Saturday, September 29, 2007

Finding Our Magic: Goddess Class for Middle School Girls?

Witchcraft is one of our society's accepted options. Admittedly, the following news is from the San Francisco Chronicle, and it is about an event held in Oakland, which is right next to Bezerkley, so the people involved welter on the bleeding edge of liberal activism, but still, the matter of factness of the presentation is telling.

From the San Francisco Chronicle Friday, September 28, 2007, in the column titled: Leah Garchik.

"Supportive dad A.M. forwards a notice to Berkely Parents Network Members about the 'Goddess Class for Middle School Girls.' In seven sessions, students will learn about seven goddesses 'and creaate a simple ritual to listen to each young woman's own inner voice and each other. Each ritual will center around a theme and altar, and include a structured beginning, middle and end, followed by tea and healthy snack.'"

Turns out the quote is from a description of the class posted at craigslist. The class is offered privately by the author of a book about goddesses. I was afraid it was offered by the public schools! It is held in a private home "near Holy Names college."

The heading of the ad reads: Goddess Rites for Middle School Girls (oakland hills / mills)

The intro is:

Finding Our Magic: Goddess Rites for Middle School Girls" is a seven-part class taught by Carolyn McVickar Edwards,M.Ed., author of "The Storyteller's Goddess," . . ..

Who is going to pay $210 to send a daughter to that?

BTW, did you know that besides useful things like jobs and used sofas, you can also find partners for sex (paid or free) at craigslist? That's why I don't go there any more.

In googling about the witchcraft topic, I found there is a Julia Morgan School for Girls. Generally, I think girls-only schools are a great idea. They allow girls to excel without fear of competing with the boys. But read on. Julia was a prominent lesbian woman architect, who built Hertz Castle, among other California buidings. (Morgan is featured in the online Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Queer Culture.)

The JMSG started in classrooms at Holy Names College (Holy Names College again in a radical feminist context), but moved to Mills College. JMSG features a yearly "Goddess day."

From a wikipedia article about JMSG: "Goddess day is an annual event in which every 6th grader must choose to become a particular goddess of her own invention (e.g. goddess of laughter, goddess of miracles). Each girl then writes a story about her goddess-self and dresses up in scarves, as well as other sparkly accessories. Makeup is also readily available. Afterwards, the girls file through the hallways as 7th and 8th graders come out of their classrooms to admire the procession of goddesses."

In my day, at Catholic school, we had May processions in which we sang hymns to Our Lady dressed in white dresses. And we crowned her statue with flowers. That kind of dress up and pageantry can lead a person to higher things. On the other hand, goddess role play can open the poor children's lives to the influence of the occult, and we all know the pitfalls in that.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two Letters I Wrote to Senators in 2003

The following two letters surfaced when I was cleaning out my folders on my computer. THe .doc file is dated in 2003. I don't even know if I mailed these, but they do say what I think, so I'm recording them here.

Dear Senator Santorum,

As a fellow Catholic, I want to give you my support for speaking out against overthrowing laws against sodomy.

I know that you have gotten a lot of bad press, essentially accusing you of being homophobic. But I agree with Stanley Kurtz, who is research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and who wrote about your remarks in an article April 24 for National Review Online. Kurtz explained that you were making a slippery-slope argument, saying that if the Supreme Court rules that states cannot regulate sexuality in the case of sodomy, then it is quite possible that states may not be allowed in the future to regulate incest and other sexual crimes.

Something else that I think needs to be considered is that once you legalize something you make it normal.

Take abortion, for example. Many of the people who argued against abortion used the hard cases of rape and incest leading to pregnancy in their arguments. But the fact of the matter is that of the millions of abortions that occur in this country every year, a very, very small percentage are performed on victims of rape or incest. Abortion is an option that is considered along with almost every pregnancy. For example, every woman past a certain age who conceives a child is given amniocentesis, so she can decide to abort the child if genetic defects are revealed by testing her amniotic fluid.

And fornication was once a crime. An unmarried couple couldn't rent a hotel room or an apartment or buy a house together. Now the laws have changed, and it has become abnormal for couples not to live together.

Every time we leave God's laws behind and change the laws to reflect the current mores, we open the way to further concessions down the road. I agree with your slippery slope argument, but I want you consider that the slope started higher and further back when sexual morality first started being eroded in the law and in how we live our lives.

It is clear from the Catholic Catechism that the Chuch still teaches, like the old Irish priest once said, "It's not the homo- or the hetero- that's the problem, it's the -sexual outside of marriage that's the problem.

The Catholic Church, alone among all churches, teaches that sexual morality goes back to natural law, and that even though the purpose of sexuality includes the mutual joy of a married couple, sexuality's intrinsic purpose also includes the creation of new life.

