Catholic San Francisco


(Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

Archbishop Cordileone visited St. James School in San Francisco’s Mission District April 22.

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St. James School, parish hosts archbishop
April 26th, 2016
By Valerie Schmalz

“What’s your name?” one of the St. James first graders asked Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone during his visit to the school April 22. “When you go to Mass and the priest prays for Salvatore our bishop – that’s me.”

“Ohhh,” said several of the youngsters clustered around the archbishop.

Archbishop Cordileone visited St. James School April 22, bestowed confirmation April 23, and celebrated Mass in Spanish and English on Sunday, April 24. It was the latest of the visits he is making over the course of five years to each of the 90-plus parishes in the archdiocese.

St. James School was founded in 1924 by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose during the building boom that followed the 1906 earthquake.

Daniel Valdez, whose son Daniel attended 20 years ago, is proud that his grandson Lucas attends first grade. As the archbishop visited one of the classrooms, Valdez told Catholic San Francisco St. James’ strong Latino culture was important to him, saying his son came in sixth grade and “got a great education.”

“Now that Lucas is starting even younger, he is going to form friends here, tighter friends, and that foundation for a better education, for high school,” said Valdez, who often picks up or drops off Lucas because his son works the graveyard shift.

Located on Fair Oaks Street, behind Immaculate Conception Academy, St. James student body is drawn from deeper in the Mission as the rapid gentrification of the area around the school is making it harder to afford for families who are working hard to make ends meet, said pastor Father Jose Corral and several parents. The school receives significant support from Vision of Hope, a foundation created by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose 21 years ago to support eight inner-city schools, said Dominican Sister Mary Susanna Vasquez.

“Folks here know how to hustle,” said Jay Watan, a Protestant Army chaplain who lives in the outer Mission with his wife, his fourth grade son Rowan and 3-year-old. “I think our teachers are kind of brilliant.”

More important is the sense of God that his son is receiving, Watan said. “That is one thing this Catholic school education really gives a kid: That your faith is not removed from the world. We’re called by Jesus to be God’s light in the world.”

“Almost every parent says the same thing – they love the school. They love the closeness, a sense of community, a sense of togetherness,” said Father Corral.

St. James graduate Kevin Munoz was helping out in the office because he had the day off. The Archbishop Riordan High School sophomore’s sister is in the third grade. “I just love the teachers and the people here. They are just so amazing. It’s really hard to explain,” Kevin said. “You can feel the love, the whole, like walls, the love just bounces off.”

From April 28, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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