Fr. Joseph Illo was born in a little Italian part of the Bronx, City Island, and baptized at Our Lady Star of the Sea . He grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and graduated from High School in 1979. He graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983, and then moved to San Francisco to work for a Catholic publishing house, Ignatius Press. He went on to study philosophy, theology, and history at Blackfriars, Oxford (England) for a year, then to Rome for a B.A. in philosophy from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the Angelicum). While in Rome he lived one year with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and another year as porter of the Benedictine Motherhouse, Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine Hill.
From Rome he went to New York to complete four years of seminary training at St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York, earning M.Div. and M.A. degrees in theology. Bishop Donald Montrose of Stockton, CA ordained him to the priesthood in 1991. He has worked in parish assignments at Lodi, Manteca, Hughson, as well as two years as full-time vocations director for the diocese. From June 2000 through July 2012, he was pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto. In August 2012, Fr. Illo was assigned to serve as a chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. Fr. Illo is currently serving as pastor of Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco, California.
Fr. Illo enjoys all outdoor sports, especially backpacking, skiing, mountainbiking, rollerblading, kayaking, and snowcamping. He has traveled in Eastern and Western Europe, Latin and South America, and Asia, and is fluent in Spanish and Italian. He considers the parish priesthood God’s best gift to him and is very happy to be serving among the clergy of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.