Friday, 27 May 2011

Life in the Seminary

The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, has a Catholic population of about 95,000, 148 diocesan priests, of whom 123 are active in the diocese, 7 active outside the diocese, and 18 retired. Oh, and they have 41 seminarians.

The Diocese of Lincoln has been conducting an annual census of Mass attendance during the past few years. The diocesan average is 60% Sunday Mass attendance.

Bishop Bruskewitz fully expects that the priests of the Diocese of Lincoln faithfully follow the rubrics and words of the Roman Missal and does not tolerate liturgical 'creativity'.

Bishop Bruskewitz conducted the ordinations last Saturday at the FSSP Seminary in his diocese from whence the newly ordained Fr Matthew McCarthy will be coming to offer Solemn Mass here at St. Catherine's this coming Friday 3rd June at 5.30pm. A Votive Mass of the Miraculous Medal in recognition of our parish patron.

Interestingly, the small French Diocese of Frejus-Toulon with an encouraging bishop - Mgr Dominique Rey has re-opened its own diocesan seminary where they now have about 75 seminarians. The bishop intends that every parish church will once more have its own priest. Thanks to the number of seminarians, this is a realistic objective.

I couldn't help but see the sad contrast here in England where my Alma Mater, Ushaw College is to close its doors after more than 200 years and a recent picture of the remaining Ushaw seminarians outside the long-closed Junior Seminary (courtesy of Fr Michael Brown.) There seems to be life in some seminaries but not in others. What are the factors that bring this new life, I wonder?

Bishop Rey & Bishop Bruskewitz encourage the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, insist on good seminary formation, vigorously defend the Holy Father, insist on orthodoxy from their clergy, have no truck with the secular agenda, and have a clear vision of the way forward for their dioceses - and the vocations keep coming! Remind me again why Ushaw is closing? Oh, right.

Here are the 76 seminarians of the (again very small in population) diocese of Frejus-Toulon processing into the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass this year.

Ushaw: The Chapel at the senior seminary, which will no doubt soon fall into the same disrepair as the junior house.

The Diocese of Lincoln has an excellent Vocations page, as does the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon.

(Unfortunately, when I tried to access the Vocations page on the website of the Archdiocese of Liverpool I received the message: "Internal Server Error. The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request." Hmmmm. Interesting.)


Joe said...

I wonder what the comparative numbers are for the archdiocese of Liverpool! Don't waste time searching; I realise there will be no comparison.

God bless Bishops Bruskewitz, Rey and others of their ilk. And God bless Bishop Davis of Shrewsbury who, according to Fr Blake in 'old' Brighton, has agreed that the Institute of Christ the King can operate from St Peter and Paul's New Brighton.

Giorgio Roversi said...

Let's hope and pray that Bishop Mark Davies will work his magic for Ushaw as he did for the church of St Peter and Paul in New Brighton.

Damask Rose said...

Gosh - why do the Ushaw seminarians look so untidy? If one of these seminarians after ordination appeared as a priest in the parish looking like this, I'd go to another parish. Where are their polished shoes (I know, I'm old-fashioned)? They don't give me confidence as would-be priests who could bring order to a person's (let's face it) sometimes dishevelled interior life.

It's wonderful to see the Lincoln and French seminarians looking so tidy, crisp and yes, decidedly healthy. They inspire confidence. I've seen a seminarian smoking with a pot-belly* outside of Church after Mass. How is a seminarian/priest like this supposed to help us poor pew-sitters work through our vices towards virtue?

If it's one thing I can't stand it's badly or non-existing creases on a man's trousers. I know, whinge, whinge... Don't they teach the seminarians to look after their appearance just like looking after the altar linens in the sacristy? They are aspiring to become alter Christus. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. Ah well, *sigh*.

It's so sad, they're as dishevelled as the neglected Junior Seminary behind them.

I think the seminarians don't look very masculine (you can delete this, if you wish Father).

* I shouldn't cast stones, I know, I'm not very slim myself.

Not Impressed said...

