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Pastor's Message

Fr. James Okaror (Ed.D)

January 22, 2023

Reflections | Fr. Robert McKay, PhD, BCC

In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy, announcing the restoration of David’s kingdom. When Jesus calls his disciples he appoints them to be “fishers of people” – to gather in people from the ends of the earth. Andrew, Simon, James, and John, and the others dared to hope for change, and they dared to put their faith in Jesus Christ. They were some of the first people who followed the Holy Spirit into the unknown, hoping that the future would be different from the past. From a human perspective, the advancement of the Gospel depended upon the apostles – imperfect people. Jesus called people who were ordinary (fishermen, tax collectors and more). He called them not because they were special, but because they were ordinary.

Strangely enough, for his amazing mission Jesus needs ordinary folk who will give him themselves. Once there came to Socrates a very ordinary man called Aeschines. “I am a poor man,” said Aeschines. “I have nothing else, but I give you myself.” “Do you not see,” said Socrates, “that you are giving me the most precious thing of all?” What Jesus needs is ordinary folk who will give him themselves. The life of our call begins with Jesus and he invites us to follow him. Jesus is leading and out front – disciples both then and now – follow behind, not knowing exactly what lies ahead and walk in faith/light.

The philosopher Kierkegaard once said that what Jesus wants is followers, not admirers. The disciples’ call and ours is not about a specific function in the church. More fundamentally it is a call to seek the face of God, and the fullness of life itself. I can think of nothing more comforting than the reality that God called and calls – people just like us – asking to us to repent and believe that God’s Reign has begun. “Repent!” he said. “Turn from your own ways and turn to God. Reverse your direction and begin walking towards God.” A world in darkness has seen the light. We are able now, as we sing in today’s Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship him in the land of the living. The biblical quest is to see the face of God and live.


January 15, 2023

Reflections | Fr. Robert McKay, PhD, BCC

In any good story, the author gives a hint at the beginning – a clue about how the story will resolve itself. At the outset of his gospel account St. Matthew records that when John the Baptist observes Jesus he announces: “There is the Lamb of God!” Within the Christian faith, the lamb of God has become a powerful symbol. Our attention is drawn to the sacrifice of lambs and to their innocence and purity. Jesus was without sin – the perfect lamb whose sacrifice offers forgiveness and redemption.

Perhaps John was proclaiming: “Your prophets dreamed of the one who was to love and suffer and die for the people; that one has come.” It was suddenly revealed to John that Jesus was none other than the Son of God. Jesus became a lamb led to the slaughter to show the depth of God’s love for us. Our response to this overture of God’s love for us in Jesus is to love like He did. Sin is the opposite – we fail to love. When we say “I have sinned” – it’s not that we have broken a rule, a regulation, a law – it is the breaking of another person’s heart. We have broken a person, we have nailed him to the cross.

For this reason, the Agnus Dei is sung during the breaking of the consecrated Host at Mass. St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) preached of how this breaking symbolized the Passion of Jesus – how He suffered for us, and also how his sacrificial death is a victory. This triumph is further emphasized when the priest holds up the fractured Host and says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.”

When we celebrate the mysteries of the Mass, we look to the Lamb who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. We gather around the altar of the Lamb, offering to Him our hearts and pledging our love, so that we may welcome Him and become united to Him in the Holy Eucharist. Agnus Dei!


 

January 8, 2023

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

What Gift Do I Offer to the Newborn Baby–Emmanuael?

In the feast of Epiphany, we celebrate the showing-forth of the newly born baby- Jesus, not only to his people but to the gentiles, meaning to the whole world. Christ is the light that will enlighten all nations and give the fullness of life to all people. The prophecy of Isaiah we read in the first reading describes this showing forth the gifts that would be presented to the newly born baby- Jesus. In line with Prophet Isaiah, St. Paul, in the second reading, calls himself a steward of God’s grace, who has been called and sent to share the gift of God’s grace with all people.

We see in the gospel today how different people reacted to the message of the birth of Jesus. First is King Herod. He felt insecure hearing about the birth of a new king. To protect his kingdom, he ordered the killing more than two thousand innocent children. Second, also, we see the indifferent reaction of the chief priests. The way the chief priests responded when asked about the news of the newly-born king showed that they paid limited attention to it. Third, is the reaction of the Magi- three wise men from east Mesopotamia. The Magi offered the best gifts to Jesus, the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold – the king of metals, symbolizes that Jesus is born to be a king, but not in the worldly sense, but rather a king that will reign through the life of service and sacrifice.

Frankincense is a gift for a priest, the sweetest perfume in the temple. It symbolizes that Jesus is the priest who will open the door of salvation to all people. Myrrh is the gift, an embalmment bam, which symbolizes the mission of Jesus to lay down his life for us so that we may have life and have it in abundance. We must reflect and ask ourselves about the gift we give to Jesus. Is our gift to welcome Emmanuel the gift of heard heartedness as Herod, indifference as the chief priests, or best gifts as the Magi? The best gift we can give to him is our life. We do that through our total trust and confidence in him. Let us turn to God for the strength we need in this new year to be our best and to do our best. Amen

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


 

January 1, 2023

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Mary, Mother of God and Peace–Pray for Us!

Seven days ago, we celebrated Christmas, the birth of Jesus. The feast today honors Mary, especially as the Mother of God. If Jesus is the son of God as we believe and profess, Mary undoubtedly is the mother of God. As Catholics, we honor Mary following the honor given to her by God through the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. Mary’s role as mother of God places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan. She has a special relationship with the Blessed Trinity as a daughter to God the Father, mother to God the Son, and spouse to God the Holy Spirit. The Church continues to honor Mary. The Church implores her maternal intercession in her devotions and liturgy. She remains the mother of God and the mother of the Church.

Today’s gospel (Luke 2:16-21) reads, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” This helps us to reflect on one of her enduring virtues, continual prayer, which is not devoid of contemplation- hearts pondering things. In Mary’s life, we learn different forms of prayer (vocal, mediation & contemplation) and different expressions of prayer (praise, thanksgiving, contrition/ forgiveness & supplication/petition. Prayers and devotions to Mary should have an interior disposition, which should help us to live a good and exemplary Christian life.

Mary is also the mother of peace. He gave birth to the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:5), who brought a hymn of peace to angels (Luke 2:14) and taught about peace in his beatitudes, and called peacemakers the children of God (Matthew 5:9). Today is the World Day of Peace. Our first reading (Numbers 6: 22-27) includes peace as what comes with the blessing of God. Our world needs peace at different levels. Peace with oneself gives room for peace with other people. Let us pray that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of peace, we grow in peace of hearts and minds and be instruments of peace in our world. Amen.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


 

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December 25, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Christmas is Here!

We are gathered here with joy to begin the celebration of the birth of Christ- Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of the great mystery of our faith. The mystery of incarnation, God coming to become one with us so that we could become one with God. It is the celebration of God’s great love for us from creation. The mystery of Christmas is the most remarkable event of humanity. Little wonder that the years of history are calculated either before or after the birth of Christ- BC & AD.

Christmas invites us to welcome and recognize God’s presence in our lives with joy. He is Emmanuel – God is with us. God’s presence reminds us constantly of the great love through which He created us and invited us always to be with Him. The word spoken through the patriarchs and prophets is now dwelling with us. It is a presence that boosts our confidence and endurance amidst the storms of life. The joy of this season has to be grounded on the acceptance of God’s gift of Himself to us and His ever-dwelling presence among us.

