News around the diocese: Academic Decathlon, tenebrae service among many upcoming events


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Students to compete in Academic Decathlon
SAN DIEGO — The annual Academic Junior High Decathlon (AJHD), a one-day knowledge competition for Catholic school students in the sixth through eighth grades, will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 2, at St. Augustine High School.

It will be the largest decathlon in the history of the competition and the largest in the nation, according to Elizabeth Kramer, associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of San Diego.

Thirty teams and two pods (one to five students competing in Individual Subject tests only) representing 26 local schools will be participating.

There are 10 events. Two are collaborative team efforts — a Logic Quiz with 20 rigorous thinking problems, and a Super Quiz with 50 multiple-choice questions on five broad academic themes. The remaining eight events test individual knowledge of Catholic doctrine, English, Literature, Science, Mathematics, Current Events, Social Studies, and Fine Arts (Art and Music).

For more information, visit

’40 Days for Life’ now underway
SAN DIEGO — The fall campaign of 40 Days for Life, which began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, will conclude on Palm Sunday, March 24.

40 Days for Life is an effort to bring about an end to abortion through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and peaceful prayer vigils in front of abortion clinics.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a 40-day, round-the-clock vigil on the public sidewalk outside of an abortion clinic. Vigils are underway in front of eight clinics in San Diego County.

More information about local prayer vigil locations can be found at

Special Needs Camp seeking volunteers
JULIAN — The annual Special Needs Family Camp, to be held in July at Whispering Winds Catholic Camp and Conference Center, is already sold out. But the camp is still seeking adults (age 18 and older) interested in volunteering as a “Special Needs Buddy.”

The camp seeks to remove barriers that might prevent families with special-needs children from attending camp together. Special-needs campers are paired one-on-one with a “buddy” for all activities during the entire weekend.

No previous experience is required. All buddies will receive basic training from Whispering Winds staff.

Buddies’ service will run from 1 p.m., Friday, July 19, to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 21. They will receive lodging for three days and two nights, six meals plus snacks, and a Family Camp T-shirt.

For more information, email Matisse Guillen at Register at

Father Joe’s served nearly 13,000 people in 2023
SAN DIEGO — Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest homeless services provider, served nearly 13,000 neighbors in need during the 2023 calendar year, including 3,897 people experiencing homelessness in December alone.

Father Joe’s has been issuing monthly “Compassion in Action: Our Neighbors by the Numbers” reports, which offer a snapshot of how people are using its services and which help the organization allocate resources to meet the needs of the communities it serves.

Per the numbers, Father Joe’s Villages offered 366,805 nights of shelter beds to people in need in San Diego and helped almost 900 people experiencing homelessness exit to permanent or temporary housing.

Additionally, Father Joe’s Villages’ medical staff also provided care to 3,469 unique neighbors in 2023, including through 1,791 dental appointments; 1,594 psychiatric appointments; and 2,180 encounters with the Street Health outreach team.

“As we look back on the past year, we are honored to have been able to help so many people in need find housing, secure employment and access critical health care,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “We could not have accomplished all of this without the generous support of the community, and we look forward to bring transformative wraparound services to even more people in 2024.”

For more information, visit

Birthline invites donors to ‘Give Warmth’
SAN DIEGO — “Give Warmth This Lent,” a new initiative of Birthline of San Diego County, presents an opportunity to provide needy mothers with warm blankets from Sackcloth & Ashes, a socially conscious business dedicated to community empowerment.

For every $100 donation to the campaign, Birthline will provide a large, durable artisanal blanket for a mother in need, plus two hours of peer-to-peer counseling from its trained client managers.

“Many of these mothers are facing housing insecurity and financial hardship, leaving little room for self-care,” said Birthline’s executive director, Andrea Estrada.

For more information on how to participate, visit

Baseball star to share path to priesthood
SAN DIEGO — The Church of the Nativity will host an evening with Father Burke Masters, author of “A Grand Slam for God: A Journey from Baseball Star to Catholic Priest.”

As a Mississippi State star infielder, whose game-winning grand slam helped his team reach the College World Series, Masters was well on his way to achieving his dream of a career in Major League baseball. But after discerning a call from God, he entered the priesthood instead.

Father Masters will tell his story at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 6, at the Church of the Nativity. Copies of “A Grand Slam for God” will be available for sale, and Father Masters will sign them after his talk.

For more information, contact the parish at (858) 756-1911.

Creation Care Ministry sponsoring poster competition
SAN DIEGO — The Diocese of San Diego’s Creation Care Ministry is sponsoring a Faith & Science Research Poster Competition.

