Evacuation, Restoration, and the Holy Spirit: An Extraordinary Pastoral Internship Year

St. Joseph Parish, Marysville (Photo Credit: http://stjoseph-marysville.org/parish-communication.html)

Somewhere behind the clouds on the morning of February 12, the sun rose to open the Lord’s Day in Yuba City.  As we neared the midpoint of the shortest month, my pastoral internship year at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish was looking like it would finish out as a normal year of gaining experience in a Catholic parish.  Then, while I was serving as an acolyte at the Sunday evening Mass, the parish received word that the Oroville Dam was expecting an imminent collapse, and that an evacuation had been ordered in neighboring Marysville (home to the Diocese’ first cathedral).

We interrupted the homily to inform parishioners, and within the hour my indefatigable Nissan Sentra had joined the stream of Yuba City evacuees in bumper-to-bumper traffic that clogged Highway 99.  The parish had been safely closed down, and so had the possibility of a ‘normal’ pastoral year experience.


We are all grateful that God has so far protected the areas downstream of Lake Oroville.  And I am personally grateful for the opportunity to serve in a parish facing an unexpected emergency—not every seminarian has a local emergency as part of his formation!  Sharing with the parish of St. Isidore in their (or rather, our) anxieties and uncertainties during the week that followed the evacuation order was a genuine gift, and increased my solidarity with Christians who persevere in the Faith amid uncertainties and persecutions around the world.


And now, with life restored to ‘normalcy,’ it was a special joy to serve Bishop Soto in the parish’s Confirmation Mass.  Having survived the storm, a host of 170 young people were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit on a sunny St. Patrick’s Day.  God has not abandoned His parishes in California, and I doubt not that He will continue to bless our young confirmandes with the graces needed to survive both the difficulties of this present world and the dangers of the sins that could keep them from Heaven.  May His peace be with us, and may our thanks be to God!

Oroville Dam on February 11, 2017 (Photo credit William Croyle, California Department of Water Resources – https://scontent.fmuc2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/16640579_10154430795347449_7459449144655530508_n.jpg?oh=590fdd7320de4c169345257267f9aeb3&oe=59075F56)