Monthly Archives: July 2019

SF Mission Vicar Practices Humanity From Pulpit to City Hall

first_img“His presence is incredibly calming and he provides a level of serendipity that is badly needed,” said Campos. Though soft-spoken and humble, the priest is radical about defending morality, Campos said.  Artist and attorney Adriana Camarena once called on Father Richard to hold a vigil for Alex Nieto, the 28-year-old man who was killed by San Francisco police officers on Bernal Hill in 2014, and described him as “the representation of spiritual acceptance.”“He will stand by the danzantes in the Mission, chant with Alex Nieto’s buddhist friends on Bernal Hill, and lead the Sunday sermon at his church,” she said. Even before becoming the vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist on 15th and Julian Streets, Father Richard provided moral support to his community, rallied behind immigration reform and stood in solidarity with protestors of the Mission’s anti-eviction movement. He held vigils in the Mission and in other neighborhoods for victims of police brutality such as Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Alex Nieto, and Mario Woods.For community organizer and leader of the ‘Our Mission No Eviction’ movement Roberto Hernandez, the activist priest is quite literally “walking the talk of the Bible.”He remembers seeing Father Richard at a City Hall protest last year. “We went up to the second floor and knocked on Mayor Ed Lee’s office. We were chanting and yelling, and I look over, and I see this man in a clergy collar yelling so hard his face turned red. I don’t know many priests who would do that.”When he’s not protesting, Father Richard works to keep St. John’s meaningful to all. He recently, for example, opened the church’s doors to the homeless, offering them coffee and a safe place to sleep for four hours during the day. The effort meant partnering with the Gubbio Project, a homeless outreach program, which provided 50 roll-out mats for those in need to use between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays.Following the lead of Saint Boniface Catholic Church at 133 Golden Gate Ave., St. John’s is now the second church in the city to offer this service.“On the streets, you sleep with one eye open,” said Father Richard. “This will be a place where they can at least have a few hours in a warm, dry, safe place to forget about their troubles.”Inside of St. John’s, homeless individuals catch some much needed sleep on rolled out mattresses. Photo By Laura WaxmannFather Richard started as a Catholic Jesuit priest in 1978, but left the priesthood 13 years later, for personal and political reasons. Though the Catholic Church saw some progressive changes following his ordination, the openly gay priest said he “grew increasingly uncomfortable” with stances taken by the Vatican under Pope John Paul II on issues such as birth control at the height of the aids epidemic in the 80s, and silencing Catholic dissidents’ calls for openness.“There were young men walking around with canes, dying and ostracized, who needed more support. I found it very difficult to function as a priest and as a gay man in the wider church,” he explained.Stepping away from the pulpit meant embracing a more conventional life. He received a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, taught for a few years, and then went on to work as a technical writer. “It’s what paid the bills,” he said about a 15-year-stint at Oracle, where he wrote manuals about how to use software. When he moved to the Mission in the mid-90s, Father Richard said it was humbling to walk through its streets after clocking out of his Silicon Valley job.“I was meeting people from Harvard and Stanford, and then came home to my neighborhood to see people who were homeless, poor, down on life,” he said. This anecdote of privilege and inequality is woven throughout his life and work, which often go hand-in-hand.“I don’t know if Father Richard sleeps,” said Evangeline Baker, the Food Pantry coordinator at St. John’s. “He dedicates most of his time fighting for others, because he cares.”As a spiritual man, Father Richard said he began to miss the Church. He remembered being encouraged by his community to join the Episcopalians, where women can become priests and gay partitioners are welcomed. He was received as Episcopal priest by the Grace Cathedral at 1100 California St. in 2001, and shortly afterwards began volunteering at St. John’s, which he referred to as “a haven in a heartless world.”