Dear John…

Happy Easter! He is risen! I hope you all had a wonderful Holy Week and enjoyed “worshipping Easter.” Sigh. It never stops, does it?

My husband sent me this last week. He doesn’t often send me suggestions. I have zero trouble finding some insanity out there upon which to rant, but this one, apparently, was even too much for him to take, so I will give you my opinion on his behalf. Sometimes he doesn’t mind it when I do that.

Fri Apr 12, 2019 – 7:46 pm EST

New Zealand cardinal asks laity to stop calling priests ‘Father’ to fight ‘clericalism’

Martin M. Barillas

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, April 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal John Dew of New Zealand wrote a missive to Catholics of the Pacific archipelago urging them to not address priests as “Father.”

Brilliant! Let’s take men who have shown by their actions that they’ve completely forgotten their vows and priesthood and remove one of the last reminders. Might as well just ditch the clerical garb and habits, too. I mean, that might go to their heads, too, right? Heck, let’s just go with orange jumpsuits, because if they’re already having issues with this, they’ll probably end up wearing them anyways. Geez.

In providing a synopsis of an article by Fr. Jean-Pierre Roche that appeared in La Croix, Cardinal Dew said he joined the French priest in wondering why priests are called “Father.”

Yeah, let’s go with the Church in France where they’ve lost the faith so badly the Muslims came right in and filled the vacuum. How’s that working out for them?

He continued, “In August last year Pope Francis wrote a Letter to the People of God, to all of us. The Holy Father appealed to all of God’s people to take action against ‘clericalism’ which he sees as the source of abuse perpetrated by priest and bishops.” Thereafter, he summarizes Fr. Roche’s epistle.

Roche wrote that he and other Catholics are “overwhelmed, shocked and appalled” and “traumatized” by the sex abuse crisis that has afflicted the Catholic Church. Roche called for transforming the Church by returning to the Gospels and adhering to Pope Francis’s call to action against the “clericalism” that is ostensibly responsible for abuse perpetrated by priests and other clergy. Thus, he gives three reasons why Catholics should not call priests “Father.”

Yes, well, people can’t seem to bring themselves out of denial over the overwhelming cause. Remember when stats mattered? But as they say now, two plus two must equal anything but four.

The first reason Roche cites is also often used by Christians who do not share the traditions of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. “The first reason should be sufficient in itself, as it is found in the Gospels,” Roche wrote. Quoting the Gospel of Matthew, Roche wrote, “Priests wish to be disciples of Jesus, who said, ‘You are not to be called “Master,” for you have but one Master, and you are all brothers and sisters. And do not call anyone on earth “Father,” for you have but one Father, who is in Heaven’” (Mt. 23: 8–9). Saying Jesus’s words are clear, Roche wrote, “To be called ‘Father’ is, quite frankly, to usurp the place of God, the Father of all people. It is, literally, to play God!”

What an incredibly non-Catholic response from a Catholic! And we wonder why the Faith is disappearing? It must be because we’re not cool, because it’s certainly not because some people adopted Protestantism.

Apparently seeking to psychoanalyze priests and laity, Roche suggested that while priests “exercise a sort of spiritual fatherhood” by permitting the laity to address them as ‘Father,’ they may be compensating for their lack of natural children. He asked bishops to leave off the title of “Monsignor.” Finally, he said referring to priests as “Father’ is “unhealthy when it is the expression of an emotional dependence based on a false idea of obedience.”

This guy is a mental dumpster fire. Wouldn’t it be better if they actually thought of us as their spiritual children (which we are)? Duh. And really, all those saints who used the proper, respectful titles for their priests were unhealthy? Please. It might actually be more helpful, Cardinal Dew, if you put the priesthood back into the spiritual realm instead of furthering its secularization. That, as Pope Benedict pointed out, is the true problem. God has now been removed from the priesthood.

Roche has long supported the “Action catholique ouvrière” movement in France and has written books on the spirituality of work.

Cardinal Dew presumed the reasons why priests are called “Father” by their flocks, writing, “Being called ‘Father’ may seem important to some priests, but is it really that important?” He goes on to write, “Making a choice to tell the people we serve not to call us Father (or for me ‘Your Eminence’ or ‘Cardinal’) might seem a very small thing to do, but it may be the beginning of the reform in the Church which we have been asked to do by Pope Francis.” The papal letter to which the cardinal refers was issued after revelations of clerical abuse in Pennsylvania that had been covered up and largely involved homosexual acts.

Gotta say, the more he talks, the more I’m warming up to the idea of stripping out his title, at least. That said, this is and always has been the most ridiculous reason given for this whole, evil debacle. Erasing the line between priest and laity has been a nice chunk of the problem. Furthering the erasing of that line? Disastrous.

In a comment to LifeSiteNews, Papal Dame Colleen Bayer wrote: “Faithful Catholics feel betrayed by our Shepherds down here in New Zealand[.] … Dew is doing nothing at all to instil confidence in those whom he is charged with shepherding, in his latest attempt to belittle the reality of spiritual fatherhood, just as he has also decided to reduce the number of churches in his diocese.”

