Monday, March 30, 2015

Fr. Illo’s Parishioners Step Up

Supporters at Star of the Sea far outnumber opposition.
(An edited version of this story appeared in today's California Catholic Daily.)

On Thursday, March 26, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a meeting at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea Parish. The meeting was between a group of parents and press and Star of the Sea's pastor, Fr. Joseph Illo, and parochial vicar, Fr. Patrick Driscoll. The article, titled “Parents ask S.F. Archdiocese to remove school’s leaders” began “In an emotional and at times angry meeting with representatives from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, more than 100 parents of Star of the Sea School children pleaded Wednesday night for the controversial leaders of their school’s church to be removed from their posts.” The brouhaha stemmed from Fr. Illo’s “boy’s only” policy for altar servers.

On March 29, Palm Sunday, parishioners at Star of the Sea responded. They overwhelmingly endorsed their pastor and parochial vicar. At all the Palm Sunday Masses, concerned parishioners collected signatures in support of Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll. Total signatories to the petition of support numbered nearly 500, which more than quadruples the number of the parents, press, and others who attended the March meeting, it far exceeds the total number of the parents of students at Star of the Sea. According to the school’s website, the student body consists of 233 children from 185 families, 42% of whom identify as Catholic. The signatures supporting Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll will be presented to Archbishop Cordileone this week. It is unlikely that the overwhelming show of support will make the pages of the Chronicle.

By quantifiable measures, Illo appears to be revitalizing the parish. He has certainly kept it in the news. Star of the Sea has not only met its Assessment for the 2015 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal in slightly over one week (something few, if any other parishes in the Archdiocese have done) it has exceeded the assessment. The Oratory of St. Philip Neri, which is hosted at the parish, has two seminarians studying for the priesthood—again, something few if any other parishes in the Archdiocese can say. The parish has been host to a number of parish missions with well-known priests. As CalCatholic reported, from March 1-3, Star of the Sea hosted noted Mariologist Msgr. Arthur Calkins for a three day parish mission. In June of 2014, the church hosted Father Paul Nicholson who has been “given the ecclesiastical office of Missionary Preacher” by his Bishop, Ronald Peter Fabbro CSB, of London, Ontario. Nicholson’s mission was on “The Eucharist: the Source and Summit of Catholic Life.” But as Fr. Illo has written, (see: ‘Sitting in an empty church’ CalCatholic, November 17, 2014) Catholicism in San Francisco’s Richmond District (and the city as a whole) seems to be dying. But that problem is not unique to Star of the Sea, it exits nationwide, and Illo, at least, faces the situation publicly.

Nor do the priests neglect the more homey side of the faith—what some people mean by the word ‘pastoral’. Fr. Illo has started a monthly parish barbecue open to all. The girls of the school are engaged in an ongoing project to collect toiletries for the elderly at the nearby St. Anne’s Home for the elderly, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. On Palm Sunday, when the petition signature gatherers were waiting for Masses to end, they congregated in the school’s playground and parking lot, at tables hosted by the parish’s Legion of Mary. The tables are there each week, and the older ladies of the Legion provide coffee, donuts, and Chinese pork buns. After Masses ended Frs. Driscoll and Illo were in the parking lot, mingling with parishioners, and fulfilling requests. Fr. Driscoll went into the rectory and returned fully vested, carrying the aspergillum, to bless one family’s car and a lady parishioner’s dog.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Enemies of Archbishop Cordileone betray Bishop McElroy, fellow Priests

A week to the day before Holy Thursday, a priest or priests from the Archdiocese of San Francisco seems hellbent (we hope the term does not become literally true) on following Judas rather than Jesus.

Yesterday, the National Catholic Reporter published the confidential minutes of a "mid-February" meeting of the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The Reporter "obtained a copy of the minutes from an anonymous priest."

The priest who gave the minutes to the Reporter not only violated the confidentiality of his fellow priests at the meeting, but also that of Bishop Robert McElroy, who was there also.

The minutes appeared under the byline of the Reporter's Dan Morris-Young, who has authored a recent series of articles attacking the new policy of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, which is designed to restore fidelity to the Catholic Church in the high schools of the Archdiocese.

The portions of the minutes the Reporter published dealt with Fr. Joseph Illo at Star of the Sea. One of the commenters to the story said:

"I've heard from several friends now about the parish where the pastor introduced the Archdiocesan Appeal a few weeks ago by noting that it's as likely to be successful 'as selling signed LA Dodgers photos to SF Giants fans.' Many people I know gave $1 to support our pastors' 'percentage contributing' targets, but no more."

Well, that certainly isn't Fr. Illo's parish. About a month into the Archbishop's (not 'Archdiocesan') Annual Appeal, Fr. Illo's parish has already exceeded their assessment, and a usually well-informed person told me they have exceeded it by about 25%.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Congratulations, Spokane! Bishop Daly Heads North

Congratulations to the good Catholics of Spokane! Pope Francis has sent them a wonderful San Francisco boy: Bishop Thomas Daly. He is young, dynamic, orthodox, and fearless. While we in the Bay Area will miss him, it is good for the Church for him to be in charge of a diocese.

Congratulations, Spokane and congratulations, Bishop Daly!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sacred Heart Chaplain Fr. Mark Doherty hits a Home Run on School Initiative Interview

KPCC Radio's Air Talk had a show on March 5 about the new Archdiocesan initiative to re-Catholicize the Archdiocesan High Schools. It's a must listen.