In my northern parish recently I had occasion to see the PP about something and rang the doorbell. I was decidely unimpressed when he answered the door while wearing dirty jeans and a scruffy jumper. I had better remain anonymous as this would immediately identify the priest concerned.
Of course, if the priests have the attitude as expressed by another priest in my diocese that he is only a priest when he is doing priestly things, then it really does not matter what they wear once they leave the sanctuary or confessional (although I once saw a young (now ex)priest enter the confessional while wearing a rather striking and loud hooped jumper).
All have been products of Ushaw College. I believe it is now closing? I wonder why?

Hoser said...

I went to Lincoln for a graduation in 2007 and went to the Cathedral for mass on Sunday and noticed that that very next week they had 14 new ordinations. The good bishop has kept an iron fist on the liturgy by keeping young ladies off the altar only allowing men and/or boys. I think that the feminization of the church undermines young mens desires to consider the priesthood or religious life. More power to the good bishop. We need more like him.

Sixupman said...

The answer to the question can be gleaned from my attendance at the ordination jubilee Mass for a priest friend of mine. The Celebrant bishop preached a church based upon the laity and the diminishing role of the ordained priesthood and he revlled in it. Stating: "you have seen nothing yet". He was past rector of a major seminary.

Jeff Stevens said...

While I am very happy that Bishop Bruskewitz is standing up for real, authentic, and orthodox Catholicism in his diocese (I may help push for his canonization when he passes on, I like him that much), I worry that there's a bit of "post hoc ergo propter hoc" going on here with seminarian numbers. I wonder if many of the seminarians who seek to be ordained in the "good" dioceses like Lincoln, Peioria, Arlington, and [the French one mentioned in this post] are from other diocese who want to be ordained in an orthodox diocese that upholds authentic Catholicism rather than deal with pastors in their own diocese who allow all sorts of nonsense in their masses and formation. Thus we're concentrating our best priests in certain dioceses, when they are needed elsewhere to be the pastors of the future where heterodoxy has reigned for too long? Do we have any numbers on how many of these seminarians are home-grown as opposed to transplants?

Chris said...


Chris said...

Fantastic news and very encouraging. The way ahead for the English Church is very clear if it is to survive. Bishop Mark Davies is a a future Cardinal, I believe. We desperately need bishops like Bishop Bruskewitz who will encourage inspiring orthodox liturgy, attendance at the sacrament of confession and a properly formed laity. As as RE teacher with a degree in Catholic Theolology I would highly recommend Maryvale Institute. By the way I am not an old fogey but a second generation Irish Catholic and happily married father of three who, by the grace of God and the inspirational JPII, has come to a deeper understanding and love of his precious Catholic faith.

Anonymous said...

to Damask Rose,

lol, our polished shoes and crisply ironed trousers are in our wardrobes where they belong.

You are not old fashioned, you are right! A Priest, and Seminarian, should be dressed smartly(when it is appropriate), and to me his appearance is an important statement about how he views his ministry.

Yet as you pointed out, we're standing in front of a negelcted building, which we had just had a tour of, and thus 'untidy' clothes were more appropriate for the occasion.

God Bless

Shawn Labadie said...

Father Henry and Offerimus Tibi Domine readers,

My name is Shawn Labadie with Labadie Communications. We work with the Diocese of Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska USA to produce the poster, part of which is displayed on this post, and a package that raises money for the education of seminarians. We have worked with the diocese for 16 years helping them to build the culture of vocations that you are seeing the fruits of.

Of course we are just assisting in this work and all the credit goes first to God and second to Bishop Bruskewitz his predecessors, the vocation directors and the laity of the Diocese of Lincoln who have made the work of vocations a high priority.

Almost all the men you see are native to the diocese. The diocese of Lincoln has a history of orthodoxy that Bishop Bruskewitz has continued during his tenure. There is no secret to success in vocations, but it's not easy if a culture of vocations doesn't exist in a diocese. It truly begins at home and in southern Nebraska you find families not only talking about vocations to their children, but actively promoting vocations not only to the priesthood, but to religious life as well.

The Diocese of Lincoln is not alone in the United States, but sadly we are a minority. In every case of high percentages of vocations you find an orthodox diocese, bishop and clergy.

Father Henry thank you for posting this information we are going to link to it on our Facebook page.

Shawn Labadie
Labadie Communications