A letter from the All Saints Catholic Church’s parish life director and Pastoral Council about Mayor Mike Sweeney’s remarks at a Tuesday meeting:
Dear Mayor Sweeney,
Members of All Saints Church who heard you speak at City Hall on Tuesday last found your remarks to be hurtful, one-sided and ill informed.
Hurtful: it could hardly have escaped your notice that many of our schoolchildren were in attendance. Having been brought up on the Christian imperative of caring for the poor and needy as a part of good citizenship, they might have anticipated some words of appreciation from their Mayor. Instead, they heard how “unimpressed” you were. Many of them felt crushed by your insensitivity. Thankfully, other members of the Council made a point of thanking those who go out of their way to feed the hungry citizens of Hayward.
One-sided: while criticizing the well-intentioned efforts of our volunteers on several grounds, you seemed to exempt the city from any duty to respond to the hungry and their needs. Thus, you did not join with your other colleagues on the Council in suggesting that toilets or other facilities should be provided in the city center area.
Ill informed: you assert that we “export” charity to a public park. Should you choose to pay a visit to Portuguese Park on any Tuesday morning throughout the year, you would find that nearly 80% of those who are served are poor people who live nearby. Moreover, as to your suggestion that we feed them here at All Saints: you are heartily welcome to visit our campus on any weekday, where you will find virtually every space to be occupied by the children who attend our school. On many evenings and Saturday, we do provide a variety of services for our needy citizens. Throughout its over 100 year history, All Saints has had a tradition of helping the needy who come to our door. Our St. Vincent de Paul provides direct service to over 1500 people each year. For over a decade, parishioners and school children have gone closer to the homes of the poor and offered free breakfasts to those who are hungry at Portuguese Park.
While we are as eager as you to see the downtown area improved, we shall not let your intemperate words deflect us from our conviction that the best and fairest way to judge a city is how it treats its poorest citizens.
We also realize that we have an obligation to be good citizens. This should have been evident by the presence of 25 or so parishioners at the work session. While we did not agree with everything that transpired at the session, we will actively participate in the process to determine how the poor and needy will be served. The late Matt Jimenez used to encourage us to be more active in the city politics. We intend to do just that.
Please know that we offer more that our views on how to care for those in need. As a parish with over 2500 registered families we have many resources and much experience to bring to the table.
Please be our guest at the All Saints multi-cultural celebration in November. You will experience a wonderful event attended by young and old, many cultures, also poor and rich celebrating their differences and their commonality.
As we stride to keep Hayward as the Heart of the Bay, may we also learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each and every person in our community of Hayward.
We want to be of service to the citizens of Hayward. We look forward to the challenge of doing just that.
Stephen P. Mullin
Parish Life Director
Fr. Declan Deane
Fr. Carl Seewald
2007 All Saints’ Pastoral Council:
Fr. Luke Ssemakula