Fr. Jack Lau, OMI with Will Shaw
The Oblate Parish of Sacred Heart in Oakland, California sees lots of local traffic as it’s placed on one of the city’s busiest streets, MLK, Jr. Way. A private health-care provider noticed this and approached community Superior, Fr. Bill Mason, OMI, about utilizing Sacred Heart’s parking lot for a one-day, mobile testing facility for Covid-19.
Fr. Jack Lau, OMI, a member of the Sacred Heart community described the activity: “Just on the one day they had 300 registered to be tested. There were also some parishioners who were tested, but that was up to them to register online with that company. The test was a self administered oral swab.
While folks were being tested, the Knights of Columbus from the parish were giving out food and presents to about 25 people that were on their own list. So the parking lot was a happening place.”
In addition to Fathers Mason and Lau, the Sacred Heart Oblate Community includes Oblate Fathers Scott Hill, John Mark Ettensohn, and Philip Singarayar. Like Oblate ministries everywhere, they’ve adjusted to life in a pandemic. According to Fr. Lau: “During this time, we have been having a zoom mass and the numbers remained the same since March. We also have drive-through communion and we set up a table of “day old produce and bread” which is donated from an upscale market. I go out into the parish gardens and am still able to harvest a large aluminum tray of greens.”
After a successful first-time testing event, Fr. Lau say it’s already scheduled to be done on the parking lot again in December and plans for 2021 are in the works.
In spite of COVID and the hardship it has brought to the economically distressed area of the parish, Fr. Lau is quite proud of this long-time Oblate ministry: “…our collection has remained stable and we have an amazing parish community which proves the church is more than the building, it is the people of faith.”