Who are "Women in Conversation"?

What is it that you like about Newman Hall-Holy Spirit parish? What keeps you coming?  Is it attending a good liturgy with prayerful music, a thoughtful homily, and a chance to mix during donuts and coffee afterward? More than this, are you hoping to make friends, to grow spiritually and intellectually, to find a real community where you can share your joys as well as your sorrows, your beliefs as well as your doubts in a setting of mutual acceptance? 

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In our parish, we have a wonderful venue for women of all ages to share experiences of faith and to build a vibrant spiritual community. Women in Conversation (WiC), co-founded in 2011 by Kaya Oakes and Jean Molesky-Poz, offers opportunities to consider theology, scripture and spirituality from women’s perspectives, deepen prayer and discernment practices, and to support one another.  

We meet bi-monthly on the second Saturday, September to June. Not only are we treated to lectures, small group discussions and prayer, but we value getting to know each other over coffee and snacks, making friends with women of diverse ages and backgrounds. At a meeting, participants can number from thirty to sixty women.

Over the course of nine years, Women in Conversationhas considered topics such as “Women Seeking the Sacred” and “Transitions: From Who We are to Who We Are Called to Become,” as well as inquiring into more public roles of Catholic women’s leadership, including women’s ordination.  Feminist biblical scholars have examined overlooked stories of women in the Bible with us and provided skills to reconstruct biblical history in which women were central and active agents. Muslim women dialogued with us on their faith, and undocumented mothers shared their stories, as have women ministering to girls who have been sex trafficked. We inform one another of needed social actions that reflect Catholic social teaching.

In an earlier session, women students led the group through a meditation on the visit of the young pregnant Mary who “set out with haste to a Judean town in the hill country” to stay with her aunt for three months (Luke 1:39). In small groups of students and regular parishioners, we asked, “What can we, as women of faith, learn from one another across the generations here at Newman?” Students said they were glad to “get out of their bubble;” a parishioner said to the students, “I am amazed at the depth of your spirituality, your freshness,” reflecting thoughts of many.  We also sponsored a treasured event, “Women Resting in the House of God” an all-night vigil, praying and resting together in the quiet of the candle-lit chapel until daybreak.  

As in the early church, we are women “of the Way,” searching, desiring to build a beloved, inclusive community. In Spring 2019, Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M., S.T.D. Professor Emerita from Jesuit School of Theology opened our eyes to the early church in the Gospel of John: “A Response for Renewal Thinking of the Church Jesus Brought to Us.” And in June, Elizabeth Johnson C.S.J. in her lecture, Your One Wild and Precious Life: Women on the Road of Ministry,advocated for “courage and hope,” that women’s voices and wisdom be recognized in the Church

Our next event is September 14th,and one of our favorite biblical scholars, Gina Hens-Piazza of the Jesuit School of Theology, presents: Silence Breakers: Woman Zion and the #Me Too Movement: Lamentations 2:20-22 as Path to Resilience. All women are welcome -- students to boomers -- that we might dialogue across generations and enrich one another in faith and our experience of the Living God. 

This was brought to you by the Women in Conversation planning team. For more information contact Peg Bogle at pegbogle@gmail.com.

Paulist Capital Campaign Study

Paulist Capital Campaign Study 

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Help us explore the support level among the Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parishioners for a Paulist Capital Campaign to build a new seminary, repair various Paulist properties, care for our senior Paulists, and enhance our missionary programs.

If you have not already, please complete this online survey.

Please Welcome Fr. Steven Bell, CSP

Please welcome 
our newest associate


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In the Paulist search to fill our associate pastor position, we experienced the decline in numbers limiting the number of men to ask to come.  However, one Paulist wanted to be close to ailing parent. Another was not ready to move so quickly, wanting to establish himself first in in first assignment.  Fr. Steven graciously told the Paulist president, if you have need of me, I am available.  Those are magic words our president loves to hear, instead of “no.” 

God is in control and so I believe God is always working on sending those needed for God’s mission at Berkeley.  The No’s led to right Yes.  We are blest to have Fr. Steven join our parish team.  He comes with an abundance of spirit, charisma, and talent. 

Based in New York City, he currently leads parish missions, retreats, revivals and workshops, all of which consider the importance of reconciliation and healing.  Visit - Paulist.org/healing- the Healing Pagefor articles and more related to Fr. Steven's ministry in this area.  Fr. Steven previously served as a Catholic campus minister at St. Thomas More Newman Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.  To hear some of his powerful homilies at the Newman Center, please visit buckeyecatholic.podomatic.com, their podcast archive   He also previously served as associate pastor of St. Austin Church in Austin, TX, and as associate director of our young adult media ministry, Busted Halo.  

A native of Washington, D.C., Fr. Steven was ordained a priest on June 22, 2008, by then-Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  He will be arriving here at Newman on August 2nd. Please give him a warm Newman welcome when he arrives.

Fr. Evan Cummings, CSP - Ordained May 18, 2019

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Our Paulist intern, Evan Cummings is now Fr. Evan Cummings, CSP. He was ordained by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on May 18, 2019 at the Paulist Mother Church, St. Paul the Apostle, in New York City.

Several Newman alumni were present at his ordination - Jonathan Young ‘16, Vincent Escueta ‘17, Spencer Garrett ‘17, Marie Droual ‘17, Natasha Castellon-Hinkle ‘18, and Jessica Yescas ‘18. Fr. Ivan had the honor of vesting him once he was ordained a priest.

For more information on the ordination and his First Mass and videos, check out the Paulist website.

Oppose SB 360 - California's Attempt to Break the "Seal of Confession"

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The “seal of confession” is one of the most sacrosanct of Catholic beliefs and penitents rely on this unbreakable guarantee to freely confess and seek reconciliation with God. A priest who breaks the seal is automatically excommunicated (Canon 1388)

Yet now, the California Legislature is debating SB 360, a bill proposing to eliminate the penitential communication exemption when it comes to child sexual abuse. The state Senate has already approved of SB 360 by a vote of 30-4, and it is now before the state Assembly. Clergy and ministers are already “mandated reporters” - which means that when they hear information about suspected abuse, they are required to report this to law enforcement. There is no evidence that breaking the seal of confession would provide any greater protection for our children.

Examine the issue with Archbishop José H. Gomez who explains how, “Confession is sacred — to every priest and every Catholic.”  In his articles on the subject, Bishop Robert Barron says: “What I hope is clear—not only to Catholics, but to any American committed to the First Amendment—is that we are dealing here with an egregious violation of the principle of religious liberty.”

Send your Legislator an email objecting to this assault on our religious freedoms
or write a letter to your legislator. Click here is a sample letter.

[ adapted from the California Catholic Conference website (cacatholic.org) ]

LATEST UPDATE (July 9, 2019): Bill 360 was withdrawn the day before its July 9th hearing in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee. This effectively removes the bill from further consideration this year. Thanks to all who joined in the protest, letting your assembly person know. The Safety Committee noted more than 125,000 people expressed their opposition to the bill. This number however seems low given the Diocese of Los Angeles ran a campaign that delivered 140,000 letters to the State Capitol and another 16,700 e-mails to representatives in LA.

Not only were Catholics opposed to this bill, but also our religious brothers and sisters. Muslim, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Baptist faith leaders signed a statement declaring “we are all one with American Roman Catholics in condemning the attack on religious freedom that the current version of California Bill 360 represents.”

Andrew Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, expressed his thanks, saying, “An amazing number of people spoke to their legislators to explain the sacred nature of the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is important to our spirituality and our relation to God and to others. Our thanks go to all who played a part.”