Within my lifetime we have loosened the laws against fornication (sex outside of marriage) and against abortion. Earlier in my parent's generation (higher up on the slippery slope) contraception was made legal.

I suggest that these too are root causes that you should consider too. The movement to declare homosexual sex legal and good is being built on these earlier concessions. The pro-homosexuality movement is in a direct line of cause and effect.

The earlier changes that I referred to above led to today's common acceptance of sex as a good in itself unrelated to marriage and procreation.

If we don't realize sex is part of God's plan for the continuation of the species, and if we agree that everyone should be free to seek only the pleasure of sex without its procreative aspect, then what argument do we have to say that any type of sex for its own sake is wrong?

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

Dear Senator Daschle,

I have been following your career for about a year, ever since I saw the charming documentary about you visiting your constituents across the state of South Dakota.

I spent about 20 years in North Dakota and Minnesota and your midwestern persona attracted me. Your role in the Senate reveals you as a bright, articulate politician. I expect to hear more about you in the future.

Now today I found out that you are, like I am, a Catholic. And I am disappointed to say I also found out that you are so outspoken a proponent of abortion that your bishop has asked you to stop listing yourself as Catholic.

One of the things that characterizes a Catholic believer is obedience to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. I pray that you will come to understand that the wisdom of God is greater than the wisdom of mankind.

You may be like a lot of Catholics after Vatican II, who came to believe that all the teachings about sexual morality were up for grabs. But the Catholic Catechism makes it quite clear that abortion, contraception, and sexual acts outside of marriage are all still moral evils. And they have grave consequences.
They harm the family, the society, individuals: men, women, and children.

Do not support abortion in a mistaken compassion for women's rights. The abortion industry came up with the phrase "a woman's choice" as a way to latch onto the selfish spirit of the age. But the truth is that I and a lot of women like me see abortion as a violation of women and oppressive of our fullest sexual fulfillment.

The legality of abortion means that countless women and men are being pressured to deny their deepest instincts. Men who want a newly conceived child are told they have no right to protect that child from death in its mother's womb. Women whose instincts are to nurture and love and protect a new life growing within them are being forced to deny their deepest selves. Grandparents are often forced to stand helplessly by while their children kill their grandchildren before they are born. And children are learning that they exist only because their parents didn't chose to abort them.

I heard one proud grandfather introduce a little granddaughter who was the joy of his life to the pastor at Church one day. He matter-of-factly said that her mother had tried to abort her, but the abortion had failed. The priest asked him to not speak that way in front of the child. What a psychological horror to know that your mother tried to take your life! And I 've heard of other children who were not aborted in spite of doctors' or teachers' or parents' advice who became the greatest joy of the parent who had the courage to let the child live.

I have personally been on the other side of the issue, and I helped some women find an abortionist before I changed sides. For an example of what I am trying to tell you, I have seen a woman who intellectually believed it was the right thing to do physically and emotionally mourning a child after she aborted it. Mentally, she didn't see that her body and her emotions were trying to tell her the truth about what she had done.

I pray that the Holy Spirit, who lives in the Catholic Church, will guide you to change your mind and your heart.

With admiration and sadness,

Roseanne Sullivan

Friday, September 21, 2007

Halloween at my place of work

Above: Halloween 2006: Marketing and Techical Publications Groups Present 'The Filming of Star Wars' (I'm the Senator/Announcer second from right)

This year, I'm not going to participate in the Halloween extravaganza at work again. BTW I cannot think of better word than extravaganza to express the elaborate extent people go to for the yearly competition. It goes way beyond mere dress up. Teams work during their lunch hours, nights, and weekends to transform the office.

For me, there is just too much of the occult and the sexually provocative in the way we do Halloween. I want to focus on the next day, All Saint's Day, instead of the night when witches are supposed to be riding around on broomsticks, and the Bay area is staging erotic dress up balls.

That being said, I had a lot of fun last year scripting and announcing the Star Wars extravaganza put on by the Marketing Group (to which my tech publications group was reporting at the time). We went all out to try to win a prize. A lot of the costumes were home made. We painted the backdrop you see in the photo, completely transformed a conference room, created four sets . . ..

Even though we had elaborate staging and multiple scenes with sword fighting and my script killed off three characters in six minutes and saved the Galaxy, we only tied for second place. But still, we got $25 each for prizes, plus a box of chocolates.

Email to a product group I worked with:

Halloween theme 2006

Marketing and Technical Publications present:
"The filming of Star Wars"!

Who's got time to work at a time like this? The fate of the galaxy might be at stake.

I'm the Imperial Senator/narrator second from right. Other writers you may run into: Tom Regner, the Fremont writing supervisor is Chewbacca, Hamid Sepehrdad is the green monster, and Gregg Aronson is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Hope you enjoy the photo. We sure enjoyed making it.