While wishing each other a merry Christmas, let us continue to live and share this joy through a life of gratitude, generosity, and recognition of God’s presence. We, the priests (Frs. James, Vincent, Paul, & Robert) who minister here at SFC, wish you and your families a joy-filled Christmas and the blessings of the coming year.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


 

December 18, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. Paul Soukop, SJ

The Incarnation: God’s Great Mystery of Salvation!

The Incarnation, God’s great mystery of salvation—God’s taking on human flesh and human life— means more than the Second Person of the Trinity’s entrance into human history, suffering, and death. Much of the New Testament reflection on this mystery describe it in terms of solidarity: the reality that “God is with us,” a fact made manifest in the name Emmanuel, first given by the prophet Isaiah. God shows that solidarity in a more radical way than God’s accompanying Israel from slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea, through the desert, through the establishment in the land of promise. God’s solidarity with us touches all things human—through temptation to forgiveness, through death to life.

The Incarnation means more than that. It divinizes humanity. God’s joining the divine to the human is not a one-way street. It also joins the human to the divine and, in many ways, completes the work of creation. What is good at creation becomes perfect in Christ Jesus. And yet, unbelievably, there is more. The Incarnation also means that God wants us to participate in our salvation. God grants us salvation but gives us a role, too. Isaiah tells how God asks Ahaz to accept a role—to ask for a sign—but the king was too hesitant. Even so, God gave the sign in the words of the prophet. Centuries later, at the time of fulfillment, God invites Mary and Joseph to accept their roles. Luke’s Gospel narrates the invitation to Mary and her response, “Be it done to me according to your will.” In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear Joseph’s response, “As the angel of the Lord had commanded him, he took his wife into his home.” In a mysterious way, God’s plan for the Incarnation rested on the work of this humble couple of Nazareth.

God’s invitation extends to us. We, too, have roles to play in the mystery of salvation. Let us pray that we can hear God’s word and put it into practice so that God’s salvation can come to fruition in our lives and in our world today.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


December 11, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Advent Joy!

Growing up as a child in the Eastern part of Nigeria, the 3rd week of Advent was the best week before Christmas for me for two reasons. It was when the school was off, and no school for the next three weeks. It was also a week that my parents took my siblings and me to buy new clothes and shoes for
Christmas. As an adult, I learned that the third Sunday of Advent is a unique Sunday of the four Sundays of Advent. The 3rd Sunday of Advent is the Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. This Sunday lightens the penitential tone of Advent, encourages, and calls on us to share the joy of Christ’s coming. We also light the 3rd of the Advent Candles, which is rose or pink-colored. Thus, the readings of this Sunday in different ways invite us to share in this Advent joy.

The Prophet Isaiah (35: 1-6a,10), in our first reading, interjects the tone of joy at different parts of the reading. He points out the joy God’s people will experience at the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah emphasizes that “those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.” St. James (5:7-10), in our second reading, calls our attention to one of the important virtues we need in our Christian journey to share in this Advent joy: Patience. Joy is rooted in patience because patience brings peace, contentment, and hope. In addition, both John the Baptist’s inquiries from prison about Jesus and Jesus’ appreciation of the person of John the Baptist in the Gospel today (Matthew 11:2-11) call our attention to another important virtue we need to experience the advent joy, which is appreciating the gifts of one another.

As the Church invites us to experience the advent joy, the question we can ask ourselves should be, what is that in my life that takes away my joy? We can pray for the gift of patience that will help us to be patient with ourselves, with people in our life, and even patient with our God, trusting and believing that God knows the best and His time is the best. Also, we remember that gratitude blossoms into joy. Reflect on different ways God is calling you this season to rekindle the desire to appreciate his presence in your life and the beautiful gifts he has given you through the gifts of people in your life. As we continue our preparations to celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us ask the good Lord to help us to experience this joy and be instruments to share this joy
with others. Amen.

On Saturday, 12/03, we had an Advent retreat for candidates and families preparing for their first Holy Eucharist/Holy Communion. Within the retreat, the candidates made their first reconciliations/confessions. Watching the spiritual support, the candidates received from their families and catechists throughout the retreat was uplifting. We thank the parents/guardians and the catechists who prepared these candidates. The candidates will continue their formation in preparation for the First Eucharist/Holy Communion during the Easter season on May 13th, 2023. Remember to check our Advent Schedule on page 4 of the bulletin and plan to participate in the upcoming programs. I look forward to seeing you.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


December 4, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Evidence of Repentance!

Advent season, like the Lenten season, invites us in a unique way to repentance- metanoia- change of heart in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. This repentance begins with a spiritual introspection, which fruits must reflect in our relationship. Thus, St. Paul asks us in today’s second reading (Romans 15:4-6) “to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In our first reading, Prophet Isaiah, the prophet of hope and promise, calls our attention to the peace and harmony the coming Savior will bring to our lives. The Savior, “Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” Thus, our Responsorial Psalm (Psalm) reiterates that “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” especially touching our hearts to be people of Justice and peace. Similarly, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, John the Baptist invites us to today’s gospel (Matthew 3:1-12) to prepare the way for the Lord by repentance and to be able to “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”

In this Advent season, there are many fruits we can bear as evidence of our heartfelt repentance. First, consider what aspects of your spiritual life God calls you to pay more attention to. For example, finding time to pray, meditate, read spiritual books, participate in programs to assist the less privileged, and other ways. It could also be an invitation to be an instrument of peace and harmony in one’s family. Harmony should begin from oneself and flow to others. Let the good Lord help us pay attention to the different ways he calls us to show evidence of our repentance. Amen.

Thanks immensely to all the volunteers who came out on Saturday, November 19th, to help in different ways to make it possible for us to distribute over 130 turkeys and food boxes to assist needy families in celebrating this year’s thanksgiving. We look forward to our Christmas food drive giveaway on Saturday, December 17th. See the bulletin page six for the details. Thank you for your generosity, which makes these SFC social ministries possible. Also, in this Advent season, we have planned different spiritual programs to help us prepare to celebrate Christmas in God’s love and joy. See page four of the bulletin for our Advent schedule and plan to participate in the programs. I look forward to seeing you.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


November 27, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Be Prepared!

“When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 524)

The Church’s five liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Easter, Lent, and Ordinary Time) that begin with Advent avail us grace opportunities through their liturgy, spirituality, and theology. Advent is a grace- filled season in which we prepare to celebrate the most significant event in human history; the incarnation- the birth of Christ- Christmas. The readings of this season will always invite us to prepare for this great feast.

In this season of Advent, we read about two prophets: Prophet Isaiah, who prophesied about the coming of Christ and his mission as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5-6), and Prophet John the Baptist, the precursor, and the forerunner of Christ, who announced and called for immediate preparation for Christ’s coming, which the Gospel of Matthew today invites us to be prepared for the coming Jesus Christ. At the foundation of the preparation for Christ’s coming is what St. Paul invites us to do in the second reading: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Jesus is the Light of the World. The uniqueness of the Advent wreath and candles for this season of preparation invites us to allow the light of Christ to overcome every darkness in our lives so that we become children of light. As we look at the light of the advent candle, let it be a reminder that Christ wants his presence to shine in our hearts so that now and always, we are prepared to be the light of the world. Amen.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


November 20, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Jesus, the King Who Serves and Saves!

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the 34th Sunday, Year C, and the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year. Next Sunday, we begin the Advent season in preparation for Christmas. Therefore, the Church devotes this last Sunday of the Liturgical year to honoring Christ, her founder, and savior, as the King of the universe. He is not a King in the earthly sense but a King who came to serve and save us. Hence, St. Paul describes Jesus’ Kingdom in the 2nd reading (Colossians 1:12-20), “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him.”

