Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Parish & Homeschooling Bleg

I've been hesitant to do this because of the danger of freaking out the many people we know in the real world (locally and family) who read the blog, but I want to get any results back in time to have this be a meaningful part of decision-making so here it goes:

There is a chance (perhaps not even a large chance, but a chance) that the Darwin household would be pursing career opportunities in the Silicon Valley area in the near future. Obviously, this involves a lot of considerations regarding real estate, family, etc. However there are two which, with no close friends or relatives in the Bay Area, I'm hoping the readership might be able to help out with:

1) Does anyone have any experience with parishes in the Silicon Valley area? Are any with decent liturgy and catechesis -- by decent I basically mean non-cringe-inducing and giving some sense of reverence to one's children. I'm a bit put off by the Diocese of San Jose pastoral letter mandating standing from the Agnus Dei through the end of communion. (We took a look for at the diocesan-approved Tridentine parish in the diocese, but had our hesitations there as well -- again we'd appreciate thoughts from anyone with personal experience.  Reading through back bulletins, some things like the prayer that priests without true vocations would hurry up and leave gave me an odd impression.) Advice from current or recent residents of the area very much desired.  With five kids going through their most formative years, one of our biggest hesitations about whether to follow through on this career opportunity is whether we'd be able to provide them with an appropriate parish environment out there.  I've gone through periods in life of feeling like I was trying to remain a good Catholic despite my parish, and I don't think that kind of seige mentality is good for children in the least. (Feel free to email instead of comment if you're more comfortable with that.)

2) Anyone with experience homeschooling in the area? Is there a Catholic homeschooling group, or a Christian or secular homeschooling group which might be congenial for the Darwin family? Recent experience of homeschooling in the area?  Looking around on the web I found a Well Trained Mind group there, but not much else seemed immediately in evidence, and I know how regulated homeschooling is in California can vary quite a bit by school district.

3) As we search for housing that is semi-affordable, doesn't normally hear gunshots, and is within 30min drive of the big tech companies in Silicon Valley (one of which I'd be working for) does anyone have advice on neighborhoods to particularly look for or avoid.


rhinemouse said...

I'm afraid I can't help you with Silicon Valley, but I can tell you there IS a FANTASTIC PARISH in Seattle. Also, I have a friend with an adorable baby girl, and we could betroth her to Jack.

Rebekka said...

Which end of Silicon Valley? The San Jose end, or the Peninsula end? That's important as far as the 30 mins is concerned.

Darwin said...

The San Jose end.

We'd be looking in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, San Jose, Campbell, Milpitas, Los Gatos, etc. Possibly as far out as Morgan Hill or Gilroy in search of affordable housing.

One guy who lived out these suggested also considering living across the mountains in Santa Cruz or up in the mountains somewhere like Scotts Valley or Lexington Hills.

Big Tex said...

I second Seattle... plus there are some really cool people in Everett. ;-)

Jim Janknegt said...

Do you have any extended family in the Austin area? If so I would think long and hard about moving. I am pretty much anti-mobility. Mobility is a curse on our culture and communities.

mrsdarwin said...


We have no family at all in Texas, though we've made many good friends. However, another job opportunity we're exploring is in Columbus, which is two hours from my family in Cincinnati. (Darwin didn't mention that in his post because that's an option that would take much less discernment. :)

I should point out that both the Silicon Valley job and the Columbus job were not opportunities that we sought out, but rather chances that have fallen into our laps since baby was born. The suddenness and the double front are what have caused the slow blogging lately.

Amber said...

I would definitely not recommend Scott's Valley or other places over the hill - the traffic is TERRIBLE!! You will be living your life in your car.

There have got to be other HS'ing groups out there - there's a good one in the East Bay (TVE - they have a Yahoo group)

HS'ing is quite easy in CA. You can just declare yourself a private school by filing a R-4 and you're set. You don't even have to talk to the local school district ever. Or you can join a state sponsored charter school and get money from the state for secular materials and some oversight and help from a liaison with the charter. There is a huge variety in charters and how they operate - what they offer and how much oversight they require. There are two other options - Private ISP and HS'ing directly from the local district using their materials.