Senator Teresan from the Planet Carmelavila


Roseanne Sullivan
Technical Writer
Avocent Corporation

Among Things That are Always and Everywhere Wrong: Letter to the University of Minnesota Against Stem Cell Research

Below is an email I sent to the University of Minnesota Alumni Association after reading in the alumni magazine a proud report of the UoM's support for stem cell research. I just found it while cleaning out my mailbox, and I want to save it, because it says pretty clearly what I think of stem cell research, not to mention test tube impregnation.
From: Sullivan, Roseanne
Sent: Friday, December 08, 2006 2:42 PM
To: ''
Subject: Embroyonic Stem Cell research at the U of MN

Embroyonic Stem Cell research at the U of MN

I was disappointed to read in the Minnesota alumni magazine that the U of M is supporting embryonic stem cell research. The creation and destruction of human embryos is not a value-free scientific endeavor, but is a perverse and horrible activity that denies the value of human life.

I cannot support a university that supports these atrocities. Please remove your name from all of your mailing and emailing lists and subscriptions and cancel my remaining membership in the alumni association.

My major objections are:

Evidence abounds that stem cell research using other sources for stem cells is bearing fruit, while no evidence exists that the use of human embryos' stem cells is producing therapies of any value.

An embryo is a human being created by God with all the potential for the unique individual already present. God loves every human from before the time of his or her creation and intends that person for eternal life.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you ...." Jeremiah1:5

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

Creating human beings outside of the marital act is outside of God's intention. To do so is playing God and is always wrong. Experimenting on and killing these human beings after their creation is a double evil.

Creation of embryos outside the womb involves masturbation aided usually by the use of pornography by the man to produce sperm. Sex outside of its intended purpose in marriage is always and everywhere wrong.

Roseanne Sullivan


Roseanne Sullivan

Technical Writer

Avocent Corporation

Saturday, September 15, 2007

First Mass of Christmas In Galli Cantu: More chant pages from Susan Altstatt

The St. Ann Choir website has reposted Susan Altstatt's chant pages for the first Mass of Christmas, which are shown here. I copied them because the images are not linkable directly (you have to go to and click on Music to see them, I think because the site uses frames).

NOTE: Copied with permission. Can be displayed online but not printed without permission. For how to obtain permission for other uses, please contact Susan:

In Galli Cantu

Ecce Virgo Concipiet

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chant Pages, Illuminated or Unilluminated: All Tools of the Trade.

Some of you might remember the poster I did for The Feast of St. Ann on July 26 this year, It was based on a beautiful illuminated chant page for the Introit for the feast--so any credit for the beauty of the poster should go to the artist, Susan Altstatt who illuminated the chant page and did the calligraphy. Susan is a professional artist. She and her husband John are St. Ann Choir members with the longest tenure, second only to director Prof. William Mahrt -- who was with the choir from its very first day in 1963. Susan and John joined the choir a year after their marriage, in 1967.

The choir sings the propers of the Masses from large chant pages on a stand. I heard Bill Mahrt say once in a CMAA lecture that using the chant pages was an option that saved the cost of making sure everyone had a Liber [Usualis, that is]. On feasts, the chant pages often appear adorned with Susan's elaborations on the capital letters of the first word of each of the propers. Her illuminations are quirky, fresh, and original, not a cliche in the lot.

Below, Bill leads some of the men cantors in rehearsal, who are singing from unilluminated chant pages. When I can take a photo of the choir singing from one of the illuminated chant pages, I'll post it here.

Last week, I found the following snippet about Susan Alstatt's chant pages in a history of The St. Ånn Choir written in 1988, by Bill. A year after the choir started in 1963, Bill became its director. He directed it from 1964 to 1968 and again from 1972 to now, for an impressive total of 39 years. He writes about himself in the third person for the purpose of the history.

William Mahrt returned to Stanford music department as a member of the faculty in 1972, and a year later Fr. Duryea asked him [to] resume the direction of the choir. . . . Within the next couple of years the pattern for most of the choir’s activities ever since was established. Programs were compiled for all of the Sundays and holy days of the year, with six complete sets of chants for the Ordinary and three Credos[1] being used in varying combinations throughout the year. A new large choir book was acquired from Annie Bank in Amsterdam—large pages to be placed upon a stand from which all the choir could read the chant. For the holy days not contained in that book Susan Altstatt produced excellent illuminated pages that leave the printed book looking rather plain, and, some say, inspire the singers to sing more beautifully [p. 7]

Susan Altstatt made vestments, Paschal candles, illuminated chant pages, and banners, and hosted Sunday night dinners for all who sang Vespers [p.10]
John and Susan Altstatt have sung since the late sixties, now over twenty years [p. 11].

