Scranton’s October Newsletter

Fr. Eric Bergman has sent us his October Newsletter, which as usual is full of interesting and inspiring news, first of all  about the Ordinariate Clergy Conference at Mundelein Seminary (whose former Director, Robert Barron of media fame, was recently ordained auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles). Here is Fr. Eric’s personal message:

Dear Members and Friends,

Last week the Ordinariate held its annual clergy conference at Mundelein Seminary,
outside Chicago, Illinois, so I spent Monday through Friday there praying, attending presentations, and helping to conduct Ordinariate business. A number of the matters we discussed will impact our parish life, so my letter to you this month will serve as a review of what we were told to expect in the coming months and years.

First, our worship guide we hand out every Sunday is going to change. With the publication of the Divine Worship Missal, to be introduced worldwide on the first Sunday of Advent this year, the Ordinariates’ form of the one, holy Mass will be copyrighted. Therefore, we will no longer be permitted to publish every word that is spoken or sung during our worship. Those of you who regularly assist at Mass at St. Thomas More know that heretofore we have made participation in the liturgy very user-friendly by including in our leaflet almost everything that’s said, except for the homily, of course. What will be published starting in December are only the music and prayers the congregation must have to respond. The prayers that the celebrant offers by himself on behalf of the worshipers will not be printed. I don’t anticipate this will issue in any confusion at all for those familiar with our liturgy, but it may be we occasionally have to help visiting neighbors find their place. There is at the moment no prayer book available for us to offer Divine Worship devotions privately.

Currently the evening and morning offices are undergoing a revision, as well, and we have been assured that when this overhaul is complete a sort of ‘pew edition’ will indeed be published. We actually utilized a proposed revision of morning and evening prayer during the clergy conference, and it is close to what we are accustomed to praying at Evensong and Benediction each month. However, having waited more than four years for the publication and implementation of the Missal, we should not expect that a take-home prayer book for parishioners is just around the corner. As Msgr. Steenson is wont to remind us, we practice and learn the virtue of patience as we build this plane while flying it.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth also came to Mundelein to offer the clergy a reflection on priestly celibacy. Since most of the Ordinariate’s 72 priests are married the Holy See can foresee that a number of us will likely be widowed while still actively serving Holy Mother Church as pastors, chaplains, and administrators. Bishop Olson reiterated the Church’s constant teaching that while a married man can be ordained, an ordained man cannot get married. He asked us to prepare for this possibility by conceiving how we might live out this particular discipline were we suddenly called to it, imploring us to set aside will power and rely instead on God’s grace for chastity. I applaud his wisdom, for this truly is the only way we can live out chastity now, since marriage and celibacy are not opposites but two sides of the same chaste coin. Nevertheless, the point bore repeating that the Holy See’s expectation for the Ordinariates is that the celibate priesthood will become the norm for our communities after the passing of the first generation of converts. Moreover, we are called even now to raise up celibate men from our parishes to fill out our ranks. Therefore, unless a man had formerly been a married Anglican clergymen, married men will not be sent to seminary to study for the priesthood in the Ordinariate. And widowed priests will remain single.

I was happy for Bishop Olson’s encouragement, but contemplating our mortality came easy after what we experienced here in Scranton two weeks before. Bob Harris, one of our founding members, had a heart attack on September 16th and died at the hospital shortly after I had anointed him. For only the second time in over three years we had to borrow from St. Michael’s Church in West Scranton their black funeral pall. Fr. Zepeda was gracious in lending it to us, but he told me, “This is something you really need”.  Fortunately, memorials for Bob were designated for the parish he had been instrumental in establishing, so with the assent of his widow, Jule, we will use those donations towards the purchase of a black pall of our own. I hope we use the new one given to the glory of God and in memory of Bob as infrequently as we used St. Michael’s. Bob and Jule’s witness was a powerful one, so it came as no surprise to me that Jule will be the godmother to their grand-niece and our newest member, Cecelia Edith Dively. Born less than two weeks before her great-uncle’s death, Cecelia will be baptized at the 10 a.m. Mass this Sunday, October 11. Proud parents Ryan and Corin hope you’ll join them downstairs after Mass for a small reception in the Parish Hall. As we mourn the loss of our beloved fellow parishioner we receive consolation that his witness played a part in his niece’s desire for marriage and children, and we give thanks God blessed him with a growing family: Bob’s granddaughter, Jill, was born in July and will be christened in the Ukrainian Catholic Church next week. Even in the face of death we see the fruit of a life well-lived is yet more lives and new births in the waters of baptism. May our own witness also lead to a stream of little ones brought to the Fount of Life. Robert Harris, Rest in Peace.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Eric L. Bergman

