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by Tom Burke

Email items and electronic pictures – jpegs at no less than 300 dpi to burket@sfarchdiocese.org or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. My phone number is (415) 614-5634.


  • ‘Youth ministry allows youth to explore faith with peers,’ St. Dunstan minister says

    by Karessa McCartney | Apr 24, 2017

    04 O’Rourke PAGEHAPPY BIRTHDAY: All stops were pulled for Mary O’Rourke’s 85th birthday April 1 – no foolin’ – at San Francisco’s Irish Cultural Center. “She was surrounded by her seven children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren,” daughter Maureen Gardner told me in a note to this column. “Thank you for being such a fabulous mom. We love you!!” Maureen said on behalf of everyone in the photo shown here. Mary has been a parishioner of St. Paul Parish for 65 years. Please let me wish Mary well, too. She has been sending in a Calendar notice for St. Peter School’s annual alumni Mass for years and never lets me mention her name.

    April 27, 2017
    Tom Burke

    04 Street THUMBMy guess is that Gabrielle O’Neil is someone you’d be glad to have in charge of any ministry and none better than youth ministry. Gabrielle, an attorney and graduate of St. Robert School, San Bruno and Notre Dame High School. Belmont, has been junior high and high school youth minister at St. Dunstan Parish, Millbrae since 2015.

    Gabrielle was “15 years into a successful career as legal sales and training representative” when she felt “something was missing,” she told me via email.

    Prior to law school, work as a grade school aide helped Gabrielle find “that working with young people was fun and fulfilling,” and after a family vacation, where with her husband, Kevin, she laid the plan for seeking a new profession, Gabrielle’s discernment began.

    “My parents and grandparents have played a large role in my own faith formation, so I began praying on it,” Gabrielle said. “I feel that God heard my prayers for guidance, and answered them.”

    It was on a Sunday when her sons, Anthony and Alexander, were serving at Mass that she picked up a bulletin to find “St. Dunstan Parish was looking for someone to revive its dormant youth ministry program. I knew right then and there that this was the sign that I was looking for.”

    Gabrielle said 18 youth are currently part of the program. “Youth ministry allows me to get to know the young people in our parish on a personal level, discover their individual qualities and attributes, and provide a safe and fun environment for them to enjoy with like-minded peers,” she said. “I am trying to grow their faith formation in a lasting way that goes beyond formal instruction, through themed meetings and service projects.”

    Gabrielle retained her lawyer’s candor when I asked if youth were responding positively to the program: “Somewhat, but it seems to drop off during their high school years.” Among the reasons, she said, are youths’ “being overly scheduled” and struggling with “balancing school, extracurricular activities and social lives.” She again laid the cards on the table: “If their parents don’t make the church a priority, then the young people don’t see a reason to either.”

    St. Dunstan’s youth “enjoy attending family Mass” and “readily volunteer to do service projects,” Gabrielle said.

    “Youth ministry is important because it allows our youth to explore their faith in an environment that is tailored specifically to them. It also provides them with the opportunity to discuss the teachings of the church, as well as life lessons, in their own language.” Gabrielle said she networks with other youth ministers in the archdiocese. She has completed Foundations Training and Youth Ministry Specialization courses offered by the archdiocese. “They allowed me to meet and connect with leaders and my own peers, and I would like to work on developing these relationships a bit more.”

    04 IMG_92061 HALF PAGEDRESS UP: More than 350 guests enjoyed “Run for the Roses,” this year’s fashion show sponsored by the St. Stephen Women’s Guild April 1 at Olympic Club, Lakeside. “More than 100 beautiful models graced the catwalk, donning their ‘Southern Sunday Best’ and showing their ‘Cougar Pride’!” the school said. Proceeds benefit St. Stephen School. Pictured are Shelly Lyon and Nicole Harlan, who chaired the event.

    MEMORIES: Thanks to Allen Menicucci of Our Lady of Angels Parish, Burlingame, for reaching back and recognizing Sister Rita Marie Kropp as his principal of many years ago at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Daly City. Allen said that he and five of his sisters and brothers were students at OLPH under the fine tutelage of Sister Rita Marie, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange. Allen and his family are descendants of the Excelsior District’s Arc Electric Company. “Some of us worked in the office but I liked it out in the field,” the now retired electrician said. Allen left me a phone message after seeing Sister Rita Marie’s picture in the paper. “It is a good paper,” he told me about Catholic San Francisco, “and I am an avid reader.” Happy birthday to Allen, who will be 87 years old May 30.

    Email items and electronic pictures – jpegs at no less than 300 dpi to burket@sfarchdiocese.org or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. My phone number is (415) 614-5634

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