Dame Colleen is the national director of Family Life International in New Zealand. She added that she is “deeply saddened that those faithful who have always respected … the Fathers of the Church our Holy priests, are now expected to address His Eminence as John.” Writing that tiny New Zealand, “God’s Own,” has “lost its soul,” Dame Colleen said that she fears the day when Cardinal Dew must “face the reality and truths of the real problems facing the Catholic Church in New Zealand regarding homosexuality in the priesthood.”

I love this woman, and it’s not just because she has a wicked cool title! She gets it. And for those whining about a lack of women with roles in the Church, note her gender. I’m betting some are wishing SHE weren’t so present.

Echoing the criticisms of many Catholics disappointed by February’s controversial conference of bishops at the Vatican to discuss the abuse of minors, Dame Colleen wrote that the crisis “has nothing to do with showing respect for spiritual fatherhood.” She wrote that the term “clericalism” stands for a game played, “where nobody is supposed to know what the meaning or goal of the game actually is. So much goes on to divert and break down the truth and beauty of His truth.”

BAM! Right. On. The. Money.

Cardinal Dew has been criticized in the past for arguing that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to the Eucharist. He has also taken liberties in the liturgy of the Mass.

Why some Catholics want to be Protestant influencers is beyond me. Been there, done that since 1517.

“Catholic theologians and commentators have noted in the past the reasons why Catholics generally refer to priests personally as “Father.” For example, as the apologists at Catholic Answers explain, to take the words of Jesus Christ literally would mean that no one would call his own paternal parent “Father.” The use of the term in the Old Testament was not limited to one’s natural father. For example, in the book of Genesis, Joseph tells his brothers that God had given him a fatherly relationship with the Pharaoh of Egypt: “So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:8). The Prophet Job says: “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16). And the Lord told King David’s steward, Eliakim: “In that day I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah … and I will clothe him with [a] robe, and will bind [a] girdle on him, and will commit … authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah” (Is. 22:20–21).

In the New Testament, protomartyr St. Stephen refers to “our father Abraham” (Acts 7:2), while St. Paul speaks of “our father Isaac” in Romans 9:10. Also, various early writers, such as St. Clement of Rome and St. John Chrysostom, are known as “Fathers of the Church.”

It has been suggested that Jesus was engaging in rhetoric in order to make a point. The entire passage of Matthew 23 reads: “But you are not to be called ‘rabbi,’ for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called ‘masters,’ for you have one master, the Christ” (Mt. 23:8–10).

Because Jesus appointed his disciples as teachers (rabbis) and Paul preached the Church as apostles, prophets, and teachers, some commentators have indicated that what the Gospel recorded is that Jesus was appealing to scribes and Pharisees, who were not humble before God.”

Well that just saved me a whole lot of education time. It’s nauseating that a red hat of the Church would make such a sophomoric argument that denies all the history of the Church. A ten-year-old could rattle off a more cogent argument than Cardinal Dew, and I’ve had many so I would know. The attempt to constantly sucker in people who may not know is just, well, evil. The “call no man ‘Father’” attempt is going to sound weird to anyone but the most strident dissenter. The dissenters know the truth but they just reject it. The rest of the Church? They’re going to think a little more logically. Do you really think they’re going to buy into the lame argument that calling priests “Father” made them do it? Get a clue.



Bishop Schlert’s Pontius Pilate Moment

I really don’t know much about Bishop Schlert other than he’s got a problem with abuse cover-up accusations. Honestly, I’m not sure where the truth lies, but I’m sure some readers will chime in. Regardless, his allowing Fr. Martin to speak in his diocese – all the wishy-washy claims of not endorsing Fr. Martin notwithstanding – seem to bolster the idea that he likes to play middle of the road and not deal with the hard issues.

With permission, I am re-posting a letter from a reader to Bishop Schlert regarding allowing Fr. Martin to speak in his diocese, followed by the bishop’s response. Bishop Schlert is quite right that other bishops around the country have chosen to protect their flock when it comes to Fr. Martin. Unfortunately, he is choosing the wimpy path. The diocese will know who my reader is, and he’s willing to accept the consequences should people find out, but I’m going to blot out his name. If the diocese is going to throw him under the bus, that’s on them, but I would hope that others in the Diocese of Allentown will vigorously support this reader and send their own letters of protest. In fact, I’d love to see a presence at the diocese until the invitation is rescinded. That diocese has enough problems without encouraging the very ambiguous “welcoming spirit” of Fr. Martin that’s advocated by his favorite groups like “Out as St. Paul.”

So here is the text of the letter our friend sent to Bishop Schlert (emphasis and interjections mine):

Dear Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert, Bishop of Allentown,

As member of the diocese, who has been deeply troubled by the abuse allegations that have occurred and continues to attend mass, entrust my child to the diocesan school system, and provide financial support for many initiatives. I am extremely troubled by your recent decision to allow Father James Martin, SJ to speak at Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth on April 27, 2019.

