Supporters of Retired Pastor George Crespin at Berkeley's St. Joseph the Worker Church Asked to Gather at Sunday Masses (Letter)

By Beatriz Leyva-Cutler
Thursday June 16, 2011 - 02:03:00 PM

Editor's Note: The following open letter from Beatriz Leyva-Cutler was forwarded to the Planet by Pastor Michael McBride, Executive Director of BOCA (Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action).

Sadly, I write to share that there is much unhappiness and unrest at St. Joseph the Worker and also new organizers that are arising from this situation. The parishioners of the church are asking to meet with the Bishop of Oakland because there is discontent with the direction that Pastor John, who has been there for two years, has lead the church. Recently, he has asked the respected and esteemed Fr. George Crespin to vacate SJW. Pastor John. has already closed two churches before coming to SJW. Since his arrival there has been many changes including dismissing many if not all of the Latino ministries and organizers in the church. This discontent has led to many many parishioners organizing outside the church to demand a meeting with the bishop, which continues to be ignored. A letter was mailed in August, 2010 and recently another letter was hand delivered with hundreds of signatures and remains ignored. Last week many of us withheld our Sunday contribution and promised to double the donation, if only the Bishop would meet with parishioners.

I write to you to ask you to join us this Sunday to demand a meeting with the Bishop Salvatore Cordileone. He is scheduled to give mass at 8, 9, or 11 (which mass has not been confirmed). People have not been noticed to the exact hour of mass that he will address the concerns of the parishioners and there are hundreds if not a thousand people of SJW, waiting to hear and talk with him. SJW has a long history as a sanctuary for the undocumented, labor movement, and helping to organize the community to address the academic achievement gap in Berkeley Schools. This is the church that Cesar Chavez retreated when his life was threaten and when he needed respite. 

Please join many of us this Sunday at any or all of the masses planned at 8-9- or 11 (Spanish mass) -- and support St. Joseph the Worker parishioners who want a Pastor that reflects the community and not change the long history and legacy of SJW as a progressive advocate of the community. Also, to demand that Fr. Crespin be allowed to stay at SJW as a retired and long esteemed priest of SJW. The organizers of this are a diverse group of young, old, latino, white and many of our youth are also involved in signing petitions and writing letters. 

If you come, please wear white t-shirts/ shirts. Please forward this email to your family and friends, to the unions and to those who know of SJW legacy. This is being planned as a peaceful yet powerful action representing the diverse community that love SJW. This is a church where the history has always been to have a Pastor that listens and reflects the vision, and a commitment to social justice and education. 

Please forward this email as this impacts not only the Latino community but many who for years have made SJW their church and SJW was the meeting place where many in the community came together to create the 2020 Vision for our schools and city.