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Scranton’s October Newsletter

  1. EPMS says:

    The subject of the next generation of Ordinariate clergy is a very interesting one. Of the 72 current OCSP clergy, seventzeen, by my calculation, currently serve in communites which have the numbers and the stability to be granted parish status. The rest are, for the most part men in mid-life or beyond serving communities in the low double digits. I think that replacimg even the seventeen will be a challenge. Many of the other groups may have to revert to the ministry of diocesan priests with faculties for the Ordinariate rite.

  2. godfrey1099 says:

    If the Ordinariates are God’s work, God will inspire vocations in due time.

  3. EPMS says:

    This is the sort of statement I find frustrating. Would you encourage a congregation to buy a church by pointing out that “if the Ordinariate is God’s work, you will be able to make your mortgage payments”? No, I hope you would not see it as an act of faithlessness to sit down and make financial calculations based on realistic analysis. The US Catholic church is undoubtedly God’s work, but it is struggling with vocations: I could multiply statistics but we all know the general picture. To state that a community with two or three thousand members will generate even ten celibate vocations in the next ten years strikes me as unrealistic. How many celibate vocations have been produced from Pastoral Provision parishes since 1980? When I have asked this question in the past the best answer anyone could come up with was “one”, and that man went on to serve in a regular diocesan parish. Of course, the expectation that the next generation of Ordinariate priests would be celibate may just have been posturing, to prevent pushback from those who feared the Ordinariates would be a back door to a general loosening of the celibacy discipline. And of course there is always the possibility that these fears were quite accurate, and clerical celibacy will become optional in all Catholic rites fairly soon. So a doomsday scenario is no more assured than the “expect a miracle” alternative. I just feel that one has a better chance of meeting a challenge if one at least recognises its existence.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: The US Catholic church is undoubtedly God’s work, but it is struggling with vocations: I could multiply statistics but we all know the general picture. To state that a community with two or three thousand members will generate even ten celibate vocations in the next ten years strikes me as unrealistic.

      Rather, the struggle with vocations is a symptom of a far deeper problem — to wit, a crisis of faith. How many of us, growing up in the Catholic Church, ever heard in earnest that we needed to submit our lives to the lordship of Christ and yield to God’s will, and were actively encouraged to do so? Young people who are not living in submission to the lordship of Christ simply are NOT going to respond to God’s call to ministry or to religious life, no matter how strong that call may be — nor are they going to respond to God’s call to dating relationships that lead to healthy marriages, which undoubtedly is the reason why so many marriages celebrated in the church are failing and why tribunals are granting so many decrees of nullity as to create a de facto scandal. It’s also why so many people pay lip service to the faith, but don’t really live it.

      You wrote: And of course there is always the possibility that these fears were quite accurate, and clerical celibacy will become optional in all Catholic rites fairly soon.

      Pope Francis has already sent signals that he intends to relax the discipline of celibacy in the Roman Rite (which, BTW, is the only rite within the Catholic Church that maintains it universally), but that he wants the initiative to come from the conferences of bishops, as they are able to resolve the various practical problems associated therewith, rather than decreeing it by papal fiat. Note, however, that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the ordinariates.

