Parish Staff Autobiographies


Meet our Staff

Msgr. Manuel C. Simas - Pastor Emeritus (in residence)

Reprinted from: The Catholic Voice ~ October 18, 2010 ~ VOL. 48, NO. 18 by Kevin Wing

Msgr. Manuel Simas first realized he wanted to become a priest while in grammar school. That desire continued to grow during his years at Berkeley High School. “I remember in high school that I expressed my thoughts to a pastor at the time,” he recalled. “But it wasn’t until my third year in college (UC Berkeley) that those thoughts became very strong.”

Msgr. Simas, born in Oakland on August 17, 1933, and affectionately known as “Father Manny” – was four years old when he and his family moved to Berkeley. “I was blessed with a strong faith family,” he says of his parents, Manuel and Angeline. “For me, my parents were a very good example of Christian living.”

Following his graduation from Cal in 1955 with a degree in political Science, Father Simas entered St. Patrick’s Seminary. He was ordained by Bishop Merlin J. Guilfoyle at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on June 10, 1961.

August 2011 also marks Monsignor’s 21st year as pastor of St. Joseph Parish/Old Mission San Jose in Fremont. Founded in 1797 as the 14th in a chain of 21 California missions stretching from San Diego to Sonoma, St. Joseph/Old Mission San Jose is the oldest parish in the East Bay.

His first assignment was to St. Mary’s Parish, Walnut Creek from June 1961 to February 1967, when he was assigned as associate pastor at St. Felicitas Parish in San Leandro. In 1970 he joined the chancery office of the Oakland Diocese as part of the marriage tribunal, remaining in residence at St. Felicitas until 1971 when he moved to Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont. In 1975, Oakland Bishop Floyd Begin named him Diocesan Director for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which focuses on the Church’s mission on a global scale. On April 24, 1977, in a ceremony held at Corpus Christi Church, Father Simas became vested as a monsignor in the Oakland Diocese. Two years later he was named pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek, where he remained until becoming pastor in Fremont in 1990. During his 21 years at St. Joseph, Msgr. Simas has seen much change in the parish community, including a growing diversity and the expansion of ministries.

“I’ve experienced life with people in the parish through good times, through sad times. The community has been there for me as well.” The parish community rallied around the priest recently when his only siblings, sisters Elsie and Marlene, passed away within four months of each other. The most important aspect of Msgr. Simas’ prayer life is the celebration of the Eucharist. “Everything centers around that,” he said, “To gather around the Lord’s table. Everything is there. People, past and present.” But, I still encourage them to follow their heart.”


Vanessa Barrett - Communication Director

I was born in Los Angeles and in 1987 I moved to Fremont to be part of the booming computer industry.  That’s how I met my husband of 28 years, Ed.  I was fortunate enough to stay home and raise our children, Ned and Kathleen.  When it was time to re-enter the workforce, I felt God was calling me to work in His vineyard.  I’ve been blessed to work at various parishes around the Diocese of Oakland:  Holy Spirit, Divine Mercy and the Cathedral of Christ the Light Parish.  I’m so excited to be back home here in Fremont at St. Joseph.  (Our daughter Kathleen graduated from St. Joseph school class of 2013.) I’m looking forward to serving the Lord in this beautiful community.


Donna Yap - Communication and Discipleship Coordinator

In 1996, my husband, Al, and I, with our two-year-old daughter, Karina, relocated from San Francisco to Fremont.  In 1998, I became a Catechist for St. Joseph teaching in the RCIC, Summer Bible Camp, and the three to five-year-old Sunday school. Our newborn son, Jared, was baptized at St. Joseph in 2001 and played an infant in a memorable Mother’s Day skit, “Love You Forever.” Currently, I am actively involved in liturgical ministry, Faith Formation, and Evangelization ministries at Holy Spirit Church, as well as completing a three-year program in Pastoral Ministry. I have also served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and School.

I am elated to be part of the St. Joseph family and staff. Together, we welcome and invite all to enter this holy ground where the Lord is ever-present and alive and transforms lives by His unconditional love.


Helen Campbell - Pastoral Care Ministry

An only child, I was born and raised in Oakland, educated through high school by the Sisters of the Holy Names. In 1963 Douglas Campbell and I married, settled in Fremont, and raised our family first in St. Leonard Parish, moving to St. Joseph Parish in 1975. I’ve been involved in St. Joseph’s parish life ever since.  

Attending Holy Family College, I graduated with a degree in Ministry and Theology. In 2003 it was my joy and privilege to join St. Joseph’s staff, serving Our Lord and my brothers and sisters through ministry to the elderly, frail and bereaved members of our parish.

This ministry has included social events for senior parishioners, preparation for various liturgies, Holy Communion and visits to parish homebound, interaction with families during illness, funeral preparation and attendance, oversight of funeral hospitality, family follow-up during bereavement and, when requested, presiding at vigils, chapel services and committals. I also assisted in the formation of a deanery bereavement group which functioned for 7 years prior to COVID and was responsible for parish participation in Abode rehousing.

I thank our loving Father daily for allowing me to serve Him and our parish family in this vital, evolving and interesting ministry.          


Nancy Flores - Adult Spirituality and Formation Coordinator

My earliest memory of St. Joseph Parish is when Fr. Abelo walked me up to the school and showed me the first grade classroom when he found out I was nervous about starting school in the fall.  Who knew that 44 years later I would return to work here!  Before returning to Fremont I lived and served as a teacher in Florida and New Zealand, and most recently come from Ottawa, Canada where Andrew, my husband and I lived.  I’m so excited to be back home.  Lots of memories not only of my school days, but also of the time Andrew proposed to me in the Mission.  So looking forward to meeting and serving my brothers and sisters in Christ here at St. Joseph’s. 


Aaron Loverro - Youth and Confirmation Coordinator

Aaron Loverro (aka Mr. L) grew up in Fremont where he graduated from St. Joseph School and completed the St. Joseph Parish Confirmation Program.  He currently teaches junior high science as well as 8th grade homeroom at his alma mater and has returned to the parish as the new Youth and Confirmation Coordinator.  Now working for both the school and parish, he brings a wealth of knowledge, a modern teaching style, and a strong background in retreat leadership, much of which he attributes to his time as Teacher Naturalist and Site Director at Caritas Creek Environmental Education (CYO Camp).  He holds multiple degrees, is passionate about our natural world, and says that the more he learns about the universe, the more proof he has for the existence of God.  He is excited to fill this new role and give back to the very same community that he has called home for such a long time.