All high school students are invited to create a research poster based on their investigation of a science or social science question related to today’s environmental crisis. Students should execute the scientific method and draw conclusions that incorporate faith-based reflection and discussion of the ethical and moral implications of their research findings.

Participants must register by Saturday, March 2. A final image of the poster entry is requested via email to by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 17. The competition will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 23, at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace.

First and second places will be awarded $50 and $25 in each grade level, respectively. Of these winners, the overall winner will receive a $500 scholarship to be applied to school needs.

For more information and to register, visit Questions can be directed to Christina Slentz at

Tenebrae service to be held on Good Friday
LA MESA — St. Martin of Tours Parish will present “A Choral Tenebrae Meditation on the Passion” by Lani Smith.

It will be held at 7 p.m., Good Friday, March 29, in the nave of the parish church.

This cantata takes listeners on a journey through Jesus’ passion and death.

The Tenebrae service combines powerful choral music, readings and dramatic lighting. Communion and veneration of the cross will follow.

For more information, call the parish at (619) 465-5334.

5K walk keeps Oaxacan kids in school
SAN DIEGO — The Oaxaca Education Fund will host its annual 5K Walk on Saturday, March 23.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The walk will start in Canyonside Park (12350 Black Mountain Road, San Diego 92129) and venture into the beautiful Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

There is a suggested donation of $20. (Children walk for free.)

The Oaxaca Education Fund grew out of a migrant ministry that served the field workers who worked between Rancho Peñasquitos and Del Mar. Every year, volunteers travel to the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, to distribute school supplies to the children in the towns these workers come from.

The fund provides books and supplies to about 1,500 children, as well as a monthly food stipend for 50 orphans and disabled children.

For more information or to donate, visit, email or call (858) 922-8555.

Parish hosting Divine Mercy celebration
SAN DIEGO — St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish in Carmel Valley will hold a Divine Mercy Sunday celebration after its 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 7.

The celebration will run from 12:15 to 1 p.m.  and will include the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet in song and the blessing of the Divine Mercy Image.

For more information, contact the parish at (858) 481-3232.

IVC to hold annual ‘Evening of Gratitude’
SAN DIEGO — The Ignatian Volunteer Corps-San Diego Region (IVC San Diego), part of a national organization providing community nonprofit organizations with experienced volunteers, will hold its annual Evening of Gratitude on Sunday, April 7.

The gala celebration will begin with a 4 p.m. Mass at St. Catherine Laboure Parish, followed by a reception, hosted wine bar, dinner catered by The French Gourmet, award presentations and a live auction. All event proceeds will benefit the work of the IVC in San Diego.

The Evening of Gratitude recognizes the outstanding work of IVC’s Service Corps members. It also will pay special tribute to the Sisters of Mercy, recipients of this year’s Madonna Della Strada Award, and Jesuit Father Neal “Pepe” Wilkinson, who will receive the Sheila O’Malley Vision and Dedication Award.

All are welcome to attend, but early registration is required because seating is limited.

To register, visit For more information, contact Curran Gaughan, regional director of the IVC, at (858) 822-9814 or

Retrouvaille offers hope for struggling marriages
SAN DIEGO — Retrouvaille is a program designed to help struggling marriages regain their health. It helps a husband and a wife rediscover or re-awaken the love, trust and commitment that originally brought them together.

The next English-language Retrouvaille weekend will be held May 3 to 5.

For more information about an upcoming Retrouvaille weekend, including the cost to attend, call (951) 259-9474 or visit

Catholics can ‘Encounter’ Jesus in Rancho Peñasquitos
SAN DIEGO — Encounter, a Spirit-filled evening of inspiring music, prayer, Eucharistic adoration, a healing service and reconciliation, is held on the second Friday of each month at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Rancho Peñasquitos.

Sponsored by the parish’s Hearts of Fire Ministry, the event runs from 7 to 8 p.m.

For more information, email

Men invited to join ‘Rosary Crusade’
SAN DIEGO — The Men’s Rosary Crusade gathers at 9 a.m., every first Saturday of the month, at the corner of 6th & Laurel in Balboa Park. All men are welcome.

The rosary intentions are for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of America, for families and for the unborn.

For more information, email or call (619) 920-8363.

Street Evangelization brings Gospel to public square
SAN DIEGO — St. Paul Street Evangelization is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to taking the Gospel message to the streets.

Participants in the ministry do this in a non-confrontational way, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness their public Catholic presence.

For more information or to get involved, visit, call (619) 515-3267 or email

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