“Whether it was offering sanctuary to Salvadoran immigrants during the civil war or supporting gay men during the HIV epidemic, St. John’s wound up being a critical place for people find support,” said Father Richard. Two years ago, he was asked to become St. John’s vicar.Free to live a life of his own design, Father Richard married Rob, his partner of 10 years,  when the state briefly began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008.“We barely made that window,” he remembered with a smile that procured faint wrinkles around his bright blue eyes.  And although most know him as “father,” the priest stepped into a role that he once deemed unattainable. The following year, he and his husband became parents.The couple travelled to Guatemala to adopt their son, David. “He’s a pretty American kid, for better or for worse,” said Father Richard of his teenager. It was also during this time that he took up activism. Father Richard said he was troubled by stories he had been hearing about immigrant families unjustly targeted by law enforcement and torn apart by deportations.After attending a meeting held to address the issue by the San Francisco Organizing Project, an interfaith action group that works to address economic and racial injustices in the Bay Area,  he joined the group. “Father Richard is one of the rare people who is willing to stand with anyone and everyone who is facing a challenge or injustice in their lives,” said Jennifer Martinez, executive director of the Organizing Project. “He quietly offers every part of himself to whoever needs it.”Martinez said that the priest began leading monthly night walks, a non-violent prayer action in which faith communities walk through the Mission, stopping at sites where violence has occurred to pray for the victims.It was during these night walks, said Martinez, that Father Richard became heavily involved with a campaign to indict the officers who shot Amilcar Perez-Lopez, a 21-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who was killed in the spring of 2015.“He galvanized us as an organization to take on the case,” said Martinez, explaining that Father Richard connected with the neighbors and spoke with witnesses. “He seems to carry Amilcar in his heart, I think there is a very personal connection there.”After seeing a picture of Perez-Lopez at a vigil, Father Richard remembers doing a double take. “He looked just like my son,” he said. “He was Mayan, an immigrant – that could have been my kid. I still well-up when I talk about it.”Florencia Rojo met Father Richard in the midst of the community-led efforts to expose what she called “a pattern of police violence” throughout the city and country.The two collaborated in modest fundraising efforts for the slain man’s family in Guatemala, and held marches and vigils locally. She said the priest has been instrumental in pressuring the District Attorney “to take the case seriously.”“I do not think this makes him radical, I think it means he is grounded in reality,” she said.This year, Father Richard’s activism takes yet another form. The priest appears in “Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial,” a film that stems from a community effort in telling the story Alex Nieto’s death, which premiered at the Mission’s Brava Theater on Sunday. The short film is centered around a community trial of the officers who shot Nieto, in which residents of the Mission act as members of the judicial system and critically question the police narrative.The priest said he laughed at the irony when he was approached to play the role of a police officer facing trial. He couldn’t refuse. “They needed an old white guy to play the cop. I did say I would do whatever,” joked Father Richard. “You have to do what it takes to get the story out there. We are turning the heat up, and making sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks.” Tags: religion Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% En Español.Dressed in a black robe and a clergy collar, Father Richard Smith often stands in contrast to the people for whom he rallies, quietly but with all of his heart. He says some of his most important work happens outside the church, going to the places where members of his community are forgotten. “Jesus got in trouble because he was always hanging out with the outcasts – the people that nobody else wanted,” he said. “He certainly did not spend his time within the four walls of the church.”And neither does the priest. As a rule of thumb, Father Richard said he visits the places “where there is the most pain and rejection.” This could include a homeless encampment, a living room of a family torn apart by violence, or an undocumented community member facing deportation.District 9 Supervisor David Campos hailed the 65-year-old as an unsung hero.center_img 0%last_img read more

