Hear Our Voices: Public Forum

A standing room only crowd of nearly 500 people gathered Monday night at the University of San Francisco’s McLaren Center to publicly voice their opposition to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s proposed changes to teachers' contract and faculty and staff handbook language for the four archdiocesan high schools.

Many in the emotional crowd came to demonstrate the support of local Catholic grammar schools and the ten high schools not directly owned by the archdiocese as well.

This event began and ended in song - a clear gesture of peace and harmony, two of the strongest tenets of Catholicism. Brian Cahill, former president of San Francisco Catholic Charities, stirred the crowd of students, parents, teachers and concerned Catholics, many of them senior citizens, by asking “What if the Archbishop Cordileone hadn’t come here . . . and done what he’s doing?. . . indoctrinate, discriminate . . . and what if he had the pastoral style of our new pope? Think how much he’s moved the world with his style, his inclusiveness, his love. That’s what we should be teaching.”

Constitutional Law Professor Leslie Griffin outlined in no uncertain terms the danger of accepting ministerial designation in teacher contracts and handbooks, explaining that any such language in either the collective bargaining agreement or the handbook legally puts all faculty and staff at risk. She strongly encouraged the union to hold its current position that no changes should be made to either document.

Former Religious Studies teacher Jim McGarry then read his open letter to students, bringing many to tears and everyone to their feet for a standing ovation.

The evening concluded with parents and students from each of the four archdiocesan schools - Sacred Heart Cathedral, Riordan, Serra and Marin Catholic - standing up to make their voices heard. It was an empowering and hopeful evening. We remain committed to protecting the safe, accessible environment our schools have always provided for Bay Area families.

Photos courtesy of Mona Dunne