, but we do have to take a step back and truly celebrate the “reason for the season.”
Advent is very interesting to me, because it not only is a season of thanksgiving for our God who became man, but it is also a preparation for the same God to come again in the future. We put ourselves in the shoes of those who lived and died generations before Christ became man. The ones who eagerly anticipated a savior. We both learn to understand them and learn from them as we await our Lord to come again. We learn what true penance is and we are blessed with hindsight to complement our faith. We put ourselves in their shoes to help us yearn for our God more.
So what is the appropriate preparation and response to our Lord coming again? I would say it is anticipation with the absence of fear. If our God truly has conquered death by his life and Resurrection, what do we have to fear? I know it is a cliche we have heard throughout our faith lives, but it rings so true during this season. What does anticipation without fear look like? I would argue that it looks like our celebration in reaction to what is promised.
With death being conquered, we have nothing to fear and all the reason to celebrate. Eternal joy in the heavens is realistically in our reach. Because of this, our response realistically should be to worship. Again, not out of fear, but out of love/yearning. When we love and praise our God with no condition, we can’t help but to imitate that love for our family, neighbors, strangers, or even our enemies. If our God loves us so much to become one of us, it is most appropriate to be filled with joy.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, let’s remember to REALLY CELEBRATE. It is appropriate to take time off of work, to spend hours with family and to be joyous. It is also appropriate to celebrate at Mass and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for our God. It is appropriate to decorate, give gifts and drink gross eggnog.
When we surround ourselves with a joy, it becomes easier to worship. When we realize that our God longs to be with us, it becomes easier to worship and love.
Joy to the World!
Youth and Young Adult Minister
1961 - 2022
Tim Hanlon, son of Marg & Jerry Hanlon
Saturday, January 14
Padre Serra Parish
1929 - 2022
Saturday, January 21
Padre Serra Parish
We Americans have very happily lived for over two centuries without a King. We don’t kneel to any person. We have no majesties, highnesses, lords or nobles. When the president of our country enters the room, we don’t kneel. We stand! Few positions here are inherited. People are not elite or special because of their parentage. We happily dumped those elements of rule, and our successful changes were so appealing that most of the world followed our example. Now, most humans are no longer subjects, but citizens. We, in these United States, still celebrate that we are free.
Among our freedoms is our ability to find a path that answers our human longings for meaning, to have a purpose, to live a worthy and good life. Our answer to those goals, is the life and death of Jesus and the content of his teaching.
We don’t choose him because he acted like human rulers. In fact, he lived a life very contrary to theirs. He didn’t lead armies, although military leaders have chosen his cross over the centuries to cover their banners. He didn’t form political parties, although zealots, even in his own day were sure he supported their positions. He didn’t seek the overthrow of the Romans, even though revolutionary efforts throughout history since have tried to coopt his message. When thousands attended to his words, he didn’t speak about his achievements, but challenged them to avoid judgment, to be faithful, and to love (see Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:1-7:29). He spent little time with the powerful, rather traveling among the peasants of Galilee and Judea. He never lived in a mansion, let alone a palace.
And yet, we freedom loving, American flag waving Catholics call Jesus “King.” It’s precisely because he wasn’t anything like prior human rulers that we dare to do so. He doesn’t subjugate; he leads by example. He doesn’t claim privileges or prerogatives; he lived in simplicity. He was honest about who he was, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the eternal Word, the just Judge, but didn’t express entitlement. The moment of his greatest glory was, in fact, his act of utter self-giving on the cross – hence today’s Gospel.
And we love him for this ... for toppling our misunderstanding of God. The Father is not like the fickle, self-absorbed, fragile and jealous gods of the Greeks and Romans, not like the child immolating gods of the Phoenicians or the human-heart devouring gods of the Aztecs, but building on the Jewish understanding of a God who broke into history, over-and-over, to save them, a God who is love.
Un-subjugated, we choose to follow Jesus. Un-dominated, we model our life after his because we recognize the rightness of his example. Without coercion we study his teachings because they answer our hearts’ deepest desires. At times failing in our efforts and acknowledging his rights to judge, we yet confidently rely on his mercy.
I join with the Catholic people of Mexico, who when suffering from their own government, cried out, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” or “Long live Christ the King!” Long may we live in his Kingdom.
