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Archbishop makes pastoral visit to St. Charles parish and school

January 30, 2015
Christina Gray

It’s been decades since an archbishop last made a pastoral visit to St. Charles parish and school in San Carlos. So, when the parish learned last year that Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone would visit Jan. 16-18 as part of a three-year plan to visit all archdiocesan parish communities, preparations were planned down to the letter, parishioner and school parent Rich Kizer said.

“I heard many of our students rehearsing the proper pronunciation of the archbishop’s name,” Kizer told Catholic San Francisco.

The archbishop’s visit began with an all-school Mass where the stvudents, who had recently learned more about church hierarchy, “sang their little hearts out,” school principal Maureen Grazioli said.

Grazioli said that after Mass, the archbishop visited each classroom and fielded student questions, including: Who besides God most influenced you to be a priest? Were you nervous when you were ordained? When you’re not busy being an archbishop, what do you like to do?

“He was most engaging and engaged with the students,” Grazioli said. “And his responses to their questions were very human.”

Religious education coordinator Michelle Baeza said the next day the archbishop met with the parish vision council, the finance committee and the endowment fund committee to understand “the nuts and bolts of how our parish is run.”

The archbishop presented his goals for the archdiocese and its challenges and asked the parish to share theirs.

“He wanted to know how he could support us,” Baeza said. All parishes have similar challenges, she said, such as finding volunteers to “bring our faith to our children as catechists” and simply getting families to Mass each Sunday.

The group discussed new strategies for building and strengthening community, including the use of social media and new communication technologies.

The archbishop was supportive, said Kizer, who sits on the endowment fund committee. “But he told us at the end of the day, there is no substitute for face-to-face human communication.”

The archbishop returned on Jan. 18 for Sunday Mass and a homily centered on stewardship.

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