Monday 18 March 2019

Synod 2020.Liverpool. Less professional talkers and more active doers

In a recent Synod discussion, I got round to thinking about the input into the Synod. 

Instead of professional talkers - I'm afraid we have had some of them - we could do with people who have actually managed to create a thriving parish or diocese. Where would we find such outlandish characters? I hear you ask. Where are these outré creatures?

I have some that come immediately to mind. Let's ask them to come an speak to the Synod - practical experience of breathing life back into are often failing western churches. For the diocese in particular, it shows that we don't have to presume that we can't increase Vocations to the Priesthood.


Bishop Dominique Rey of the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon in the South of France.

I've met Bishop Rey a number of times on the Adoratio Liturgy Conferences he now organises each year and in his diocese on visits there. He wants to put a priest back in every church in his diocese - no small feat for France, where every tiny village has a church. Some years he has so many ordinations, they have to be held outside, as there are too many ordinands to fit in the cathedral (he holds to the tradition of ordaining priests together). He has one Religious group whose ministry is to convert Muslims to the Faith! He's the sort of man who you feel might be CEO of some international company, if he hadn't become a priest. He is addressing the Conference of Catholic Clergy in London soon. His own background has some formation in the charismatic movement but he opens his diocese to many new - and old - groups who want to work for the Faith. They represent various modes of expression but they are all orthodox. Commitment, zeal, orthodoxy - you're welcome!

You can read about his seminarians here.

And another interview from the Guardian newspaper here.

The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Under the care of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz until 2012 and now under the care of Bishop James Conley. The diocese has a consistent pattern of having the highest ratio of seminarians and ordinands to compared to its catholic population in the whole of the USA.

And an interview with Bishop James here.

Fr Dwight Longenecker's brand new church.

Fr Dwight took over a parish in a not-so-good neighbourhood in Greenville, South Carolina (Bible belt territory). He raised the funds to build a splendid new church in the Romanesque style to accommodate his thriving parish. I had the pleasure of visiting him exploring the new church, along with sub-chapel (for continuous Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament) school and parish offices.

You can read an article about him here.

Fr Donald Libby - 
- this is how many altar servers you are supposed to have in a small rural parish

Fr Libby was sent to a the Church of the Holy Rosary basically in the middle of nowhere (apologies to the folk of Cedar, Michigan) with a tiny congregation. He runs an unashamedly traditional parish (both forms of the Roman Rite) The photo above shows his altar servers (all boys). 
Need I say any more?

Fr Alexander Sherbrooke

Parish priest at St Patrick's, Soho Square in London. He has transformed the church and the parish in the heart of one of London's most infamous districts. The parish celebrates in a beautiful church as the source of its outreach to so many different groups, its hard to list them all.

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