This decision is wrong on many levels. The first being the Diocese has gone to great lengths to protect our youth and has instituted many programs to protect them from physical harm as well as mental harm in the form of bullying. To this I ask if you are sincere in your will to protect God’s Children? I ask this question due to the events that unfolded in January of this year at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the massive media bullying of the youths of Covington Catholic High School. Social media condemned these youths well before the facts were known. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church was part of the lynch mob. Father James Martin was one of the first within the church to take to social media to condemn the teens.

Oh, yes, he was, and he refused to ever apologize to them. The good old “I apologize if I was wrong but…” doesn’t do it.

The same person who preaches tolerance and acceptance for the LGBTQ community, isn’t it ironic? To make matters worse, Father Martin issued a “so-called” apology on social media. I would ask you to read his apology to see if this is a person who is truly remorseful or has any regret for the danger in which he put the youths and their families. I thank the Lord these kids had great teachers along their development. While I am disappointed in Father Martin for his wrongful hate-filled actions, I am disappointed in the Diocese. I called the diocese to ask if the diocese would be issuing any type of statement of support and spoke with the communication director who said the diocese had no interest in supporting these youth, even after the facts were clear that the Covington Kids were the victims. I was saddened that we have a chance with the next generation of Catholics to stop the culture of abortion and now infanticide, yet the diocese takes no action. I understand that the diocese sent representatives and transported individuals to the event, but I will remind you of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King as it relates to this incident. Dr King woke our social conscience when he stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The diocese lost an opportunity to be bold in our faith and convictions.

The rush to judgment and failing to protect the Covington kids AND the incredible “I’m sorry but…” should be reason enough to disqualify Fr. Martin, but there are soooooo many more reasons.

The second reason that Father Martin should not be provided a podium to speak within the diocese is very simple. Father Martin does not provide clarity on the Church’s position regarding homosexuality but rather seeks to confuse. I am sure you are aware that Father Martin has openly stated that Pope Frances supports the “homosexual agenda” with his remarks made at Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice in 2018. I would have hoped that Father Martin would have provided substance to this statement. Church doctrine is clear “homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity and intrinsically disordered, and under no circumstance can they be approved.” Father Martin is recorded as saying the church will learn from the youth regarding transsexual and nonbinary genders! This is a direct conflict with our doctrine. He also implies that the church does not welcome those members of same sex attraction, which is falsehood.

Exactly! Why is it that Bishop Schlert feels the need to “allow” Fr. Martin any time at all to speak in his diocese? Does Fr. Martin somehow fill a need in the Church? Does the Church not already welcome all sinners (myself included) no matter what the sin? Does the Church need completely dissenting groups like “Out at St. Paul” to be seen as welcoming? Remember, Fr. Martin has said that this is one of his favorite groups. Thankfully they don’t try to hide their agenda in the least and don’t play the ambiguous card Fr. Martin does.



And if you doubt the veracity of my claims that Out at St. Paul is one of Martin’s darling groups…


This is a time of great challenge for the church, especially here in Pennsylvania. I am partaking in the “Healing our Church” program which you have instituted. I am doing so because I am disappointed with the leadership of the church. The Church has been a large part of my life, even at times when I was not a regular practicing member. My parents where devout Catholics, I attended 12 years of Catholic School, with 2.5 year of high school at St. Joseph’s Preparatory Seminary in Princeton NJ, as well as 2 years at Alvernia College. The program is helpful in uniting with other parishioners passionate on moving the church forward. One thing that stands out is the materials you have chosen for use on this topic. You seem to have a bias towards the positions of Father James Martin and Cardinal Tobin, both whom are well known as pro-gay clergy, who are cited in the materials and by the course leaders.

I question if we are to toss aside the gift of reason for a politically correct message regarding this church crisis The John Jay report indicates that over 80% of the victims were males, and post pubescent males (post age 14), we do not need confusion. The church’s stain was largely caused by homosexual or bisexual priests, this is fact. We may choose to engage in theoretical positional studies, but the facts are clear and one cannot ignore them or spin them. Doing so would be unjust to the victims and does not allow healing. Sexual abuse is not unique to the Catholic Church, it happens in all religions. What is uniquely Catholic is the amount of same sex abuse.

Again, I don’t know Bishop Schlert’s position, but I can say that, at best, he’s just trying to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes. Again, wimpy.

I hope you reconsider your position regarding allowing Father Martin a platform in our diocese. I understand from discussion with my pastor that you have barred Father Martin from advertising in the AD Times. One wonders if this is such a worthy event and Father Martin is the right priest to shepherd this event, then why not be bold? What is there to hide? Surely you know that Father Martin used his large social media platform to announce that the event was “being held with the written approval of the Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert, Bishop of Allentown.” I was informed that you communicated that Father Martin is told not to deviate from church doctrine. Given Father Martin’s past statements of deceit on church doctrine, his seeds of confusion, and his affinity for the limelight of being the celebrity pro- gay Jesuit, one must wonder how has this trust been earned?

Bingo! Bishop Schlert is allowing a person he says he does not endorse and won’t even let advertise in his diocese to speak in his diocese. Really? This is, again, fence-sitting at best.