Susan and John both are cantors. Every Sunday night they are at home, they still push two long tables together in their Los Altos dining room and dish out a fine dinner from restaurant sized pots and pans to anyone who comes to Vespers and to several who just show up every week. {Bill for his part brings along three botles of very good wine to the feast.] Susan's cooking is a pleasure to eat, and Susan's illuminated chant pages are a joy to behold.

Following are all the chant pages for the feast of St. Ann, which I downloaded from John Alstatt, webmaster for the site, told me he has plans to post more pages soon, so keep checking at that website, if you want to see more. Or write Susan Altstatt at dsa @ altstatt . com for more information.

[1] Masses I, IV , VIII, IX, XI and XVII, Credos I, III, and IV.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Undoing of a Remuddling: St. Patrick's Church, Kokomo, Indiana

There are signs of hope for those of us who miss the beauty that was effaced in many church remodelings in misguided attempts to follow the "spirit" of the Second Vatican Council. At the Sacred Music Colloquium in DC in June, I met Linda Spicer, a choir member from St. Patrick's in Kokomo Indiana. The story she told me about her church's restoration is one of those signs.

I have never heard the like of this! The pastor and the people of her parish restored the church building twenty-nine years after a 1975 remodeling. When Linda sent me the included photo of the main altar, she wrote, "We got everything back or duplicated, except for the Communion rail, which is buried under the Church parking lot."

Hearing about the burial of the altar rail makes me sigh, remembering how many priceless artifacts made of precious materials were thrown away during that time. In the 1960s in the South End of Boston,when I was a counter-culture type myself, I remember seeing church furnishings often used as parlor furniture in the brownstone apartments of artists, bohemians and gay couples, who were picking up kneelers and altars and the like dirt cheap from salvage dealers. A few years ago, I wrote an article about how at Holy Cross Church in my San Jose neighborhood, 60 year old oil painted stations of the Cross, a marble pieta, and a hand-carved, painted, and gilded crucifix, all from Italy, were thrown out when the church was remodeled in the 60s. Thanks be to God, the janitor kept the crucifix in her garage, and after her death 40 years later, the crucifix was restored and replaced -- on the Feast of the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross.

As Linda's photos of St. Patrick's also illustrate, the good news is that things of great quality are being brought back into the sacred worship space of churches, sometimes bit by bit.

I suspect that the breath of the Holy Spirit must be behind such changes. Reading between the lines on the St. Patrick's Church history page, I deduce that the restoration was powered by prayers in the parish's 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel, which was also a recent undertaking. Father Ted Dudzinski became pastor in 2002, and under his leadership, the parish completed these two great works, the chapel first. "In an effort to increase vocations to the Local Church and spiritually 'ground' the parish," the pastor and "a group of lay leaders established Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel." The chapel was dedicated after a Mass and procession on Corpus Christi, Sunday June 22, 2003.

And the restoration followed. In Fall 2004, the parish started its renovation project. Exterior changes included tuck pointing of the stone, new slate on the church's two towers, and re-gilding of the crosses. Inside, close to 100% of the plaster was repaired on the ceiling and walls. The church was decorated with a new color scheme, and new marble flooring was installed in the aisles and in the sanctuary. The marble reredos was returned to its original position in the sanctuary, and a new marble altar of sacrifice, ambo, and baptismal font were commissioned to match the reredos. The flooring under the pews was replaced with ash hardwood, and the pews were completely renovated. A new Gothic entry from the nave was installed. The organ was upgraded.

Once a month at the last Saturday evening Mass for the past three years, a Schola has been singing the Latin ordinary along with Latin and English hymns. In answer to my request for more information about the choir, Linda wrote: I started singing with the Schola (which is the only name we have) two years ago last April. They had been in existence for about a year before that, so I would say we are starting our fourth year.

We sing from the Graduale Triplex, and so far we are just singing the ordinary in Latin, usually Mass VIII, De angelis; or Mass XI, Orbis factor with Kyrie B. We use Credo III and Pater Noster B. Two of our members, Kathleen Murphy and Cynthia Morr, made cards for the pews with the Latin and its English translation, so that the congregation could follow along. We hope that many of them are/will be singing with us as the chants become more familiar to them. During the Offertory, Communion, and Meditation we sing familiar Latin hymns--Salve Regina, O Sanctissima, the Arcadelt Ave Maria, etc., as well as English ones. We also like to sing a traditional Irish hymn, Deus Meus. It comes from the music sung by the Notre Dame Folk Choir. They have two beautiful CD's, "Prophets of Joy" and "Witness of the Saints", that contain renditions of several of the psalms. If you are not familiar with them they are worth looking into. We use a couple of them especially at Communion: "Make of Our Hands a Throne," and "Harbor of my Heart." These are in English, of course. After the recessional, as the people are leaving, we sing "An Irish Blessing."

