A few readers have taken issue with my posting on the decision to remove the controversial Fr. Joseph Illo as chaplain at Star of the Sea in San Francisco.
One person directed me to this item on a Catholic news site, which he noted gives a more positive assessment of the situation:
The appointment of Fr. Perrone, a priest of impeccable orthodoxy, does a number of things. It ensures that the students at Star of the Sea will continue to receive the same level of fidelity to the Catholic faith as they had from Fr. Illo. It should defuse the concerns of parents, whose relations with Illo had degenerated to such a state that the parish was suffering. It should comfort parents who can be confident that their children will continue to receive a faithful Catholic education, without the distraction of battling against the parish’s pastor—assuming faithful Catholic education is what they want. It will strengthen Fr. Illo in his work at building the parish and the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, without those same distractions. Faithful Catholics should be happy as well. Those who know Fr. Perrone know that his appointment to any parish cannot possibly result in a diminution of Catholicity. Fr. Perrone will still be attached to the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph. Their webpage describes their mission: “The [Contemplatives of Saint Joseph], a Catholic religious order of men, was founded recently within the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The priests and brothers lead a life of deep contemplative prayer and serve in an active apostolate within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area dioceses. We are a Public Clerical Association of the Christian Faithful as decreed by Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco….Discerning that it is God who chose them to join the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph, the priests and brothers have the faith and confidence to bear witness to their calling as contemplative souls within the modern world. The priests and brothers spend significant part of each day in contemplative spiritual practice. This intense spiritual lifestyle prepares them to become proficient in matters dealing with their active apostolate.”
Another reader, a parishioner, noted in an email:
As you well know, there is much controversy in San Francisco about our Church leadership. Most of it is instigated by San Franciscans with no direct link to our Parish. The smear campaign that continues to gain strength affects us all. The media lurks constantly. They report hearsay from people who have never stepped foot into our lovely Church. None know what we are about, truly. As I was arriving for Vespers this week, there was a media photographer taking photos of the exterior of Star. After I confirmed he was media, I invited him to enter with me to see what we’re really about. He declined, saying some people had been yelling at him. Can you blame our Parish for wanting peace? All that has been written about Father Illo, how many have actually come to see for themselves? Not many, if any I’m here to say. He has angered some people. That is a human emotion. He is not the first to have done it. Mistakes have been made and rectified. Another human condition. What about the good he is doing? Is this even mentioned? He is revitalizing our Parish. Church attendance is growing. Vespers are held each evening. He has started homeless outreach and is forming a Parish branch of the Gabriel Project, to reach and assist unwed mothers. He provides outreach to our inner Richmond neighborhood. He continues to nurture and care for the Parish. It would be nice to see the Catholic community provide support and offer the same for him.
Clearly, there are warring factions here. (Another reader, responding to all this, directed me to this story recounting an old lawsuit against Fr. Illo.) The Body of Christ is being torn—and the wounds go deep.
Pray for this parish, the archdiocese and the archbishop—and ask for our Lady’s intercession to bring peace to this community dedicated in her name.