Reflecting on the past and looking to the future. Nine years ago my wife Catherine and I visited Turkey. We spent several days in an area called Cappadocia which has one of the most surreal and strange landscapes on earth, formed by thousands of years of erosion. This area has more than six hundred so-called “cave churches,” hollowed out from the volcanic rock formations. We had the privilege to celebrate a liturgy in one of these very small churches that date back to the second century. While sitting around the small stone altar, I wondered what it would have been like to serve Mass in the early church.
In the very early church, Christians gathered to celebrate the Supper of the Lord in the larger homes of the towns and villages. With flickering oil lamps and a few wooden benches, the altar was a table normally used for the daily meals. What was an ordinary dining table became the altar of the Lord. The altar servers, girls and boys, helped the deacon to prepare the altar with fine linens and the sacred vessels. These young Christians understood table etiquette and would have been very helpful in many different roles: washing hands, lighting oil lamps, preparing the bread, and placing the sacred vessels. When it was time for the readings, they would have helped keep the scrolls from rolling up thus providing a firm platform for proclaiming the word. At the Last Supper, someone had to set the table and prepare the meal. Servers are not mentioned in the gospels, but unquestionably, the very first Eucharist would have relied on servers, both girls and boys.
Today, the altar servers can influence the atmosphere of prayer by their presence in the assembly around the altar of Our Lord. Rest assured that the assembly definitely admires the altar servers. As trained young ministers, they come to the altar of God to be close to our public prayer life. As I mentioned above, this ministry goes all the way back to the early church.
Serving is a privilege and with a privilege comes responsibility. Our altar servers have been called to serve during our liturgies. Padre Serra Parish is grateful that they have responded to this call with a real sense of dedication. They help the entire community celebrate the Eucharist by their humble service. They help the assembly thank God, and in doing so they show their love
At Padre Serra, we have 65 dedicated young ministers, ranging in age from 10 to 20. Half are high school students and there is an equal mix of girls and boys. It is my hope that our altar servers will spend a lifetime serving the Church in many other ways and remember this ministry as a time when God gave joy to their youth.
Altar Server Ministry Director
Come to the 9:00 am Mass on Sunday, November 20, for our annual Altar Server Installation!
Today's Scripture readings show us that our human curiosity is nothing new. Even in Old Testament times, people were wondering if there was an afterlife, and what it was like for those in it. The seven brothers in today’s reading from 2 Maccabees were convinced that there was and that it would be good. Their trust in God’s faithfulness was strong enough that they willingly endured torture and death rather than betray God’s law — in the hope that life, limb and more would be restored to them in the Resurrection.
But even for faithful Jews, the question was not yet settled in Jesus’ time. The Sadducees, those who deny that there is a Resurrection, tried to trap Jesus into making some kind of foolish statement in contradiction of settled doctrine by asking him whose wife a widow who married seven brothers in succession would be once they were all in heaven. I can imagine Jesus putting his hand to his forehead, shaking his head, sighing and thinking, “Oi vey — they just don't get it,” and going on to explain that everything is different in the Resurrection. So different, in fact, that we can’t even picture what it would be like. But Jesus assures us, and our faith tells us, that all will be well because we will be with him forever, and with those who have gone before us, in a place that he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. He further promises that we can get there through him — “I am the way, the truth and the life." Some may think that this means they’ve got a guaranteed spot in heaven, and that therefore there’s no need to do anything in this life to prepare except enjoy ourselves. I see it differently. I think that the promise of eternal life means that everything we do in this life matters greatly — that every choice we make has cosmic significance. St. Paul tells the community at Thessalonica in today’s second reading that his hope is that the Lord may “... encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” And then there is that image in Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus the judge separating sheep and goats according to how they treated one another (and therefore treated him) on earth. It seems that what we do matters very much indeed.
Still, speculating about what heaven may be like can be a beautiful prayer. You may be familiar with Bart Millard’s song, “I Can Only Imagine.” The refrain lyrics say:
“Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘Hallelujah’?
Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine, I can only imagine.”
On Saturday, October 15, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles presented Mrs. Catherine Shadduck with the Excellence in Catechetical Service Award for the Santa Barbara Region. Rev. Leon Hutton, Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Region and Pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Church, presented the award. This award recognizes catechists in the various deaneries who have served their parishes with marked excellence, dedication, and passion for their ministry. Individuals whose service and teaching have left an indelible imprint on the spiritual life of the religious education program and parish at large.
