Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Refreshed by a Sabbatical

     In the Fall of 1996, from late August through mid December, I attend a Sabbatical Program at SAT (the School of Applied Theology), in Berkeley, California.  The program was a part of the School of Theology at Berkeley, and served women and men whose service to the Church had led them in new directions or to a much needed pause in their mid life journey.  Our "class" of fifty-four were all priests, men and women religious, a deacon from Sacramento (whose son was a priest) and one lay woman (a Catholic school teacher from Ireland.)  They came from the U.S. and Canada, but also from Ireland, Scandanavia, Puerto Rico, various countries in Africa, South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippenes, Australia and Eastern Europe among other places.  It was a diverse group, and a delightful one ... and our four months together brought refreshment and renewal to our ministries.

     As I reflect upon that refreshing period of time in my life, I am reminded of the great people that I met, the marvelous places that I visited and the experiences of God's grace that blessed my continued journey.  I am also in the process of downsizing and ran across a number of picture albums of those days that refreshed my memories.

     I flew out to San Francisco and had my car shipped by carrier, which allowed me to have a set of wheels.  Our sessions were held in the city of Berkeley at a Dominican House with beautiful grounds. 

Many stayed on campus, but there were some of us that made other arrangements.  Four of us resided at Our Lady of Lourdes parish on Lake Merritt in Oakland, hosted by the late pastor, Father Saemus Genovese.  Our Lady of Lourdes was a great setting and a vibrant, dynamic, diverse parish.

    Our program of studies included theological updates, spiritual renewal, and as one can imagine in California, a variety of experiences such as visits to the redwoods of Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Napa Valley, the City of San Francisco, a retreat in Del Mar (near Monterey). 



 I visited many of the California Missions,

as well as many parishes in the Bay area on weekends, experiencing multicultural communities and worship.  I made a trip to Mendicino to the North, Yosemite (pictured below with Half Dome & El Capitan 

the Russian River area, Livermore for a wine festival, as well as trips South to Orange County.  I encountered Taise Prayer for the first time at the Old Saint Mary Cathedral in downtown San Francisco

and also at a convent in Menlo Park.  I learned, relaxed, became more creative and found a renewed energy for ministry and service, and I saw the joy of life's journey encapsulated in those four months out West.  I came home to Christmas with a renewed spirit. 

It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years.

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