The following comes from a March 15 Catholic San Francisco article by Christina Gray:

About 50 parishioners of Marin County parishes had the opportunity to “interview” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone March 10 after he was invited to be the monthly guest speaker of the Men’s Club of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Sausalito.

A moderator read questions that had been written on note cards in the parish hall during a social hour preceding the presentation. The opening question: “How do you plan on reversing a downward trend in Mass attendance in our region?”

“The long-range solution is stewardship,” the archbishop answered.

He also said that “people have to have a sense of belonging” to a parish community, adding that he hopes to apply the organized approach of “megachurches” in Catholic parishes.

“The second a newcomer steps foot on to the campus, someone befriends them, connects with them, invites them in, then asks them back,” he said.

When asked the biggest challenges facing him and the archdiocese, the archbishop replied: “One challenge is financial, I’ll admit it,” although he assured the group that no parish closures are on the horizon.

When asked about how he weathers the criticism he receives from the public and from some Catholics, he admitted that at times it was very hard on him.

“But there is a lot more support for the basic kind of moral beliefs that we have than people realize,” he said. “Wherever I go, people express that to me, including non-Catholics, so I try to take encouragement and solace from that.”

He said he knows that someday he’s going to have to account to the Lord like everyone else.

“God has given me a big responsibility for stewardship of this church,” he said. “I don’t want to have to say to God that I stepped back because I didn’t want to be called names.”

What is harder sometimes, he said, is to have a calm, rational discussion on divisive issues. He said he looks to Pope Francis as a model of encounter.

“I’ve realized that you can’t have a stereotype of any individual group of persons if you actually know that person or know people from that group of persons,” he said. “You might not change your mind on the issues, but you can change a perspective.”