Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Una tarde en el Distrito de la Misión

It gives me great joy to proclaim that spring break is finally here!  After over a month away from home (my personal record even after two and a half years as a university student), I'm home for the week and very much enjoying the vacation.  My roommate, Kim, and I took the weekend to celebrate our brief respite from school, braving the rainy Sunday afternoon to make a trip to the Mission District in San Francisco.  I've never had a chance to visit the Mission District so it was a much welcome adventure.  The neighborhood is heavily Hispanic and the culture is deeply embedded in the area, from the language you hear spoken on the streets to the various Latin American tiendas and restaurants that line the sidewalks.

Although it was raining for the majority of the afternoon, Kim and I took our time wandering down 24th street, where you will find an abundance of very colorful and amazingly detailed murals.  We trekked back up to Guerrero Street to attend Saturday vigil Mass at St. James Catholic Church--it was a beautiful service.  After another trip down the hill, we decided to grab dinner to-go from La Palma Mexicatessen.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves hankering for some delicious Mexican food in the Mission District!

Here are some of my favorite photos from our day out.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leading with Trust

Recently, my roommate and I decided to give another parish in the area a try: St. Augustine Parish of Oakland.  This Sunday marks our fourth Sunday at the new parish and what can I say--it's been an absolutely wonderful and enriching experience.  What I've got for you today is an unbelievably crazy story that I've been hoping to share with as many people as I can.  Here it goes:

Last Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, Fr. Mark says that he has been to Kenya and he wants us as parishioners to help.  Due to the widespread toll of HIV/AIDS, many, many children have been left orphans and are in great need of care.  In this particular village, there are already two orphanages, each housing about 16 children each.  The missionaries there would like to build a third orphanage that would house another 50 children and have laid the foundation for the dormitory, however, the total cost is $65,000 and they do not have the resources, nor the funds, to continue building.  They need money.  So you think Fr. Mark is going to ask for a collection, right?  Wrong.  Instead, he says that he is going to distribute money to us.  Get this: He orchestrates a 'reverse collection,' circulating envelopes that each hold between $15 to $150.  With this, he requests that each parishioner, over the Lenten season (the forty days leading up to Easter), take the money they have received and use it creatively as a way to bring back more money.  All he asks is that we get creative.

The baskets come around and I pull out an envelope--lo and behold, inside I find two crisp bills adding up to a total of $15.  My roommate discovers a total of $50 in her envelope.  Our close friend in hers unfolds another $30.  That morning, this parish church in the middle of Oakland gave away $12,000 in the hope and trust that we could do more.

Trust is key and I'm energized here to lead with my best self.  Through the kindness and generosity of a few friends, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, I have been able to raise about $50, but I am hoping before Pentecost Sunday when the money is due back to the parish (May 27) that I can raise at least $200, if not more.

I understand that we all have various financial obligations and this may not be the best time but if you can donate even a dollar to the cause, please do.  Here you will find a Paypal account that I have set up in order to accommodate online donations, however I am also very willing to receive donations through the mail (leave me a comment and I will make sure you have a means of contacting me regarding donations by mail).  I thank you all in advance for your generosity.

Please take some time to think about this and if you are at all interested and have the means, please donate.  If you are unable to donate, please pass along the word.  It's a great cause and what St. Augustine Parish is doing is a testament to the trust it holds in the creativity of its members.

For more information, please check out their website:

God Bless!