OAKLAND -- The Rev. Jayson Landeza, the police chaplain who saw the city through some of the darkest moments in recent history, announced his departure Thursday.

It is a bittersweet departure for Landeza, who for 13 years was the one who police officers, grieving mothers and mourning friends turned to, often right at the murder scene or accident site, when a loved one was killed.

Beginning May 15, he will serve the suburban parish of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in San Ramon.

The distance would make it difficult to respond to emergencies in Oakland as he as during the past three years as a priest at the St. Felicitas Parish in San Leandro.

Fr. Jayson Landeza, a 23-year veteran police chaplain who has ministered to hundreds of grief-stricken families in Oakland says, "a lot of us are
Fr. Jayson Landeza, a 23-year veteran police chaplain who has ministered to hundreds of grief-stricken families in Oakland says, "a lot of us are burnt out and tired and angry. That's the frustrating part, we're furious, but we're stumped." Landeza reflects on the killings that have plagued Oakland while sitting in a pew at St. Felicitas Catholic Church in San Leandro, Calf., Feb. 15, 2012. (Karl Mondon/Staff) (Karl Mondon)

"I'm trying to see this as an opportunity to grow," he said. "I love Oakland and it breaks my heart."

The appointment to San Ramon came at the request of the Oakland Diocese.

"That's just part of being a priest," he said Thursday. "When they tell you to go, you go."

He will serve at St. Joan alongside the pastor, Father Ray Zielezienski, who said he has known Landeza for years. "He'll be welcomed here with great joy," Zielezienski said. "That's for sure."

Landeza began serving as a chaplain to public safety agencies in 1995 with the Fremont Fire Department. He was a priest at the St. Joseph Catholic Church at Mission San Jose in Fremont.


Advertisement

Soon after being transferred to the St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland in 1999, he began to serve the Oakland Fire Department, then the Oakland Police Department.

"He has been a steadfast source of inspiration and support to me personally over the years, and I know countless others who would agree," police Chief Howard Jordan said. "On behalf of the men and women of the Oakland Police Department, he will be missed, but will always be a part of our family.

Landeza also served as a chaplain for the Berkeley Fire Department and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Multiple chaplains serve the agencies. But over the years, it was Landeza who offered comfort to a city in shock after one of the deadliest mass killing in the Bay Area at Oikos University in Oakland where seven were shot down last year.

In 2009, he had helped plan and then led the public memorial service for four Oakland police officers who were killed in the line of duty. The response by the agency and the public remain the most memorable for the 51-year-old Berkeley native. "I will never forget that."

Kristin J. Bender contributed to this report.

---