Canonization of John Henry Newman - Oct 13, 2019

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On Saturday, October 13, Pope Francis canonized our patron, John Henry Newman. He was a 19th century British theologian, philosopher, and cardinal. Half our parish’s name comes from John Henry Newman, hence Newman Hall.

In the late 1800s, a group of Catholic students attending the University of California at Berkeley sought to fulfill their lives with more than academia offered. They realized a desire to establish a society that would be for the social, intellectual and religious benefit of its members. In 1898, this group met three times to organize a club, but there were disagreements and the project was temporarily abandoned. On December 8th, 1899, Newman Club was established. The club was named after the English Cardinal John Henry Newman, who had achieved great prominence in the Catholic life of the 19th century.

The founders of the club were motivated, in the words of an early history of Newman, “to organize a society which would be for the social, intellectual and spiritual benefit of its members and representative of the Catholic Church.” The new club held regular meetings, stimulating discussions and debates, elected officers, and began to grow in significance. The major event of the year was an annual celebration of communion followed by a breakfast.

In 1907, Archbishop Riordan appointed the first Paulist to be the full-time resident chaplain to the students at the university. Fr. Thomas Verner Moore became the first of many Paulists who would serve at Newman from that day until the present.

Newman became the patron of many campus ministries across the United States as Newman Centers were established at many public universities as an organization. In the spirit of Cardinal Newman who believed college students needed to space to explore, encourage, and engage one another in their Catholic faith, Newman Centers became that space.

Cardinal Newman is the perfect patron for Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish because he is an inspiration for students and for those allies who help us at Newman Hall minister to students at Cal and beyond. In a culture that tends to look down on faith or to separate faith and reason, he is an inspiration with his respect for the combination of faith and reason together and how it led him to initially find a home in the Anglican church and later the Roman Catholic Church. He models for students who are moving from the inherited faith of their parents, the conversion process necessary to deepen faith and make it one’s own.

Key to making his conversion to the Catholic faith was his insight into the development of doctrine. It is the combination of reason applied to reveal truth that helps us gain new insights that were not obvious at first. What was seen as Roman excess with her dogmatic teachings, Newman saw as authentic development while holding onto the truth. He wrote, “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” So he believed “… the Catholic dogmas are, after all, but symbols of a Divine Fact.” As symbols, dogma help to reveal the truths that underlie them.” However Newman balanced dogma with the freedom of theology less one drift to dogmatic fundamentalism and intolerance. In today’s terms in our divisive church, he shows us how to walk the middle road between progressive and traditionalist, less we become too rigid and judgmental or too arrogant and unrestrained.

His motto as cardinal was “Heart speaks to heart - cor ad cor loquitur.” He believed there was a directness in the personal relationship with can have with God through prayer. For him, God has an abiding presence with God acting in particular and personal ways. Our task is to be aware of God’s abiding presence. And then our response would be a life in fidelity and obedience to the demands of the gospel, in particular witnessing the love and truth of God with others. And so Newman Centers are not just intellectual enclaves, but about actively going into the university world sharing the gospel.

For all his brilliance and his elevation as cardinal and now saint, Newman’s life was far from easy. It was one of continuous crosses - rejection from his friends and others for betraying the Anglican faith, opposition from others in his endeavors to set up a Catholic college, to work on an English translation of the Bible, to edit the Catholic periodical, the Rambler, etc., misunderstandings on his theological writings, death of his younger sister and his own illnesses. Despite it all, he remained faithful to uncovering the truth and to serving God in the Church. So as students face setbacks after setbacks in their search for intellectual truths during their academic years, Newman is a true role model of fidelity, perseverance, and trust.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.

Remembering Barbara Werner

Barbara Werner

(Oct 15, 1946 – Sept. 30, 2019)

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On September 30, 2019 Barbara Kay Werner (maiden name Kelly), loving wife and mother of four, passed away at the age of 72. Barbara was born October 15, 1946 in Roswell, New Mexico to Col. James Richard Kelly and Irene (Ingalls). She received her bachelor's degree in Textiles from Texas Tech in 1969 and worked as an artist throughout her life, gaining recognition for her pottery, stationery, and house stamps in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On June 20, 1970, she married Milt Werner in Austin, Texas. They raised four children: Kelly, Mike, Gretchen, and Mattwho all graduated from UC Berkeley, Go Bears! She is survived by her 3 brothers, Mike, Tom, and Jim as well as four grandchildren, Micaela and Austin (children of Mike and Diana), and Charlotte and Emmeline (children of Gretchen and Brian Drake).

Barb first met Milt when they were 10 years old at Saint Peters School in Roswell, NM. Milt would walk her home, carrying her books from school in junior high and high school. They remained close throughout college and right after they graduated, they got married and moved to California. Barb and Milt lived in Alameda from the early 1970s-1995 while Milt was an educator. They lived in the South Bay from 1996-1998 and Oakland and Berkeley from 1998-2018. They moved to Belvedere to be near their grandchildren in 2018.

