Mid-Week Message from Fr. Gerard - May 6, 2020

(Reminder) May Crowning of Our Lady: If you would like to gift some flowers for the May altar, please leave them outside the church door closest to the rectory Wednesday evening or Thursday morning by 10 A.M.

 Greetings Everyone,

 What a beautiful day today is. We give thanks to God for our health. This morning I went for a nice walk down by Marina Vista with the dogs. I noticed so many shoals of baby fish in the water, a sign of God’s creation in our midst.

 God’s creation comes in many forms but, of course, we humans are the most beautiful, created in God’s image and likeness.

 Today I would like to congratulate Dr. Holmquist, our present principal, on her success in her doctoral program -- a wonderful achievement. Please enjoy her reflection below about life in our parish school in the midst of Covid-19. 

The second reflection is introduced by our Director of Religious Education Shirl Giacomi. It focuses on Cornerstone, a vibrant group of young adults and teens who share their faith with passion in our parish. Please enjoy Cornerstone team leader Victoria Sanchez as she shares how this great group of young people inspire others with their faith.  

Finally, good news from me to you. On Monday last I was informed by the Archdiocese I will be appointed your new pastor on July 1, 2020. Please pray for me as I take on shepherding the beautiful flock of Our Lady of Refuge. Thank you all for your prayers, friendship, support, advice, and guidance. Fr. Bill told me on Monday, “I am on top of the world with the news.”

From OLR School

Dear OLR Parish,

Fr. G asked me to write with an update on how distance learning is going for the children. They are doing amazingly well, as are the parents and teachers. I thought I'd write a couple messages that can be spread out over the next couple of weeks. I will start with life in the front office with no children coming in for Band-aids, ice packs, or temperatures needing to be taken. When I am at school working, it is very quiet. There is no joy and laughter outside the office doors. It is a bit desolate. The bells still ring, signaling the start of school, recess, lunch, and dismissal; however, there are no children moving about. The life of the principal is still very busy with multiple Zoom conferences each week.

Working from home is another experience that takes some getting used to. My daughter is home from college and her online classes start as early as 6:30 A.M. Since she had been studying abroad in Spain, her classes are in Spanish. So upstairs I have Spanish going on.  My husband has taken over the kitchen table. He is currently working on plans for the new Clipper's arena. His conference calls run from 7:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M. each day and spill over into the weekends. My son Patrick, the 3rd grade teacher, runs classes online beginning at 8:00 A.M. I hear his laughter and excitement for teaching the kids every morning. I also get to hear the joyful voices of the children. I know when it is recess time because Patrick comes out and grabs a snack. My son, Eric, is a nurse at the City of Hope. He is currently running clinical trials on patients who have already recovered from COVID-19. He leaves early every morning and comes home late at night. I just make sure to have food available for him so he can grab-and-go. Meanwhile, I have found a little niche in the back of the family room next to the laundry room where I can conduct business.

I would like to share that our teachers were given two days to get their curriculum up and running online and they have done an amazing job. Our students only missed two days of instruction, whereas our public-school counterparts went for 4-5 weeks without instruction. I attribute our success to Toni Napier for having built a stellar technology program that continues to be built upon and the school advisory council for placing an emphasis on technology upgrades each year. It was due to the efforts of the advisory council that OLR was able to purchase iPads for the junior high students in 2013.  We have continued to build upon that foundation and iPads are available for student use in TK-5, with 1:1-devices in 6-8. The transition to distance learning has been relatively smooth. (More to come).

Peace and blessings,

Dr. Tricia Holmquist

From SRE

Cornerstone (CS) is a peer ministry group of older teens and young adults who are an integral part of OLR's two-year Confirmation program.  Adult catechists (Katie Johns and Trina Alvarez for Confirmation 1 and Arcilia Diaz and Alice Galvan for Confirmation 2) plan the curriculum for the large groups and guide our CS leaders who facilitate prayer, reflections, and conversation of small groups of 6-8 teens.  Our Cornerstone leaders give up much of their free time because they have been inspired by their own faith journey and want to pass on what they have received. Victoria Sanchez is a talented young adult and CS leader. Vicky went through OLR Confirmation in 2014 and has been a part of peer ministry for 6 years.  She graduated from CSULB in 2018 and is a graphic designer. Her reflection on Cornerstone follows:

"Some of us are missing graduation, doing online classes, coming back home from college, being laid off from work, or taking up more shifts at another job. Either way we all have been affected just like everyone else. However, we are staying strong in our community and with each other. Cornerstone, as a community, has continued to check in on each other to make sure we are all OK through what we call God MomentsGod Moments are moments where we felt the presence of God in a moment where we felt down and it then turned into a positive situation. As the leader of the group and an older sister to two of the members, sometimes it is a lot of pressure to feel like I have to put on the face of ‘having it all together’. But just hearing about everyone’s day and knowing that it’s OK to not be OK brings me so much joy. Even though we are apart, I feel like we are closer than ever in continuing to stay strong in our faith."


 Parents of children in Religious Education in Grades 1-5 (not Catholic school attendees) are reminded to pick up their children's religious education books from the parish hall on Monday, May 11 from 10 A.M. - 3 P.M. Zoom classes with their catechists will begin soon. God be with you during this challenging time.  

 Parish Support: Thank you for your continuing donations to our parish. Three more parishioners have joined Faith Direct to bring our total to 180. Our challenge is to enroll 250. Wouldn't you like to help us meet our goal? https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966 

Please remember in your prayers the deceased and their families, especially parishioners Marty Sherlock, husband of Helen Sherlock, and Willie Miranda, husband of Marlie Miranda; all those afflicted with COVID-19 and the sick, Ray Martinez, Msgr. Jim Gehl, Melchiades Pangilinan Nabong; all first responders, medical personal, and essential workers; Lorena Padgett (she is well) who was visiting family in Honduras and is still unable to return to the USA after waiting 2 months to get home.

 OLR Church Office (562) 498-6641 -- voice messages only

5195 Stearns Street, Long Beach, CA 90815-2901

OLR website -- https://www.ourladyofrefuge.org/

Betty Guevara, Parish Secretary -- betty@start.olrs.org

Shirl Giacomi, Director of Religious Education -- dre@start.olrs.org

(562) 597-3102 -- voice messages only

Tricia Holmquist, School Principal -- principal@start.olrs.org

(562) 597-0819 -- voice messages only

Team Refuge -- Tony McKeon, Coordinator (949) 874-6097

Faith Direct -- Enroll at https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966