A multicultural Mass with Archbishop José Gomez presiding highlighted a golden anniversary celebration Oct. 4 at Mary Star of the Sea Church in Oxnard.Near the end of the early evening Mass, a time capsule filled with current items was blessed by Archbishop Gomez. A reception in the Parish Hall followed, accompanied by a pictorial exhibit displaying images of growth, expansion and transformation from Mary Star’s inception in 1963. Mary Star of the Sea Church traces its roots to 1942 when, as a mission of Santa Clara Church, it utilized a redwood-shingled church in Port Hueneme, built to serve Navy personnel returning from overseas. The Point Mugu Naval Air Weapons station and Naval Construction Battalion Center are within a few miles of the parish.In 1959 Mary Star became a mission of newly-established St. Anthony Church in Oxnard, and was established as a parish on May 14, 1963, serving southern Oxnard and Port Hueneme. A new church opened on West Pleasant Valley Road in 1965 and was remodeled in 1981.But the growth of the community made a newer, larger church necessary. On Aug. 2, 1997, a 12,000-square-foot, 900-seat, semicircular church, designed by Armando Ruiz and Associates and enabling closer-to-the-altar seating for all, as befitting post-Vatican II worship spaces, was dedicated and blessed by Cardinal Roger Mahony. From 1969 to 1983, Mary Star was served by the Missionhurst Fathers (Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) from Belgium, beginning with Father Albert Van Nuffelen. For the past 30 years Mary Star has been administered by the Augustinian Recollect Fathers; the current pastor is Father Fidel Hernandez.St. Joseph HS serves up over $53,000 for County Food BankSt. Joseph High School students nearly doubled their contribution from a year ago at this year’s Santa Maria Empty Bowls event held at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Oct. 23.The Knights created 134 handmade bowls to donate at the 12th annual Empty Bowls event, compared with 75 in 2012. Each bowl created raises $20 in direct sales for the Santa Barbara County Foodbank, and each $20 the Foodbank receives can be turned into $400 worth of food dollars, which can feed a family of four for an entire week. The 134 bowls created by St Joseph students and staff translates to $53,600 for the local community.The hand-crafted ceramic bowls represented countless hours of dedication and creativity by the student artists, who worked diligently after school “to create something special to contribute to our local community,” said Candy Vosburg, St. Joseph art department chair and ceramics instructor. Each participant attending the event purchases a bowl of their choice, which is then filled with homemade soup and is served with bread and water. The bowls are taken home to serve as a reminder to care for and feed the hungry in local neighborhoods.“The goal of the Santa Barbara County Foodbank is to eliminate hunger in our community,” explained Vosburg. “Empty Bowls not only brings awareness to the plight of the hungry in Santa Barbara County, but also provides a tangible way to ensure that those who suffer hunger are provided with the opportunity to feed their families.”Students, she added, “are excited to be a part of the worthwhile effort. They love being able to create something beautiful and useful with their hands and knowing that what they have made will be used to help the community.”Dignity Health expands ‘Healing Paws’ pet therapy programDignity Health of the Central Coast, which includes Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, has expanded its pet therapy program designed to aid in the healing of patients. Animal assisted therapy is utilized because studies show that the presence of animals has a positive effect on human physiology and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. It motivates patients to participate in physical, occupational or speech therapy, by assisting the patient to handle discomfort or pain. The non-stressful interaction with the pets also improves patients’ interactions with family and staff. Currently, only dogs are included in the program.Individual bedside visits can be requested by the patient, the patient's doctor, nurse, therapist or a family member. There is an Animal Visit Liaison’s (AVL) at each facility that helps to coordinate visits, which can occur during weekdays, evenings and weekends. Pet therapy volunteers encourage affection with the dogs, as they are for “hugging and petting” and are not considered service dogs. The volunteer therapy animals and handlers are trained and nationally-certified. Volunteers serving in the pet therapy program receive in-depth training about hospital infection control practices and strict hand-hygiene measures are enforced to ensure cleanliness and adhere to regulations. Participating dogs are required to have up-to-date vaccinations and are bathed 24 hours prior to visiting. Ongoing assessments of the dog’s health and behavioral status are vital to maintaining a safe and sanitized environment for the patients, animals and staff. The therapy dogs are selected for their unique personalities and ability to interact with a variety of patient personalities. Pet therapy dogs are also identified with volunteer hospital identification badges to denote their affiliation with the program. Judy Hoffman, director of Respiratory Services at Marian Regional Medical Center and pet therapy committee chairperson, welcomes the program and its benefits. “Research has shown Pet Therapy in hospitals has added healing value and emotional well-being for patients, visitors and staff by lowering blood pressure, decreasing pain and anxiety and providing emotional comfort. We are very excited to be able to now provide this meaningful therapy option to our patients, visitors and staff at all of our hospitals.”For more information, contact Hoffman at (805) 739-3774.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1108/sbnews/{/gallery}