      Realistically, a relaxation of the discipline of celibacy has serious financial ramifications for the dioceses that adopt it.

      >> 1. There’s a need for capital to reconfigure rectories to accommodate married men with families rather than celibate men. In most rectories, each presbyter has a suite consisting of a bedchamber and a study — not exactly an ideal arrangement for a family home.

      >> 2. There’s also the reality that married men must receive sufficient compensation to support their wives and their children in a decent manner, to educate their children, and to provide medical care and other services for their welfare. Some of this compensation might be “in kind” rather than in a paycheck, but the higher cost and the associated impact on the diocesan budget are still there.

      There’s no doubt that full the impact will phase in gradually with the progressive ordination of more and more married men after the relaxation takes effect, but it nevertheless requires major planning in each diocese.

      BTW, credit the dispensations granted for ordination of married former Protestant and former Anglican clergy over the past several decades with paving the way for this. The Catholic population generally has accepted married clergy quite willingly, quashing the fears of many conservatives that widespread popular rejection would pose a serious difficulty.

      Norm.

    • Do you really believe that we are not aware of the negative scenario, EPMS? We are just not constantly wallowing in it. That is why I said “Amen” to godfrey’s comment.

      David M.

      • Paul Nicholls ofs says:

        Too much wallowing in negativity on the part of some. Personally, I have ceased to do so and am focused only on making a positive contribution to my Ordinariate community and the Ordinariate as a whole.

    • And please do not forget that we may have only about 4000 (mostly committed) Ordinariate Catholics, ca. 100 communities, quasi-parishes and parishes and 150 priests worldwide at the moment, but if you compare that with many European or North American dioceses with considerably more nominal Catholics and far fewer priests, we are doing well if we currently have half a dozen seminarians and a good many more former clergy now preparing for the priesthood, whereas many of the said dioceses have next to none!!

      Take for example the diocese of Amiens in France, with 10,000 practising Catholics, 83 priests listed online (of whom more than half are above 75 and one is an Ordinariate priest), 47 multi-village and multi-church parishes and TWO or THREE seminarians (according to the figures I have, which are a couple of years old.).

      • godfrey1099 says:

        @David
        Exactly! There is no general shortage of priests in any of the Ordinariates now (though, unfortunately, there are some communities without a priest). In this aspect, all the Ordinariates are doing very well. So why should we dwell about POTENTIAL problems?
        @EPMS
        You have entirely excluded the divine component in vocations. As I have seen how a priestly vocation develops and matures for years in my immediate family, I can assure you that there is much more of mystery to it then one would ever think. It is really that God chooses and calls some men He wants to have as His priests.

      • EPMS says:

        Amiens’ stats aren’t too bad, actually. The Archdiocese of Chicago, with 2.3 million Catholics, had 52 (major) seminarians in 2014-15. Assuming only half of the 2.3 million are practising, this is one seminarian for every 23,000 Catholics. I can be positive.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: Amiens’ stats aren’t too bad, actually. The Archdiocese of Chicago, with 2.3 million Catholics, had 52 (major) seminarians in 2014-15. Assuming only half of the 2.3 million are practising, this is one seminarian for every 23,000 Catholics. I can be positive.

        Yes, we have noticed.

        But it sometimes seems like you are positive that the sky is falling, and not much else. 🙂

        Norm.

    • godfrey1099 says:

      “The US Catholic [C]hurch is undoubtedly God’s work, but it is struggling with vocations: I could multiply statistics but we all know the general picture.”
      EPMS, it seems that you haven’t checked the statistics for a while. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of ordinations in the US has increased by impressive 31%, from 454 to 595 (including ordinations scheduled until the year-end)*. And the number of seminarians has grown equally fast or even faster. Moreover, historically, papal visits have always boosted seminarian numbers in the following year.
      The decline in vocations is long over and what we see is steady recovery.
      *Source: Georgetown University CARA’s data

      • EPMS says:

        Good. We need steady recovery, because the average age of a US Catholic priest has gone from 34 in 1970 to 65 today. But I do not want to get into a statistical p****** contest. godfrey1099’s point about family nurture is probably more interesting anyway, because it requires us to think about the nurture of celibate vocations in an Anglican culture that has no real experience with them. As we know, the Eastern rites of the Catholic church in the US have essentially thrown in the towel on this issue. I think that Norm’s intimation that priestly celibacy is a dead duck is the really optimistic position. As for the financials, if every other Christian denomination can support married clergy it seems unlikely that the largest and richest of them will be unable to do so.

