Side trip: St. Joseph Church, Sacramento

Side trip: St. Joseph Church, Sacramento

While not a Mary-specific pilgrimage, our side-trip to a wedding in Sacramento turned into another wonderful Marian experience! Besides, what’s not to say about “Saint Joseph” when talking about Mary? A wedding at this lovely missionary church brought us closer than ever to Our Lady.

Visit date: Saturday, Nov 11, 2023

Mass: Wedding Mass 1:00 pm

Address: 32890 South River Road, Clarksburg, CA 95612

Website: Saint Joseph Catholic Church (

Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop , Lectionary: 490

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Our Visit

A few years back, Terry and I spent six months in Sacramento for her work, so we were thrilled to be invited to the wedding of a friend we made there.

Terry had to move to Sacramento for work. The dogs and I went along for the ride. Terry rented an apartment a block from the state capitol, and I spent my days running my business remotely and walking and biking with the dogs around town. It’s a remarkably livable city, half urban, half suburban, and easy to get around.

Our apartment. turns out, was behind the Cathedral with a view of the rose window.

She went to Mass a few times while we were there, while I, not yet a convert, did not, so I’ve never been inside. I did get to pose by St. Joseph, my Confirmation namesake, while Terry enjoyed introducing the camera to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which makes here very happy, as her mother was a Carmelite. We had hoped to take a Mass that morning, but the church was closed. No matter, as we were to attend a Catholic wedding — double the fun with a wedding and a Mass! (Yes, I actually talk like that now, a year into my Confirmation.)

The wedding guests all stayed at the Citizen’s Hotel, a gorgeous 1920s building with huge ceilings and marble stairs. It’s a couple blocks from the State Capitol, but, as we discovered while out walking around early Saturday morning, amidst the degradation of Sacramento. The night before was lively, though, as the Sacramento basketball team had won the game and the hotel bar was full of fans. We went looking for breakfast, but found only the homeless nearby, several of whom approached us for a contribution. We ended up at a wonderful Mexican restaurant, La Fiesta, that a cabbie recommended, one we wish we could bring home to Arlington with us!

Terry enjoying a Bailey’s (which we’re happy to learn is still current in the bar scene) and posing in the hotel lobby. To the right is inside La Fiesta Restaurant, which we really enjoyed.

A trip to the Arden Mall northeast of the city filled out our morning, with Terry happily finding an outfit she liked at Macy’s. It was fortuitous she liked it because another outfit she brought turned out to be the same colors as the bridesmaids, which, she assures me, would have been most unfortunate. She looked great in either one, but the new one made her happy.

We called for the car, logged the Church’s address in the GPS and headed over for the 1pm service. What a beautiful little church it is! There’s a sole pastor and a pastor emeritus, so it’s a small but wonderful parish. Must be quite an assignment for the priest to get hold of!

We walked into the Church to the sound of a Mariachi band from the rear balcony. The band turned out to be a real treat — trumpets, guitars, violins, and authentic. Another guest agreed with me that it must be doubly fun to play that music — and get paid for it!

The service was lovely — our priest really enjoyed himself, having fun with the couple and with us, and leading a mostly non-Catholic congregation through the Catholic Mass. He would look up now and then, smile happily, and say, “You can sit down now,” or “Please kneel.” It was a bit of a hoot to watch the people try to figure out what they’re supposed to do. But, it turns out, it was even more of a hoot for them to watch Terry and me pray. At the reception, several people mentioned our “serious prayers” to Terry, and, in line at the bar, one guy said to me, rather derogatorily, “Heh, prayer man, did you pray for me?” I asked him where he sat, which he, said, was two rows behind us. “Too bad, I said, I only prayed for the people in the row right behind us. Next time I’ll send it back two rows!”

But God has his ways — just as this guy was making light of our prayerfulness, the young daughter of the newlyweds led us all in a sweet, child’s version of the Our Father. Terry and I are glad that our reverence for the Mass did go noticed, and we hope it may inspire one or two people to consider their own seriousness in worship.

The mariachi band above and the interior of the church before fill up with guests.

Needless to say, it was a beautiful service. Afterward, as the wedding party posed for photos, Terry wandered off to the Stations of the Cross garden, while I took photos of inside and outside of the church. I wasn’t able to get as many as I would have liked inside, as the wedding party came in to sign paperwork with the Priest. The church is full of ornamentation and statues, one that I really liked a Virgin Mary with hints of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The stained glass was a bit modern for my taste, but Terry, as always, recognized all the messages in it (she loves a church that sets Old v. New Testament scenes across from one another).

Wandering outside, it was fun to see a that the church is surrounded by farmland. Of note to me were Jesus’s tomb and St. Joseph by a cart and donkey:

Facing the lovely grotto to Mary was a Divine Mercy statue — really neat to have them next to one another. Terry enjoyed the stations, especially the Sixth, which inspired her to donate a brick in honor of the bride and groom.

Wonderful trip — again, marks but another reason why we’ve enjoyed this pilgrimage so much: different places, people, priests, and takes on the bedrock of Catholic worship. Can’t wait for the next — our final four Mary-named churches in Shenendoah and Piedmont just after Thanksgiving!

– Michael


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