Friday, August 11, 2006

"How Bishops Discourage Vocations (and the Key to Attracting Them)”

Hat tip to Sunny

Here's an article worth reading if you want to know what happened to vocations.

Status Ecclesiae
Aug.-Sept. 2005

“How Bishops Discourage Vocations (and the Key to Attracting Them)”
-by John Mallon, Contributing Editor, Inside the Vatican

In the mid 1990s, I attended a clergy meeting in the diocese where I was employed as the newspaper editor. The meeting was to discuss ideas to increase vocations to the priesthood, because the diocese was facing a crisis. Predictably, the discussion was going nowhere until the retired archbishop raised his hand, stood up and said, “Why don’t we study those dioceses which are attracting vocations, like Lincoln, Nebraska, and Arlington, Virginia, and see what they are doing and what we can learn from that.” I smiled to myself, eager to see the response to his suggestion, because I knew that the reason those dioceses were attracting so many vocations would be utterly unacceptable to this group of priests. Predictably, the priests just looked at each other and said nothing. No one responded to the archbishop’s suggestion.

The answer was obvious. I may have even taken the retired archbishop aside and told him, but I suspect he already knew. The plain simple answer was that the bishops of those dioceses, Bishops Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and the late John Keating of Arlington, were both explicitly, vocally and publicly committed to orthodoxy in Catholic teaching and practice. Meanwhile, the dominant priests of this diocese were known for being firmly committed to dissent...

...There is a solidarity among the orthodox youth, which John Paul II wisely and shrewdly nurtured as the future of the Church in his World Youth Days and his plain, simple love for them, which was direct and unmediated

I have glimpsed this phenomenon first hand.

When I worked and studied theology at Boston College in the 1980s, there was a widely celebrated theology department, boastful of its dissent. The professors counted their undergraduate theology majors in the single digits. When I sought my master’s degree in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a university explicit in its orthodoxy, and ridiculed for it by larger schools, it had a smaller theology faculty but the largest number of undergraduates in the country, at the time, as I recall, 140.

At the Jesuit-run Boston College, I do not recall many students pursuing a religious vocation. I recall two who did who received hostility from the Jesuits — for their orthodoxy. At Steubenville, there were so many vocations they started a pre-theologate program, and a group for young women considering the convent....



Home School Mom: Denise said...

Hi Esther,
I just returned home a little while ago from a catechetical leaders conference hosted by our Bishop R. Daniel Conlon (of Steubenville). He is very concerned with catechesis and meets us at the grass roots levels; he gave a wonderful talk on the Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit.
I'm glad to hear Steubenville mentioned here (my diocese :)

EC Gefroh said...

Hi Denise:
You are so blessed to live in that diocese! My sister got her masters degree at FUS and my mom and I had a chance to visit. That is definitely where we want Joey to go to school. We also had a nice personal tour of Catholics United for the Faith's office...and of course the murals! Which saint is depicted in the mural by the church? I told my mom it was St. John Neumann but now I am doubting myself.
God bless,

Home School Mom: Denise said...

I think St. John Neumann is right, but it's been a while since I've been there - and had to think about that! :)
Our church is the farthest end of the northern part of the diocese in a highly protestant area - and thankfully we have a vibrant thriving Catholic community here. I'd like to get our oldest son interested in going to FU also - and maybe living in the Bishop's formation house for seminarians - but we'll pray about that one. Right now, he just wants to be an artist.

Still working on my Pop Tart Mom Meme - someday I'll surprise you with it.
God bless!