At the beginning of this week, all the priests from the Diocese of San Jose were away at the San Juan Batista Retreat Center for clergy study days. It is usually a full week but as we had Bishop P.J McGrath’s funeral services, we came back early. While we were there, we reviewed the Synod’s draft pastoral plan, discussed it, and gave our feedback. However, most of our time was spent sharing stories of Bishop P.J McGrath and this gave us the time and space to mourn our loss. There were several services for Bishop P.J commencing with a Memorial Mass on Wednesday evening and concluding with a Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph yesterday. I am grateful to have shared a deep friendship with Bishop P.J and it was my privilege and honor to serve with him. I feel blessed to share my homily delivered at his Memorial Mass this past Wednesday at St. Francis Cabrini Parish.
I am the way, the truth, and the life. Bishop P.J. absolutely and completely believed those words. This was his gospel of all gospels — and there was place in his Father’s house for him. He lived these words completely and abundantly in his own life, even more so in those last days when he died peacefully. He was so gracious about dying, it was a powerful witness to his faith. So many of us got to observe/witness that during/over his final few days. While recovering from surgery, he developed pneumonia in his first lung. I had spent an hour with him, and he was determined to recover. We chatted about all our shared ministry together, making him laugh at some of the memories of old times. He would cough and complain I was trying to kill him! But the next day he got the news that the pneumonia had spread to his other lung and there was nothing more that the doctors could do. He was very peaceful about it. When I got back to the hospital and chatted with him, he said, “Brendan, actually I’m fine with this. I’m ready to go to my Father’s house. Now I can have a piece of chocolate!” And he got that piece of chocolate. Bishop P.J. died as he lived: full of grace, humor, and faith until his last breath. You can read the full homily here.
It has been an exciting and full week at St. Simon Parish. Last Friday, our Hope and Wellness Mental Health Ministry hosted a dinner with small group conversations giving parishioners time to connect and socialize together. On Saturday, over 60 8th graders received the Sacrament of Confirmation with Bishop Cantu. John Angotti and his amazing cast arrived for Job: The NOW Testament Musical, travelling from New York City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Port St. Lucie, and San Francisco. Last night’s opening show was fantastic! The Church was full, and everyone the musical about the Book of Job, re-told in modern times. The songs were inspirational, the cast was amazing and the 14 Saint Simon children from the school and parish, performed like true rock stars! The energy was infectious, and everyone left feeling uplifted and inspired. It is truly a story for today’s times. The main character Aaron asks, “Why and where is God in our suffering?” and his friends and family help him understand faith along his journey. The story of Job leaves everyone feeling hopeful … Faith, Hope, and Love.
I would like to thank the staff and volunteers who worked together to put on this show and brought together our community:
- Stage Parents – Kerri Cockrill, Sinead Murphy, Tori Reynaga, and Julie Volkert
- Production, Sound & Lights – Jurgen Krehnke, Tim Peterson, and Attracta Lee
- Set and Facilities – Clare D’Agostino, Victor Ramirez, and Baldy Rosales
- Cast Support – Dave and Tina Lipscomb
- Behind the Scenes – Vani Aboud, Chynna Cavales, Madelyn Hanel, Rachel Haydon, Joan Mibach, and Donna Mohammadi.
I would especially like to thank the children and their parents who attended many rehearsals and worked late on Thursday for dress rehearsal. I understand this was a commitment and I thank you for sharing your gift and talents with us at St. Simon Parish – Jaxon Bolivar, Cara Buckley, Iselin Holmung, Skylar Merritt, Molly Mibach, Sophia Mims, Ruby Murphy, Roger Orriols, Vanessa Rivera, Margot Tressler, Cora Venker, Haley Volkert, Emmett Volkert, Caroline Zhang, and Aaron Zhu.
Finally, thank you to John Angotti for bringing his musical to St. Simon Parish and to the cast for sharing their gifts in our community to praise God through music! John Angotti, Meredith Augustin, Courtney Barnes, Harrison Crenshaw, Phoebe Crenshaw, Michelle Crenshaw, Dan Horze, Monica Luther, and Nathan Shrake. If you’d like to come to Saturday night’s show, I encourage you to reserve your tickets here. I look forward to seeing you this weekend.