“When I was a high school student at St. Joseph’s former Cardinal McCarrick was Bishop of Metuchen and would visit the school. Pope Benedict in his wisdom placed sanctions on McCarrick’s pastoral duties, only to have Pope Francis remove those sanctions, to the embarrassment of the faithful. Should we not learn from this lesson? The Catholic Church is a wonderful institution which performs many good works. In this time of crisis, we need clarity from our leaders to call out those who led us astray and distort the teachings of Church. Our church is a compassionate church but its teaching on homosexuality is clear, from the old testament, through the new testament to the words and writings of the saints, including Saint Paul the first convert.

If Bishop Schlert wants to truly be welcoming AND compassionate (one without the other isn’t really either), then he should order all of his priests to reach out with love and compassion and make those struggling with same-sex attraction feel welcome and supported in their daily struggles against sin like the rest of us. Throwing an ambiguous bone isn’t love. It’s checking off a box so you don’t have to hear about it anymore.

I plea with you to stop this madness. I am far from the perfect catholic. However, I refuse to stay silent. I am reminded of Elie Wiesel who said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” The Church is at a crossroads. We can act with clarity and compassion or be cowards.


I hope you consider my plea. I can promise you, I will not relent, nor will I forget, I will not be silent. The Bishops Annual Appeal is underway. I would find it unfortunate that I would have to pass on articipating this year, due to your cowardice on protecting the faith.

Kind Regards,


And here is the bishop’s response (recipient’s name withheld at my discretion). 

2 April 2019


Thank you for your 27 March 2019 correspondence regarding the presence of Reverend James J. Martin, S.J. at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville on 27 April 2019, where he will present a public lecture entitled A Good Measure: Showing Welcome and Respect for LGBT People and Their Families.

I am profoundly grateful for your genuine concern for the Church and her teachings. I have made it very clear that his message is to be one of ‘welcoming.’ My desire that all be welcome in our parishes does not imply that I am ‘soft’ on the moral teachings of the Church. Welcoming does not suggest that all may approach the Sacraments, or that someone will not hear a challenging message in a homily. Welcoming that does not lead to the truth is a false accompaniment.

Well, of course nobody wants to be considered soft. So don’t allow Fr. Martin to speak, Bishop Schlert! Your whole action on this issue is just a Pontius Pilate move. Just what is Fr. Martin welcoming? You know quite well he is ever so ambiguous on that point. I agree with your assessment on what welcoming should be, but every time Fr. Martin whines about somebody being fired, barred from sacraments until confession, etc., he is most certainly engaging in false accompaniment.

Permit me to provide some additional background on the specific matter that you reference in your letter. In the Fall, the Jesuit Center scheduled New Ways Ministry and Reverend Tony Flannery to be present for a similar weekend. I directed to rescind his invitation since Father Flannery was a suspended Irish Priest and New Ways Ministry has been banned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. At my request, they withdraw his invitation.

Let me just stop and give complete kudos to you for withdrawing the invitation for New Ways Ministry. I’m going to give you a lot more credit than some bishops in the U.S. would get from me. However, that is a separate incident, and you’re now erasing all the good you did by allowing someone who gives accolades to New Ways Ministry and who has received awards from them to speak. Can’t you see a wee bit of a problem with this? Maybe you didn’t know? Well, now you do.

They informed me at that time that they invited Reverend James J. Martin, S.J. for a Spring 2019 conference. Regarding Father James J. Martin, S.J., please know that I have given clear direction to Father Martin, his Regional Provincial, and the Rector of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth that Father Martin is not permitted to create confusion or obfuscation among the faithful concerning the constant teachings of the Church regarding moral and sacramental theology. His presence presumes that Father Martin will present a message of welcome and accompaniment to those with Same Sex Attraction in accord with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Schlert! Confusion and obfuscation are Fr. James Martin, SJ’s middle names! Are you trying to tell us that not one priest in your diocese can fulfill the job of accompaniment that you’ve defined???

My permission for him to be present at Wernersville does not infer my endorsement of Father Martin. I will be closely following the content of Father Martin’s presentation. It is my hope that the Conference assists people in how the Church can be more welcoming in line with the authentic teachings of the Church. Should his content create division, confusion, or obfuscation, please know that I will respond accordingly.

Fr. Martin causes division wherever he goes just by his mere presence. Refer back to the Covington issue the member of your flock wrote you about. And, really, how many times in the last few weeks has he dissented against the diocese that had to fire employees whose scandalous relationships have come to light? As I’ve said, confusion and obfuscation is his normal method of operation and you know it, so allowing him to speak really can’t NOT be seen as an endorsement. It’s just an endorsement while you try to wash your hands of it.

I have enclosed a letter for your information that I sent to all the priests and deacons of the Diocese that provides a greater context of the event.

With appreciation for your kind letter and with the assurance of my prayers for a blessed Season of Lent, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert

Bishop of Allentown

So let’s look at this information he enclosed.

14 March 2019

 My dear Brother Priests and Deacons,

As some of you may be aware, Reverend James J. Martin, S.J. will be present at the Jesuit Center, Wernersville, on Saturday, 27 April 2019 to offer a conference on welcoming and respect for those with same sex attraction and their families. Father Martin has presented a letter of good standing from his Religious Superior, serves as a Consultant, Dicastery for Communications, and was invited by His Holiness, Pope Francis to speak at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland.