      • godfrey1099 says:

        1. “the Eastern rites of the Catholic church in the US have essentially thrown in the towel”
        But you do realise that following Pope Francis’ recent decision, Eastern Catholic Churches in diaspora, particularly in the US and Canada, can ordain married men at will, without asking anyone’s permission? This is potentially of profound effects, which we should see in statictics in few years from now.
        2. “priestly celibacy is a dead duck”
        IMHO, it isn’t. In today’s Western world obsessed with sex, it is important more than ever as “a sign which shall be spoken against”.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        godfrey1099,

        You wrote: “The US Catholic [C]hurch is undoubtedly God’s work, but it is struggling with vocations: I could multiply statistics but we all know the general picture.”
        EPMS, it seems that you haven’t checked the statistics for a while. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of ordinations in the US has increased by impressive 31%, from 454 to 595 (including ordinations scheduled until the year-end)*. And the number of seminarians has grown equally fast or even faster. Moreover, historically, papal visits have always boosted seminarian numbers in the following year.
        The decline in vocations is long over and what we see is steady recovery.
        *Source: Georgetown University CARA’s data

        The more significant question may well be where these vocations are flourishing. The United States is a large geographical area, with as much cultural and geographical diversity as western Europe. My guess is that the vocations are flourishing most strongly in regions where the Catholic Church is a minority, including missionary dioceses, and less so in traditionally Catholic urban areas where the church historically is more of a cultural component than a real spiritual force. This also tilts toward dioceses that use national or regional seminaries because they are too small to operate their own.

        I should also point out that ordinations are far from the whole story. A couple years ago, I learned from the rector of a national seminary that has seen considerable growth in its student body that, nationwide, about 13% of all newly ordained Catholic presbyters are abandoning ordained ministry within five years of ordination — but, again, the statistic is far from uniform. The rector who mentioned this statistic went on to say that no clergy ordained from his seminary had left active ministry — which means that the statistics from some of the other seminaries must be considerably worse than the average.

        Norm.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: I think that Norm’s intimation that priestly celibacy is a dead duck is the really optimistic position.

        That’s not exactly what I said. What I said is that the door is open to change. In the Catholic Church, the time scale of change is measured in decades or even centuries.

        You wrote: As for the financials, if every other Christian denomination can support married clergy it seems unlikely that the largest and richest of them will be unable to do so.

        There are two factors to consider.

        >> 1. In many smaller Protestant congregations, the position of Pastor is part time or even unpaid. Rather, their pastors typically work at secular occupations to support themselves.

        >> 2. There’s also a question of priorities. Many larger Catholic dioceses historically have focused on other projects — schools, hospitals, etc. — banking on the economy of celibate clergy and religious to staff their ministries.

        Again, the change will require major restructuring of diocesan finances — and that often cannot happen overnight.

        Norm.

  4. godfrey1099 says:

    EPMS, the main difference between us is that you want to make us consider problems which may, potentially, happen in the future, while we’d rather concentrate on what is happening now and what we can do to help, leaving the things which we are not able to influence to Divine Providence.
    What will happen in 10 years’ or 20 years’ time is really in God’s hands. 10 years ago no one could even imagine a thing like Anglican Ordinariates.
    Apart from several positive scenarios which you have partly outlined yourself (continuous stream of converts, celibate vocations, keen acceptance of married candidates by the then-pope – we don’t even know who that may be), please note that in 10 or 20 years’ time there may be a first bishop-ordinary, which will be really a game-changer in terms of ordinations.

