I'm happy to report that I had a very pleasant, indeed spiritual Christmas this year, attending a 9:30 Mass at St. Columba Catholic Church.
Located on San Pablo at Alcatraz, you've no doubt observed the white crosses in the church yard. These crosses represent the number of random shootings that have occurred over the years.
Upon entering the church, parishioners are warmly greeted by Pastor Fr. Aidan McAleenan. The church itself is beautifully decorated with a dazzling Christmas tree at the altar and below that the familiar Nativity Scene. There's a rich ethnic diversity in this congregation -- predominantly African American, but also Latino and Whites. Glancing behind me, I was thrilled to see Alameda's famed opera star, Frederica von Stadt. better know as "Flicka." Sadly, she didn't sing a solo.
To the right of the altar a women's chorus sang spirituals while clapping their hands and a fine baritone sang the familiar "Ave Maria."
It should be mentioned here that the Annual St. Columba series 2012 will present "Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now" January l5th - February 9th, a dynamic preachers' music and history. d Ending on a sad note, another fatal shooting took place in Oakland even as we celebrated this Christmas holiday.