LOUIE McCarthyScarsbrook says he will be doing ev

first_imgLOUIE McCarthy-Scarsbrook says he will be doing everything he possibly can to return for Saturday’s trip to Leeds Rhinos.The 25-year-old close season signing from Quins missed the match against his former employers due to a shoulder injury.But he’s determined to feature for Saints’ Super League clash at Headingley.“It is a little sore but I’m hoping it will be ok,” he said. “I’ll check with the doc and the physios beforehand but I don’t want to be missing two games on the bounce.“It was tough missing the match last week, especially as it was against my former club. I was on the way up to the game with my missus, mum and dad and I was nervous, shaking like I was going to play. It was a weird experience really.“Ok, it was a good result for Quins, but I was disappointed with the game and angry I couldn’t play.“Rob Powell has done really well for them and given them a new lease of life. He has given them a good structure. He did well under Macca [Brian McDermott] and you could see he was always going to be a coach. Perhaps it came a little earlier than expected but he has grabbed it with both hands.”Saints’ form is patchy so far this season and their next game doesn’t come much tougher than heading over the Pennines – especially as Leeds are starting to hit their straps.But Louie says if they stick to the gameplan then there’s no reason why they can’t come away with two points.“It is a tough place to go and we certainly don’t want to be 18-0 down at half time again. Our confidence hasn’t taken a knock as we are professionals and know we have to pick ourselves up.“We know what we have to do.”last_img read more

THE RFL and Gillette are delighted to announce a t

first_imgTHE RFL and Gillette are delighted to announce a two-year extension of the brand’s decade-long partnership with the sport and the England Rugby League team.This will see Gillette continue as England’s main sponsor for Rugby League World Cup 2013, when its logo will feature on the national team’s playing strip.The partnership also enters its second decade with a fresh focus and significant investment from Gillette to improve the quality of coaching at the grassroots of Rugby League in the UK.The agreement comes as a boost ahead of the RLWC2013 and the Gillette-funded coaching programme is designed capitalise on the excitement of the home World Cup, increasing the standard of youth development, resulting in a better quality of home grown players to progress into the England ranks.England coach Steve McNamara said: “I am absolutely delighted that Gillette has extended its partnership for a further two years because they have become an important part of all we are trying to achieve in 2013 and beyond.“Their sponsorship is really appreciated by all the players and it’s great that the benefits of this partnership are now going to be felt across all levels of the game as we work together to develop both great coaches and great players.”RFL Director of Performance and Coaching Jon Roberts said: “Our ultimate goal in 2013 is to win the Rugby League World Cup but the need to support and develop the next generation of talent is always in our focus.“There is a clear need to identify, train, and develop specialist youth coaches who are experts at coaching children. Through the improvement of coaches we will develop a better quality of player to progress into the England ranks. With Gillette’s support we are raising the profile and value placed on coaches to ensure we develop the next generation of player.”The coaching programme aims to increase the number of quality 12- to 16-year-old Rugby League players through the education and training of 120 specialist children’s coaches. Gillette’s commitment to invest in RL coaches is part of The Great Start Programme, which aims to celebrate and encourage the coaches who will inspire the next generation of England stars.The partnership has a long-term vision as the RFL and Gillette understands without the tireless efforts of coaches and educators, the next generation would not be inspired to pursue careers in sport and new talent would remain undiscovered.Gillette brand manager, Jared Regan, commented: “We’ve been partners of the RFL since 2003 and have been involved significantly in the growth of their grassroots programmes across the country as well with the elite level of the game.“Aside from supporting the England international side, we understand the importance of funding and promoting the RFL’s grassroots programmes.“This is something we are extremely passionate about; the future of the sport is reliant on the provision of top class community coaching and facilities and we are proud of the work that is been done since 2003 to support this.”last_img read more

NATHAN Brown was pleased with his sides performan

first_imgNATHAN Brown was pleased with his side’s performance as Saints returned to the top of the First Utility Super League table.Mark Percival and Paul Wellens each grabbed a brace in a 38-16 win.“We’re happy with the performance,” he said. “We surrendered a couple of tries in the final few minutes but for 75 minutes we were by far the most dominant side on the field.“The whole 17 contributed to the performance. Willie Manu played his second game for about 10 weeks as did Mark Percival and they both improved. We had three kids out there who are just 19 too. Greg Richards was sensational – Andre Savelio and Luke Thompson did a great job as well.“They did that against seasoned professionals and I’m proud of how they held themselves.“Paul Wellens was super. The way he played he obviously contributed but his effect on his teammates is probably even better than the way he plays.”He continued: “We are looking forward to playing Wigan. They got the chocolates on Good Friday but we’re back on top and we want to put in a good performance. We don’t want to do there and surrender meekly, we want to play well and maintain a good position.”Brown said that Alex Walmsley will return from his suspension next week and Richard Beaumont will play his first game too – likely on dual registration.Kyle Amor and Anthony Laffranchi are also improving.last_img read more