Actually, Bishop Schlert, the Jesuits are exactly what you get when you hang your hat on a false sense of welcoming. They’ll take anyone as long as they don’t embrace an authentic version of Catholicism. They bounce the good ones unless they can somehow keep their heads down. Again, just what is being welcomed?

I realize that some Bishops in the country have not allowed Father Martin to speak in their Diocese, and I too have prayerfully considered this decision. I would like you to know that I have made it very clear to Father Martin and his Superiors that the permission I give is for him to speak only on welcoming all of our Catholic brothers and sisters into the life of the parish. This permission does not extend to his obfuscating or confusing the authentic moral and sacramental teachings of the Church. Please be assured that should his content create division, confusion, or obfuscation, please know that I will respond accordingly.

Honestly, Bishop Schlert might just be naïve, but has he bothered ever to watch Fr. Martin in action? He knows how to say much without really saying anything at all. Let me tell you what most of his talks end up like. He pretty much never mentions sin. He starts out with how those suffering from same-sex attraction have been marginalized and treated badly by the big ol’ mean meanies in the Catholic Church and that they’re children made in the image and likeness of God. Yeah, no sowing of division there. Come on. He creates martyrs and then tells them what most in the Church have said time and again but with nothing said about lifestyle, celibacy and chastity. He focuses on celibacy for a very good reason but leaves chastity in the dust. He never tells people to struggle against sin, so people get the idea that sodomy and masturbation are on par with lying about your weight on your driver’s license. Seriously! Find me a link where he doesn’t do just that.

Since my permission is not at the same time an endorsement, The A.D. Times is not accepting advertisement for this event in our diocesan newspaper. However, the Jesuit Center may reach out to you with a proposed bulletin announcement regarding this Conference. I leave it your pastoral judgment as to its inclusion in your local parish bulletin.

Insane. Your permission is your permission. You can’t see a problem with this? What if I, say, permitted my kids already struggling with the faith to hang out with the atheists? What am I to say when they follow them? “Well, I didn’t endorse them becoming atheists!” And, of course, you have given your permission to put in in their Church bulletins. No endorsement of authentic Catholicism there. Clearly authentic Catholicism isn’t required.

Please know of my prayers for your pastoral work and for your personal priestly life as together we seek to do God’s Will of feeding the flock of Christ entrusted to us.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert Bishop of Allentown

Pastoral? You’re not even be pastoral in this Martin debacle. Like I said, the Pontius Pilate move isn’t going to get you very far.

Dear bishops inclined to take the same tactics, it’s up to you but you’re simply throwing the sheep to the wolves to avoid bad press and many of us know it.

Please drop Bishop Schlert a note, tweet, or make a call. I’d give you an email address but he, apparently, doesn’t want to make it too easy on people to get a hold of him. I encourage all of you in the Allentown Diocese to take a stand. Your diocese has been hit particularly hard in so many areas. It’s not going to stop until you demand it.


4029 W. Tilghman St.

P.O. Box F

Allentown, PA 18105-1538

Phone: (610) 437-0755

Fax: (610) 433-7822


Star of the Sea, Pray for Us!

Update: Somebody has nicely put together the events often alluded to by the parents at the school and dissenting people in SF. The only explanation missing is the adult version of an examination of conscience given to a teacher who requested them for the children but that was covered in the link to a full piece on it on this blog post. I just thought I would put I would link to it since the the obnoxious parents have their own website full of less than honest depictions of events.

Please also note the description sent today by a parent who also attended the meeting found in the comment section following this post. It corroborates the accounts I have already heard.  Not pretty.


Oh no, they don’t! Star of the Sea Parish is one of THE best things about the San Francisco Archdiocese, and many are excited about the classical (AKA not dumbed down) curriculum that’s being instituted in the school. Finally, students will be taught to think critically unlike, from all outward appearances, some of the parents.

Parents, citing pastor’s hostility, plan to pull their kids from school

Mar 29, 2019

by Dan Morris-Young ParishPeople

In a rapidly escalating confrontation, parents of at least nine of the remaining 20 seventh-grade students at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea School say they will remove their children from the Catholic school this week.

The dramatic move follows:

A contentious March 7 meeting of school parents, the school principal, some faculty and pastor Fr. Joseph Illo during which heated exchanges led to some persons walking out and charges of near violence.

A 1,200-word March 11 complaint filed with the San Francisco Archdiocese’s vicar for clergy asking for an investigation of Illo’s behavior at the March 7 gathering.

Indications that fewer than three dozen students have been committed to return for the 2019-2020 academic year at the 110-year-old K-8 school.

According to informed sources, at least three other seventh-graders were withdrawn earlier this month, others might be leaving before the end of the school year, and still others do not plan to return for 2019-2020 term.

