On a damp and chilly Saturday morning, a dozen men and women converge on Most Holy Redeemer Church at 18th and Diamond in the heart of the Castro. Entering, they peel off gloves, remove their hats and take a place in pews near a wooden altar that sits on a platform in the center of the church.
Mostly in their 60s or 70s, these parishioners have come to church for the 8 a.m. Mass. They're familiar with each other, offering a greeting of nods or quiet "good mornings" as they settle in.
Precious Blood Fr. Jack McClure, standing near the altar, is preparing for Mass. He kisses a stole, places it over his shoulders, and then sits down in the front pew with the group.
Several men next to the altar struggle to cut hardened wax from the tips of altar candles as they look for wicks large enough to light. One man fetches the cruets; another, the altar missal. One in the group announces the opening hymn: "O Come, All Ye Faithful."