In the first minutes the host, Larry Mantle, interviewed Michael Vezzali, the Chairman of the English Department at Archbishop Riordan High School, who, opposes the Church's teaching. I don't think it's unfair to say he did not exactly make a great showing, but I invite you to listen.

He was followed (at about 6:16 into the interview) by Fr. Mark Doherty, the Chaplain of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, who absolutely hit it out of the park. Logical, educational, persuasive.

The final guest was Rick Garnett, Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in freedom of speech, association, and religion, who was also excellent.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Archbishop Cordileone Evangelizes Editorial Board of SF Chronicle

Our great archbishop Cordileone continues the fight against what our Holy Father Pope Francis has called the 'new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.'

Last week, Archbishop Cordileone met with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle, and discussed the new Archdiocesan school initiative. This is very important, not only because His Excellency does such a good job on the video, but because those reporters, who listened to the whole thing, are also part of the Archbishop's flock, and their souls are just as important to him as are yours and mine.

Monday, March 2, 2015

USF Blacklists Walk for Life West Coast: "No Results Found"

An edited version of this post appeared in today's California Catholic Daily.

On January 24, San Francisco’s Walk for Life West Coast drew pro-life student groups from all over the western United States. The presence of such groups is one of the Walk’s distinguishing features. Every year, the Walk is covered from start to finish by EWTN. The coverage is led by Fr. Mark Mary, the host of Life on the Rock. Fr. Mark walks the Walk, and interviews participants along the way. Because Life on the Rock is geared to a younger audience, Fr. Mark makes a special effort to interview student groups. This year, at 3:01:53 into the coverage, Fr. Mark conducted an interview that provoked both concern and anger among Catholics. Here’s the transcript:

“Fr. Mark Mary: What group are you with?

Young woman: University of San Francisco.

How many are with you today?

We have 3 her, we were not allowed to post any flyers at our school.

Really? The administration wouldn’t let you?

Cause it was an off-campus function, so liability. But we are a Catholic school and there was no email or any mention of the Walk.

But you’re undaunted, you’re here anyway, and do you go to this every year?

Yes, this is our third year, well second year for USF Students for Life.

What does it do for you to come?

Um, it remotivates us to face our campus every day and to try to change our campus to pro-life and uphold authentic Catholic values.

Do you have hope for your fellow students, your peer group, that they’ll be converted on this issue?

Yes! Absolutely we do have hope.

Fr. Mark Mary then asked a young man with the USF group “Are you motivated by faith to come out?

By faith and reason, faith and reason, yeah.

OK, thanks for chatting with us.”

A search the website of the University of San Francisco supported the contention of the USF Students for Life representative that the university has blacklisted the Walk. A search for “Walk for Life West Coast” or “Walk for Life” returns absolutely zero results.

USF’s refusal to allow any publication of the Walk is in marked contradiction to the school’s attitude towards San Francisco’s annual celebration of sodomy, the gay pride parade. A search on the same website using the term “pride parade” returns 3,380 results:

 One example detailed participation in the 2014 gay pride parade:

“Proudly Part of the City That Defines ‘Pride’ Dons March in SF Annual Parade

“About 200 USFers took part in San Francisco's Pride Parade on June 29….Some USFers saw the event as a special way to bond with co-workers. ‘I don’t remember experiencing that much school spirit in my 10 years at USF,’ said Julia Hing, assistant director of employer relations at USF. ‘It was a fantastic day.’

The LGBTQ Caucus USF’s parade contingent, which was co-sponsored by the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, Human Resources, the Office of Diversity Engagement and Outreach, and the Office of Communications and Marketing. The groups say they will march again in 2015….”

The professed concern about “liability” at “off-campus” events does not bear scrutiny. The USF administration obviously has no problem about endorsing off-campus events when it fits the schools agenda, or even whether safety is an issue or not. On February 18, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the gay pride organizers had cancelled the so-called “Pink Saturday” event, held the day before the gay pride parade: “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are pulling the plug on this year’s Pink Saturday due to ‘an escalation in violence’ that marred the staple of Pride weekend.”

Another result promoted a planning session for the 2015 gay pride parade. The faithful young woman interviewed on the EWTN segment asserted “but we are a Catholic school.” That, unfortunately, is incorrect. The Walk for Life West Coast, which USF refused to even mention, was attended by 12 Catholic Bishops as well as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and included a message of support from Pope Francis. A real Catholic school would have done everything in its power to support such an event. By contrast, there has never been one iota of Catholic support for the gay pride parade, indeed, there is opposition, yet USF supports it wholeheartedly.

Baronelle Stutzman, American Heroine

Baronelle Stutzman is the florist from the state of Washington who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex "wedding." As a result she was sued by the ACLU and Bob Ferguson, Attorney General of the state of Washington. On February 18, Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom ruled against Mrs. Stutzman. Mrs. Stutzman's attorney Kristin Waggoner, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, will appeal the ruling. Following the ruling, Mrs. Stutzman sent this beautiful letter to Attorney General Ferguson:

Dear Mr. Ferguson,
 Thank you for reaching out and making an offer to settle your case against me.
 As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years. I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal. Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.
Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.
Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.
 I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so.
I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case.

You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.

Thanks again for writing and I hope you will consider my offer.