One of my favorite moments was to see the excitement of the children and their families greeting her on Sundays during their dismissal sessions. More than just teaching about the faith, she has the unique gift to make others feel welcomed and be met where they are in their faith journey — patiently encouraging and accompanying them, helping them receive their sacraments, and come into full communion with the Catholic Church — encouraging families to become involved in parish life and ministries. She is a fountain of information and is always willing to share her knowledge with all of us.
We are all so proud of Catherine, who is so deserving of this award in recognition of over 28 years of her service in Catechetical Ministries. During her time at Padre Serra, she has held many positions within the religious education program; Children’s Catechist, First Communion Coordinator, and Director of Religious Education.
She recently retired as the Coordinator of Initiation for Children and Adults and the Adult Confirmation Coordinator. In this capacity, she directed the processes through which school-age children, teens, and adults are baptized, adults become Catholic, and adults receive Confirmation. This work has given her much happiness and fulfillment. Catherine plans to continue to be actively involved in the parish; she asks the Holy Spirit to direct her where she can best serve the Body of Christ.
Our motto at Padre Serra is “Encounter Jesus, Be Disciples.” I truly believe she embodies it, and it is evident in the fruit of her labor. Those of us who have had the honor to be mentored and ministered alongside her have seen her in action. Seeing her joy and tirelessly giving her time and talent. It is inspiring
to witness the connections she has made with those who have come through the Initiation and Adult Confirmation programs.
Congratulations Catherine! May God continue to pour out his blessings on you. Siempre Adelante,
Faith Formation Minister
My journey to serving in Catholic schools began 35 years ago under the watchful eye of my first- grade teacher. Miss Vera Flynn – all five feet and five inches of her with fiery red hair and Irish brogue – she taught forty-two six-year-olds how to read, write, and do arithmetic, but much more than that, she taught us to know and love Jesus. She taught each one of us that we had value because we were made in the image and likeness of God. Her classroom was a place of grace.
As principal and also a parent at St. Mary Magdalen School, I now continue to be blessed with the opportunity to witness more places of grace. Both of my sons started their St. Mary Magdalen journeys in our transitional kindergarten program. Our teacher, Ms. Schuberg, creates an environment where students can flourish and grow. She guides them in coming to know and love God even more deeply while also teaching little minds how to explore the worlds of numbers and words. And every time a student (or principal) leaves the room, they depart to a chorus of little voices saying “God bless you”! This is most certainly a place of grace.
These are scenes that are replicated on a daily basis throughout our campus home. Whether it be a second grader joyfully learning about their upcoming sacraments or an eighth grader deepening their faith life through an off-campus retreat. It may look like a fourth grader talking to her teacher about how to navigate the everchanging landscape of fourth grade friendships or a seventh grader walking past a poster of Catholic scientists on their way to enjoy a hands on lab in their advanced science class. It most certainly looks like the entire campus – students, teachers, parent volunteers, and visitors – pausing wherever they are and whatever they are doing to pray the Angelus immediately following lunch.
The list goes on, but one thing is abundantly clear to me – when our students step on campus at St. Mary Magdalen School, they are able to enter into a different space – “a new environment, one illuminated by the light of faith...an environment permeated with the Gospel spirit of love and freedom.” It truly is a place of grace.
I invite you to come and visit our place of grace for our Open House on Sunday, November 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, and if you have a school-aged child, to prayerfully consider giving them the gift of a Catholic education at St. Mary Magdalen School.
St. Mary Magdalen School
Dear friends on the journey,
Being a parish staff member collaborating with our formation and liturgical staff for yearly calendaring and working with over 65 ministries and activities, I have a bird’s eye view of all that our parish has to offer to encounter Jesus and be disciples.
