St. Augustine in Oakland

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday August 17, 2011 - 12:49:00 PM

When driving along Telegraph Avenue on your way to downtown Oakland, you've undoubtedly passed St. Augustine's church at 19th Street dozens of times. With its tall, narrow steeple and brilliant rust color, it's been called "Oakland's Little Red Church" and has been a place of worship since 1893. It is the second oldest Episcopal church in continued use in Oakland. 

A short distance away is another St. Augustine's, this a Catholic church on Alcatraz Avenue. In 2000, because of financial difficulty and low membership the parish nearly closed. But Bishop John Cummings, who had been a member of the school and parish from birth, showed his faith in St. Augustine's with a subsidy which would be re-evaluated in 2004. In 2004, Father Mark Wiesner arrived as pastor. His preaching and energy drew many new members. By 2006, mass attendance had jumped to 402, making St. Augustine's one of Oakland's fastest growing parishes. The most difficult event of 2004 was the closing of the school. In 2007, the St. Vincent de Paul organization opened a food pantry and continued to feed the homeless who came to their door. 

But now, let's get back to St. Augustine himself. Born November 13 in 354, died August 28, 430, this wordy chap had quotes for everything under the sun, a few of which are shown below: "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." (My favorite quote!) "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us." 

"A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently." "Beauty is indeed a good gift of God, but that the good may not think is a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked." 

You'll have to agree that Augie was one smart saint!