The following comes from a May 28 story by Valerie Schmalz in Catholic San Francisco.
A form of priestly religious community focused on charity, evangelization and parish life that was founded by St. Philip Neri, a confessor of St. Ignatius Loyola, will take its first step toward establishment Aug. 1 at Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco.
The Fraternity of St. Philip Neri will create a stable community with at least two full-time priests at the San Francisco neighborhood parish. An emphasis on outreach to young adults and a focus on offering Mass, hearing confessions and creating a welcoming community are all hallmarks of St. Philip’s charism, said Father Joseph Illo, the new Star pastor and leader of the fraternity.
Father Patrick Driscoll, who has been released by the archbishop of St. Louis to the San Francisco archdiocese, will join Father Illo at the parish. Father Illo was released to the San Francisco archdiocese by Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire. Most recently he was a chaplain for two years at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California. The two priests hope to be joined by other priests in years to come, Father Illo said.
The fraternity is the first step toward the canonical establishment of an Oratory of St. Philip Neri. The Oratory is a “Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right,” first begun by St. Philip in Rome in 1575. Its members are secular priests and brothers who live in community without formal vows and carry out pastoral ministry, usually in an urban parish. For final papal approval, the Oratory – which for now will be known as a fraternity – will need to prove itself stable and in accord with Oratorian charisms for at least three years, Father Illo said. The fledgling community at Star of the Sea will be evaluated by the Oratorian Procurator General in Rome over this probation period.
Blessed John Henry Newman founded the first English Oratory in Birmingham in 1848.
“We will do normal parish work: beautiful and reverent Masses and frequent opportunities for the sacrament of penance are the core,” said Father Illo. Star already offers the extraordinary form of the Latin Mass on Sundays at 11 a.m. and daily at 7:30 a.m., which will continue. The noon daily Mass in English and weekend Masses in English will also continue to be celebrated, Father Illo said.
He would eventually like to offer solemn vespers on Sunday nights.
Father Illo lived and worked in San Francisco for two years before entering the seminary and views his return as a “coming home” to a city he loves, he said.
Father Illo would like to create an interactive website and strong social media, he said, but will wait for direction from Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone regarding specific focuses of the fraternity. “He has said that he wants us to concentrate on young adults,” said Father Illo. Among projects Father Illo would like to consider starting would be young adult ministries such as Catholic Underground, which has proven very successful in the East Bay and elsewhere.
Father Illo has his own blog, where he raised $285,000 to fund the Oratory in response to Archbishop Cordileone’s requirement for $150,000 in pledges so that it could be self-supporting.
A cyclist and outdoorsman, Father Illo would like to offer activities like parish-sponsored backpacking trips to the Sierras. The Oratory would eventually like find a way to offer concerts, theater productions, open gym, air hockey and pingpong among other cultural and youth activities at the parish.
Offering many opportunities for confessions will be important. St. Philip used to pray on the roof of his Oratory and “he would have a little bell that people would ring and he would rush down. We might have a little pager,” Father Illo said….
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