Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get to know your Muslim neighbors

By Michael J. Arvizu

Muslims are getting such a bad rap these days — let's find out the truth!

When I heard the Islamic Center of Glendale would hold on Oct. 17 the first open house of its mosque in Glendale, I thought it could not have come at a better time.

Muslims have had a presence in Glendale, including La Cañada and Burbank, for many years — albeit "disorganized," according to Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, in a 2009 Glendale News-Press article. But there was no nearby, central place to meet, no location where area Muslims could pray and have enough time to get back to work. A few local Muslim families conducted research and found there was a need to hold at least some kind of service. Subsequently, Friday services were organized on the second floor of the Pacific Community Center in Glendale.

More than 100 people showed up at those early prayer services.

After two months of Friday services, and motivated by the large attendance figures, efforts began to find a more permanent home — filling a void some area Muslims believed existed within Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada. The Center closed escrow on its new mosque, at 700 S. Adams St., this summer and now holds daily prayer services.
The open house was part of national Open Mosque Day, and is one of many held around the country in an effort to "reclaim its image," according to one newspaper.

The headquarters sit on a quiet stretch of road lined by trees and modest homes. The goal of the open house was to get people to visit their Muslim neighbors, begin a relationship with them and gain an understanding of what Islam is about.

More importantly, the open house was held so that people receive information on Muslims and Islam and to ask questions — any questions — from why Muslims pray five times a day to what Muslims think about Osama bin Laden.

"Muslims want to live in harmony with people of all faiths," said Center member Abdul Maleque, 71.

"So much of what people understand about Islam is misguided and focused through the prism of the media, sound bites, terrorism, this, that or the other," said J.D. Hall, a Center member and Muslim. "I hope people ask whatever is on their mind. Any question you have about Islam, get an answer from a Muslim who practices Islam in what we believe to be the correct way."

When you enter a mosque, it is customary to take your shoes off, whether or not prayers are being said at the moment. At the front of the mosque, which resembles a tiny auditorium, stood Hall. And he made me wish I had gotten there earlier.

Displayed on the screen were graphics illustrating the basic tenets of Islam, including who Adam and Eve were, what the Koran says about creation, Islam's approach to gender equality, Islam's take on diversity, and what jihad really means (clue: It does not stand for "holy war" as many have been led to believe). I also learned that Islamic banks charge no interest, because charging interest is forbidden. So consider that the next time you're choosing a bank.

"I don't understand it thoroughly, but I know someone who does, if you really want the answers," said Hall.
I felt I was way in over my head on this one. Quickly, however, those feelings went away as I started talking to the Center's members, who were more than willing to answer any question I had and literally swarmed around me to speak to me.

"This is our duty our Muslims to let our brothers and sisters know what Islam is about," said Center member Abo-Elkhier E. Serag, who proceeded to tell me about his neighbor, who after the 9/11 attacks, offered his assistance to Serag. As Muslims, Serag said, it is their duty to dispel any myths and untruths people may have about Islam and Muslims.
"I think the prayer discipline is very interesting; Christians don't have prayer [the] discipline [of praying] every day," said Wendy Stackhouse of Burbank First United Methodist Church. "It's a different way of getting to the same place, I hope."

So the Islamic Center of Glendale now has a home in Glendale, waiting for you to enter and ask your questions. The Center is not an exclusive, members only place. Its doors are open. Go in. Ask questions. For more information call the Center at (818) 243-2233, or visit

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU writes for the La Cañada Valley Sun. Reach him at (818) 637-3263, or e-mail

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Annual novena of Masses

The annual novena of Masses for the deceased whose names are given to us, will begin here on Nov. 2.

The envelopes for the names are on the tables near the altar and at the exits of the church. They can be returned by dropping them in the collection basket or at the church office.

Tips for a happy and safe Halloween

To help ensure that Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children, it is good to review a few common sense safety tips:

1. Parents shouldn’t allow their children to eat or sample any candy before it’s checked. Throw away all unwrapped
candy, popcorn and caramel apples unless they come from a trusted source.

