Answer from Deacon John De Gano:
First of all, welcome back!
We are glad that you have a desire to reconnect to the church and want to encourage you to be patient with us as we are still adapting to the changes that have taken place during the pandemic. Our offices, for example, are still closed (except by appointment) at this time so please keep trying!
With that admission, we do have a ministry aimed specifically for you and your specific request – to return and resume your Catholic faith.
This ministry, ‘Catholics Return Home’, is designed to assist you in getting back into the swing of things. They will be able to advise you on any sacramental needs you may have (typically, the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation) and answer questions you may have about the church since you were here last. Marcus Jones is the coordinator for CRM and you can contact him by leaving a message at (951) 781-9855, extension 33 and he will return your call.
Thank you for your query and we look forward to seeing you in church!
Deacon John De Gano
p.s. If you have any children of catechetical age, you can also contact Olivia Wiseman, director of religious education, at (951) 781-9855, extension 25 to begin the paperwork for their classes.
Answer from Fr. Jun Cajucom, MSC:
I am thankful to God that you have opened your heart to His call. Whatever your reason for being away from the Church for many years, God is ready to embrace you back to the Church like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son. This is a moment of grace for you and the Church as well. God has always been waiting for us to return to Him. He doesn’t stop loving us even if we have turned our back away from Him. As a Catholic, you may simply need to go to Confession to be reconciled and return to practicing your faith.
Fr. Jun Cajucom MSC
Answer from Fr. Luis Segura, MSC:
I am sure that Jesus Christ who already died for your salvation is calling you to be close to Him through the intercession of the Catholic Church. I think that the are some steps that you can follow.
1. Be aware of what took you afar from the Catholic Church.
2. Prepare a good confession and confess your sins.
3. Come to Mass and receive communion.
4. Pray every day to God.
5. Read the Bible.
7. Pray a rosary every day.
8. Do something good for other people.
I think that if you do these things you will be very close to Jesus Christ and to the Catholic Church.
God bless you,
Fr Luis Segura, MSC
Answer from Fr. Christy Yesudass, MSC:
Maybe you have been away from the church for a little while or for quite some time, but now you feel a desire in your heart calling you back to the Church. Listen to your heart. It is your heavenly Father reaching arms out to you, to welcome you to show his unconditional love.
Your Father in heaven wants you to come home, and so do we, your fellow members of Christ’s body, the Church. The longing you have in your heart can be fulfilled through Jesus and his Catholic Church. You are not alone. Countless of your own brothers and sisters in Christ have returned home, have come back to Confession and to Mass, and have experienced the joy of a renewed relationship with the God who loves them and accepts them unconditionally. Now, you can, too.
You may find a suitable time for a confession at the church so that you feel you are loved and you can start your life of faith afresh, and then you will be nourished spiritually at the Eucharist whenever possible.
Welcome back and God bless you and your family.
Fr. Joseph Christy Yesudass, MSC
Answer from Fr. Christy Yesudass, MSC:
We don't have any words from him in the New Testament. But we know he was definitely humble and always obedient. Whenever God gives him directions in Scripture, he immediately responds. He doesn't even need to say, "I'll do it." He just does it. Also, he was a man who must have been extremely pure of heart, because he was married to the most beautiful woman ever and they remained virgins. Saint Joseph also had the role of raising and educating the Messiah. That's next level holiness!
No one was closer to our Lord and Our Lady than St. Joseph. He basically lived in perpetual Adoration. Imagine being able to see the things that he saw, to live with Our Lady and Jesus, to have meals with them on a daily basis!
Saint Joseph teaches us virtue, especially practicing patience and silence, which is very hard to do. Saint Joseph is always calm, always peaceful. He's a great model for interior life. He was in a constant state of communion with God, something we should all imitate. His work was his prayer and his prayer was his work.