The first reading today is from the Second Book of Samuel (2 Sam 5:1-3), telling us how David became King of Israel. Despite his weaknesses and sinfulness, we recognize David as the greatest King of Israel.  It is on the backdrop of the earthly and temporal kingship of David that Luke’s Gospel (Luke 23:35-43) this Sunday reports the account of the crucifixion of Jesus and the encounter of Jesus with two thieves crucified with him. One of the thieves that were crucified with him recognized his eternal kingdom and believed in him as the King, who serves and saves. Consequently, he pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Like the thief who recognized the kingship of Jesus, Jesus wants us to recognize him as the King of our lives, who serves and saves us. If Jesus is the King of our lives, we must remember him in our daily choices and decisions. The simple question we can ask ourselves this week as we prepare to begin the Advent season is, “Where is Jesus, the king, in my life.” Do I allow this kingdom I profess, pray, and celebrate to reign in my life? As we describe, his kingdom is truth, justice, peace, and love. Let us ask him for the virtues we need to make his kingdom reign in our everyday life and see him always in our lives as our King. Amen.

This week, on Thursday, November 24th, we will gather as family and friends to celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving Day. It is a special day to thank God for all his immeasurable love and blessings. It is also a day to thank God for the gifts of one another. We, the staff of SFC, would like to thank you for all your support in different ways in the ministries we do here at SFC. We invite you to join us for 8.30 AM Mass on Thanksgiving Day. The traditional blessing of your wine and bread will be within the Mass. As we celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving, let these words of St. Paul, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) inspire and uplift all of us.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


November 13, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Preserving in the Lord!

This Sunday, November 13, is the feast day of our Patroness, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (18501917). One of the enduring and endearing virtues of St. Frances Cabrini is the exemplary way she persevered in the Lord. When she landed in America on March 31, 1889, from Italy, her home country, at the age of 39, she faced difficulties but overcame them through her perseverance in the Lord. She chose as her motto the words of St. Paul, “I can do all
things in Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). These faithfilled words motivated and compelled her to live an amazing life of faith through perseverance in the Lord. Hence, by the time she died at 67, she had already opened 67 institutions, including hospitals, orphanages, and schools.

As we come closer to the end of the liturgical year, the readings of this Sunday, invite us to persevere in the Lord. In our first reading, Prophet Malachi (Malachi 3:19-20), in a very brief way, describes to us the reward of perseverance, “for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” The Gospel of Luke (Luke 21:5-9) describes the events of the last days, which are not far-fetched from the natural and human
disasters we see and hear these days. In all these, the gospel ended by inviting us to persevere in the Lord, “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.” Similarly, writing to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:712) during their confusion regarding the second coming of Jesus, St. Paul encouraged them as he is encouraging us today to continue to persevere in our work for God’s glory.

God has given us the freedom to accept or reject the gift of salvation he has given us in Christ. He patiently calls on us through different life opportunities to accept and embrace this gift with its challenges. God wants us to say yes to this through our perseverance continuously. The challenges of perseverance come in the face of difficulty and disappointments in life, but that is when we have the test of our faith in God, who will not fail us if we trust in him. Therefore, let us pray for the gifts of wisdom and courage we need to persevere in the Lord. Let these words of St. Paul uplift us, “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18). Amen.

We want to thank those who participated in our different activities in honor of our feast day. We started as a parish community (school & parish) to celebrate this special day in the life of our SFC community through a week-long activity, which comprises spiritual, devotional, liturgical, cultural, academic, and social activities to mark this year’s feast day. I hope we appreciated the beauty of the diversity of our parish community through the
celebration of our Intercultural Mass and reception. We thank the Cabrini planning committee: Fr. Vincent, Doris Bebla, Ronda Clark, Maile Figone, Cathy Campbell, Lee Campbell, Merry Kaelani, Teresa Adams, Audrey Piedad, and all the volunteers who came out to help in different ways.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


November 6, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

I Believe in the Resurrection of the Dead!

The celebrations of the Feasts of All the Saints and All the Faithful Departed (All Souls) on 1st and 2nd November, respectively, are very significant as we come towards the end of the Liturgical Year. Through these celebrations, we remember our loved ones who have departed from this life. Also, these celebrations remind us of the transient nature of our earthly life. They invite us to seize our opportunities to embrace the gratuitous gift of salvation, which God has given us in Christ and which we solemnly accept whenever we profess in our Creed, I Believe in the Resurrection of the Dead! The resurrection of the dead we profess always remains the bedrock of our faith.

It is the unflinching faith in the resurrection that gave the seven brothers we read about in today’s first reading- (2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-12) not to compromise their faith in the face of threats to their lives; and one of the brothers at the point of death affirmed, “you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us to live again forever.” In line with this exemplary courage of these brothers, St. Paul, in the 2nd reading (2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5), prays that God gives us “everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace.” The Gospel of Luke (20:27-38) also describes the gift of resurrection God gave us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who now counts us as part of the “ones who will rise.”

The faith we profess in accepting the gift of resurrection is one step that leads us to manifest the acceptance of this gift through the life we live. Faith, as we know, without good deeds is dead (James 2:17). The challenges we face in our Christian journey are tests of our faith. We win this gift of salvation through our perseverance in faith, which we always profess. In addition, St. Paul encourages us to know “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy of being compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18). Therefore, let us continue to pray for the persevering grace we need to keep to faith that is active, living, and conscious, which leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


October 30, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

The Mercy of God: Infinite and Definite!

On October 22nd, we celebrated as a Church, the feast of Pope St. John Paul II. We remember this great Pope for his service to the Church, especially during his 27 years as a Pope. Also, we remember him as the Pilgrim Pope who traveled to 129 countries to encounter people and share God’s love and mercy with them. In 1980, Pope John Paul II wrote an Encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (DM) – (God, who is rich in mercy), in which he reflected on the richness of God’s mercy and the mission of Jesus to share this mercy with us. He stated, “Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by using comparisons and parables, but above all, He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it.” (DM, #2).

One of the central themes the readings of this Sunday reflect on this invitation Pope John Paul gave us to share in the richness of God’s mercy, which is infinite and definite. Our first reading, the book of Wisdom (Wisdom 11:22 -12:2), reminds us of God’s mercy, “But you have mercy on all because you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.” Likewise, one of the lines of our Responsorial from Psalm 145 reminds us, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.” Similarly, the richness of God’s mercy is well depicted in the Gospel of Luke (19:1-10) through the story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, the Tax Collector.

We have so much to learn from the gospel story: First, Zacchaeus’s desire to experience God’s mercy. Thus, he strove to encounter Jesus. Second, Zacchaeus’ determination to overcome all obstacles to experience the Mercy of God. Jesus recognized his efforts, encountered him, and allowed him to experience the richness of God’s mercy in its fullness. Jesus, in this encounter, reminds us of his primary mission, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Like Zacchaeus, we all need the mercy of God to different degrees. Let us ask God for the strength to overcome the obstacles that hinder us from receiving this mercy, whether these obstacles come from our pride that makes us be in denial of our weaknesses and sinfulness or our despair that makes to give up in making efforts to receive the mercy of God and change our ways and behavior. Amen.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


October 23, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Pray in Humility!