Denis Whittle has left us at the age of 85 after

first_imgDenis Whittle has left us at the age of 85, after recent declining health, writes Alex Service.A remarkable man in so many ways, he possessed a veritable encyclopaedic knowledge of his home town, its people and St.Helens R.F.C. in particular.He first saw the light of day in Clyde Street in the town centre, close to the famous ‘Bruk’, an area of waste ground over the way from the former Beecham’s factory where, according to Denis, “many young men cut their rugby league teeth”.  He always readily recalled players from that area, including Walter Delves, Roy Robinson and Josh Gaskell. Denis was educated at nearby Lowe House School and remained in touch with many of his classmates over the ensuing years.He was a Saints’ diehard since his schooldays during the Second World War, when he used to carry the team changes board around Knowsley Road. His boyhood hero was the great centre Jimmy Stott “St. James of Parr” as he used to call him and he always rated Alex Murphy as the greatest player he had ever seen, although Tom van Vollenhoven was his favourite overseas star!He began his working life as a newspaper compositor and was involved with the compilation and publishing of the first edition of the Rugby Leaguer from where he worked at Lockie Press at the age of 16.He spent 30 years with the St Helens Reporter, before joining the St Helens Star in 1989 in a purely journalistic capacity. He was also the Saints’ correspondent with the Star, replacing Ron Barker and his match reports in the early Super League era were typified by his fastidious attention to detail and a unique writing style that endeared himself to the reader.His flamboyant, descriptive prose was undoubtedly his trademark and quite unmistakable. Indeed, his ‘one-on-ones’ with the coaches of the time, including Mike McLennan, Eric Hughes, Shaun McRae and Ellery Hanley were eagerly awaited. He was straight to the point and the supporters loved it!My own favourite moment was with Eric Hughes, when both joined together for their weekly column Hughes’ Views. “Many ex-players tend to expand physically when they hang up their boots but that does not appear to be the case with you,” offered Denis. “What is the secret of your gazelle-like appearance and pace?”Absolutely priceless that one and typically Denis. He remained the Saints’ correspondent until Mike Critchley took over in 2001. He was, quite naturally, upset to leave, although he regularly contributed numerous nostalgia pieces for the rest of his life.Denis undertook his National Service in the Royal Engineers and served in Cyprus and Egypt. One of his most cherished occasions was Saints’ first-ever Challenge Cup victory in 1956, when he was able to get leave to go to Wembley on that famous day.He thought the world of that team and remained close to several of them through the years, such as Glyn Moses, Austin Rhodes, Steve Llewellyn, Roy Robinson and the legendary centre Duggie Greenall. The venerable Duggie was another of Denis’s favourite players and he produced a superb biography about him – A Rugby League Saint – in 2006.It was very much his piece de resistance and Duggie remained a valued close friend until his own demise several years later. Nothing gave him more pleasure than sharing a “pictorial pearl” or two with people who came to the famous “rugby room” at his home.Denis always looked forward to meeting up with old friends at the Annual Saints’ Players Association Dinner and attended the last event at the Totally Wicked Stadium in 2018. It should also be mentioned that Denis had a hand in Eamonn McManus’s original involvement at St.Helens R.F.C. For that alone we should be eternally grateful!He married somewhat late in his life to Margaret, who sadly pre-deceased him. As fate would have it, they met at Knowsley Road near the half-way line and had their wedding reception there. She was a primary school teacher [and a rugby league coach!] and he thought the world of her. Denis never really recovered from Margaret’s death. They were both huge Saints’ fans and toured Australia and New Zealand together watching the rugby league test matches. Many happy memories indeed. The Whittle Cup, competed for by local primary schools, remains her legacy.Denis was a generous man reflected in his involvement with Willowbrook Hospice. He was also a mover and shaker behind the Gus O’Donnell Fund in the early 1990s and helped with testimonials. He was also one of the first people to visit Steve Prescott when news of his tragic illness broke in 2006. He was also a keen cyclist and table tennis player, with an interest in railways and Gilbert and Sullivan.Denis respected authority and achievement, and delighted in regaling anyone who cared to listen with tales about the celebrated characters of our town and its rugby league players in particular. His obituaries were superb. He invariably knew them all and painted a true picture of their lives for us to celebrate.On a personal note, I enjoyed a long friendship with Denis. We produced several publications together, [Saints’ 50 Greatest Matches and Marching On, celebrating St. Helens R.F.C. in the new Millennium] where his supreme knowledge came to the fore.He was quite a character in his own right too. But how could you not like a man who at one time played a cassette tape in his car with just two things on it: ‘Happiness’ by Ken Dodd and the ‘Vollenhoven Calypso’. What an absolute legend!Everyone connected with St.Helens R.F.C. sends their condolences to Denis’ family at this time. He was a true rugby league diehard and will be sadly missed by so many people. Our town will never be the same again, for sure.Denis Whittle: April 30 1933 – January 4 2019.Pictured are Denis (right) with another Saints stalwart Paul Loughlin.last_img read more