(The above paragraph is from an interview with Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, author of the new Marian Press book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father)
Answer from Deacon Richard Heames:
March 17th was the feast of St. Patrick—one of the most popular saints in the Church. But two days later on March 19th, coming much more quietly and with far less fanfare in American culture, was the Solemnity of St. Joseph.
It is easy to lose the Solemnity of St. Joseph in the rigors of Lenten observances or because it comes on the heels of the day-long party that seems to happen every year on St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps we often overlook this feast because we know so little about who St. Joseph was and what his life was like. Nevertheless, St. Joseph remains an incredibly important figure.
Little is known about the life of St. Joseph during Jesus’ childhood. He is mentioned in the story recounted in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus was thought to be lost. Joseph and Mary searched for three days and finally found him in the Temple with the elders. The worry expressed by Joseph shows that he had great love for Jesus. Also, at times in the Gospels, people from the community where the Holy Family lived would ask “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
Most likely, a young Jesus labored alongside his teacher, Joseph, contributing to the common good of Nazareth and the surrounding towns. It is not difficult to imagine that the virtues Jesus learned from his teacher—patience, judgment, persistence and honesty—served him well in his later ministry.
St. Joseph does not appear during Jesus’ public ministry, nor is he mentioned during the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion and death. Due to this, it is believed that St. Joseph died prior to these events.
The hiddenness of Joseph’s life can speak to those overwhelmed by the pandemic, who wonder if God is with them, if God sees. Appearing only briefly in the Gospels, given no words at all to speak, Joseph leads a life of quiet service to God, a life that remains almost totally unknown to us. And yet his life—filled with countless hidden, unseen, unrecorded acts of love—was of infinite value. Joseph’s life says to all of us, “God sees.”
So many hidden lives. So many unseen acts of love in this pandemic. So many secret prayers raised to heaven. The husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus understands them all. St. Joseph, patron of the hidden life, patron in this pandemic, pray for us, this year and forever.
Answer from Deacon John De Gano:
St. Joseph, husband of Mary, serves as a powerful role model of the role of fatherhood for the church.
Although the Bible does not record his words, we can see clearly that he was, when necessary, a man of quick decision and action.
Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was a well-respected businessperson in the community in which he lived. The Bible says that he was a righteous man, that is, a man of honesty, who did his job, cared for his family and practiced his faith to the best of his ability.
He knew the Mosaic Law but was unwilling to bring Mary, his betrothed, to judgment (death by stoning for perceived infidelity), preferring to show compassion instead and divorce her quietly. He took his concerns to the Lord that night and in his dream, an angel spoke to him and in the morning, Joseph did not divorce Mary but took her into his home and protected her (and Jesus) until he died.
Pope Francis’ apostolic Letter, Patris Conde, gives a beautiful synopsis of the many aspects of being a father that Joseph modeled for his family, neighbors and for all of us today. These traits include, humility, compassion, empathy, a sense of justice, and self-sacrifice (placing the lives of Mary and Jesus ahead of his own).
Whatever type of father (biological, grand, step, foster, adopted, single parent, divorced, widower, coach, mentor, Godfather, etc.) you may be or have in your life, the shadow of St. Joseph looms over the church and serves to guide us just as he, too, walked in the shadow of his Heavenly Father, who entrusted to Joseph’s protective care his only begotten son.
In this Year of St. Joseph, why not let the ‘father-figure(s)’ in your life know that they have made a big impact in your life. I’m sure, like St. Joseph, you will find them surprised and speechless.
(The Diocese of San Bernardino has provided on its website a number of devotions and/or scheduled events - including a virtual pilgrimage of our diocese, with liturgies and talks inspired by St. Joseph - in celebration of the Year of St. Joseph. For more information, click on https://sites.google.com/view/yearofstjoseph-dsb/home?authuser=0)
St. Catherine provides the following services to our homeless neighbors.Members of Feed the Hungry ministry prepare and serve a dinner meal at the Hulen Place Shelter twice a month on the first and third Fridays. They arrive at the shelter and start cooking at 5 p.m., serve at 6 p.m. and leave by 7 p.m. They are always open to new participants, so if you are interested in this ‘hands on’ (direct service) ministry, please contact them at (310) 266-9796.
