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According to informed sources, at least three other seventh-graders were withdrawn earlier this month, others might be leaving before the end of the school year, and still others do not plan to return for 2019-2020 term.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


40 thoughts on “Star of the Sea, Pray for Us!

  1. This happened at our parish in
    Idaho when we got a new Parish priest. A lot of liberal parents started talking together and before lone a good amount of them left. The school is now amazing in their Catholic identity. Funny thing ,many who left for another parish a trickling back in.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. In his era of everpresent smartphones and embarrassing videos shared all over the internet I am wondering why none of the “outbursts” at the meeting have been documented via phone video? This isn’t to say they won’t be…but it seems higly suspicious to me. I’m sure they were at the ready and may have even been filming. But I betcha they didn’t catch the supposed emotion certain parents describe so the video wasn’t offered.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you Lord for the courage and perseverance Fr. Illo and the Archbishop are demonstrating. May Our Blessed Mother, Star of the Sea, continue to BLESS them and protect them!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I scan essays and comments on the nkr fb page daily….when this one came up I posted some of the same points made here, especially about the Great Books program and the loss it would be for the students if they were not exposed to it…BTW the image at the top of the essay was of happy black parents and children, giving the impression that they would suffer if the new program were imposed…Posters know me all too well at nkr and I was vilified as usual with numerous personal attacks for posting in opposition….It is virtually impossible to counter argue anything or anyone at the nkr fb page even if you cite facts and references ..they only care about their agenda…and after slogging through nkr for a couple years it seems their agenda is the total destruction of the orthodox Roman Catholic Church…and there are so many kats that go along…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for trying to engage those people. It’s a good thing I gave up Facebook for Lent. (On the other hand I didn’t know the nkr—aka Fishwrap—was on Facebook!)

      I used to try to deal with those people when they had a combox for articles on their web page. Now I know why they never bothered to reinstate it—they have FB. You describe them perfectly. They are an insane little clique who jabber the same stuff over and over among themselves. It’s almost as if none of them, in their school years, had the advantage of a Classical Education…!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, they never had a Classical much less Catholic Education – but they did have a “liberal” indoctrination. And they are still drinking the Kool Aid.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I notice you are not a parent in the school. Are you speaking from a point of particular experience about these children, the families or the larger community? You seem to have a lot of anger towards them. I realize this should not be surprising given the title of your blog and you are pretty up front about your style of writing in your bio. However, I would highlight these are real people.

    Fr. Illo is a pretty intimidating and scary guy for many. In the current climate, a priest with a record like his is legitimately terrifying. I notice you don’t directly take on the court records here. That’s not innuendo or slander, but fact. It is really hard to judge a parent for being nervous around someone who was found liable in a situation like that.

    I realize many are eager to make this about politics or the curriculum. I know you are not part of the school, so maybe you don’t have the full context. When Fr. Illo was removed, the Archbishop assigned a vicar to the school, Fr. Vito. Fr. Vito was a monk living in a monastery, living mostly in silence and prayer before working with us. He was by no means a liberal. Nonetheless, the liberal parents loved Fr. Vito. He pushed and challenged everyone. He even introduced Gregorian chanting into the parent meetings, which was a pretty big change for us, but we went with it. Once the school principal died in 2017, he was removed over the summer and Fr. Illo was reinstated. No mention of remediation or additional safety measures. It was just done.

    Rather than attacking the parents of this school, it might be helpful to see this from a different angle. A devout and conservative Catholic at the school was welcomed. At the same time, a priest with a sordid history in handling sexual abuse sparks fear and anxiety. You may decide not to listen and indulge in a good old fashioned flame war, but I assure you, you are not seeing it from the perspective of the parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Possibly a page out of Rules for Radicals, which I don’t think is on the curriculum of a Classical education.

      I think OMM is correct. An exorcism should be performed before every meeting. You may agree, Mr. Regan, but I bet it’s for a different reason that OMM and I are thinking.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Really, Bob? Going to go with “We’re scared?” Please. I’ve addressed every case the “scared parents” have whined about here in this blog. Use the search box. Like I said, spit ball tactics.