“If you have lost the taste for prayer, you will regain the desire for it by returning humbly to its practice”
(St. Pope Paul VI)

The Eucharistic celebration (Mass) is the sacrament of God’s mercy. At different times within the Mass, we ask for God’s forgiveness because we believe, as we profess in the Creed, “the forgiveness of sin” and affirm our human frailty and the reality of sin. Last Sunday, we read the first part of Luke’s Gospel chapter 18 on the parable of the persistent widow and wicked judge, through which we were called to reflect on the importance of praying with perseverance and persistence. The second part of Luke’s Gospel chapter 18 invites us to reflect on our attitude in prayer through the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

Jesus, through today’s Gospel of Luke (18:9-14), teaches us how we should pray and how not to pray: Avoiding self-justification and judging others in prayer. Today’s first reading, the book of Sirach (35:12-14; 16 -18), one of the wisdom books, reminds us of the importance of praying in humility, “…the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds…” In addition, in today’s second reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18), St. Paul, in the last part of his letter to Timothy in a prayerful way, sets a good example for us. He offered a prayer of inclusiveness and forgiveness.

Praying in humility reminds us that our prayer should not be time for self-defense, self-justification, self- appraisal, or justification, but more of thanksgiving and asking for mercy. The problem with the prayer of the Pharisee in the Gospel was that he used his prayer time to judge and condemn the Tax Collector, which is a mark of pride. From the Tax Collector in the Gospel, we learn the importance of praying in humility as a model of prayer. Praying in humility is also an act of faith. It calls to our mind that our prayer should reflect our total dependence on God and our openness to receive the mercy of God, which is infinite and definite. Let us always remember these words of Jesus that conclude today’s Gospel, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Amen.

We believe everyone who came for our fiesta this weekend of Friday, October 21st, to Sunday, October 23rd, had memorable fun. We are grateful to all who were present and supported the parish. On behalf of our SFC community, we would like to thank Mike Livingston (SFC Director of Fiesta) and these members of the Fiesta Committee: Jennifer Gudeli, Karim Elsharif, Maile Figone, Mike Vasquez, Dave Citrigno, Pam Citrigno, Jose Rodriguez, Tim Smith, Malia Delvecchio, James Sawaya, Sam Nickolas, Delina Pulliam, Eric Pulliam, Linnea Sheehy, John Quinn, Jacqueline Quinn, Glenn Gifford, Leticia Ambriz, and Doris Bebla. Also, we would like to thank all the fiesta volunteers, especially those who came out to set up the fiesta site on Saturday, October 15th, or helped in other ways. We are very grateful for all your hard work.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


October 16, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Pray Without Ceasing!

“When we pray, we talk to God, and when we read the Scripture, God talks to us.”
(St. Augustine)

For some Sundays, we have been reading Paul’s letter to Timothy in our second reading, filled with words of exhortation, encouragement, and admonishment. This Sunday’s second reading (2 Timothy 3:14‐4:2) points out clearly that the Scriptures are inspired Word of God, which is “useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” God speaks to us through the scripture. Sometimes it becomes difficult to know the message God is giving us, especially when we read the Old Testament stories of war and killing. However, if we read the scripture between the line and within the context, we can get the message.

In our first reading today (Exodus 17: 8‐13), the victory of the Israelites’ army led by Joshua over the Amalekites through the perseverance and persistence of Moses. He interceded on their behalf by relentlessly raising the staff of God. The gospel of today (Luke 18:1‐8), the parable of the persistent widow, was chosen on the background of the perseverance and persistence of Moses. This parable encourages us to pray without ceasing. Our perseverance and persistence in prayer is an act of faith through which we continue to feel the presence of God in our lives. Our faith reminds us that no prayer goes unanswered; instead, in answering our prayers, God grants us our requests or gives us the disposition to accept his will.

God, who loves us infinitely, knows the best for us and answers our prayers according to his best will. His will, as our faith teaches us, will not take us to a place where his grace will not abide with us. God wants our prayer life to be ongoing and not only when we need something, thereby making him the only God of emergencies. He wants us to pray in season and out of season. Our Catholic traditions have blessed us with different forms (vocal, contemplative, and meditative prayer) and expressions (Adoration‐praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness, petitions) of prayers. Of these forms and expressions of prayers, which ones are part of your life? Let us ask the good Lord to help us make prayer part of our daily life and pray without ceasing. Amen.

We look forward to our parish fiesta this coming weekend, Friday, October 21st to Sunday, October 23rd. The parish fiesta is an excellent opportunity to have fun as a parish community and to support the parish. We hope you will be there to enjoy the weekend after the three years we have missed it. We would also like to invite you to celebrate Cabrini Week as SFC Community (parish & school) in honor of our patroness, St. Frances Cabrini, whose feast day this year falls on Sunday, November 13th. The vision is to celebrate Cabrini Week with spiritual/devotional, academic, catechetical, liturgical, cultural, and social programs. One of the week’s highlights will be the celebration of intercultural Mass to celebrate the beauty of cultural diversity in our parish community. We will keep you posted with the details of the week’s events.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


October 9, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Thank You Jesus!

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread
(St. Theresa of Calcutta)

The celebration of the Eucharist is the celebration of our deep sense of gratitude to God for his everlasting love and mercy. This celebration invites and sends us to continue to recognize and appreciate God’s ever‐abiding presence. One of the central themes of this Sunday’s readings is the invitation to always find something in our lives to say, ‘Thank You, Jesus’. More still, gratitude to God is an act of faith. It reminds us constantly that faithful God will never abandon us, just as St. Paul emphasizes in the first reading (2 Timothy 2:8‐13), “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”

In this Sunday’s first reading (2 Kings 5:14‐17), the story of Naaman, the leper, is an excellent example of how we should express our profound gratitude to God and to the people God uses to shower his benevolence to us. Naaman returned to Prophet Elisha, the Man of God, who interceded on his behalf for God’s healing upon him. Similarly, the Samaritan’s deep appreciation of Jesus’s healing in this Sunday Gospel (Luke 17:11‐19) reminds us that being grateful to God for his presence in our lives is an act of faith. Specifically, Jesus praised the act of faith of the Samaritan leper, who was the only one who returned to say thanks out of the nine healed. Jesus told him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Our ability to recognize and appreciate the beautiful things God has blessed us with helps us know that God has not abandoned us in the face of our challenges. Also, we are called to appreciate the gifts of people God uses to bless us, just as Naaman recognized that the healing of God came to him through the intercession of the Prophet Elisha. We must ask ourselves; do I appreciate the people God has placed in my life through which I receive his love and kindness? In addition, how can I use God’s gifts to express my gratitude to people in my life? Let us ask the good Lord to give us the faith we need to acknowledge the beautiful things he is doing in our lives and be able to say always, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’ Amen.

Every month of October, the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month. This month, we reflect more deeply on the dignity of every human person made in the image and likeness of God and help to build in different ways a culture of life that cherishes and protects human life at every stage. The month of October is also the Month of the Most Holy Rosary, and the feast of the Holy Rosary is celebrated on October 7th. Also, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on October 13th, 1917, for the last time to shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, urging them to “say the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world.” As an SFC parish community, this October, different families will lead the Rosary every Thursday at 6.30 PM inside the church. I hope you will find time to join this weekly parish family Rosary.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


October 2, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Active And Living Faith!

We have the opportunity to read something new weekly about our Patroness, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), in our SFC weekly bulletin and newsletter. The life of faith St. Frances Cabrini lived is worthy of emulation. When she landed in America on March 31, 1889, from Italy, her home country, at the age of 39, she faced difficulties but was able to overcome them through her active and living faith. She chose as her motto the words of St. Paul, “I can do all things in Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). These faith-filled words inspired and propelled her to live an extraordinary life of faith. Hence, by the time she died at 67, she would open 67 institutions, including hospitals, orphanages, and schools.

The disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 17:5-10) saw the practical ways Jesus has demonstrated faith in God. Thus, they asked Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” The disciples were asking Jesus to teach them ways to deepen their relationship with God, which would make them not only know about God but know God. Our first reading today (Habakkuk 1:2-3,2:2-4) gives an excellent background to the Gospel. Prophet Habakkuk emphasized, “but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Likewise, Paul reminds Timothy in the Second Reading of today (2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14), “I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

Faith is a gift from God, and our relationship with God depends on the extent we are open to receiving this gift from God and making it active and living in our lives. Faith shapes and directs our relationship with God. For, “without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Active and living faith blossoms God’s gifts in us and challenges to use the gifts to serve others. As Apostle James stated, “Faith without good works is dead.” Let us, as the disciples asked, pray for an increase in faith that is active and living. Amen.

Bishop Oscar Cantú, on December 6, 2021, following the call of Pope Francis to be a “listening Church,” called on Catholics in the diocese of San Jose to begin a yearlong process of prayer, listening, consultation, and discernment in preparation for our first Diocesan Synod to be held on January 27 – 29, 2023. The four marks (pillars) of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, will guide the synod’s consultation, discernment, and planning process. In preparation for this synod, we will have our SFC Parish Consultation Session on Wednesday, October 5, at 6 PM in the church. Also, in the not too distant future, you will receive a synod survey, which will be an opportunity for all to give voice to this synod process. I hope our parish community (parish & school) will provide our maximum support and participation in Synod 2023.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

Jul-Sep 2022 Pastor's Messages (Click to view)

September 25, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Remember the Poor!

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the Brazilian Cardinal who died on July 4th, 2022, at 87, was a great friend of Pope Francis. Pope Francis said about Cardinal Hummes in his first press conference after being elected, “He hugged me, kissed me and said: ‘Do not forget about the poor.’ Those words were carved on my mind.” Indeed, these inspiring words of Cardinal Hummes to Pope Francis have been in the mind of Pope Francis and have been reflected in his talks, homilies, and writings. Pope Francis keeps reminding us through his actions and words that the Church is the Church of the poor and for the poor. He has emphasized through the years that the Church, which doesn’t remember the poor, is the Church that does not follow the mind of Christ, who was poor himself.

The invitation to remember the poor is one of the themes the readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on. We continued in our First reading as we read last week the book of the Prophet Amos (Amos 6: 1a, 4- 7), who will know was very eloquent in condemning the negligent attitude of the rich towards the poor. These warnings of Prophet Amos connect to the Gospel story today, the story of the rich man and poor man- Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31). The rich man in the gospel went to hell, not because of his wealth or good life but because of his sin of omission. He failed to recognize the pains of the poor man- Lazarus and only indulged in self-comfort and pleasure.

We must remember that the more blessed we are with the material things of life, the more opportunities to use them to touch the lives of people around us. The more generous we are with earthly treasures, the more spiritual treasures we store for ourselves. Maybe there are people we have made invisible, or we have already passed judgment on them regarding why they are poor or wretched, or perhaps we have not thought about different ways we can remember the poor. The poor are always around us, and we can help them in various ways. Our parish community offers us the opportunities to donate to our food pantry, through which we serve the poor in our neighborhood and beyond. Let us pray that in the comforts of our lives, we do not forget the discomforts and pains of people around us. Amen.

Last Sunday was Catechetical Sunday, and we commissioned the Catechists for our parish community during the 9.30 AM Mass. These catechists: Matthew Shafer, Melissa Shafer, Daniel Kearns, Lelanya Kearns, Timothy Van Overen, Daniel O’Connell, Gregory R. Herbert, Tina Wordley Diegnan, Kathleen Cook, Kimberly Delaney, Randyco Prasetyo, Nathalie Ghantous, Amy Corral, Erin Karazija, Mary Ellen Poirier, Linda Brady, Debbie Casey, Vanessa Casey, Keith Metz, Mary Ellen Poirier, Elizabeth Drew, and Joy Kratofil, will work collaboratively with Merry Kaelani, our parish Catechetical Coordinator, to share their wisdom and witnesses with our parish community at different catechetical ministries. We thank them for saying yes to a vocation to be a catechist. We continue to pray for them and support them by participating in the various catechetical opportunities they would offer to our families.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


September 18, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

We Are God’s Stewards!

The prophets of the Old Testament were messengers of God, called at different times to call people back to God, warn them of God’s justice, and preach against social injustice existing during their time. The 16 books of the Old Testament define different ministries the prophets shared with their people throughout history. Of these prophets, Prophet Amos is well-known as the prophet of social justice. He preached against social ills existing among his people, especially how the rich took advantage of the poor, as we read in today’s first reading (Amos 8: 4-7). He warned them, “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land… The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!

In our first reading, the rich, prophet Amos condemned was not because of their wealth but because of how they used it. They became enslaved by material pride and used their riches to trample upon the poor and the weak. They forgot that whatever they had was a gift from God, and God called on them to make good use of them. As a result, they were not good stewards of God’s blessing. Based on this backdrop of the first reading, Jesus invites us in today’s Gospel (Luke 16: 10-13) to be trustworthy stewards of God’s gifts by being servants who use well the gifts we have received.

We need to remember always that the gifts we have received make us gifts to others. Once we are gifted, we become gifts to others. We are stewards of God’s blessings. We are stewards of the time, talent, and treasure God has given us. If we believe that whatever we have has been given to us, then we must remember that whatever we make out these gifts in service to one another is the gift we give back to God. It remains our choice on how we use God’s given gifts. It is an invitation to be good stewards of God’s blessings, asking God for the wisdom to use our wealth to his greater glory. Amen!

We want to thank those who have been active and participating in the sacramental, liturgical, and devotional life of the Parish. We have seen an increase in the number of people coming to our daily and weekend Masses. Our SFC Church is open daily for Mass; masks are recommended but not required. Whenever your schedule allows you, we encourage everyone to join us for our daily rosary after Mass or before Mass on special feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Friday devotions schedules can be seen on page 4 of our bulletin. Let us continue to avail ourselves of the opportunities to participate in these spiritual exercises and to pray as a community, for the community that prays together grows in God’s love together.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 

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If you visit St. Frances Cabrini during the school hours when the Woodard Entry Gate is closed, please call either the school office at 408-377-6545, or call the parish office during business hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM at 408 879-1120 #20. You can also pull up and park on the side, go to the keypad unit and hit Directory. Find the SFC School office or St. Frances Cabrini (parish office). This will ring that office and you will be able to talk with someone. Thank you!


 

September 11, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

In Thanksgiving And Love!

The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word Eucharistia meaning “thanksgiving”. The celebration of the Eucharist is the celebration of our deep sense of gratitude to God for his everlasting love and mercy. As we are sent out “Go in peace” after the Mass, we are sent to continue to live in this deep sense of gratitude for God’s actions in our lives through his ever-abiding presence. Being grateful to God is an act of faith, which reminds us constantly that God is with us. In addition, our ability to recognize and appreciate the beautiful things God has blessed us with helps us know that God has not abandoned us in the face of our challenges.

St. Paul’s expression of thanksgiving to God in our second reading today (2 Timothy 1: 12-17) is very exemplary. Paul recognized that God’s grace turned him from being a persecutor to a preacher of the Gospel of salvation. Hence, in thanksgiving and love, he said, “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus, our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated.” St. Paul’s expression reminds us that thanksgiving to God begins by recognizing his benevolence in our lives.

The Gospel today (Luke 15: 1-32) has three parables: the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus told these parables within the context of reminding us of God’s infinite and definite mercy. It is worth pointing out that each parable ends with the celebration of thanksgiving and love when we experience God’s love. Significantly, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the son’s father expressed, “But now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” This statement confirms that thanksgiving begins with recognition.

