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What would Mary say?

February 27, 2015
Robert J. O’Donnell

I write concerning Father Illo’s effort to exclude girls as altar servers at his parish. I also write as a father of two daughters and a grandfather of three granddaughters. I find that decision appalling and dispiriting and its ramifications go far beyond Star of the Sea Parish. It is asserted that Father Illo has the right to do this. That may be so, but it doesn’t make it right.

In fact, it is wrongheaded and hearted. And that is not a good place for a pastor to be. The holy family was rebuffed with “there is no room at the inn.” Is the modern version, by a parish no less, to be “there is no room at the altar for one half of the congregation”? Father Illo may have never bounced a little girl on his knee, or heard a daughter tell him of her dreams, or seen her hurt by the still inherent discrimination in our society. But surely, empathy would lead him to reconsider this decision. I urge him to do so.

Girls are beautiful and spiritual and gifted and their desire to serve the Lord should not be shunted or shortchanged. What would Mary say? I urge the archbishop to help Father Illo to modify this policy. If not, there is a risk of losing not only a generation of girls, but their grandparents as well.

The writer is a member of St Peter Parish, Pacifica.

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