      You darn well the Modesto case was a joke as William K pointed out. Quite honestly, I don’t like bringing it up because everyone and their brother knew that woman was disturbed and her daughter an innocent victim of her mom and they shouldn’t repeatedly have her mistakes brought up but you’re going to keep trotting her out for your dog and pony show. Anything that works. That’s why you all decided to develop the “secret room” story. Too bad there were witnesses.

      So, yeah, you bet I’m mad and I have no problem saying it. And I have no problem saying that you don’t like Fr. Illo or Archbishop Cordileone and you run off to NcR or HuffPo to vent as shown here: You are agenda driven and pretty much want to stomp out anything faithfully Catholic. I totally get that and it’s your right but please have some scruples and just say it rather than hide behind the “We’re scared” mantra. It’s insulting to those who can Google. It’s ALL about politics.

      And, again, it’s really hard to juxtapose your tale with the fact that Fr. Illo is willing to take a quarter of a million dollars to bail out the school. If he hates you all as you try to put forth, he’d just let it close. Instead, he’s investing in it and taking steps that have revived dying schools elsewhere. And, believe me, they’re dying because of people like you, not Fr. Illo. Just as some mentioned in the article, your types run up to the new parents to sew seeds of dissension from the get go. Maybe if you had just gone up to Fr. Illo from the get go and discussed your concerns over coffee instead of waging a war, your school would be in a very different place right now. You’d still get faithful Catholicism but maybe it wouldn’t be so tense.

      So, if you are one of the parents leaving, it’s sad for your child but fantastic for everyone else. The level of tension is about to be drastically reduced.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. Please review your facts concerning the “Court” case. You are totally incorrect regarding the outcome. You are using slander to smear a good man and devoted Catholic priest.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. On that we totally agree. I know the parents are scared, freaked out and emotional and I know why. I think it would be great for everyone to see the meetings live. I am sure we will all see what we want, but I do think you might be surprised. I will say that our discussions with Fr. Vito were completely different in nature, and on the heels of Fr. Illo’s removal, there was no less stress, angst or fear. Fr. Vito made everyone feel loved and tended the flock in a way that was pretty remarkable. So, we all know there is a way to make this work. But, as long as there is a person with Fr. Illo’s history in place, well, I don’t think there is much that can be done to allay concerns.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Be nice and we will be nice. Pathetic. Our society is filled with children masquerading as adults. Your worries about Fr. Illo’s court records are disingenuous at best. Have you actually looked into them?The court records involve a crazy woman that was sending love letters to Father Illo. Who sent her 11 year old daughter to tell fabricated abuse stories about a different priest, likely out of the anger of rejection. The district attorney wouldn’t touch the case with a 10 ft pole. The court records you mention are the civil case which the family lost. Stop with your nonsense and embrace authentic catholicism.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. We need masculine priests to stand up for our faith, not friendly appeasers. Both Fr. Vito and Fr. Illo are masculine priests—but of different sorts. They both promote our authentic faith (of which many modern day Catholics are woefully unschooled). I have been around both priests at Mass and in other settings although I do not know either one on an everyday personal level. I have also been to both for confession.

    I am wondering how many of the complaining parents are Catholic. And of those, how many attend the Star of the Sea parish Masses. How many spend time in the adoration chapel?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There’s two solutions:
    1. The school still abides by the rules of the Church. You are on Her grounds, Her faith, Her witness. If this was a Hindu temple, would they tell Hindu people not to each Hinduism?

    2. The Church sells the property to the parents who want to run things. And let them carry the burden of curriculum. They, instead of blaming the priest, can take the burden themselves and deal with hit.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hey Will, I did read the case files – got through most of them. Reading through the testimony, the incident was pretty awful and there were multiple accounts. It is backed up by a psychological evaluation of Fr. Illo by the diocese. The judge did find in favor of the family in the case. Intentional affliction of emotional distress on a minor child, if I recall. You can assume everything is a conspiracy against Fr. Illo. You can assume everything is political. That’s simply not how I see things.