Thank you all for your support at the Mass of my installation and reception. Every installation Mass is a celebration of thanksgiving and love. I remain grateful to Bishop Cantú for the opportunity given to me and Fr. Vincent to serve here at St. Frances Cabrini Parish. As I wrote in my message of July 3rd, “Our vision is to build on what our predecessors have established by continuing to make SFC a community where All Are Welcome. We hope to promote and create parish ministries anchored in our SFC Mission Statement: Worship God. Love Others. Make Disciples. Educate the Young! We also hope to develop a culture of maintenance for our property to ensure all our buildings are well maintained for posterity.” We are still committed to this vision and count on your support to make this vision a reality.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 

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If you visit St. Frances Cabrini during the school hours when the Woodard Entry Gate is closed, please call either the school office at 408-377-6545, or call the parish office during business hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM at 408 879-1120 #20. You can also pull up and park on the side, go to the keypad unit and hit Directory. Find the SFC School office or St. Frances Cabrini (parish office). This will ring that office and you will be able to talk with someone. Thank you!


September 4, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

The Cross of My Life!

A story was told of a man who constantly complained of the challenges and difficulties he faced in his life and blamed God for all his crosses. Then, one day he had a dream, and, in the dream, he found himself in a room with different crosses representing the challenges people face in their lives. He was asked to select one of the crosses as an alternative to the one he was carrying. He moved around the room and found out that all the crosses were very heavy, and the only one he thought was less heavy was the one that represented the cross of his life. The story reminds us that every one of us has a cross. Thus, the invitation to know the cross of our lives and take it and follow Jesus.

Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 14:25-23) reminds us, “Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The act of discipleship requires us to follow Jesus in season and out season, in bad and good times. Jesus wants us to have the total commitment to being his disciple, being mindful of the challenges that go with that total commitment. Life, as we know, is never a bed of roses and every day has its trouble. These troubles come to us through challenges, difficulties, and disappointments life gives us, either directly or indirectly. The actual test of our faith comes during the cross of our life.

The crosses of our life come in different ways- spiritual, emotional, or physical. Some of them are caused by our poor choices, others cause by others to us, and others are what life gives us. Whichever source comes our cross, the most important thing is to ask for God’s strength and wisdom to help us carry the cross of our life. Hence, our First Reading this Sunday (Wisdom 9:13:18b) reminds of God, “Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?” In line with this we remember and pray the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” Amen!

We want to update you on the parish projects we have completed:

  1. Installation of two (2) electric gates off the Woodside side
  2. In front of the Rectory, iron rod fencing
  3. Installation of two new screens and two new projectors inside the Church
  4. Greenbelt Project: New trees and turf planted along the Woodard side parking lots.
  5. Parish Rose Garden center: Cracked cement removed, and landscape and planting replaced in areas needed
  6. New signage has been placed throughout the property: directions to the parish office, entry and exit gates, and Mass times on the Camden side.

The project on the relocation of our Chapel of Adoration is still ongoing. We will continue to keep you posted on the progress of it and other projects. We thank members of the SFC Building Committee who have been very helpful in supervising these projects. Please, continue to pray for the success of these endeavors.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


August 28, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

The Virtue of Humility

One of the central themes the readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on is the virtue of humility. Our first reading: (The book of Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29), one of the Wisdom books, summarizes the beautiful and heart- touching admonishment on the importance of humility in these words: “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Similarly, Jesus in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7–14) uses the wedding banquet parable to demonstrate how we must humble ourselves to be praised and raised by others. He said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
 
In reflecting on the virtue of humility, we must be mindful of what humility is not. Humility is not humiliation or denial of what we have, are, or know. Instead, humility is accepting who we are or what we have or know and using those gifts to praise God by being of service to others because of whatever we have or have received. The virtue of humility makes it possible for us to be grateful for our achievements, whether intellectually, socially, financially, or spiritually. It helps us to be spiritually genuine, accepting the truth about ourselves, acknowledging our mistakes, forgiving ourselves and others, and asking for forgiveness from God and one another.
 
We all need the virtue of humility to live an authentic Christian life. Humility abhors two extremes: claiming that one is everything or claiming that one is nothing. In the practice of humility, we battle against our ego, which usually leads to seeing life revolving around oneself alone. Humility is the mother of all virtues. St. Augustine was once asked what was the most important of all virtues. His answer was humility. He stated, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” Let us pray for the virtue of humility to accept who we are and what we know and have to the greater glory of God. Amen.
 
Our Parish Ministry Fair last Sunday was very successful. We thank all the volunteers, led by the Parish Council, for organizing the event. We also thank the different ministries who had their tables and took the time to explain to those present, what they do for SFC. Our Parish Ministry Fair offered a greater awareness of all our SFC community’s ministerial opportunities. I hope and pray that our SFC community will see the fruits of the ministry fair by us stepping up to be good stewards of the gifts of time, talent, and treasure (resources) God has given to us.
St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

Fr. James Okafor


 

August 21, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Presevere!

In our second reading for Sunday readings, we have been reading for more than four Sundays; the letter to the Hebrews, the book which has earned the reputation of being a masterpiece. Biblical Scholars believe it was written for Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem, and its purpose was to encourage Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. It is a book of exhortation, and the second reading today (Hebrews12: 5-7; 11-13) encourages us, “You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”

Jesus, in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 13:22-30), encourages us to persevere and to “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” What God needs from us most is our sincere efforts and for us to persevere in our faith journey. God knows us in and out. He knows our sincere effort to follow him. Thus, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us in today’s first reading (Isaiah 66:18-21), “Thus says the Lord: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.”

The call to persevere can mean different things to different people, being mindful of the different situations we face daily. Therefore, it is worthwhile to reflect and ask ourselves what area of our life and faith journey God calls us to persevere. For example, God might be calling you to persevere in the good work you do in your family, at your workplace, in the Church, or among your friends, even though these works may not consistently be recognized or appreciated. God also might be calling you to pay more attention to your spiritual life by persevering in spiritual exercises like prayers and participation in the Sacraments.

We are delighted to have our entire Parish School Community back on campus as of last Wednesday. Our SFC school, the largest ministry of our parish, has been a blessing to all of us. We thank the school parents who made the right choice of choosing our school for an integral education and formation of their children. We have been blessed with dedicated Administrators, Faculty, and Staff who are relentlessly working hard to ensure that our students are always doing their best and being their best. We have our Back-School- Mass this Sunday at 9.30 AM to celebrate and pray for God’s blessings for a new academic year. The parish Ministry Fair will follow immediately after the Mass. We look forward to a very exciting, enriching, and rewarding academic year.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


August 14, 2022

Pastor’s Message | Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

The Cost of Discipleship

The mystery of the Eucharist we celebrate gives us the opportunity to continue to reflect on the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which he won for us the gift of salvation. Additionally, this mystery invites us to always follow the examples of Jesus. Hence, our second reading this Sunday, the letter to the Hebrews, succinctly puts it this way, “…For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”

In the first reading of this Sunday, Prophet Jeremiah, whom God sent to confront his people regarding their ways and behaviors, was misunderstood as a prophet of gloom and doom. Consequently, they were determined to eliminate him in any way possible. But did the torture met out to Jeremiah deter him from his mission? No! He endured because he knew the faithfulness of the one who called and sent him. It is on the backdrop of Jeremiah’s steadfastness to his call that today’s Gospel gives us the words of Jesus, which seemingly look like the call for divisiveness; instead, it is a reminder of the cost of discipleship.

