The following comes from a July 11 Catholic Voice article by Carrie McClish:
Even after having spent more than 40 years as a priest of the Diocese of Oakland — including more than a quarter of a century as pastor of Oakland’s St. Benedict Parish — the Very Rev. James Matthews was not quite prepared for the many challenges he assumed when he became rector at the Cathedral of Christ the Light over a year ago.
Although formed in 2007, Christ the Light Parish is made up of four separate communities. “They are separated — not divided — by language and by culture,” Father Matthews said.
While he presides over the “mother church” of the Diocese of Oakland, Father Matthews is also the territorial pastor of the Parish of Christ the Light. This parish formed following the merger of three downtown Oakland parishes — St. Francis de Sales, St. Mary, Immaculate Conception, and St. Andrew-St. Joseph — that had “distinctive ethnic/cultural communities” (Vietnamese, Latino and Filipino) along with English-speaking Caucasian, African American and African communities that also existed. All of which produced a patchwork parish of four worship communities without a “vision of unity as one parish,” Father Matthews said in an interview earlier this month.
Nothing reflects these individual communities more than in weekend Masses. On Saturday mornings there’s a Mass in Vietnamese; in the evening the vigil Mass is celebrated in English. On Sunday mornings there is a Mass in Vietnamese and one in English while in the afternoon there is a Mass in English and one in Spanish.
Father Matthews has plans to add more unity to the diversity by bringing together the different languages and ethnicities at one Mass. On Thanksgiving Day of last year only one Mass was scheduled and the worship space was filled. “We could have celebrated the Mass multiculturally and have everyone come together,” said the rector.
“Folks are very comfortable singing and praying in their own language, that’s part of reality,” Father Matthews said. But he said that it’s important to try to bring unity to diversity so that the cathedral parish can feel as one parish.