We currently have thirteen members, eight women and five men. Many of them are also members of the full choir
[which sings at other Masses], so they devote lots of time to this effort. While Father Randy Soto, who is now teaching at the seminary in St. Louis, was with us, he was our director; but since his transfer, Maddalena Nelson has graciously accepted the job. Maddalena is also a cantor with the full choir as is another of our members, Bob Mason. Maddalena, myself, Dane Henderson and Lori Schwarts sing soprano. Kathleen, Cynthia, Sue Mason, and Molly Kline sing alto. Bob, Roger Murphy and Jim Calabro are our tenors. George Hedrick and Randy Jones sing bass. (Just as a side note, George, Molly, Cynthia and Kathleen are brother and sisters.)

Six of the Schola members attended the CMAA colloquium: Cynthia Morr, Kathleen and Roger Murphy, Maddalena Nelson, Lori Schwartz and Linda Spicer. Linda wrote,

We had originally planned to go to a monastery in Oklahoma to learn more about chant, but Father Randy Soto told us of the CMAA colloquium. He was planning to attend with us before he was sent on another assignment by his bishop. (His home diocese is in Costa Rica.)
I'm including another picture [from the remodeled church]. Father Soto explained that this crucifix is in the Spanish style. Christ is obviously still alive, His side has not been pierced, and the sunburst around His head is common in Spanish portrayals.

The restoration of the church building is a sight for sore eyes, and the reintroduced Gregorian chant is, I suspect, a sound for sore ears.

Below: Two views of the outside of St. Patrick's and one of Linda Spicer

A significant feast day for lovers of chant

Above: Pope Gregory the Great dictating what the Holy Spirit puts into his mouth -- from the Golden Legend, image from Antiphonary of Hartker of Sankt-Gallen (Cod. Sang. 390, p. 13) Date: ca. 1000

Today, Labor Day 2007, is the Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Catholic Church. And for those who follow the old church calendar, it is the Memorial of St. Pius X, pope. Both of these popes had immense influence on the practice of plainsong (chant) in the Church. Pope Benedict XVI is likely to be remembered too for his own contribution to the preservation and practice of this kind of music when later ages look back at his reign.

Fortuitously, today was the day I had a chance to interview Stanford Professor WIlliam Mahrt on his work with the Church Music Association of America. We talked about his lifelong study and performance of Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. Mahtt got swept into his lifelong love of this kind of music when he was a Stanford graduate student in musicology in 1963, and so he sang with the St. Ann choir when it was first created in 1963. He became its director in 1964, and he has continued to lead the choir almost all of the years since then, except for a few years when he taught at Case Western and Eastman School of Music after receiving his Ph.D -- before Stanford called him back to teach there.

God willing, today's interview will be the baiss for an article I have been asked to write for the National Catholic Register, and it will also serve as the start of a history I planned to write about the choir.

Partway through the interview, I mentioned that when I was praying the Office of Readings this morning, I realized it was the feast of St. Gregory the Great. St. Gregory the Great and St. Pius X pray for the success of this article and for the restoration of the chant to its "pride of place" in the liturgy.

Below: Stereopticon of Pope St. Pius X walking in the Vatican gardens

The Crucifix That Once Was Lost and Now Is Found

This article was published in the Fall 2005 issue of the Northside Newsletter and in two installments in the Valley Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of San José, on September 20 and October 18, 2005, with some edits in each publication. It is a companion piece to SS Sacratissimus Crucifixus to Holy Cross: Northside San Jose Church History Click here for more photos.

Rosalia Villegas, parishioner at Holy Cross parish, San Jose, provided much of the information in this article about how a precious crucifix from Italy that once hung behind the altar was thrown away, and then rescued, stored in a garage, and finally returned to the church almost forty years later. Rosalia and her husband José are choir leaders, and they are part of a number of very-active Filipino parishioners at the parish.

In 1966, then-pastor Father Joseph Bolzon installed a new altar to face the congregation. During the remodeling, the 10 foot painted and gilded wooden crucifix that had formerly hung from the half-dome behind the altar was removed along with a marble Pieta and fourteen painted stations of the cross.

The crucifix in use after the remodeling was a much-smaller one that topped a gold tabernacle. The tabernacle was kept on a table behind the altar in front of a black marble backdrop with a gold-embossed depiction of the Last Supper.

Villegas said that both their sons were baptized while the black marble piece was in place, before another pastor, Father Mario Rauzi, did another renovation that removed the black marble piece some time in the 1970s. The walls behind the altar are now all made up of lighter marble, and a much-simpler smaller crucifix from the 70s occupies the center panel. A mural by well-known local artist, Anthony Quartuccio, was painted in the half dome in 1977.

