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A planned “Mass Mob” at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea Parish made for a packed house on Sunday, in a show of support for its two pastors.
Fathers Joseph Illo and Patrick Driscoll have recently garnered the ire of secular forces, because of a new policy: altar boys only. Starting November of last year, the parish only trains boys to be altar servers.
The decision has the express permission of San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, as well as support from thousands of faithful Catholics across the country.
Father Illo explained the parish's move in a statement, citing two main reasons. First, he said, “A boys-only program gives altar boys the space to develop their own leadership potential.”
Secondly, he pointed out how altar service programs are “intrinsically tied to the priesthood and serve as feeder programs for the seminary.”
“If the Catholic Church ordained women, altar girls would make sense,” he wrote, “but the Catholic priesthood is a male charism. Nothing awakens a desire for the priesthood like service at the altar among the brotherhood of young men.”
Earlier this year, Church Militant raised more than $50,000 for Star of the Sea parish to counter media coverage portraying them as “misogynistic” and to prove that faithful Catholics appreciate the respect for the Church's traditional practice.
That respect was witnessed once again this past weekend at the Mass in support of the parish and its persecuted pastors. A Facebook page that helped promote the gathering took pictures of the event.