To be a true disciple means that one unceasingly is an agent of truth and justice without fear or favor. Sometimes, our friends and family can misunderstand or even persecute us, especially when our authentic life of the Gospel contradicts theirs. When people persecute us because of the Gospel, do we compromise, or do we, like Jeremiah, continue unflinchingly to be instruments of truth and justice? Let us ask the good Lord to give us the courage and strength to be faithful disciples who will always stand for the truth and justice. Amen.

We thank these parishioners who serve as members of the SFC Liturgical Committee: Patty Vucurevich, Maria Sarmiento, Jennifer Donnelly, Doris Bebla, James Sawaya, Jill Ballard, and Elizabeth Drew. These people represent different liturgical ministries we have in the parish. The SFC Liturgical Committee meets to discuss, prepare, and evaluate the liturgies in consultation with Fr. Vincent – Director of Liturgy, and with the Pastor. Please, pray for these members of the SFC Liturgical Committee as they serve our parish community.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


August 7, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Faith in Action

The Eucharistic celebration (Mass) encompasses all forms and expressions of prayer, and through it, we express, celebrate, and profess our faith. The readings, the songs, and the prayers of the Mass all come together to enrich and strengthen our faith. Within the Mass, we respond, “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again” In this, we express our faith in the mystery of the past, the mystery of the present, and the mystery of the future. Faith, as God’s given gift, is meant to be shared, and when it is shared, it multiplies.

The readings of today, in different ways, call us to reflect on this faith, God’s given gift, which helps us to serve and trust Him. Our second reading this Sunday, the letter to the Hebrews, describes the enduring examples of the faith of Abraham (the father of our faith) and the power of faith, which is an affirmation of what the book of Wisdom in the first reading says about the patriarchs, “they put their faith” in God. The gospel reminds us that the act of faith is not only in beliefs but also in action by “Knowing and doing the master’s will.”

Every true faith must be living, conscious, and active. Faith shows itself in action. At the end of every Mass, we are commissioned to “Go,” an invitation to go and live out the faith we have, expressed, professed, and celebrated. We are called to reflect and ask ourselves, what are the ways God calls us to put our faith in action? These words of St. James are a great invitation to all of us: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed, someone may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (James 2:17-18).

We thank these parishioners who serve as members of the SFC Finance Council: Sean Cook, Tom Connelly, Art Javier, Jennifer Nickolas, Carlo Pedron, Tim Smith, Roxanne Vane, and Maile Figone. The Parish Finance Council is an advisory and consultative body that advises and assists the Pastor in all matters about parish finances. We balanced the budget for the past fiscal year, which ended on June 30th. The Council has approved the budget for the new fiscal year. We will keep you posted when you can view the details of these budgets on our website. Please, pray for these members of the SFC Finance Council as they serve our parish community.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


July 31, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Riches: Blessings or Vanities?

“If the Lord has gifted you with riches, it is to do lots of good things for others in His name”

(Pope Francis Tweets, August 28, 2018)

The Eucharistic celebration- the highest form of prayer, is a special moment in which God speaks to us in different ways, namely, the songs, the prayers, and the readings. The word of God we experience through these encourages us in the good we do and challenges us to overcome our lives’ weaknesses. This change cannot happen if we do not have the disposition to be present and participate fully in the liturgy. This worthwhile disposition to the word of God helps us to “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…” as our second reading (Colossians 3:1 – 5, 9 –11) for this Sunday invites us.

In our first reading, the book of Ecclesiastes (1:2;2:21-23), one of the wisdom books, it admonishes us on the reality that nothing is permanent. It describes both our life successes and failures as vanities. The tone of this message can make one begin to think that all our toil and labor are in vain. But the main message here is to be constantly mindful of the temporality of everything before us. Similarly, the Parable of the rich fool in the Gospel (Luke 2:13 – 21) brings up the question of Jesus detesting riches and seeing them as mere vanity than a blessing. Is this true? No! Instead, Jesus wants to bring to our awareness the destructive dangers of riches, which do not undermine the blessings they bring.

Jesus wants us to reflect on two things about riches: How we acquire and use them. These two things determine if riches become a blessing or vanity. First, we must ask ourselves: What do we have, and how did we acquire them? Second, how do we use the riches we have acquired? Does our wealth make us arrogant and proud? Are we unduly attached to riches that we evaluate our lives by what? Are we wasteful and extravagant or self-centered and mean with our wealth? Do we remember that the more riches we have, the more opportunities to win God’s blessings with them? We pray that the good Lord will give us the wisdom to acquire and correctly use the riches he has given us so that they become for us sources of blessing. Amen.

We thank these parishioners who serve as members of the SFC Parish Pastoral Council: Sam Nickolas, Maile Figone, Ronda Clark, Linnea Sheehy, Doris Bebla, Lyle Adams, George Midwin, Lee Campbell, and Merry Kaelani. The Parish Pastoral Council is an advisory board to the Pastor. The Parish Pastoral Council advises the pastor on parish issues and directs parish’s long-term planning activities. Parish Pastoral Council collaborates with staff members, parishioners, other parish groups, committees, and ministries to carry out the Parish’s mission. Currently, the SFC parish council is leading the planning of our Ministry Fair coming up on August 21st after 9.30AM Mass, the Installation of the Pastor on Saturday, September 10th at 5.00PM Mass. Also, the council will be leading SFC participation in the Diocesan Synod starting this Fall, and the parish listening session that will also happen this Fall. We pray for God’s guidance on our council members as they undertake these responsibilities for the growth of SFC.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


 

July 24, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Persistence and Perseverance in Prayer!

Two weeks ago, I was at Notre Dame University, Indiana, participating in a four-day conference organized by School Pastors Institute (SPI). We were about 89 school Pastors from 40 (arch) dioceses across the United States. The conference was very enlightening and enriching. After the conference, I drove to Chicago to visit one of the three National Shrines of St. Frances Cabrini in the United States. The couple of hours I spent at the Shrine was uplifting and inspiring. Of the many endearing virtues of Mother Cabrini, one that was outstanding was her persistence and perseverance in prayer. She believed strongly in the power of prayer and that no prayer goes unanswered; instead, God, in answering our prayers, either grants us our requests or gives us the disposition to accept his will.

Both our first reading (Genesis 18: 20-23) and the Gospel (Luke 11:1-13) this Sunday give us examples of people who prayed with persistence and perseverance. In the first reading, Abraham interceded on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving us with an exemplary approach to prayer. Similarly, the disciples were edified by Jesus’ prayer life and asked him to teach them how to pray. Jesus taught them the Lord’s Prayer and told them a story to bolster the importance of praying with perseverance and persistence. He also reminded us that God, who loves us infinitely, knows the best for us and answers our prayers according to his best will.

God wants our prayer life to be ongoing and not only when we need something, thereby making him the only God of emergencies. He wants us to pray in season and out of season. Our Catholic traditions have blessed us with different forms (vocal, contemplative, and meditative prayer) and expressions (Adoration-praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness, petitions) of prayers. Of these forms and expressions of prayers, which ones are part of your life? Like the disciples, let us ask the good Lord to help us make prayer part of our daily life and pray with perseverance and persistence. Amen.

We thank these parishioners who serve as members of the SFC Building Committee: Domenic Onorato, Jim Vergara, Ray Figone, Dave Citrigno, Mike Livingston, Vince Coffaro, Leila Correa, Kristen Sinnott, Jeff Bowman, Sam Nickolas, Joe Piazza, and Maile Figone. The building committee has been working hard with the parish priests on our parish projects. The current projects we are working on include:

  • Relocation of Adoration Chapel to the library (original baptismal room of the Church).
  • Fencing and Gates: Replace existing electric gate on the Woodard side. Wrought iron fencing and gate across the rectory would complete the grounds’ closing. Also, replacing the existing damaged track and concrete for the electric gate of the Camden side.
  • Repair water leak by saw cutting and replacing damaged pipes off Camden side.
  • SFC Signage: Update sign with Current mass times by Camden side.
  • Replacing all billboard signage off Camden side with electric marquee signage.
  • Installation of new projectors and screens inside the Church.