  5. godfrey1099 says:

    PS. I do not archive the parish bulletins published on-line, but – if my memory serves me right – one issue of some American Ordinariate parish bulletin (OLW Houston?) mentioned a group of 6-7(!) young people who were to be sent for a trip to Italy to better consider their vocation.
    If there are healthy Catholic families, God will certainly choose those whom He will want to call in a special way and – in such families – they will be able to hear His call. And particularly CoSP Ordinariate communities seem to abound in such families.

  6. EPMS says:

    godfrey1099, your point about Eastern rite Catholics in the diaspora was the one I was attempting to make: they are now free to ordain married men. Although this came about largely as a result of the fall of the Iron Curtain, the change in Vatican policy certainly reflected the reality that celibate candidates were not going to be forthcoming. The value or otherwise of a celibate priesthood is beyond the scope of this blog, but I will reiterate that if it is becoming a harder sell in the Catholic church generally it will be more so in communities with no tradition of a celibate priesthood and led by a married priest. I am reminded of St Paul asking the elders at Antioch why they were compelling converts to take on a burden they had not been able to bear themselves.

  7. EPMS says:

    Nationwide, religious and clergy account for less than 3% of the teaching staff of Catholic schools, as you can see here https://www.ncea.org/data-information/catholic-school-data I would imagine that the figure for Catholic hospitals is even lower. These institutions have long since evolved to a business model which is not dependent on having employees under a vow of poverty. Many parishes also have lay staff handling administrative and pastoral functions and being paid competitive salaries. I do not think it is unrealistic to expect a parish with 3,000 members (US average) to support a priest with a family.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Nationwide, religious and clergy account for less than 3% of the teaching staff of Catholic schools, as you can see here https://www.ncea.org/data-information/catholic-school-data I would imagine that the figure for Catholic hospitals is even lower. These institutions have long since evolved to a business model which is not dependent on having employees under a vow of poverty.

      That actually varies widely from diocese to diocese, at least here in the States. In many dioceses, Catholic parishes, schools, hospitals, and other social welfare institutions often pay considerably lower salaries and wages than their secular counterparts for equivalent positions. By way of example, my archdiocese published guidelines stipulating that the salary scale for teachers in parochial schools should be 90% of the salary for teachers in public schools in the same community for several decades after the transition that you describe — and it was far from alone in doing so. As a result, the top staff in these fields have long gone elsewhere and Catholic institutions are left with the dregs of the respective professions and occupations. The quality of the services obviously suffers due to the lack of competence. A small number of Catholic institutions have managed to rise above this by ignoring the guidelines and paying decent salaries anyway, but they are a very small minority.

      And yes, I have personal experience with this. When I was in high school, a few neighbors thought that they were doing their children a big favor by forking over tuition to send them to the local Catholic parochial elementary school. When the children completed eighth grade, these neighbors realized that they could not afford the tuition at the local Catholic high school so reluctantly sent them to the public high school. Much to their chagrin, the children went from the most advanced group in the parochial school to the “average” (third tier) group in the public high school across all core subjects, simply because their classes in the parochial school had not covered the preparatory subject matter for the more advanced groups in the public school system. I have also known a few teachers who had left the profession to raise families and sought to return to teaching, but who could not find employment in public schools for lack of recent classroom experience: they inevitably went to the Catholic schools for two or three years to gain recent experience and moved on to the public schools as soon as the public schools would hire them.

      You wrote: Many parishes also have lay staff handling administrative and pastoral functions and being paid competitive salaries.

      When the only competition is with other parishes in the same diocese, which therefore follow the salary scale promulgated by the local diocese, one cannot dispute the use of the adjective “competitive” to describe them. Nevertheless, you would be astounded at just how low those salaries are in many places. Here, I’m referring to positions that require degrees that represent four years of graduate study paying under $50,000 per year. It’s really disgusting.

      Norm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s