First of all, if you’ve ever met Fr. Illo, you’re probably laughing hysterically about the “near violence” comment. If there was going to be violence, I’m pretty positive it wouldn’t be due to his actions. Quite frankly, I wish he would be more passionate about his defense. Heck, I wish I could sit in on some of these meetings because I’d have, oh, just a few words for the conniving parents giving him a hard time.  He’s just one of those guys who’s going to keep plugging away and doing what he thinks to be right and positive for the church and the school.

Nobody has been quoted having any specific arguments against a classical curriculum, but that seems to be where their problems start. They might have found, if they bothered to do any research, that failing schools that scrap the same old same old for a classical curriculum come back to life. Of course, that’s not anywhere in this club’s arguments. They are still harping on the fact that Fr. Illo is going forward with faithful Catholicism. That’s really what’s offensive to them. He’s just not going to compromise there.

Rather than blame Fr. Illo, how about you blame the parents who simply wanted a private school instead of a Catholic school and were willing to call the likes of the National catholic Reporter any time their wishes were not granted. The implementation of Catholicism in the school a few years ago ticked off those who really weren’t interested in a Catholic school. They’re the ones who burnt the place down. How many parents want to contend with the mob mentality they’ve got going on at the school? 

David Gallagher, school principal, told NCR March 27 that Illo would be presented with “various class combinations for the next school year” and that “a decision will be made Monday (April 1) as to whether the school will be open next year and what form it will take.”

Gallagher declined comment on the March 7 gathering that apparently led to some of the parents deciding to withdraw their children.

At that meeting raw emotions exploded over the dramatic enrollment drop in recent years at the school.”

Shocker. Exploding raw emotions are the norm there.

“Four days later, an anonymous “collective group of parents” submitted what they called a “formal complaint” asking for an investigation of Illo’s actions during the assembly of an estimated 40 to 60.

The complaint stated it was being submitted by parents who were among those who had “stated in our last survey that we wanted to return to the school” in the fall of 2019.”

“Collective group of parents.”  Well that sounds kind of Orwellian.  Can’t you just see shirts with “The Collective” on them? Please. They wanted to return only if they could get rid of Fr. Illo and run roughshod over the next guy/gal to come along. They’re having trouble intimidating him and they can’t stand it.  They’re just a whiny bunch of narcissists who want to insist that everyone in their lives cater to their whims and ideas.  

“We now fear for the safety of our children in the school after Fr. Illo’s behavior at the meeting and wish to remain anonymous in submitting this document but will eagerly participate in a widespread investigation,” the text concluded.

@#$%&! This is a load of hooey! In a city where children are a very small minority, families flock to this parish. I know several families at this parish, and the only ones who push the drama are the ones who resent, well, Catholicism in general.  Let’s not forget, these drama laden parents have zero problem with slandering Fr. Illo. I’ve covered it here and here. And, remember the kids who showed up at the sacristy door wanting to see what the back of the Church looked like? The parents immediately called the press claiming Fr. Illo led the kids into a “secret room.” Ridiculous. Thankfully, there were other people in the sacristy who witnessed the tour of the “secret room”, so that was a scandal bust. Did they apologize when they were caught trying to insinuate the worst?  Nope. They just got very quiet.  The rest of us were just disgusted that they would use children in this manner, but it shouldn’t have been a surprise. If we have to fear anything on behalf of the children, it’s people like these who would play their kids like poker chips.  Geez.

Mike Brown, archdiocesan communications director, wrote in an email to NCR March 27 that the complaint was referred to the Department of Catholic Schools which “did many phone interviews with attendees at the meeting and has summarized those and sent them to [Jesuit] Fr. [John] Piderit for his consideration.” Piderit is the archdiocese’s vicar for administration and moderator of the curia.

Brown said Piderit plans a response to the complaint, even though it was anonymous. “Though the communication plan is still in development, there will be a public communication to the school community and beyond after next week, when final heads for the next school year will be counted; though be mindful that marketing of the school will continue going forward.”

How about this? From now on, you guys live stream these meetings. Seriously. That idea might bring about a little more civility. I’m pretty sure that Fr. Illo has nothing to hide. Challenge thrown down.

Please understand, the parish was waning for many, many years before Fr. Illo arrived. Attendance has probably quadrupled since Fr. Illo implemented many liturgical reforms. The school, likewise, had declining attendance for decades, but now that the focus is on improving the curriculum and Catholic identity of the school, it’s sure to have the same bounce. That bounce would be a complete threat to those who do not wish to toe the Catholic line.

The written complaint alleges that Illo “attempted to instigate a fight” with a couple during an angry exchange and “sought to publicly humiliate” a mother who had “directed several statements towards” the pastor, accusing him “of being responsible for the decimation of the school.

At one point, the document said, “Fr. Illo got up from his seat and began to walk in the direction” of the woman and her husband “then aggressively stared at him in a manner that can only be described as attempting to challenge the husband to a fight.””

“Fr. Illo then sought to publicly humiliate the couple by demanding that the husband order his wife to apologize to him for her previous comments,” the complaint continued.

Apart from that document, eyewitness accounts varied.