2. Parents should accompany young children or groups of children when trick-or-treating.

3. Walk with friends and stay together. Stay within your own neighborhood or areas with which you are familiar, and only visit homes with lit porch lights. For more tips, visit:

For particular help, call Assistance Ministry at (213) 637-7650.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Retirement celebration honoring Cardinal Roger M. Mahony

Reservations are due Oct. 25 for a retirement celebration honoring Cardinal Roger M. Mahony beginning with a Mass at 10 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. A luncheon in the cathedral conference center will immediately follow the Mass.

Cost is $30 for the luncheon (or $240 per table of eighth guests); and $5 for cathedral parking.

For more information, e-mail

Companion Hospice

Companion Hospice is recruiting volunteers for its upcoming training program.

Volunteers can become a needed friend to someone during the last part of their journey. Become a member of the team, whose goal is to promote quality of life and comfort measures. Applicants will receive 16 hours of orientation and training from Companion Hospice's professional team.

The training program will be held on Saturdays through Oct. 30 at 320 N. Halstead St., Ste. 100, in Pasadena.
For more information, call (877) 303-0692.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Registrations are now being taken for a Nov. 5 to 7 Retrouvaille retreat. The retreat is designed to provide the tools for better communications between husband and wife.

If your marriage has grown cold and distant, and if you are thinking about separation, consider this program that teaches communication skills to married couples.

For more information, call (661) 257-7980, visit or e-mail

All Souls novena of Masses

The annual novena of Masses for the deceased, whose names are given to us, will begin here on Nov. 2.

The envelopes for the names are on the tables near the altar and at the exits of the church. They can be returned by dropping them in the collection basket or at the church office.

Father Timothy McGowan appointed St. Bernard associate pastor

I am happy to announce that the archdiocese has appointed Father Timothy McGowan as an associate pastor here at St. Bernard’s. His appointment is until July 1 of next year. Father Tim is a priest of our archdiocese and was ordained in Los Angeles on June 23, 1979.

 I look forward to his priestly ministry here, and on behalf of all of us, I welcome him.

— Monsignor Gerald McSorley

Saturday, October 16, 2010

From the Back Pew: Church doesn't need walls

By Michael J. Arvizu

This weekend, St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Anglican Church will celebrate its first birthday.

How could this be, you ask, if the church has been a staple of the community for decades?

Last year, St. Luke's Anglican underwent what I like to call a sort of rebirth. The church lost its building in a court ruling. The church and its people were uprooted.

Like any tree taken from its original home, setting down roots again can be tricky. The roots need to be watered and taken care of. If we were to apply this same analogy to the people of St. Luke's Anglican, I would say their roots once again are thriving in mustard-tree proportions.

To be honest, I had all but completely forgotten about St. Luke's Anglican after my colleagues and I finished our reporting on the turmoil the church faced in its clash with its central organization. I knew the church's congregation had been worshiping in a small chapel at Glendale Seventh-day Adventist, under the pastoral guidance of the Rev. Rob Holman, but I had no idea it had already been a year.

Out of the blue last Thursday, I received an e-mail from Jeanne Erikson of St. Luke's Anglican's communications ministry inviting a reporter to attend the church's one-year anniversary celebration Oct. 17 at the Adventist church.

"We would like to extend an invitation…to come and attend our one-year anniversary celebration … so you can see for yourself how we are doing," e-mailed Debbie Kollgaard of St. Luke's Anglican's communication ministry.

But other than the invitation itself, what caught my eye was the title of the piece, "Church without Walls." That title took me back to the original interview I had with Holman in September 2008, when he had just arrived at St. Luke's Anglican. I asked him if he was worried about what might happen if the church were to lose its buildings. He admitted to me he was worried. Being displaced is never easy. But his belief is that people, not buildings, make a church.

"We'll worship in tents if we have to," he told me. With that kind of attitude, I think the congregation could hold services on an ice shelf in Antarctica and it would still feel like home.