Barbara was a devout Catholic, involved in multiple parishes in the Bay Area. One of the highlights of her life was getting an audience with the Pope on a Rome and Holy Land trip she and Milt took in 2012. She gave so much love to everyone she met, and remembered nearly every birthday and anniversary and would send cards and handmade gifts.

She loved many things in life, including: family, friends, the Kennedy's, the Beatles, parties, sailing, visiting Paris, brightening people's days with heartfelt homemade gifts, Harriet's cookies, sewing baptismal gowns for Newman Hall in Berkeley, helping set up prom each year at UCSF Medical Center for terminally ill patients in high school who couldn't leave the hospital, as well as caring for sick children at UCSF.

Over the past 40 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, Barbara was involved in the St. Francis Yacht Club, Catholic Charities, UC Berkeley's International House, Claremont Park Book Club, Cal Parents, SF Symphony, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, St. Jude's, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, among many other organizations, schools, and charities.

As a member of the Alvarado Road Artists Group, she had her pottery shown and sold at art galleries and stores in Northern California and Carmel. She's known for large, beautifully hand-painted salad bowls and her French-inspired line of dishes, which she made by hand in her studio in Berkeley. Prior to pottery, she made bears, silkscreen art, stationery, gift tags, house stamps, and dresses. And for many years she was employed by UC Berkeley's athletic department as a graphic artist making displays for their Hall of Fame and creating beautiful awards using her calligraphy penmanship.

Barbara had a dynamic personality that lit up every room she walked into. She made everyone feel welcome and important as she worked her way through a room greeting all. Often she was the last person to leave an event or activity because of her tremendous love of life and her friends.

Memorial Rosary on Friday, October 11th at 6pm


 Catholic Funeral Mass at 12 noon on Saturday, October 12th

St. Hilary's at 761 Hilary Dr, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920

The mass will be followed by a reception at Tarantino Hall which is attached to St. Hilary's Church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in memory of Barbara Werner.
Monte's Chapel Of The Hills; San Anselmo 415-453-8440

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 6, 2019

World Day of Migrants and Refugees - Sept 29, 2019

The Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees since 1914. It is always an occasion to express concern for many different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for the challenges and increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.

In 2019, the World Day will be celebrated on September 29th. Pope Francis has chosen the theme “It is not just about migrants” to show up our blind-spots and make sure no one remains excluded from society, whether a long-time resident or someone newly-arrived.

The following are excerpts from Pope Francis’ prophetic message:

The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference.” In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. . .That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture.”

For this reason, the presence of migrants and refugees -- and of vulnerable people in general -- is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants. When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well regarded nowadays.”

It is not just about migrants:

  • it is also about our fears.

  • : it is about charity.

  • : it is about our humanity.

  • : it is a question of seeing that no one is excluded.

  • : it is about putting the last in first place.

  • : it is about the whole person, about all people.

  • : it is about building the city of God and man.

Our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration can be summed up in four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. . .They describe the Church’s mission to all those living in the existential peripheries . . .If we put those four verbs into practice, we will help build the city of God and man. . .promote the integral human development of all people. . .help the world community to come closer to the goals of sustainable development that it has set for itself and that, lacking such an approach, will prove difficult to achieve. . . the Lord is calling us to conversion, to be set free from exclusivity, indifference and the throw-away culture. . .the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life.”

Why Join - Fr. Steve Bossi, CSP

Why Join?

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Once again we are in the season of “sign ups”. We are asking people to fill out a registration form, telling us who they are and how to contact them and we invite them to commit to activities around here.  Why?  Because nothing can happen here if people don’t let us know who they are and where they are willing to invest some of their time, energy and talent.  That is why joining is a good thing for Newman.  But more importantly it is good for those who make Newman their faith home.

We live in a culture that values independence. It tells us to live as if “I don’t need you and I don’t want you to need me”.  Ultimately this approach to life doesn’t work.  Anyone who sings or plays a musical instrument knows the only way there will be beautiful music is if everyone shows up for rehearsals and performances.  Life at Newman is like that.  The Liturgies here at Newman are what they are because people agreed to show up, to learn to make music with our choir, to read the scriptures well, to help distribute communion, and clean up when Mass is over.  

That’s why signing up is good for Newman.  Why is it good for each of us?  If we do not join in common effort with others, we fall into feelings of isolation and alienation.  There is much discussion today about the effects of those feelings on our bodies.  Our very nature as humans begs for social connection, starting with families but reaching beyond them to the people around us.  We need people with whom we can share our lives.  This is fundamental to being human.

One of our greatest challenges today is to overcome the feelings of alienation that cause us to distrust others.  It is only in knowing others that we feel less alone and vulnerable.  In human friendships we feel valued.  That feeling is hard to find in our busy and populous world.  We find it in community on a smaller scale where we can know people by name and form friendships with them.

So if Newman keeps pushing the idea of joining up and being part of the activities we offer, it is because our very nature demands it.  Jesus called his followers to have a concern for one another.  He said, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35)   We do that best if we know others and they know us.  So when you see something offered at Newman that holds some interest for you, try joining.  It could be the healthiest thing you can do - for yourself and for those you will come to know.

- Fr. Steve Bossi, CSP