The following comes from a Nov. 19 posting on the blog of Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.

Last Sunday in this space I was moaning over our mostly-empty Masses. But I guess I could see the church as three-quarters empty, or I could see it as one-quarter full! The other day I was again praying in the church with Father  Driscoll and Brother Ivan. Our ever-faithful Thelma Queri was quietly preparing altar flowers in the sacristy.

I was struck by the goodness and beauty in our parish, even when membership is at an historical low. I began to think of all the good folk at Star—those who set up for Mass, those who run our thriving school, those who pray in the church every day, those who sing in our choirs. By God’s grace, our parish will flourish again!

I write from Fatima, Portugal, where I am giving some talks at a clergy retreat. 45 priests from 15 countries have gathered to reconsecrate themselves to Jesus Christ through Our Lady.

I was at dinner with two priests, one from Germany and one from Malawi. The African has thousands at his Masses, but only a small building; the German has a magnificent baroque church, but only about 110 people on Sundays. The German said, “Attendance is poor, but their faith is rich.” The Malawian said, “The building is poor, but the faith is rich.” Both were joyful priests.

Yesterday I flew through Paris on my way to Lisbon. I was delighted that everyone addressed me, with a smile, as mon pere (“my father”). As secular as France has become, she still has at least some faith in the priesthood. The faith is not yet dead in Paris, Berlin, or San Francisco! By God’s grace, and our hard work, it will flourish again.

To read the original posting, click here.