A timely and necessary madness

Construction on San Francisco perpetual adoration chapel set for April
Archbishop Cordileone at the Pontifical Mass at San Francisco's Star of the Sea Parish

Archbishop Cordileone saying the Pontifical Mass at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea Parish

In April of 2016 construction is scheduled to begin on what will be the third Perpetual Adoration chapel in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The new chapel will be at Star of the Sea Church. Although there are two other Perpetual Adoration chapels in the archdiocese, this will be the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in an actual parish within the city of San Francisco. Of the other two, one is at the Church of the Nativity in the town of Menlo Park, and the other is at San Francisco’s Monastery of Perpetual Adoration.

Star of the Sea’s website statement about the chapel is to the point: “We’ve undertaken a very daring task of developing San Francisco’s first parish based perpetual adoration chapel.  In short, we’re building a chapel that will have the Blessed Sacrament exposed 24/7 under the constant vigilance of prayerful parishioners. This will require much commitment of time and sacrifice.  But we’re confident that prayer will reap upon our parish great rewards.”

According to the website, the Chapel will re-purpose the Church’s existing St. Joseph’s Chapel. The re-purposing is a parable in itself: one can easily picture the guardian and foster father of Our Lord faithfully guarding and serving in the Chapel for decades until the time when it is to be taken over by his Son.

Father Illo

Father Illo

The chapel is the latest initiative by Star of the Sea’s pastor Father Joseph Illo. In his short tenure since being appointed by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Father Illo has seemed tireless in seeking new ways to build community of the people of God, and to spread the Good News to those outside the faith. The parish has hosted numerous well-known speakers and retreats and has seen the revivifying of parish groups. Earlier this year Father Illo led a ten-day pilgrimage for parishioners to the Holy Land. Other initiatives such as monthly parish barbecues and a re-instituted St. Patrick’s Day dinner may seem simple and unexciting—until they are gone. Then one realizes that such homey events rebuild community.

But of all his initiatives, as Fr. Illo has told parishioners, nothing approaches the importance of Perpetual Adoration. “We hope that Star of the Sea can be a beacon of hope to all who are seeking God in our city.  We thank all who have committed to prayer, service, and financial support to help us fulfill our parish mission statement: ‘to evangelize God’s people beginning with the gift of the Holy Eucharist’…The privilege of continuous Adoration will be a treasury of spiritual strength and blessings for ourselves, our parish, and our Archdiocese, whose support for this vision has been indispensable.”

Fr. Illo’s proactive and dynamic personality, and his energetic fidelity to the faith, has apparently rubbed some people the wrong way. On March 26, 2015, the National Catholic Reporter published the leaked minutes of the February 12, 2015 San Francisco Council of Priests meeting. CalCatholic carried the story. A number of the priests present, as well as San Francisco’s then auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy, objected to Father Illo’s approach—focusing on his decision that only boys be allowed to serve at Mass in his parish—a decision that was allowed by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Such opposition to proactive priests is not exactly unheard of in the history of the Church. The objections against Father Illo echo those made against another priest by his fellow clergy. The Penguin Book of Saints writes “some of his fellow clergy misjudged him: he was, they said, over-zealous. Ignorant, a charlatan, even mentally deranged. Their bishop, Mgr. Devie, answered them ‘I wish, gentlemen, that all my clergy had a touch of the same madness.’” The priest in question was St. John Vianney.

To help defray the costs of Star of the Sea’s Perpetual Adoration Chapel, click here.



  1. Such good news! Hope you CalCatholic folks will $how your appreciation in a material way. Congratulations Fr. Illo for making this happen, God Bless!

  2. Elizabeth says




  3. Your Fellow Catholic says

    A very good thing. I can’t wait to visit!

  4. Fr Illo and the staff at Stella Maris are remarkable and are doing great things for the Faith in San Francisco and beyond. The pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February was an extraordinary experience and I understand that a pilgrimage trek on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela has been planned for young people later this year. And so much more of interest and assistance in deepening one’s faith are initiatives at the parish. Congratulations on this new endeavor and prayers for its success and many more.

  5. St. Christopher says

    “Elizabeth”: You can still be a parishioner. Contact the Church and they will direct you how to sign up, or look on-line to do so. Many of the Readers here should do the same. Being an Affiliate Member is valuable, and you can use their regular payment process to provide a modest donation to a wonderful Church.