Hah! I bet the accounts varied. It would seem that the people there publicly humiliated themselves, but now they’re trying to blame Fr. Illo because a certain faction of parents at that school have ZERO scruples. I cannot believe the tall tales and drama being injected into the school.  My gosh.  These folks instigate fights on a daily basis over nothing. It’s insanity. Honestly, I think an exorcism should be performed before every meeting at the school. It’s disgusting.

One mother who attended the meeting told NCR, “It did not necessarily look like Fr. Illo was going to throw a punch, but he was certainly confrontational, and it was after that that a number of parents walked out.

The complaint’s characterizations of Illo and the March 7 event “are entirely inaccurate,” according to school board president and parish council member Marcus Quintanilla. The pastor “was not aggressive toward anyone,” he said.

A trial lawyer, Quintanilla said the gathering “was not as well structured as it should have been” and “spiraled a little bit out of control” into “a kind of open mic” format.

While “a rather heated exchange between a couple of different parents” took place, Quintanilla told NCR, “Fr. Illo was pretty passive throughout the whole thing.”

I probably wouldn’t have let these petty people talk at all, but that is, of course, me.  I’d probably disagree with Fr. Illo about the hope he has for an honest conversation.  Just one of the reasons I would never be a priest even I was the right matter for the job.  I just don’t have that much hope.

Might I remind you, once again, that these are the parents who call the press whenever they think they have a “gotcha” moment? As I said, disgusting. They hang on the spit ball method. Something’s gotta stick, right? Here’s something I can tell you. I’m positive Fr. Illo spends a good amount of time praying for patience and wisdom in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Do you think the parents here do the same? Do you think the parents even know what the Blessed Sacrament is? Inquiring minds would love to know.  Fr. Illo is well aware that he’s in charge of souls, will be held accountable for his actions and inactions, etc.  These parents think of nobody but themselves.

Quintanilla said he has “become quite close” to Illo in the three years he has been a parishioner, despite initially being cautioned about the priest by some at the school. His wife, Mariana, told NCR she was hired about a month ago as liaison to help market and incorporate an integrated classical curriculum.

“Fr. Illo is not perfect,” he said. “He is sometimes not as cautious as he should be, but the guy loves the community, and he loves the church, and he is deeply a man of prayer.”

Well, I’d agree on perfection. Which of us attains that? Geez. That said, I’m quite sure Fr. Illo is very thoughtful about his imperfections. However, he knows how to build a thriving parish. I’m sure he’s also consulted with others who have done it themselves. He loves his parish and the school, and he is definitely a man of prayer. And, quite frankly, he’s got more patience in his little finger than I do in my entire being. I really don’t care what people say about me, but I’m going to give you a tongue lashing when you try to smear a good priest. This guy took a parish on the brink of extinction and revived it. The parents at the school should be kissing his feet, since he was their only hope of ever keeping the parish and thus the school alive. It was bleak.

“The conflict and personal attacks he has taken in connection with the school have been a Calvary for the man … yet he has persevered,” Quintanilla said.

“The complaint is accurate, and I support it,” said Jim Tolley, parent of a seventh-grader who will not be returning to Star of the Sea next fall, partly as a result of the March 7 meeting.

I’d have to say the complaint seemed to say a whole lot of nothing other than Fr. Illo is a great big meanie.  Hey, Jimbo! Let’s just cut to the chase.  Do you believe in sin? Confession? Everlasting life? And while we’re at it, what in the heck is your real beef?  I mean, what has Fr. Illo done that was so darn offensive to you? Let’s get a little history here.  Are you one of those bent out of shape over altar boys? Were you traumatized when Fr. Driscoll accidentally gave the examination of conscience for adults to the teacher who asked for something for the students? You know, that other MAJOR scandal? Or is it just the fact that you really hate Catholicism and just want your kids in a private school that doesn’t conflict with your morality?  Hmmm???

“Certainly Fr. Illo is within his purview to assert his vision upon the school, but this is no longer the school to which we sent our children. We stuck with it, and we believed in the community and loved the kids and the families, but the school has been hollowed out in terms of families and now in terms of faculty,” Tolley emailed NCR. “It is sad to leave something that has been such a part of our lives and our children’s lives.”

I think you might be confused about why Catholic schools exist.  They exist to transmit the Catholic Faith.  Sadly, that has been an issue for you and some of your buddies.

And, by the way, don’t you love how Mr. Tolley and his buddies went running to the National catholic Reporter? Yeah, not too telling. These parents have no clue what a classical education would do for their kids. Or maybe they do? 

“The “shared values” of the school community “changed from underneath us,” Tolley wrote, “and so we are now looking to other communities and a school that does not look at us with contempt.”

There it is, the martyr card. You just knew it was coming.  Shared immoral values aren’t Catholic values. Heaven forbid a Catholic school teaches CATHOLIC values.

In a note to school parents written the day after the March 7 meeting, Illo did not mention its contentiousness, but wrote: “I regret that some parents are implacably opposed to the new direction our school is taking, but I was encouraged to hear from many parents last night that want to move forward. I respectfully ask that those who do not want to move forward to allow the rest of us to do so unhindered.”