We now embark on a season of holidays, festivities, and family but can also agitate wounds, magnify grief, and complicate relationships. This season is a good time to retreat inward on our personal relationship with Jesus, to heal, and make amends. Conversely, these coming weeks can be a time to turn our attention outward to the needs of others. In the coming months, consider how these events and activities might draw you into a deeper communion with God and community:
Adopt-A-Family for Christmas
November 6, 13
Keep Christ in Christmas cards
November 6, 13
Concern America Crafts
Angel Tags for Christmas
November 19-December 11
Thanksgiving Day Mass November 24
Adult Formation with Dr. Ford
October 18, 25
All Saints Day – Holy Day
Mass of Remembrance
Adult Formation with Sr. Carol on Advent, November 9
Women’s Fall Retreat
Family Dinner & Reconciliation Service,
Immaculate Conception Holy Day
Advent Reconciliation Service
St. Vincent De Paul See’s Candy
Cana in the Courtyard
Trunk or Treat
The Chosen Christmas
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Seniors Christmas Luncheon
Christmas Concert & Dinner
Simbang Gabi Mass & Reception
1943 - 2022
Funeral Liturgy (Cremains)
Friday, November 11
Padre Serra Parish
1964 - 2022
Tuesday, November 15
Padre Serra Parish
The question of racism will always be a hot button moral topic in these, our beloved United States. Our history is difficult, but I live in hope that we can have a better future than either our past or present. There has been a lot of anger expressed recently about racial injustice. My own sense is that while anger can motivate change, it can also entrench people in the worst thinking and actions. With that in mind, I worked with our fellow parishioner, Cynthia Jones-Campbell, to set up an evening, entitled “Our Truths,” where three parishioners, all mothers, all people of color, all well-educated and ably expressive, spoke from their own experiences raising their children in our shared world, here in Camarillo. It had been my hope that in their sharing, other parishioners could have a window into the concerns of our fellow parishioners of color where there has been a lot of pain. Our speakers included Cynthia, who is black, Dr. Martita Martinez-Bravo, a Latina, and Nirmala Bheemisetty, who was born in India. Due to the requirements of the time, they delivered their presentation on Zoom. A healthy number of parishioners and guests from neighboring parishes participated on-line. It was a powerful evening, in which they shared their dreams for their children, the events that frightened them and hurtful things that occurred. They shared moving stories, grit and determination. I found it very moving, myself.
As that evening was taking shape, during July of 2020, Cynthia and Martita helped form the parish’s racial justice ministry. It began encouraging a number of parallel efforts to help people engage in the subject of racism in a constructive manner in a broad number of settings.
In the same year, 2020, the parish PAX Christi group used the Ignatian Examen, in which the participants take a magnifying glass to daily life, seeking to have an encounter with God, as a lens for discussing racism and reconciliation from August to November of 2020.
Parishioners also participated in the Just Faith modules that focus on racial justice. There were two groups, one of which did all three eight-week modules on this challenging topic.
In the last two years, during the Lenten season, parishioners have been invited to participate in “Stations of the Cross: Overcoming Racism” at Padre Serra. In Lent of 2021 the stations needed to be virtual, but in 2022 they were in person.
From August to December of 2020, our wonderful Seeds of Faith women’s ministry, in which Cynthia was part of the leadership team, jumped into a deep-dive of the American bishops’ pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2018).
If all this wasn’t enough, Cynthia has also been on the leadership team of the Parish’s Divorce Support Group, and was a Women’s Retreat Team member in both 2019 and 2020. She has also served as a Eucharistic Minister at St. John’s Regional Hospital, and as an advanced directive notary. In the fall of 2020, she was also a founding member of the Ventura County Chapter of Catholic Relief Services.
On the last Monday of September, I drove down to the cathedral in Los Angeles for a gathering of all the priests of our archdiocese. Cynthia Jones-Campbell, who had been serving on an archdiocesan committee examining racism, came with me. The archdiocesan committee had heard of all the initiatives that Cynthia had spearheaded here at Padre Serra Parish, and wanted to use our efforts as an example to other parishes. We were invited to give a brief summary of what had happened here at Padre Serra before the assembled priests of the archdiocese, asking us to serve as a model for other parishes. It was an amazing moment!
1943 - 2022
Wednesday, December 28
Padre Serra Parish
1954 - 2022
Tuesday, October 18
Padre Serra Parish
1959 - 2022
Funeral Liturgy (Cremains)
Friday, December 2
Padre Serra Parish
San Juan Capistrano following Mass
1933 - 2022
Saturday, November 5
Padre Serra Parish
Saturday, October 29
Mission San Fernando
1932 - 2022
Saturday, October 22
Padre Serra Parish
Funeraria del Angel
Dear friends on the journey,
Recently I was inspired to reflect on Vincent Van Gogh’s 1888 painting, Sower at Sunset, as a metaphorical image for my walk of faith and vocation that has led me to this very special day. Today at the 11:00 am Mass Bishop Marc Trudeau will commission me as a Pastoral Associate for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the service of Padre Serra Parish.