Other members of our parish collect and distribute clean socks and blankets (or soup or sandwiches) to homeless on the streets. Donations of this sort can be dropped off at the Ministry Center or in a box in the back of the church.
We also work in conjunction with the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVdP), who has a chapter at our parish. They prepare lunch ‘snack bags’ of easy to digest and nutritious food and bottles of water that homeless can pick up once a week (more often when available).
The envelopes in our pews allow SVdP to also address the needs of our poor and vulnerable who may have a roof over their head but are struggling to provide food, medicine, pay their rent or utility bills on a consistent basis. Depending on their policy, SVdP provides monthly (or one time) assistance to those who call (951) 684-7386 and leave a message explaining their situation. A SVdP volunteer will return their call (if they leave a working phone number) and verify their request. If approved, they will deliver the food, etc. to the address given to them. The visiting team members (they travel in twos) will converse with the individual or family to see if there is anything else they are in need of and provide assistance wherever possible.
The Lestonnac Mobile Clinic comes to St. Catherine on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of the month and will provide confidential medical checkups for the uninsured. (Contact parish health ministry at Parishnp@yahoo.com for ways you can help). First Congregational Church and Calvary Presbyterian Church (both downtown) also provide medical and/or dental services to the poor or homeless on Wednesdays (FCC) or Sundays (CP).
While this may seem like a lot, it is but a drop in the bucket for all that could be done.
Easy things you can do:Summer temperatures in southern California can be brutally hot. Lack of shelter, water, food or air conditioning can lead to the need for emergency medical services or even death. Carrying extra bottles of water in the car that you can share with them may save a life
Answer from Deacon John De Gano:
We know from Genesis, chapter one, that God created the heavens and the earth. He placed the great lights into the sky (sun and moon) and set the planets in their orbit. From that moment onward, we have known climate, the tilting of the earth gives us seasons and the winds and rains give us what our weather people call highs and lows (pressure) which indicates from which direction the wind is blowing and whether our air is coming in from the sea or the desert.
These things are normal and God-given. They are not a scourge on the land nor are they a blight on our souls.
However, God said for us to be good stewards of the earth and that means not to overdo (or overcome) what God has provided. When we over-fish the seas we depopulate the species and if we aren’t careful we destroy a generation (or an entire species) by our greed for money or our lust to overindulge. Deforestation causes erosion and the depletion of live-sustaining oxygen that the trees naturally exude when converting carbon dioxide to energy.
We need to strike a healthy balance and that is what stewardship is all about.
Caring for our planet and, by so doing, for one another.
However, many people today rail against one another and argue that this is a political or environmental issue instead of recognizing that this is, in fact, a moral issue and a moral obligation imposed upon us by the Creator God.
Pope Francis sounded the alarm in 2015 with his encyclical Laudate si (On Care for the Environment), and continues to extol the virtue of caring for our planet (solidarity) and all that reside thereon.
When the young scholar of the law asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life, Jesus told him to love God and neighbor as himself.
So who is our neighbor?
Jesus’ answer was everyone. Even those we despise – a Samaritan, in this case.
As Christians, we are supposed to be disciples of a loving God so ‘hate’ and ‘despise’ are not words that should even be coming out of our mouths, let alone rest in our hearts.
We are called to love. To share our bread with the less fortunate, the hungry and our drink with the thirsty. And we are asked to do it without strings attached. Unconditionally. As if we are giving it to Jesus, himself.
Then if caring for our planet and its inhabitants is, in fact, a moral issue then we need to set aside our ‘politics’ and see to the needs of those who are our most vulnerable. We need to make sure that the balance remains in order. That we don’t cause mass extinction of species of fish or animals and disrupt the food or life cycle so that we inadvertently (or consciously) imperil our very being and existence.