Venus Flytraps in danger of being loved to death

first_imgCAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Carolina Beach State Park is a popular place for visitors and locals to enjoy. However, some species living in the park, like Venus Flytraps, are in danger.“In some regards, people are loving them to death,” Carolina Beach State Park Superintendent, Chris Helms said.- Advertisement – With nearly 750.000 people from across the country visiting the park, the plant is becoming more and more vulnerable.“They get trampled on occasion, they get stomped. We have on occasion poaching,” Helms said.That is why the park, along with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and Wilmington’s National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, are hosting several events this weekend. All to raise awareness about the park and vulnerable species like the Venus Flytrap.Related Article: Investigating the Carolina coast’s native plant: Venus flytrap“It’s one of 16 different areas all across the country that have been designated as a place that is in danger of being loved to death,” Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer, Andy Mossey said. “So a lot of people are getting outside, it’s really great to see. And with all those different people getting outside we’re seeing a lot of impacts to the area.”One major thing the park and volunteers worked on Thursday was revamping the area with designated pathways and planting more Venus Flytraps where visitors can see them.“We’re trying to keep people on the trail and avoid trampling these really sensitive plants. They could take years to become fully mature,” Mossey said. “But it’s up to every single one of us to do our part to really help protect this place.”It is a team effort to protect the plant for future generations.“You don’t go to the Amazon, you don’t go to some foreign destination to see a Venus Flytrap. They’re right here in the backyard of folks that live in Wilmington,” Helms said.The events to raise awareness for the park and Venus Flytraps kick off Friday, October 5, and run until Monday, October 7. They are free and open to the public.last_img read more

