Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Catholics try new ways to solve priest shortage

Tom Heinen reported in Monday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on what's being done to "invigorate" our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. One good sign, no one is quoted using the phrase energize our vibrancy.

Looks like the continuing decline in priests in service will be dealt with, in part, with one or more priests serving multiple parishes and creating new lay administrative positions. Archbishop Dolan will not close a parish over its objection. There are 34 seminarians and a projected 25 ordinations in the next five years.

I've heard people, including priests, talk about how our priests are stretched thin by their declining numbers, as if they had to serve a constant number of parishioners. My contrary take has been, you might recall, that
Local Catholics are decreasing Mass attendance and participation in the sacraments, doing their best to ease concerns over priests' workloads, but it's a difficult process.

Mr. Heinen's article reports,
The average of Mass attendance counts on one weekend in October and one weekend in March have fallen from about 212,300 five years ago to about 165,100 for the fall 2007-winter 2008 counts, according to Jerry Topczewski, Dolan’s chief of staff.

Where will the survivors be buried?
more than 40 major parish and school construction and renovation projects worth more than $130 million have been completed in the past five years, according to archdiocesan statistics.

What I call the Field of Dreams theory of evangelization.

The increases in seminarians and ordinations are good signs. There also is the Living Our Faith initiative which at least attempts things that are recognizably evangelization. I'm reminded that back on June 25, 2002 Father Rob Johansen wrote,
The Church in Milwaukee was not co-opted and decimated overnight, and neither will it be reconstructed overnight.

...

Bishop Dolan will be obstructed and bitterly opposed within the Archdiocese the moment he tries to undo anything wrought by "Brother Rembert". He will be opposed by his priests, and by many laypeople who have been deceived and malformed by the AmChurch agenda. He will be denounced as "retrograde" and "divisive".

...

If conservatives expect to see sweeping changes and purges within the Archdiocesan structure, I think they will be disappointed. ...

Instead, he predicted, Archbishop Dolan would take the approach called Romanitas, and will "Make haste slowly" in the turnaround effort. I note, though, that Fr. Johansen said this approach "can be amazing... when it works...". That leaves the possibility our Archdiocese will turn out to be a case when it won't. Archbishop Dolan might take comfort in the age and projected retirement dates of the internal opposition, clergy and lay. Not all the demographics work his way, though, such as the decline in the number Catholics as Mass. I doubt that our Archdiocese's estimate of 680,000 registered parishioners will stand if all parishes update their rolls.

3 Comments:

Blogger Faithful Catholic said...

While the Journal Sentinel is correct in stating that the current policy Archdiocese is not to close a parish over its objection, that may soon NOT be the case.

Fr. Connell, who authored the vibrancy document, has recommended the following to Dolan:

With assistance from the Deans:
a. Identify parishes where the worshipping community is not able to carry the basic mission expectations of a parish (quality ministries of Word, Worship and Service); cannot support a full-or part-time pastor/parish director or meet other expenses apart from grants or rental income.

b. Identify parishes that, because of their history or location, hold presence therefore evangelizing value for the church, in spite of their perceived limitations. Ease these parishioners into a neighboring parish community while reducing the church building status to a chapel or oratory.

This can be found under point 13 at: http://www.archmil.org/resources/userfiles/08%20Final%20General%20Recommendations.pdf

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHO is Fr. Rob Johansen? Archbishop Dolan has left the Weakland apparatus in place while he spends week after week outside the diocese. To get a good insight into how things have NOT changed here, get a copy of the July issue of "Milwaukee Magazine" and read the article on the abuse suffered at the hands of some nun. You will see that Dolan is as much of a gamer as Weakland, Sklba, et al.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

165,000 Catholics going to Mass and they are spending 130 million on building projects? What's wrong with this picture??

11:34 PM  

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