We must ask ourselves, who are the most vulnerable among us?
If the climate changes, who will be impacted the most? Those who do not have adequate shelter, water, food and/or air conditioning. Basically, Senior citizens and the homeless.
When temperatures climb into the triple digits, the human body is designed to sweat, thus regulating the body’s core temperature. However, when humidity increases because of global warming (carbon dioxide in the air traps the solar radiation and bounces it back to earth rather than it being bounced off the ice caps and out into space) the body finds it harder to sweat and so the body temperature rises resulting in heat stroke or heat prostration. Lacking water to replenish what the body is losing, the affected person becomes dehydrated and the body releases stored toxins into the bloodstream causing additional problems for them. Thus, emergency rooms and paramedics see a spike in the number of calls or usage.
Each of us can use less resources, air conditioning, electricity or gas in order to share with those who have fewer options. We can reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ and be good stewards just as God intended for us to do -- In community -- And for the community we call Planet Earth.
Loving one another is a moral imperative.
In the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, let us remember Brother Sun and Sister Moon, and strive to treat all of creation as family.
-Deacon John De Gano
Answer from Deacon John De Gano:
Our diversity as the parish community of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside, reflects the diversity not only within our parish boundaries but that of the greater ‘catholic’ or universal church.
This diversity, whether it is by age, language, culture or education, can be seen as a strength, in that, we publicly acknowledge that we all worship the same God.
During the month of February, we celebrated African-American culture, with the placement of kente cloth on the ambo and altar. This cloth, which comes originally from the West African nation of Ghana, is a prominent symbol of African arts and culture. In addition, the gospel choir provided music at two masses on Sunday, February 24 in celebration of the month long observance.
On March 16, the Knights of Columbus will put on a dinner in celebration of St. Patrick and St. Joseph. Attendees will have the option of corned beef and cabbage (Irish) or a pasta dish (Italian). Entertainment has varied from year to year, and has included Irish Dancers, Ballet Folklorico Dancers or a duo serenading the diners in Italian.
And in December, St. Catherine parishioners celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Americas) but the cultural influences of Las Posadas (Latino) and Simbang Gabi (Filipino) in the week or weeks leading up to Christmas.
When we participate in such cultural ‘exchanges’ (including learning how to sign with the deaf community at the Sunday 10:15 a.m. mass) we demonstrate our love for God and neighbor, in showing patience, respect and honoring each another’s history – which leads to the breaking down of barriers.
Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father that we might all be made one through him.
And that is the goal of Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten Rice Bowl program which gives us the opportunity to grow in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world and here at home.
As we continue to embrace our unity in faith with our diversity of expressions, God will enlarge our compassionate hearts, make the world a little smaller… and, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology (and honoree of our annual blessing of animals celebration in October), “Pace e bene!” we will live together in peace.
The priest administering the Sacrament of Anointing to the Sick to someone who is ill or visiting the homebound is celebrating in the Lord’s healing prayer and offering the gifts of the Holy Spirit – faith, peace, strength and courage.
All of the priests from St. Catherine of Alexandria parish make home or hospital visits to those who are ill. The patient or a family member calls the number listed in the church bulletin for the sick and requests a priest visit. If requested, the priest will administer the Sacrament of Anointing to the Sick, Confession and Holy Communion.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to the Sick visit the homebound and chronically ill on a regular basis to serve them Holy Communion and to pray with the patients and their families. The minister lets the patients and the families know that the community is praying for and with them. Hospice organizations have chaplains who also visit hospice patients regularly. They pray with the patients and offer spiritual guidance. If the hospice patient is Catholic, they will contact a Catholic parish that is close to the area where the patient lives and will request a priest visit for the Anointing of the Sick or a minister to bring Holy Communion to that patient.
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to the Sick Coordinator: Ken and Mary Beckerle