We will keep you posted on the progress of these and other future endeavors. Please, pray for the successful completion of these projects.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


 

July 17, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Slow Down, Sit Down, and Listen!

The The Bible, Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) have stories of people who were recognized and praised for taking the time to listen to different ways God spoke to them. Abraham, our father in faith, is one of the typical examples of these people in the OT. He not only listened to different ways God spoke to him, even when it was difficult to say yes, but he demonstrated that God’s voice influenced his actions. Our first reading today (Genesis 18:1- 20a) describes one of these endearing actions of Abraham through his hospitality to the Angels of God. His hospitality, in return, gained his blessings from God through the Angels, who assured him of a gift with a child through his wife, Sarah.

The Gospel story today (Luke 10:38-42) is the story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary, in which Jesus compliments Mary on her ability to slow down, sit down, and listen. The message of Jesus here was not to undermine the culture of his people, which primarily encourages a host to be hospitable to a guest but to emphasize the importance of us finding time to slow down and listen to the different ways he speaks to us. The worries and anxieties of life sometimes make it difficult for us to slow down and listen to the different ways God speaks to us. Equally, our quest to keep to date with the latest events, news, and happenings of life can be a significant obstacle in slowing down to listen to ourselves, the people in our lives, and other ways God speaks to us.

In the second reading (Colossians 1:24-28), St. Paul describes the choice God has made of all of us as his chosen ones and made known the riches of his glory to us. The riches of God’s glory are within and around us. God wants us to pay attention to them by listening. As you reflect on this invitation the readings of today gives us, think about different ways God is calling you to listen. Maybe he is calling you to slow down and listen to members of your family, friends, colleagues, and others in your life. It is said that silence is golden and an element in which great things fashion themselves. Our SFC community gives us the opportunity to slow down, sit down, and listen through our Eucharistic Adoration every Friday. I invite you to look at the schedule for this weekly Eucharistic Adoration in the weekly bulletin, posters on our doors, and our website and see if it is something you might have time to participate in.

We want to thank these parishioners who accepted to serve as members of our SFC Evangelization Committee: Lee Campbell, Cathy Campbell, Kelsey Ballard, Jim Revels, Garin Ballard, Merry Kaelani, and Oferia Pors. The goals of our SFC Evangelization Committee are to support the priests in exploring and implementing programs that will help parishioners to become fruitful missionary disciples of Christ by deepening their spiritual, devotional, prayerful, and Sacramental life. The Committee would also work collaboratively with other councils, groups, and committees of SFC to reach out and welcome back people to the Church, especially the inactive parishioners. Please, let us keep these brothers and sisters in our prayers. Amen.

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!


July 10, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)

Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy…” A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods” (Catechism of Catholic Church, no. 952).

The Eucharist we celebrate is the sacrament of love. It offers us opportunities to reflect and experience the love of God. This great love is what God has shown to us through the gift of his only son, our Lord Jesus, who St. Paul describes in the 2nd reading as “the image of the invisible God…making peace by the blood of his cross….” This gift of love we share should turn us into gifts of love to others.

The readings of each Mass direct us in different ways. God is calling us to go and share this love. What God wants us to do is not something far-fetched but something within our reach. Our first reading puts it like this: “it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Thus, the practical lessons from the parable of the Good Samaritan in today’s gospel are what God calls us to carry out. Just as Jesus told the scholar, “Go and do likewise,” he sends us out always to become the “good Samaritan” of our time.

God is calling us in different ways to become the best of gifts to others. Our compassion should always be followed by our actions, as the Samaritan did. As a parishioner of SFC, reflect on different ways God is calling you to share your gifts with our parish community. Maybe, reach out to parishioners you have not seen since after the Covid 19 lockdown and invite them back to the Church or ask questions on different ways you can serve the community. We pray that the good Lord will help us not pass by those who need our help but be truly good neighbors to another. Amen.

In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me” (Matthew 25: 40). St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

 


July 3, 2022

A Note from the Pastor: Fr. James Okafor (Ed.D)
All Are Welcome!

When I arrived at St. Frances Cabrini, San Jose (SFC), last June 28th, 2021, and saw the banner hung by the side of the Church facing the rectory with these welcoming words, “Welcome ‘New’ Saint Frances Cabrini Staff! Pastor: Rev. Fr. Anthony Mancuso. Parochial Vicars: Rev. Fr. James Okafor & Rev. Fr. Vincent Dang. Principal: Mrs. Clark.”, I truly felt welcomed to the SFC community. Since our arrival, our day-to-day encounters with the staff and the parishioners have proven that SFC is a welcoming community. Fr. Tony, our former pastor, with his kindhearted gestures, built on this welcoming ambiance, and it has been an enriching experience being part of SFC this past year. Thank you, Fr. Tony!

I was appointed the administrator of SFC, effective March 1, 2022, and as pastor effective July 1, I have enjoyed my ministry here at SFC in different capacities, from a parochial vicar to an administrator and now as a pastor. As I begin the ministry as the 9th pastor of SFC with Fr. Vincent as my associate, we look forward with joy and great optimism to a fruitful and inspiring ministry. We want to express profound gratitude to all the clergies and parishioners, living and the deceased, who have used their gifts to serve SFC through the years. We are blessed to have a wonderful campus here at SFC, our beautiful Church, one of the biggest in the diocese, our SFC school community, which is the largest ministry of the parish, and other beautiful edifices on our campus.

Our vision is to build on what our predecessors have established by continuing to make SFC a community where All Are Welcome. We hope to promote and create parish ministries anchored on our SFC Mission Statement: Worship God: Love Others. Make Disciples. Educate the Young! We also hope to develop a culture of maintenance for our property to ensure that all our buildings are well maintained for posterity. Thank you for all your love and support for the past year. We look forward to serving and partnering with you for the continued growth of SFC. We believe through the intercession of our Patroness, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who built her ministry on the faith-filled words of St. Paul, “I can do all things in him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), as parishioners, we will be strengthened to use our gifts of time, talent, and treasure to continue to serve our SFC Community and to make SFC a place where ALL ARE WELCOME!

St. Frances Cabrini – Pray for us!

pastor Fr. James OkaforA brief bio:

I was born in the Eastern-Nigeria (Igbo Land) and was ordained a priest on August 17th, 2002. I came to the USA in 2007. I received my master’s degree in Catechetics from Santa Clara University and a Doctoral Degree in Catholic Education from the University of San Francisco. Before coming to St. Frances Cabrini, San Jose, in 2021, I served at these parishes: St. Francis of Assisi, San Jose; Five Wounds Church, San Jose; and St. Justin Church, Santa Clara, before becoming the Chaplain and a Religion teacher at Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, where I served for nine years . Also, I am an Adjunct Quarterly Lecturer on Catechetical and Intercultural Ministry Courses in the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries (GPPM) at Santa Clara University. I teach at the Institute for Lay Ministries (ILM) for the Diocese of San Jose. I also serve on Diocesan Priests’ Council and Diocesan Ongoing Formation for Clergy Committee. I serve as a Chaplain for the Nigerian Igbo Catholic Community of San Jose (NICCSJ) and the Catholics of African Descent, Diocese of San Jose (CADDSJ). To God be the Glory!