San Francisco

San Francisco Catholic Church Bans New Altar Girls

One San Francisco Catholic church said it will not have girls as altar servers, and its priest behind the policy is coming under fire.

Families tied to the Star of the Sea Church, located on Ninth and Geary streets in San Francisco, said they are shocked about the new policy that would only allow altar boys to serve.

Father Josephy Illo, who came to the church about six months ago, said many girls were serving the altar for years.

He explained the reason for the switch.

"We'd like to get back to an altar boy program, which is a proven, effective way to promoting vocations to the priesthood," Father Illo said. "So boys get closer to the altar, and as you know, the Catholic church does not ordain women."

But parents said they are outraged.

"I think it's ridiculous," Jewli Judd said. "I think nowadays that's not the way we're going. It's not P.C. [politically correct]."

Father Illo said parents who oppose the policy will eventually see the greater good. But he also said it is important to have programs for both boys and girls. And he said there are special social groups for girls, places to read at the mass, and girls can prepare the altar.

But, while some families are OK with the policy, others said it sends the wrong message.

The priest said altar girls at the church can continue to serve.

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