In looking back on my journey, I can see where God, our good and gracious sower, has been planting mustard seeds of faith. After my infant baptism, the first seed I recall was at age four and, throughout my childhood, teen years and adult life, God has been planting, watering, tending, and guiding my faith. Along the way, there have been some significant encounters and moments, like today. In general, though, the deepening of my faith and progression of my vocation has grown in the simple and unexpected, in the humble witness of God’s hand at work around me, because of people’s generosity and influence, in suffering and healing, and in formation and my academics at St. John’s Seminary.
My ecclesial roles have included altar server, Eucharistic minister, volunteer, administrative staff, catechist, master catechist, business manager, and faith life minister. For 31 years, I have been living out my vocation of motherhood and marriage. Today all of these roles, experiences, growth, skills, talents, gifts and charisms come together. Today God’s call to the vocation as Pastoral Associate comes to fruition.
By no means did I do this on my own. I simply could not. This journey has been filled with God’s grace, the Holy Spirit, the love and encouragement of family and friends, the influence of lay teachers and mentors, religious, and clergy who showed mercy and empowered me, most especially Fr. Patrick who has given me more than I deserve. And all of you parishioners and leaders who have inspired, encouraged and celebrated me.
Dear Faith Family,
This weekend’s Gospel is obviously very challenging. It always is when there is a discussion of the afterlife. Lazarus, the poor man, was more open to the idea of heaven than the rich man who lived an extravagant life. While this is a message that we often hear about in scripture, there is one line that really stuck out to me regarding our lives as Catholics.
At the end of our Sunday’s Gospel, the rich man implores Abraham to send a message to his brothers to avoid “this place of torment.” He claims that if a ghost appears to them, it will scare them straight and convince them to live holy and humble lives. Abraham’s reply is quite powerful:
“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded should someone rise from the dead.”
Is Abraham’s statement true for us at times? I think so. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have the urge to rely on a personal miracle for me to change or understand God’s will for me. When we rely only on personal miracles, we forget about the most important message. Jesus is the Resurrected God and we need to let people know.
Through the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we sometimes forget to be persuaded by God’s rising from the dead. Yes, we can experience miracles and intercession from the heavens, but they mean nothing unless we get to know who Jesus is. This is why our parish motto of “Encounter Jesus, Be Disciples” is so powerful. Without that encounter of Jesus, even the most groundbreaking miracle can mean nothing to a person’s life.
This rings true on the other hand, as well. Our goal of discipleship is not to meet a quota. While it would be nice to have an official number of souls that we have impacted, we will never know the number of people we have evangelized. We have to remember that we are simply planting seeds and those seeds are the message of the Resurrection. While we may be prophets, our work means nothing until they are persuaded by it.
1932 - 2022
Monday, October 17
Padre Serra Parish
Dear Parish Family,
This weekend we celebrate in a special way the individuals who have said “YES” to God’s call to serve his people, through the ministry of Catechist. They will be called forward, blessed and sent out to minister to the children, youth and adults of our parish community. Pope Francis describes the role of the Catechists as “witnesses who live from the celebration of the Eucharist and place themselves at the service of the Christian community, to support the deepening of faith in the concreteness of daily life.” They tirelessly proclaim the Gospel of mercy, create the necessary bonds of welcome and closeness to better appreciate the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharistic mystery by offering the fruits of good works. Who did this for you? Who was instrumental in your encounter with Jesus? How do you do this for others?
Our theme this year focuses on the Eucharist. The source and summit of our faith, the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This year’s theme will help us focus on our Mission; to bring others to an encounter with the living God. Jesus gives himself to us at every liturgy. He patiently waits for us to come to the table and receive him. He is the Bread of Life. It is the only thing that will quench the hunger of our soul. In the gift of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist we come into a transforming intimacy with him. This is sanctifying Grace. As Faith Formation ministers this is the goal, to bring others to this encounter.
The Children’s Faith Formation ministry is only possible by wonderful volunteers: Moms, Dads and other loving adults, just like you. This is a beautiful ministry, where it’s not always about having the answers to the kids’ questions but an opportunity to hear how God works and speaks through the mouths of the children as well. No experience is required. Our coordinators will prepare all the lesson plans and supplies needed. This year more than ever we are in need of Catechists, as many children are once again returning to in-person sessions. We are limited to the number of centers we can offer based on the number of volunteers we have.
Do you feel God calling you to journey in faith with the children of our parish? Help us not to turn away any child seeking to encounter Jesus.
Please reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith Formation Minister