By the time the first crucifix was removed, it had faded from the parish memory that the installation of the crucifix and the stations of the cross had been an important event. An item in the “Church News of the Week” section of The Monitor on 9/21/1907 reported about the erection of a large crucifix over the main altar on Sunday 9/17, and it lauded the stations of the cross as “beautiful oil paintings, imported from Italy.” (The Monitor was the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Holy Cross was part of the San Francisco archdiocese at the time.)

Rosalia Villegas is Godmother (comadre) to Gloria Villaluz, daughter of Soledad Vallejo. Rosalia recalls that Vallejo, who was the church caretaker in 1966, rescued the crucifix, stations, and statues. Vallejo kept the Pieta in her family’s living room and stored the crucifix and the stations in the garage of her house on the 300 block of North 9th Street. For some time, Vallejo dreamed of building a small chapel in the Philippines to house everything, but eventually gave up the dream because the logistics would have been too hard to manage.

When Vallejo died in the past few years, her daughter, who by that time had moved away first thought she would donate the crucifix and the stations to her church in Fresno. The difficulties she would face in transporting the crucifix to Fresno led her to contact Brother Charles Muscat, C.S., the Director of Religious Education, to ask if Holy Cross would want the crucifix back. Soledad’s son took the Pieta; her daughter took the stations; and Holy Cross took back the crucifix, which by that time was in broken in pieces. Brother Charles’s brother, Grezio Muscat, put the pieces back together while visiting from Canada for a month, and the brothers got the patched-together crucifix hung in one of the classrooms.

The current pastor Father Orso, C.S., hired David Dittmann, a Santa Clara art restoration expert, to restore the crucifix, which as it turns out is an irreplaceable piece of art that was originally crafted in Italy. Dittmann told this reporter that the crucifix was crafted of close-grained, knot-free joined wood that was skillfully aged beforehand to prevent shrinkage, a quality of wood that would be impossible to obtain today. The body of Christ, the corpus, is painted, and the wood of the cross is gilded. A small painting of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is at the head of the cross, and another small painting of Our Lady with John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalen is at the foot. The arms have silvered representations of the symbols of the four Gospel writers, the lion, the eagle, the ox, and the man.

Dittmann is currently reapplying 23 carat gold leaf on the front of the cross, resilvering the symbols of the Gospel writers, and finishing the repainting of the corpus and small pictures on the cross. Dittmann’s work will be completed in time for unveiling on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross on September 14 after the 6:30 p.m. Mass. As Dittmann’s wife, Regina, said when the couple was being interviewed for this article, “The Triumph of the Holy Cross is the Resurrection. And the triumph of this little cross is its resurrection.” On the feast day, the rescued and resurrected crucifix will be reinstalled in a place of honor behind the altar after almost forty years absence.

Sacratissimus Crucifixus to Holy Cross: Northside San Jose Church History

This article was published in the Fall 2005 issue of the Northside Newsletter and in two installments in the Valley Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of San José, on September 20 and October 18, 2005, with some edits in each publication. I've updated the Latin names of the Church, which were incorrectly copied from the parish record book in the earlier draft.

Holy Cross Parish on East Jackson and North 13th streets, in the Northside neighborhood of San José, began celebrating its 100th anniversary this past September [2005] with a multi-ethnic parish festival called the Kermess de la Santa Cruz (Feast of the Holy Cross) in the Scalabrini Hall.

The Kermess, which literally means "parish festival," raised more than $20,000 for parish upkeep through the sale of food, games and raffle tickets. In the months before the Kermess, boys and girls competed for the title of king and queen, not on their popularity, but on how many raffle tickets they sold. The winners were crowned and given scepters and capes.

On Sept. 14 after a Mass held in honor of the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the parish's special feast, a priceless restored crucifix from the earliest days of the parish was unveiled. [See Holy Cross' Historic Crucifix Restored for details about the crucifix.]

The anniversary celebration will continue for a year and will conclude on December 10, 2006, almost exactly 100 years after the first church building for the parish was blessed on December 8, 1906.

The first parish church was built to serve the many Italian immigrants in the Northside San José neighborhood. The parish has evolved with the neighborhood’s changing demographics to serve Mexicans, Filipinos, and others from many varied national and economic backgrounds who make their homes in the area, including many who have been attracted by the number of well-kept Victorians and Craftsman-era bungalows and the chance to live in a safe, pleasant neighborhood near the city’s downtown.

Today the regular weekend schedule includes three English Masses, two Spanish Masses, and one Italian Mass. Multi-ethnic Masses are held on major feasts of the Church year, when the diversity of the parish is even more apparent. Parishioners parade into the church in procession, wearing native dress, carrying flags from their nations of origin, from Mexico, Italy, the Philippines, Portugal, Vietnam, Korea, Fiji, Canada, Brazil, and Malta, along with the flag of the U.S.A.