  6. It took nearly 50 years to return to some appearance of Catholicism since V2 took over and transformed nearly all the parishes into Protestantism. Does the photo really match what is going to happen there? That is to say there will actually be an alter in the center of the sanctuary and a tabernacle raised on the center of the alter under a beautiful image of our Lord crucified or will it actually just be a table set off to the side?
    Here in San Diego there will be 3 Tridentine Latin Masses held one each at mid-night, 9 am, and 4 pm in the Naval Training Center Main Chapel at Liberty Station, Pt Loma on Roosevelt Road. Give yourself an Easter treat and receive our Lord in His special way, but dress modestly, suits and dresses are…

    • Linda Maria says

      Bruce, Star of the Sea is at least a century old, and is a beautiful, traditional Catholic church, with a traditional High Altar! A Protestant “table altar” has been placed in front of the High Altar for many years, as the church only has one Latin Tridentine Mass, and the rest are all Novus Ordo Masses. I think it would be just wonderful, if this church– or another one– in the San Francisco area, could have a Catholic parish with a traditional, older church, run by a religious order totally dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments such as the FSSP, etc. etc.

    • TheVeiledThreat says

      Bruce, I’m sorry you feel so pessimistic (but I don’t blame you). Not all parishes have gone the nearly Protestant route, though depending on your location it may seem that way!

      Here’s a link to a recent photo of Mass at Star of the Sea.


      From the looks of the church I don’t think the adoration chapel is going to be in a closet! Although it may not be at the main altar I imagine that their chapel dedicated to 24 hour adoration is going to be tasteful and reverent!

  7. Fr. Illo has a beautiful website that I often visit. I pray this good priest gets all the help needed to support this beautiful chapel.

    One thing I love about the traditional vestments is the cross that goes before and goes behind the priest on the traditional attire. Some of the earlier saints mentioned that in their writings.

    • Bishops should pay more heed to, and obey, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s decree “Summorum Pontificum”. Wherever there are sufficient numbers of Catholics who find more spiritual sustenance in the TLM Mass, it should be be made available to them. Star of the Sea parish is a great place to start. Myself, I prefer the NO Mass WHEN REVERENTLY CELEBRATED WITH NO UNAUTHORIZED “GADGETS”.
      Be that as it may, I repudiate equally those who oppose making the TLM Mass more readily available; and those who self-decree that the NO Mass, properly celebrared, is invalid.

  8. Today is Holy Thursday, the Commemoration of the Last Supper, when our Lord foretold to His Apostles through the First Holy Mass His ignominious bloody sacrifice, crucifixion, and death on the Cross. It is a day of sorrow. He taught the Apostles how to say the Holy Mass as so meticulously described in Fr. James Meagher’s 400+ page book entitled “How Christ said the First Mass”. He ordained them as priests, and He washed the 12 Apostles feet telling them to do the same to others. The TLM is the most accurate Mass following our Lord’s divine formula. It honors Him and God to do so, as He did so, by offering it and participating in His unbloody re-enactment of the Crucifixion. We in San Diego are blessed with the 3 TLMs on Easter…

  9. Father Joseph Illo, when new to the city, often complained about how empty his church was.
    If things have changed, good.
    Time will tell if he is indeed bringing people to Christ, but his arrival at Star was far from stellar: telling people the school was not really Catholic; bemoaning the fact that only a few came to Sunday Mass; saying that girls needed to be “purged” from the sanctuary.

    • Well Anonymous, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs! Fr. Illo is taking the bold approach of actually leading his parish to Christ. Doesn’t having people volunteering for Holy Hour 24/7/365 give you some comfort that it’s happening?

  10. Jim Jenkins says

    If these throw-back kind of liturgies is what “floats your boat” over there at Star of the Sea, I say knock yourself out. Go for it – as long as that is what the People are calling for.

    Given his strong pastoral sense, I’m sure that Rev. Illo could support the rest of us Catholics who look forward to the day when we can celebrate our liturgies with a renewed and reformed priesthood that respects diversity and the role of women in the church.