So here's to you, St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Anglican Church. Next week, I'll write about what the church has been up to this past year, and what it felt like for them to be accepted and welcomed with open arms by the people of Glendale Seventh-day Adventist.

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU can be reached at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail

Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Bernard School news

St. Bernard Catholic School is still accepting students for 2010-2011 school year, kindergarten through eighth grade.

For more information, call the school at (323) 256-4989.


Shop through Dec. 31 at Fresh & Easy and St. Bernard School will receive $1 for every $20 Fresh & Easy receipt.

Turn in all receipts to St. Bernard School or drop them off at church office.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

World Mission Sunday

Sunday is World Mission Sunday.

United with the Catholics of the world at the table of the Lord, we recommit ourselves to our vocation, through baptism, to be missionaries. Our prayers and Eucharistic celebration Sunday are directed in a special way toward our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are waiting to hear the joyous “Good News” of Jesus.

Our offerings, through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, will support the work and witness of those who selflessly give up all for the sake of our Lord and his Gospel — the local priests, religious and lay catechists who daily provide loving service to the poor and suffering of the developing world.

Please find in the pews special mission envelopes.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

From the Back Pew: Religion by the numbers

By  Michael J. Arvizu

This week, our In Theory writers were asked to take a 15-question religion quiz published by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The quiz is the shortened version of a larger quiz given to a randomly selected group of people from May 19 to June 6 called the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. According to the Pew Forum, 3,412 adults were asked 32 questions about religion. The survey was conducted on landlines and cell phones in English and Spanish.

If you like numbers, and if you'd like to compare your religious knowledge against that of other groups of people, this one's for you. At the conclusion of the shortened quiz, you will be able to compare your results against a number of statistics, including those who attend church and those who do not; race; religious affiliation; gender; and education level. The statistics are the final results taken from the official survey. Taking the quiz now does not affect those results, according to the Pew Forum, and is a quick, easy — and fun — way to test your religious knowledge.

I scored 12 out of 15, for a final score of 80%. This puts me above the overall population (50%) and 41 percentage points over the Hispanic Catholic population (39%). I scored below 7% of the public, with 87% of the public scoring zero to 11 out of 15. I failed the Ten Commandments question, the Jewish Sabbath question and the Reformation question. But I will get back to these numbers in a moment.

The real fun begins when we look at what religious affiliations scored in the top three — Jews, atheists and Mormons.

Atheists, you say? Yes, atheists. Without going too much into the numbers, "Mormons and Evangelicals know most about Christianity; atheists/agnostics and Jews do best on world religions," according to the Pew Forum.
The other fun part of this quiz is that you can view the Pew Forum's final report and compare how each religious affiliation did, down to a single question.

For example, my fellow Hispanic Catholics fared a measly 39% overall, scoring a little more than half the percentage points of the overall population (50%) and Jews (65%). But they came in last nonetheless. How can this be? We're supposed to be well-versed, well-read churchgoers who understand all of the different religions, right? Well, no, not really. Most formal Catholic education ends at confirmation, unless you attend a Catholic high school or college. And it's been my experience that most teens cringe at the idea of confirmation and giving up their weekends to attend classes. Confirmation, it seems, is just another thing to do and get over with. So how much information actually sinks in, I do not know.

Overall, Hispanic Catholics did well when speaking of their own religious figures, such as "What religion was Mother Teresa?" Eighty-three percent of Catholics surveyed said "Catholic." We tend to go downhill when it comes to questions about other faiths or specific questions about the Bible, such as what the first book in the Bible is (29%), when do Jews begin their Sabbath (33%), or what Protestants teach (8%).

