Why is the prolife movement so young? It’s not only filled with children and teens, young adults and young families, but the older people like me who have been praying in front of abortion clinics for 30 years are filled with joy and hope. Last night I prayed with folks at the only Planned Parenthood still operating in San Francisco, as we do every Thursday night. A young adult led the prayers, but I marveled at Dr. Ron Konopaski, a retired dentist who coordinates San Francisco’s 40 Days for Life ever year. He basically camps out in front of the abortion facility for six weeks every Spring. He is never sad. He is never frustrated, even though this city of a million people cannot provide the 24-hour coverage many smaller cities provide. I’ve never seen him angry at the sometimes-furious disrespect we endure from passersby. This morning, on my way to say an early Mass for the Missionaries of Charity, I passed him on the moonlit street, hurrying to the Carmelites. Every morning he walks three miles to and from their beautiful stone chapel for early Mass. What a way to spend your retirement! What a way to keep your body and soul ever young!
We have a parish school at Star of the Sea that, in its heyday, produced four hundred young priests and sisters. Gracie Allen graduated from our school, as have thousands who have built up the city and county of San Francisco since 1909. This year, however, marks a turning point for Star of the Sea School. At the invitation of the Archbishop, we are becoming “Star of the Sea Classical School,” with an Integrated Classical Program set to roll out this fall. What is a Classical Curriculum? You can google it for yourself, but an Integrated Classical Program educates the whole person, leading the student to a sense of wonder at the beautiful order of God’s creation. It inspires gratitude for God’s sacred order and natural laws. I can remember my own wonder in freshman biology: We are fearfully, wonderfully made! It is this wonder and gratitude that keep us ever young.
On Wednesday a local filmmaker spent the day shooting footage for our school’s promotional video. It was a beautiful San Francisco sunny day, perfect for aerial shots, and the school Mass was a First Holy Communion for three of our children. I’ll be sure to provide you a link when the film is completed. The First Holy Communicants’ parents had dressed them in fine Catholic tradition like little brides and grooms. As the three crowded onto the single kneeler to receive their Jesus for the first time we smiled at what looked like a gaggle of kittens squirming to Mamma for a meal. Holy Mother Church fed them, and they smiled with satisfaction. Our school, God willing, will produce deeply-satisfied young people with this return to a classical program. And welcome to World Youth Day San Francisco. I hope to see some of you at the Archbishop’s Mass (9:30am in the Cathedral) or in front of City Hall at 12 noon tomorrow.