    • Linda Maria says

      Jim Jenkins, the Catholic priesthood is holy, and a gateway to Heaven! The priest, our “alter Christus,” stands in the place of Christ, on the altar, and gives us all the holy Sacraments, teaches us our Faith, and prepares us all for Heaven, in the next world! The holy priesthood is NOT worldly, secular, profane— and not for political agendas! There are definite traditional roles for men and for women, in the Church. The role of women, is very high– our role model, is no less than the Blessed Virgin Mary! Our goal is Heaven– NOT the false, egoistic glories and power, of the “fallen” secular world!

    • Jim Jenkins— If you are suggesting that the Catholic Church should ordain women priests, my advice is not to hold your breath.

  11. Perpetual Adoration, like other extra-liturgical devotions arising during the MIddle Ages, was a way for the laity to connect with Jesus as they were increasingly removed from participation in the Mass. They became spectators as clergy “said Mass” as if no one else was present. Indeed, if lay folk received communion at all, it was typically outside of Mass, not during. The Tridentine Mass, so favored by self-described “traditionalists” including the pastor of this parish and his archbishop, effectively reinforces the spectator role of the laity as they follow a “priest” using a dead foreign language, speaking sotto voce, and having his back to the people. This passive behavior was not what Vatican II had in mind or what Paul…

  12. Anonymous says

    In THAT neighborhood, with THAT pastor, it will be a miracle to get Perpetual Adoration going effectively and permanently.
    The neighborhood is most Chinese and non-Catholic.
    The pastor has been alienating his own parishioners since day one.

  13. Linda Maria says

    Anonymous– the Church is NOT SECULAR, NOT WORLDLY! Latin is a RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE– when you step over the threshold to the realm of GOD– you step from the “fallen” secular world, to a higher and more holy realm, the realm of Christ, in Heaven! A church is HOLY, and Christ is truly present, in the Blessed Sacrament! Christ can do as He wishes, for His people, to help sanctify them, and prepare them for Heaven. If He so wishes– Star of the Sea will do His Will, and Perpetual Adoration will be established– regardless of the “human” problems, the neighborhood, or anything else. Christ is the GREATEST GIFT!! Set aside all else– and GO ADORE HIM!!

    • Linda Maria says

      When the priest says Mass, he must FACE GOD– NOT the people! We ALL must face God, together with the priest, at Mass! And when we are before God– we must be PRAYERFUL, QUIET, and RECEPTIVE to Him! Quiet the mind, body, emotions, and sit still, before God! Make this a good habit– and then, God will be able to speak to you, and you will be able to hear Him! God is NOT WORLDLY, NOT HUMAN– He is sublime and spiritual! He lives in and communicates to us, from another world, very exquisitely beautiful– Heaven!

      • Linda Maria says

        Anonymous— in our relations with God, the soul is actually more delicate, receptive, feminine, and passive! Does that bother you? God is the One Who acts upon the soul, Who created it, and lives in it, and moves it, helps it, heals it, and moves it slowly, unseen, mysteriously— towards Salvation, and Heaven! We do, however, have our full selves, our free will, and we have the power to say “no,” or to say “yes,” as Our Lady did, when she said “yes” to God, at the Annunciation! As the great Saints have written– the soul and God have the potential to become One, in a Mystical Union!

  14. Today is Good Friday! Our Lord suffered and died ignominiously on this day nearly 2000 years ago. He was not the only one who suffered, God the Father seeing and feeling His Holy Innocent Son die for our sins, and God the Holy Spirit suffered as well. How could They not? As 3 Persons in one God, knowing all, the Alpha and the Omega, they all had to feel Christ’s suffering. Blessed Mother (our Lady of Sorrows) suffered too. It must have been the worst day of her entire life.
    Linda Marie, are you convinced they offer the Tridentine Latin Mass there? Or Paul the VIth’s service or the novus ordo service said in latin, (perhaps referred to by some as a Gregorian mass)? There big differences between the TLM and them!

  15. The Veiled Threat. It is not my pessimism, but my being a realist that makes me ask the question.
    Anomynous, Here you go again, trying to come off like an expert, deceiving others, but have no facts to backup your words. That’s how you liberals and homosexuals, those who want to tear down the establishment and morality in society work. No doubt being bodily alive today, you weren’t there to witness your hot rhetoric in early Christiandom. So many are spiritually dead.

  16. Reveal to us your sources of credible information Anomynous, or stop prolonging the deception.

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