And that’s kind of what I’d expect.  It’s not like Fr. Illo is going to call the press and play the martyr card. He’s just going to plug away.

Based on a returning student body of 60, the message went on to outline class consolidations, curriculum objectives, and financial issues, including mention that the parish would “put in $250,000 in subsidy and use existing scholarship funds to balance the budget.”

“Enrollment will increase over the next three years to reach a balanced budget by 2022,” the pastor projected.”

This is also what I’d expect from Fr. Illo. Seriously, liberal parents who apparently don’t want their kids attending the local public school, the priest you hate so much has done such a great job reviving the parish that he can give the school $250,000.  Honestly, he doesn’t have to bail you out.  He could just let the school wither away but, even though some people very literally hate him, he’s going to try to provide for them. Me?  I would have just cut them all loose, left them to their demise and simply focused on the church’s catechetical program. I’m not high on patience or hope when it comes to diocesan schools, but thankfully Fr. Illo is.

“The “new direction” in Illo’s March 8 message is adoption of an integrated classical program which, he has written, “will enrich our academic program with critical thinking skills leading to a sense of wonder, based on the Great Books of Western civilization.””

Oh, my gosh! The horrors! Great books? The nerve!  Please, please do some research.  This is what that ever so evil idea does for waning Catholic schools.

Persons close to the situation told NCR that it is questionable if there are 30 or more students firmly committed to return for 2019-2020.

Then say bye-bye, “persons close to the situation!” Look at the schools in the diocese. The ones using the same old liberal approach are dying!

New school parent Doug Atkinson was drawn to Star of the Sea, he said, because of the new “classical approach” which had a significant impact on his own education.

At this moment, Star of the Sea School is clinging to life. There have been so many complaints as to Fr. Illo, valid or not, I cannot see how the school will survive if he remains at its head,” said Atkinson, who is not Catholic.

That’s what they said about the parish, too, Doug, and remember who’s subsidizing the school? Hang in there.

We plan to re-enroll,” said the father of a first-grader, “but it’s unclear if the school will even exist.”

He declined comment on the March 7 meeting. “There have been a number of meetings with distressed parents and, let’s say, words have not been minced. Things have been a struggle.”

Don’t you wonder, Doug, if the problem might just be the obnoxious parents on a mission to destroy?  My guess is yes, but who’s going to say that when you could wake up to a horse head in your bed??? I can’t even imagine being a level headed parent in this school.  Must be agonizing.

“Illo and supporters view the remaining students as “essentially a new school,” seeds of a re-focused campus “committed to growing our school as a pioneer in Integrated Classical Catholic education,” in his words.”

He’s completely right!

To advance that agenda, Mariana Quintanilla’s role includes assisting the principal with such tasks as “communicating with stakeholders, developing a marketing and business [plan] with the parish staff and parent volunteers” and “finalizing schedules and curriculum for the classical integrated program.”

“My general observation is that the school has been through a change in leadership and the parents want to keep the status quo. Many of the parents are not Catholic, about 50 percent, and Fr. Illo is a traditional priest that is very serious about the Catholic Church teaching. He welcomes everybody but also expects his faith to be respected,” she said.

To which I would have to give a big ol’ “Duh!” This, however, is the problem with some of the parents of the school!

“The school is a ministry of the parish,” she added, “and it is moving in that direction. Changes create resistance, and a new school culture is developing under new leadership. The … parents are used to running the school, so having structural organization and a faithful Catholic school community is not appealing to them.”

She hits the nail on the head there! The patients have been running the asylum for far too long.

She said her “recollection of the [March 7] meeting is a bit fragmentary,” but “emotions ran high and things got very tense.”

“My perspective is that everyone except for three to five parents were quite calm and reserved throughout. The notion that the priest was abusive … or aggressive is simply not true,” she said.

So, again, somebody is telling some very dramatic tales here.  Do you think it’s the ones who believe hell exists?  

Illo, a priest of the Stockton Diocese, was named administrator of Star of the Sea in August 2014, a month before its school would open the academic year with more than 240 students.

Many protest that the roughly 200 students and their families who have left have been treated as acceptable collateral damage in an effort by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to remake Star of the Sea under Illo’s direction into a destination parish for Catholics who embrace a pre-conciliar model of Catholicism.

Baloney. It has nothing to do with pre-conciliar models. Geez. It’s Catholicism that has been the problem all along, and it is seriously lacking in the majority of parishes. And the schools? As a survivor of Bay Area “catholic” schools, I can tell you Catholicism is lacking in most of them, too.  That ship is very hard to turn around because you have to have a pastor who is willing to endure the torment.  This school will be better for the patience and love of Fr. Illo.

Many current and former school families lay blame for the enrollment demise squarely on Illo, now pastor, charging he has doggedly sought to purge the school of those who do not align with his strong traditionalist bent.

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR West Coast correspondent.]

Blech. Sorry.  It’s called Catholicism. I know it’s strange to some (including the Star of the Sea parents who are not Catholic) but it is what it is. I have little doubt the school will see the last of its departures and a wonderful, authentic Catholic school will take its place with an awesome classical curriculum to boot!

Star of the Sea, pray for us!