    OMM, I stand behind my statements then as I do now. I will highlight that Fr. Illo’s history were not available early on. We know so much more now. We’ve had more time with Fr. Illo. We have lost our principal. Now, it seems, we have lost our school. With so much more information, there is so much more to fear.

    The saga of Star of the Sea is over. We lost. However, I am not sure you won. A Star of the Sea with Fr. Vito in place would be a win for all. I am sincerely not sure who wins in this scenario. I am grateful for the time my family had there. I am grateful for the connection it gave us to the neighborhood and the community. I am sorry to see it go. I wish you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Civility is letting the parents buy the school (that’s called taking responsibility.) And Chartering the school themselves.

    If they want to create an all inclusive, multi-religious ed, in touch with the community, and have the foundation of Reading, Writing, and Math. Why not?

    I think actually making a school work the way you want, and making it happen. Rather than complaining about this person is in charge, and we don’t like the way he acts. Or teaches. Or whatever.

    Saints actually went out and fed the poor. They did not complain about it, to use the analogy. Therefore, if parents do not like that school, take on the challenge. And make it happen yourselves. Make a school prosper and grow as a parent owned and led institution. You can then judge the fruits which it will bear. Hopefully it bears good fruits. You will see it.


    1. Great blog! Wish I knew about it sooner.

      There’s a lot of misinformation circulating about the school meeting held on Thursday, March 7, 2019. I understand an anonymous group of parents even submitted a formal complaint against Father Illo after the meeting. Well, I’m a school parent who attended the meeting and the portrayal of Father Illo by the anonymous group of parents is profoundly inaccurate. A mother and father of a non-Catholic 7th grader instigated the hostility and the father initiated the near violent clash, first between him and a first-grade father, and then he turned his aggression toward Father Illo.

      Father Illo responded to the man’s threat of violence by physically positioning himself and posturing in a protective manner. It was the natural response any normal person would have if someone was going to physically attack them.

      Father Illo also did not “demand” that the woman apologize to him. He simply responded to her husband’s irate demand that Father Illo apologize to his wife. The woman had just spent 10 minutes dominating the open discussion, interrupting others, and verbally attacking Father Illo. Clearly shocked by the unreasonable and irrational demand by the man, Father Illo said something to this effect, “What?!! She should be apologizing to me.” At which point, the man became completely enraged and lunged in the direction of Father Illo pointing and screaming, “Apologize to my wife immediately!” The woman became over-the-top hysterical and begged her husband to stop. Father Illo then said what many people in the room were thinking, “Perhaps right now you should be calming down your wife rather than attacking me.”

      After things settled down, the meeting awkwardly moved forward, and the couple left the room. The woman then proceeded to cry and sob uncontrollably for at least 10-15 minutes outside the meeting room. As she exited the building, her wailing—which echoed down the stairs, through the lobby, and onto 8th Avenue–was very disturbing and distracting to everyone in the meeting.

      This couple’s abhorrent behavior tipped the scales for several parents to choose not to return to the school. If anyone is to blame for families choosing to leave the school because of the March 7 meeting, the onus should lie on the violent and emotionally unstable couple NOT Father Illo.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. I’d like to share the following perspective as a long-time Star of the Sea parent and parishioner.

    Terry Hanley was not only my children’s principal, he was a dear friend to me and my family. Terry was first and foremost and educator, not an administrator. In the Spring of 2005, when Terry applied for the Principal position at Star of the Sea, he needed a job. Terry had just completed a one-year contract teaching religion at Archbishop Riordan High School. He was selected as principal over several candidates including the current principal of St. Monica.