To pick on our Jewish cousins a bit, it was interesting to see that 90% of Jews know who Moses is, but only 17% know the authors of the four Gospels. Ninety-three percent of Mormons know Joseph Smith — the founder of the Latter-day Saints movement — was a Mormon (I would hope so!), but only 25% can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

So what do all these numbers mean? I should have known when the Jewish Sabbath is, right. I've worked with rabbis and done several stories on Jewish celebrations. But even then, I had to guess — and it was the wrong answer. When I was preparing for my first holy communion, we were made to memorize all Ten Commandments, yet I couldn't figure out which commandment did not belong. And I know little to nothing about the Reformation, save for anything I've read on Wikipedia that I've long since forgotten.

For me, anyway, in researching the results of this quiz, it seems that we as faithful, believers and nonbelievers alike, could benefit from continuing our religious education, and then some.

Maybe I'll research and learn what the Reformation was. Maybe I'll get to know a little bit about who Smith was or why Jehovah's Witnesses visit you in the morning as you're about to leave for work. Maybe I should start rememorizing the Ten Commandments again. Maybe my Jewish cousin could read one or two chapters of Luke. Maybe I could remember that Jews have their Sabbath on Saturday, even though it may seem weird to us Sunday churchgoers.

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU writes for the La Cañada Valley Sun. Reach him at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail

Friday, October 8, 2010

Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, East San Fernando District meeting

The East San Fernando District of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women will have its District Meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Incarnation Community Center, 214 W. Fairview Ave., Glendale. Sister Eymard Flood will speak on "Taking Up Your Cross and Stop Complaining." The meeting will conclude with Mass and luncheon.

Cost is $10 prepaid before Oct. 10.

For more information, call Marie Urrutia at (818) 244-0547.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

St. Bernard Religious Education/Youth Ministry Raffle Bazaar

St. Bernard Religious Education/Youth Ministry will hold its annual Raffle Bazaar on from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 24 in the parish Pastoral Center parking lot.

Spaces for sellers will be available for $25.

For more information, call (323) 256-6242 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Creation Sustainability Ministry launch

Writings of popes, bishops and religious women and men have and are encouraging all Catholics to respect God’s creation and to reduce our use of the Earth’s resources.

In Pope Benedict's 2010 World Day of Peace message, "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation," he writes: "Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources ... Our present crises — be they economic, food-related, environmental or social — are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are traveling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed."

To celebrate the gift of God’s creation and the launch of the archdiocesan Creation Sustainability Ministry, attend the 12:30 p.m. Mass on Oct. 10 at Mary Immaculate Church, 10390 Remick Ave., Pacoima.

For more information, call (818) 899-0278.

Statement for Respect Life Month

By Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

During the Respect Life Month of October, Catholics across the United States will gather in prayer and thanksgiving, at charitable and educational events, and in public witness to the unique and priceless value of every human life, guided by the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program: “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” With each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.

With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions — due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child. Yet the loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.
For those the pro-life community could not reach and assist before they underwent an abortion, the Catholic Church throughout the United States offers compassionate, confidential counseling through its Project Rachel ministry. In contacting Project Rachel, no one need fear that they will encounter anything less than a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.

In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government. For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67 percent opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to Members of Congress, urging them to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums. Ensuring that health care reform will meet the urgent needs for which it has been proposed, and is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on rights of conscience, will be an urgent task in the coming year.

Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research — and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda. In a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other “adult” tissues; only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings. Yet the current Administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law.

At the other end of life, seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of “compassion” and “choice,” it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only “choice” cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.

Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that “The Measure of Love Is to Love Without Measure.” While critics want to portray the church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect.

Because we are created in the image of God, who is love, our identity and vocation is to love sacrificially for the sake of others. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the key to [our] entire existence.” In a homily during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society.

Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer — the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.

Recently Pope Benedict made an unprecedented request for such prayer, by asking that Catholic bishops throughout the world, and all parishes and religious communities, observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on the evening of Nov. 27, 2010. The U.S. bishops’ offices for pro-life activities and for divine worship will be working together to provide worship aids to assist pastors in planning these vigil services.

Speaking for the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See is to “thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,” and to “invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

May God bless all who work tirelessly to build a culture of respect for every human life, from conception to natural death.