Holy Cross parish was first staffed by Italian-speaking diocesan priests and then by priests from the Jesuit order. Since 1961, starting with Father Joseph Bolzon, Holy Cross has been staffed by members of the Missionary Order of St. Charles Borromeo (C.S) founded by Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini, whose members are commonly called the Scalabrinians. The church hall is named after the order's founder. Since the central mission of the Scalabrinians is to serve immigrants, migrants, and refugees, their presence at Holy Cross could be seen as a providential fit.

In its long history, the parish has gone through three name changes. In the 1906 pages of the parish record book, the name was written in Latin as Sacratissimus Crucifixus, which can be translated as Most Holy Crucified or Most Holy Crucified One. Between 1912 and 1914, a second Latin name, Pretiosissimus Sanguis, Most Precious Blood, started appearing. The final name change to the English name Holy Cross was made in 1927.

According to an article published in the archdiocesan newspaper The San Francisco Monitor on 9/11/1911, the first “neat little Italian church … was built in the memorable year of 1906.” A typewritten history of the parish written in the 1930s, which was found in the Diocese of San José’s archives, stated that the church was built for “the convenience of the Italians living in St. Patrick’s parish” by the St. Patrick’s pastor Father J. Lally. Since San José was at that time part of the San Francisco archdiocese, Archbishop Montgomery, coadjutor of San Francisco Archbishop Riordan, formally blessed the new church on December 8, 1906.

Left:  Photo is from The Monitor article from 9/11/1911 captioned “Church of the Precious Blood (
Italian), San Jose." The church had been changed from being a mission of St. Patrick’s parish to being a parish church by the time this photo was published.

Father Lally’s completion of the  Sacratissimus Crucifixus Church is especially noteworthy considering that his own St. Patrick’s Church was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake two months earlier in September. (St. Patrick’s was replaced by a wooden structure dedicated in April of 1907 by Archbishop Riordan.)

Father Clair Antonio Orso, C.S., the current pastor of Holy Cross, found the first baptism in the earliest record book of the parish, September 9, 1906, which was recorded and witnessed by the parish’s first priest, Father Ser. Scanavino. Father Scanavino was the assistant at St. Patrick’s Church, and he continued to live in the rectory at St. Patrick’s Church a mile away on 389 East Santa Clara Street while he celebrated a Mass every Sunday, held evening devotions, gave religious education classes, presided at marriages and baptisms, anointed the sick, and held funeral services at the new church.

Some of the older Italian families in the Northside might remember the names of the parents and godparents of the first child to be baptized, Ignatius Cortorice was born September 7, 1906 [the day after the earthquake] and baptized when he was only two days old. His parents were J.B. Cortorice and Maria Labarbera. The godparents were Salvatore Guadino and Lorenz Labarbera.

Sacratissimus Crucifixus Church continued as a mission of St. Patrick’s Parish until it was changed in 1911 to an Italian national parish at the same time as its name was changed to Pretiosissimus Sanguis.

The first pastor installed in 1911, Father Egisto Tozzi, according to the previously-mentioned SF Monitor article, was “noted for his scholarly attainments and devout piety.” Father Tozzi rented “a nearby cottage,” since a residence for priests had not yet been built. He celebrated two Masses every Sunday, one in English and one in Italian. The article also praised the work of the Sisters of the Holy Family who continually helped the people of the parish for sixty-six years, from 1907 until 1973.

“The parish is populous but very poor owing principally to the fact that the people own no property and have very large families to support while obliged to work for low wages. The Sisters of the Holy Family do much in the way of caring for the little ones in the absence of their mothers and instructing them in their religious duties. The present indebtedness amounts to $4063.47. In time this may be paid off and the people of the parish will have one of the neatest and most artistic church in San José.”

After a new, larger stucco church was dedicated in 1920 (during the pastorate of Father A. Bruno), the old church was used for catechism classes and parish offices for many years.

1920 Stucco Church as it appears today

Parishioner Mae Ferraro, who is 85 and lives on E. Taylor Street, recalls taking catechism classes as a child from the Holy Family Sisters in the old church building. Mae says that even though the church’s address has been always listed as 560 or 580 North 12th Street the first church was on the corner of East Jackson and North 13th Streets and the new church was built to the right of it on the corner of East Jackson and North 12th Streets. The original rectory was also on North 12th.

[Ferraro, who is a lector and a Eucharistic Minister and distributes Communion to many who are homebound, is secretary of the Italian Catholic Federation Branch 4 at the parish, and is involved daily with innumerable parish and other projects and organizations in Santa Clara Valley, including the University of Santa Clara Catala Club. Ferraro was born in the parish of an Italian mother from Trabia and an Italian-American father from San José. Her life and the parish are intertwined, since it is where she was baptized, received her First Holy Communion and Confirmation, was married 66 years ago, baptized her two sons, and where the funeral Mass was held for her husband Nick last year.]