    Terry did not enjoy many of the aspects of being a school administrator. The paperwork, parental politics, and balancing the budget among them. Consequently, he relied greatly on the expertise of well-intended parent volunteers. These parents were very eager and willing to lend their expertise in finance, technology, communications, etc. By delegating many administrative aspects of running the school, Terry could focus on what he loved the most about being a principal—educating children. Unfortunately, by forfeiting so much of the administrative control of the school to the parents, he empowered these parents to the point where they honestly thought they were running the school. They also believed they were entitled to run the school.

    When Terry passed away unexpectedly in early September 2017, everyone was in shock. The school community was in mourning for a very long time. Many people are still grieving, which is understandable. Everyone grieves differently. However, rather than advancing through each stage of the grieving process, many parents have remained at the “anger” stage of grief. There’s no question that many parents disliked Father Illo before Terry died, but after his death, their dislike turned into hatred for Father Illo and unbridled rage toward the Catholic Church.

    Terry and Father Illo did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but Terry was a man of deep faith and he would never have condoned the hatred being spewed by the parents of the school children that he taught to “love one another as God has loved you.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And, if the parents took over the school. It wont’ be Father Illo whom they will have clashes with. Rather, they will clash among themselves. Because, they relied heavily on a “peace maker.” In the Beatific way. Not the new age way. I’m guessing Terry was one soul who lived the Beatitudes as a saint could. But, as he passed away, and Father Illo (who is a priestly minister) saw something more the school could do/offer. That would be the Sacred Deposit of Faith. Helping these children in a world that is chaotic and full of turmoil (as the couple described are.) Hence, why religious instruction for these children in order to weather the unstable elements of home, domestic, and the world around them.

      But, as I’ve mentioned above. if the parents really want to do something. Then they’d actually take up the work of buying the school off of the Church. Raising money, and so forth. Charter it, and offer their own brand of curriculum.

      It’s that simple, but it takes work. When I read of Nuns who go into places to build Shrines and Convents. Or priests like Father Richard Hung Lo in Jamaica. That’s living as a saint. That sounds exactly what Terry did.

      Thus, the parents of school children should buy the school property from the Church, set up their own curriculum. And run it themselves. They can take the education of their children in their own hands as they ought to and should. That would be, in response during the Mass “right and just.” But giving Thanksgiving to God is “right and just.”

      I think they ought to take the burden of education themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It is extremely difficult for a good priest to do anything in a school where un catechized parents enroll their children.
    i home schooled starting in the late eighties and worked in a Parochial school before I decided to do that. We are living among those in the majority who call themselves Catholic but have not learned the Faith for many many decades.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sadly, I think it kind of had to after that meeting but i’m sure it will rise again. I’m pretty sure that was the protestors’ plan on their way out the door. They need to put some distance between all the anger and a fresh start. I

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Someone please ask the SF Chronicle to try reporting facts for a change, instead of acting as PR agent for a group of parents who have no interest in being Catholic, yet somehow think a Catholic school and parish should bow to their every whim. “Sought answers about the future of the school and were frustrated by Illo’s responses” indeed. In plain English instead of libspeak euphemisms, that means “Father couldn’t be bullied into doing what they wanted, so they resorted to ‘acting out’ (tantrums).” The whole bit about “staring” at the man in the meeting translates to “stood up to a couple who tried to take over the meeting and made threats to other parents.” Really, it’s easier to report facts than twist the facts beyond recognition. Do these parents also go into Muslim, Hindu, or Protestant schools and tell them how to run things, then threaten their parents and berate their religious leaders when they don’t walk on eggshells for them?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I remember when my girls were in Catholic School and they wanted to implement a new Family Life (sex education) curriculum for the 5th graders. My 5th grader was not ready to hear that information, my 3rd grader would have been fine with it. These two girls were different, and we, as parents knew that.

    We had a meeting with the representative from the diocese tasked to cram this down our throats. She said: “You DO know the difference between a private and a parochial school, right?” I said: “Yes, but the fact remains that we can pull our children out of either of these types of schools.”

    They ended up implementing it, and my wife and I had a meeting with the teacher (who brought the principal in for moral support). By the time we left, we were satisfied as to how the teacher planned to present the “problematic sections”.


