Mary Pope-Handy 408 204-7673 mary@popehandy.com

Minister of Parish Life – When a Lay Person Acts As Pastor

changes in the churchAs one consequence of the ongoing shortage of priests, we are seeing the emergency of more lay leadership at the parish level.  When the role of pastor cannot be held by a priest, the job title is changed to “Minster of Parish Life” and may be filled by a lay person, male or female, a deacon or member of a religious order .  We are certain to see this as an increasing trend while the continuing decline in numbers of priests (both religious and diocesan) continues.   (Another consequence is increased use of priests from abroad.)

In late July, the newest Minister of Parish life was appointed: Dorothy Carlson, who will serve in that role at St. Justin parish in Santa Clara.  Read the full story on the Diocese of San Jose’s website.

Beautifully Restored Stained Glass Windows at St. Mary’s in Los Gatos

Some Silicon Valley Roman Catholic parish communities enjoy really beautiful stained glass windows, while some with newer construction, (I think unfortunately) do not.  My own parish, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Los Gatos, recently cleaned and restored its stained glass windows.  You can appreciate them without leaving home if so desired – they have a wonderful photo album online:

Stained glass windows at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Los Gatos

Each image can be enlarged, so be sure to click on any which really appeal to you.  Of course, to get the full effect, you really should consider visiting it in person!

Another place to check out…

When our kids were little we sometimes visited other parishes (at times this was for purely practical reasons involving scheduling and at others it was to provide a little diversity to help them with new things to look at in church).  One of our favorites was St. Christopher in the Willow Glen area of San Jose.  St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers (at some point it was thought that he was not an historical person, so I’m not sure if he is no longer that patron but I believe so) and at the back of the parish church there’s a really lovely, large stained glass collage of various things representing travel, including a steam ship, a train and an airplane.  Our son, when a toddler, called it something like the “airplane church”.  As a young boy, he thought that it was a pretty good thing to find in a church.

St Joseph of Cupertino, Patron of Test Takers & Students

Anyone living in Silicon Valley is aware that schools in the city of Cupertino are top scoring in the state. Students there perform exceedingly well on the state’s all-important API tests and have a very high success rate with getting into good colleges & universities.

But how many know that the city’s patron saint, St. Joseph of Cupertino, is also the patron saint of students and test takers?

There are a number of articles online about his life, in which we see that he was a slow learner, had trouble focusing and struggled for that reason in many areas of his life. He was successful early on neither in school nor in attempts to find work or even acceptance with a religious order, the Franciscans.  To read about him is to feel sorry for him in those early years.  Frustrated and discouraged, he had a bad temper as a youngster.  On top of everything else, his father died while his mother was expecting Joseph, so he was raised by a single mother – tough for both of them!

He grew in humility (doing penance), though, and this appears to have been how God best reached him, at least initially. In time, Joseph did become a Franciscan friar, grew in holiness and became deeply in awe of and in love with God. In prayer he sometimes would levitate – yes, raise off the ground – so he is also the patron saint of pilots and those who fly.  (more…)