Prayer vigil held in memory of gun violence victims

first_img The vigil held at Riverfront Park featured prayers for victims, their families, those working to curb gun violence in our community and for the courage to stand together against violence in all its forms.“I don’t want my kids to grow up taking that path,” says Juneshia McKnight who’s mother Judy also spoke at the vigil as the leader of Moms in Mourning.McKnight is talking about the path of those who were named aloud during the interfaith prayer vigil.Related Article: Supreme Court rejects challenge to regulation of gun silencers“We cry out to you to heal our souls from this scourge of violence,” prayed St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church Reverernd John McLaughlinViolence took McKnight’s brother William Riley five years ago. She brought her kids to the vigil to make sure they hear the message.“I don’t want them growing up and being a part of that and to take a different route and to also know that it’s not okay to kill someone,” McKnight said.McKnight and her family stood alongside dozens of others. Many thinking of the mass shootings that made 2017 the deadliest year in modern U-S history.Some also thinking of the recent deaths locally. WPD reports 20 people have been killed this year.The most the city has seen in more than a decade.“I like that they got the children involved too it starts you know young changing minds, changing attitudes about guns,” said Michelle Hellner.Hellner is on the different side of the coin. She’s never lost someone to a shooting or violence.Her church was one of the first to organize this vigil, she like McKnight wants to see change.“I do have faith that someday this won’t be necessary,” Hellner said.This was the third annual December prayer vigil to be sponsored by local faith communities, according to Don Arabian a spokesperson for Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence (WFAGV).As with the last two years, the vigil will be held in conjunction with the National Prayer Vigil Weekend Against Gun Violence, a nationwide event conducted each year during a period in December that most closely coincides with the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history. This year, as in past years, similar vigils will be held across the country to remember all victims of gun violence and to pray for an end to that violence.“Some 30,000 Americans die every year of gun-shot wounds, another 60,000 or more are injured”, said Arabian. “Tragically, ever year, gun violence incidents in Greater Wilmington contribute to those statistics, with some twenty gun-shot victims so far this year in Wilmington and the surrounding area.”Another vigil organizer, the Reverend James Hanisian said, “We are trying to get past the polarizing nature of the gun debate and begin to work together on ways that can reduce gun violence. As people of faith and conscience, we can’t stand by silently. If we do that, we condone the violence.”The vigil included the lighting of candles in memory of all gun-shot victims and the voluntary naming of local victims. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –  Around twenty-five Wilmington-area faith communities and organizations came together Monday evening for a candlelight vigil to pray for an end to gun violence and to remember the many local victims of that violence.Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Fort Lauderdale Airport were just a few shootings that took the lives of many this year. Tonight’s vigil was a reminder of those and also the violence here at home.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Humpday Health NHRMC offers free smoking cessation class

first_img The hospital is holding a free smoking cessation class at Cape Fear Heart Associates in Wilmington Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.“I’ve actually had a lot of success stories from people that have actually quit smoking as being a patient from the hospital,” Bollhorst said. “Now we’re trying to reach out more into the community and not let them get as bad as our patients and maybe they can start quitting sooner.”Bollhorst says the dangers from smoking are getting more and more apparent.Related Article: NHRMC restricts visitors with flu-related symptoms“With COPD and other smoking-related illnesses on the rise, not just in this state but across the country, we thought we could be proactive and help the people that actually want to quit smoking,” Bollhorst said.Pharmacist Rachel Thomas will discuss the benefits of nicotine patches, gums and lozenges. She says those are more effective than going cold turkey.“When you go cold turkey, the success rate is pretty low. We’re talking less than five percent success rate,” Thomas said. “Now, people have done it successfully, but we would recommend not going cold turkey and coming to learn about how to safely use the over the counter nicotine products to help you quit.”If you want to sign up for the class, you can call Bollhorst at 910-264-9200.If you cannot make it to Thursday’s class, the next one will be July 19. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Smoking can be a tricky habit to kick on your own, so New Hanover Regional Medical Center is trying to help.“It’s very addictive. Studies have shown that nicotine can be as addictive as heroin,” respiratory therapist Tony Bollhorst said.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Gore to return to hill after fourweek stay on DL

first_img(Photo: WANE) Whiteville High School alum MacKenznie Gore is slated to return to the mound tonight when his Fort Wayne TinCaps take on the Quad City River Bandits in Davenport, IA.The TinCaps’ website lists Gore as tonight’s probable starter.- Advertisement – It marks Gore’s second start of the season and first since Gore, a first-round pick of the San Diego Padres last June, went on the seven-day disabled list because of a blister on his left middle finger after his first start for Class A Fort Wayne April 10.Gore was limited to 66 pitches in that first start. The lefty allowed five hits, including a two-run double, and a walk while striking out four in three innings of work.last_img