If you were to do this, I really wouldn't worry much about the HS'ing aspects - however I do think the parish issue is a much bigger concern!

Rebekka said...

Friends have lived in Palo Alto, which was nice. Both (separately, they don't even know each other) have since moved to Redwood City, which is also nice, we were just house-sitting there in June. But not cheap. And also I can't tell you anything about homeschooling (although one set has kids and the other is expecting) and they aren't Catholic. So all I really can attest to is the niceness and non-violent character of the neighborhoods they lived in.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Kansas.

Audrey said...

Are there any vibrant convents/monasteries in the area? Perhaps you could find a spiritual home there.

Blessing in your discernment, I selfishly want to keep you here as long as possible, but know all too well how tough it is away from family.

Roz said...

My favorite way of checking for good parishes is to search for parishes with the most hours of Eucharistic adoration. Any that can support perpetual adoration must have a solid congregation.

I tried doing a search for you, but they appear to be changing their interface, and no matter what I entered, I got churches in Buenos Aires. Either that's a glitch, or God's telling you something.

Dorian Speed said...


No relocating until I come see that BABY.

Fletch said...

From another favorite blog of mine:

If you do move, I would definitely rent for a while. Possibly a long while. Price-to-rent ratios are still out of whack in much of CA.

Anonymous said...

Don't recommend moving to CA at all. But if you do, I highly recommended any Institute of Christ the King Traditional Latin Mass parish, they provide a great refuge for the practicing Catholic family.

Don't let the prayer for priests without a vocation to leave disturb you. When you meet an ICKSP priest and get to know their level of holiness and fidelity, you'll soon agree with that prayer!

Noelle said...

The California Catholic Daily website has a weekly "Churches Worth Driving To" feature; you could look at that and see if they've highlighted any parishes in the San Jose area that fit your criteria (

There are a lot of homeschooling families at my parish (St. Margaret Mary, in Oakland), and I'm sure you'd be welcome to join their group / mailing list if you wanted to, even if you were living down by San Jose.

Good luck with your decision!

mrsdarwin said...

To our commenter from Oakland,

Your comment disappeared, but we didn't delete it, we promise! Would you be willing to send us an email? We'd like to learn a bit more about the area from someone on the ground out there. Thanks.

JMB said...

Can't offer any opinions about CA, but if you end up in Columbus, my sister recently relocated there and lives in New Albany, which is about 15 minutes outside from Columbus. We visited her this summer and had a wonderful time. It does mean that you will have to become Buckeye fans though!

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

No! Don't go! Aaargh.

All right, if I must. Josh and I lived several places in the Bay Area, and other than warning you to stay the heck out of Berkeley (we lived in the crack district, and it's one of the last places in the U.S. where they still occasionally arrest homeschoolers for violating the truancy laws), I can't give a lot of help. We attended Saint Joseph parish in Mountain View, which is where Offspring #1 was baptized, and which was quite nice. I don't remember any roaring liturgical abuses, but I considered myself a Catholic liberal as well as a political liberal at the time, and wasn't so sensitized to such things. I remember it being mostly immigrant, child-friendly (the Vietnamese moms openly nursed in the back pews), and generally a friendly, normal place to be. Normal goes for a lot in a parish, in my opinion.

We didn't live any place both decent and affordable except Mountain View, where we lived in a low-income apartment complex that was mostly recent immigrants from Vietnam, Central America, India, and the Philippines. The Vietnamese takeout and Chinese bakeries were so cheap and abundant that I'm not sure we ate much else there, and the neighbors were marvellous, all with small kids and not minding baby noise at all. That most of us couldn't talk with each other was a minor inconvenience. It was the only place in the Bay Area I really miss.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Oh, avoid Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City, unless someone else is paying for your housing.

Avoid East Palo Alto, the murder capital of the U.S. (at least while we lived there). Really, more murders per capita than any other place.

Once, coming off the bridge, I turned left too soon and was suddenly driving in East Palo Alto. Within sixty seconds a police car was behind me, signaling me to follow him; and he escorted me into Palo Alto and drove off. It was weird.

Last item: I've heard good things about homeschooling in San Jose from wistful ex-Californians.