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The View from the Pier By Herman Sillas
The View from the Pier By Herman Sillas

By Herman Sillas

Cora and I married in my third year of law school in 1959. A year later, I opened my law practice in Los Angeles. There were few Mexican lawyers in those early days, and all of us were seeking clients. We lawyers got to know each as we ran into each other in the courthouse. These were exciting times. We eventually organized the Mexican-American Lawyers Club and met every month with a judge as a speaker. We began to appreciate each other and expanded our influence with others who were not lawyers. As the years passed, Cora and I had five children.

During this period of time, many of us were enhancing our influence, speaking for the rights of Mexican-Americans. One of those persons was a Catholic priest. He and I became friends and he would visit our home on weekends. There were many times when we would have meetings with public entities that, we believed, should have been hiring more minorities. My friend was very forceful in his statements and would lean heavily on his position with the Catholic church to persuade his audiences. Other priests of other churches also engaged in similar activities in those earlier days. We shared many encounters as we took on what we believed to be biased employers.

The relationship of my friend and his Catholic church became strained because of his activities in the political arena. He had also met a woman who was a nun. They fell in love and left the church and married. I realized it was a difficult decision for the two. I eventually lost contact with him as Cora and I moved to Sacramento. He continued his battle on behalf of the needy. The former priest has since passed away.

At the same time, another friend of mine had raised his children along with his wife. My friend and his wife were Catholics and very supportive of their church. After their children had grown, my friend and his wife went to training classes to assist their church and were trained to perform duties that were done by priests, such as leading the church in prayers, funerals, etc. Both of them enjoyed the work. Their lives were truly blessed, as they devoted their lives to the chores of the church.

Looking at the two lives of my priest friend and his nun, it was too bad that the Catholic church couldn’t have kept them. Then I read in the daily paper that Pope Francis pondered, “Why not let priests marry? How many of them have been kept out of the priesthood because of the prohibition of marrying women?” They struggle with the issue the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, some men did become priests and ultimately have unnamed children who live without a named father. There are many married clergy in other churches and they survive and excel with children, a spouse and leading their church.

If you are thinking of doing new things, I have something for you. You will get something that will give you a challenge and a feeling of giving something that is needed by everyone. Pope Francis suggested a couple weeks ago that the Catholic Church should consider ordaining married men, and this makes sense to me.

You will get something that will give you a challenge and a feeling of giving something that is needed by everyone. I for one am not unhappy because I married and raised children. But I think of all the challenges that I would have faced if I had suggested to Cora that she tried to be a nun. It would have been too complicated. That’s the view from the pier.

Herman Sillas is an author and resident of San Clemente and a former U.S. District attorney. He may be reached at

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