“Walking down West Portal, hopping on the streetcar at 6 a.m., going to Safeway, taking the dog out — you see people from Saint Brendan,” Jan Donovan, parishioner and Saint Brendan School Vice Principal, said. “It’s not just going to church or being at school that you feel the community.”
As we spend the weeks leading up to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, reflecting on what it means to be neighborly, and how to be good neighbors to one another, we are taking time to highlight what makes Saint Brendan such a neighborly community. Many parishioners live in the area, send their kids to school here, watch their families grow up, and live their lives within the geographical community. They join the parish’s small groups, participate in Saint Vincent de Paul’s Sandwich Sundays, smile and wave at their neighbors in the pews, and make Saint Brendan Church and School a place where people want to give and spend their time.
“On our street, it seems like about 70 percent of the people are somehow involved with St. Brendan,” said Tara Hardesty, who joined the parish about two years ago. “We moved into the West Portal area from downtown, and at first, we thought to ourselves, ‘What suburb have we landed in?’ but quickly found it to be the most wonderful community.”
The warmth of the Saint Brendan Parish family is overt, according to long-time parishioner Jeff Porter. While so many of the churches in the San Francisco Archdiocese have beautiful subtle hints at the welcoming and acceptance of their communities, Saint Brendan’s is impossible to miss.
“This is a community that looks out for each other, cares about each other, and supports each other,” Porter said. “Father Roger sets such a great example, reminding us that if we truly want to call ourselves Catholic, we need to set a tone of openness and kindness and generosity — and show that to all of our neighbors.”
Hardesty recalls coming to the parish for the first time with her 15-month old son and asking someone where the crying room was. “They said, ‘Well, we don’t have a crying room here. We want children in the pews with us, and if they cry or make noise, that’s okay,’” Hardesty said. “I honestly would have felt more comfortable in a crying room, but then I realized that Saint Brendan was not a place that could make you feel uncomfortable.”
“Saint Brendan feels like home. People recognize you and wave to you at Mass, even if they don’t know your name,” Donovan said. “One of my sons was coming to an early morning Mass, but had to stop because [it no longer fit with his work schedule]. After a few weeks, one of the people who always sat near my husband and I came up to me, and asked where my son was. He wanted to make sure my son was okay, even though we only knew each other to wave to.”
“Everyone here is just so down-to-earth, kind, and friendly,” Hardesty said. “It’s a community that you can’t help wanting to be part of.”
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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