  15. I certainly wish Fr Illo and Star of the Sea parish luck in trying to get their classical school up and running eventually. Obviously, every parish is unique and story of Star of the School over the past few years is affected by the personalities of the players involved in this dispute. With that said, it seems to me this story is to some extent a microcosm of the current tensions within the U.S. Catholic Church and perhaps the worldwide Church too. It sounds like Star school has existed for a long time as a barely Catholic school. It’s shocking to me as someone with no connection to this school to read about non-Catholic parents basically reading the riot act to a priest for trying to implement a “Great Books” Catholic curriculum. Unfortunately, many priests (and bishops and cardinals) are “go along to get along” men. They don’t take the faith seriously and don’t act as if the immortal souls of their flock are in any way their responsibility. They would be perfectly happy with the status quo, letting a parish school chug along as a barely Catholic school with a lot of non-Catholic and barely Catholic families that don’t practice the faith, aren’t interested in the faith, reject Catholic moral teachings, and probably will never step in a Catholic Church as adults except for maybe an occasional wedding or funeral etc. Fr Illo doesn’t sound like one of those priests who accepts the status quo. He sounds like a disruptor who looked at a barely Catholic school and resolved to try to turn it into a fully Catholic school. Unfortunately, it also sounds like the non-Catholic and barely Catholic parents at the school were so dominant that they won the first round and succeeded in derailing the Catholic curriculum for the near term.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. When I was near the end of my time in grade school, about 60 years ago, a few parents were trying to do this same sort of thing to a new young male first non-nun teacher, of seventh grade students. I never did find out how it turned out, but it already wasn’t pretty.


  17. “I’m fascinanted by your article which shows your insight into the attitudes of these group of complaining Star parents. You put into writing what many of us parishioners think and wish we could articulate. As a mom, and a Star parishioner for 30 years, before Fr. Illo became our pastor, I noticed in the past the lack of respect from the school parents towards prior pastors. The school has been nothing but liberal. When my son and I were looking for a middle catholic school, we thought it ideal to t our local catholic school, so we scheduled my son for a tour of the school belonging to our parish.
    However we had a rude awakening when we, a traditional catholic family, were Faced with not only a liberal community, but also discriminatory towards new traditional families who seriously inquired about their brand of Catholicism. We recall prior Principal Mr. Hanley’s words at the end of my son’s 2 day trial to see if we were a good fit for the school.. “ your son is great, gets along excellent with everyone, teachers like him, but I’m sorry we cannot meet your needs here at Star of the Sea”. After inquiring about the reason of this decision he mentioned “that their school was liberal and they embrace everyone “ At that tour other moms who had enrolled kids in the school, confided to me that there was a Mr. “Q” who openly shared with his students that he was gay and had a Partner. Needless to say, I was shocked that this could go on in a Catholic school with the permission of the principal. I wrote a letter to Archbishop with above details. Fortunately we found a great school later on, and we continued to be involved parishioners of Star of the Sea under Fr. Illo whom we support 100 % in his efforts to establish a classical education. ”

    Thanks so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I am stunned after reading some of these comments and the recollections of the now infamous meeting. I was also a bit surprised that some of those commenting were suggesting that the disaffected parents buy this school from the church as if it was for sale or should be. It suggests that those parents’ strong feelings about a building that they and their “community” have temporarily occupied for a few years somehow gives them a moral right and obligation to take it over. In addition, the anonymous people attempting character assasination of Fr. Ilo because he is stopping them from running their “community” the way they see fit want the public to believe that he is an evil usurper who must be destroyed. In fact they are the usurpers who were never searching for a catholic education for their children, only a catholic themed prep school that they could control. And now that the parish priest has dared to assert his rightful authority, these anonymous parents have descended to diabolical levels of anger and hatred against him. To this mere catholic layperson it looks like an exorcism may be in order for the church, school and it’s grounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The solution is that if a parent does not want theirs kids to be raised Catholic don’t send them to a Catholic svhool.


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