Mae Ferraro with her 1927 First Communion photo

No one I talked to remembers what happened to the original church building. It may have been razed in the early 1970s after the parish purchased adjacent properties and tore down several buildings to clear the way for a new convent and the present classrooms, which were dedicated as a CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) center on May 23, 1974.

[The current term in use for those who teach the faith in parishes is “catechetical ministers,” so for those who may not remember the term CCD, the following information from the dedication booklet for the CCD center might be of interest. CCD was a lay organization created in 1605, and it eventually gained the status of “the Church’s official parish society devoted solely to the religious education of all children and youth not enrolled in Catholic schools, and of adults, both Catholic and those outside the fold.” CCD was approved by St. Pius V in 1581, and in 1905, St. Pius X ordered that it be established in every parish.]

Holy Cross parish, aside from being an Italian mission church that evolved into a parish for the immigrants from many nations, is noteworthy for its religious education complex. Although the parish has never had a school, Holy Cross is the only church in the area that has dedicated classroom space for teaching children who do not go to Catholic schools, according to Brother Charles Muscat, C.S., Director of Religious Education at Holy Cross.

The parish is also noteworthy for its bingo night. Long after most parishes have given up bingo as a money-raiser, Holy Cross still has a big sign on the corner of its parking lot on 13th and Jackson Streets advertising BINGO MONDAYS in large red letters, and on Monday evening every week the parking lot is jammed with bingo players’ cars.

[With bingo still an important fund-raiser for the church, it was cause for a smile to find in the church’s archives this clipping from the San Jose Mercury News classifieds in the mid-1970s: “SPLIT POT BINGO GAMES every Wed. afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Also Bingo every Mon. night at 7:30 p.m. Holy Cross Church Hall, 13th & Jackson St. San Jose.” The clipping accompanied a handwritten note to Chancellor Monsignor Daniel F. Walsh from someone in the Chancery Office (initials BR?) complaining about the ad, “Nobody asked me, but I think this is in poor taste. If the only thing we have to put in the paper is a paid bingo ad, we aren’t doing our job.” Chancellor Walsh jotted down a reply on the same note: “Father Nalin strikes again! I will give him notice!” Also included was a copy of a subsequent letter from the chancellor asking the pastor to stop placing the bingo advertisements because “it does hold the Church up to some criticism when they actually advertise bingo.”]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Baptism in the Traditional Manner: Dying with Christ and rising again with Him, the old way

You might enjoy these photos of a Baptism August 25 in the Traditional Rite by ICKSP priest Fr. Michael Wiener.

The baptism shown in these photos took place at St. Margaret Mary Church, Oakland, CA., using the traditional rite. As it happened, I witnessed another Baptism the next day at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto, where I was singing the usual Sunday Noon Novus Ordo Latin Mass with The St. Ann Choir. That new rite Baptism of an 18 year old young man who converted to Catholicism too was performed reverently at St. Thomas Aquinas by a wonderful conventual Franciscan priest. Fr. Nahoe. But it lacked the richness and depth of the ritual used for Martha's Baptism.

For her, the ritual of Baptism started outside the church door.. Martha was asked for her baptismal name (Martha Philomena), salt was put on her tongue, she was exorcised, many prayers were said for her, she was annointed, all before Father Wiener covered her head and led her into the Baptistry.

Once she was at the font, there were many more prayers, another exorcism, several more annointings, and finally the Baptism.

In 1989, the Most Rev. John S. Cummins, former Bishop of Oakland, granted St. Margaret Mary Church permission to use the 1962 Roman Missal for Mass, so they have been offering it ever since. In 2005, he Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland, appointed Fr. Michael Wiener of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, as Episcopal delegate for the Latin Rite of 1962 in the Diocese of Oakland, where he ministers at St. Margaret Mary. The Traditional Latin Mass is said at a daily low Mass at 6:00 p.m. Every Sunday the High Mass (Gregorian Schola, Children's Choir, Adult Choir, and Organ) is offered at 12:30pm.

Fr. Wiener also ministers at the Santa Clara Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, established by Most Reverend Patrick McGrath. Bishop of San Jose, and exclusively dedicated to the traditional form.

After many years of trying to convert to Catholicism and many misadventures and diversions along the way, including off the wall RCIA programs, Martha Wilson found Fr. Wiener, who instructed her in the Catholic faith. And so it came about on August 25, 2007, he baptized her at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. She received her first Communion the next day at the Santa Clara Oratory. Her confirmation will be performed this Fall by Bishop Vigneron -- in the traditional Roman Rite.