Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More on Recruitment

First off, congrats to the newly-married Dom Bettinelli as he preps to take the reins from Lawler over at Catholic World Report. I can't say I've ever seen a copy of CWR, but I'm sure those who have get a lot from it.... I'm a Tablet man, myself.

Dom points out an article from this month's edition, however, that caught my eye about the numbers of vocations by diocese....

Officials of the nation’s most vocation-rich dioceses most frequently attribute their success to divine grace given in response to prayer. "Of course we know that it is the work of the Holy Spirit!" writes Bishop Paul Zipfel of Bismarck. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln credits "first and foremost the atmosphere of prayer for vocations and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patroness of the diocese." Cheyenne Bishop David Ricken ascribes "most of the vocational awareness to the Eucharistic adoration that has been happening in the diocese for quite a few years. This contributes, I believe, to the awareness of the call." Tulsa vocation promotion and recruitment director Wayne Rziha credits weekly Eucharistic adoration by Serra Club members. Rapid City vocation director Father Brian Christensen recalls that Bishop Harold Dimmerling, who died in 1987, composed a prayer for vocations that has been recited weekly in every parish since the 1980s.

Rapid City, in particular, has been blessed with good bishops -- CJ and BJ; you know who they are.

But I still don't see the value in putting too much faith in sheer empirics, especially the very alluring one of the number of seminarians. This is my experience talking: don't believe the hype.

Scream all you want, but a certain B16 agrees:

In these past few weeks I have received ad limina visits from the Bishops of Sri Lanka and from the southern part of Africa. Vocations there are increasing; indeed, they are so numerous that it is proving impossible to build enough seminaries to accommodate all these young men who want to be priests.

Of course, this joy also carries with it a certain sadness, since at least a part of them comes in the hope of social advancement. By becoming priests, they become like tribal chiefs, they are naturally privileged, they have a different lifestyle, etc. Therefore, weeds and wheat grow together in this beautiful crop of vocations and the Bishops must be very careful in their discernment; they must not merely be content with having many future priests but must see which really are the true vocations, discerning between the weeds and the good wheat.

I don't know about you, but even though the numbers would be less sexy, I'd rather have five solid guys than a hundred tribal chiefs. I'm not saying the latter's what we've got, and I'm not saying the bishops have been consistently less than vigiliant.... But the temptation to get good numbers is, well, very tempting. Even now. Just look around.

I don't want to put the damper on anyone's clericalist parade, but bending over backward to make substance out of the superficiality of numbers doesn't serve the enterprise well at all. We ordained a lot of guys in the 60s and 70s, didn't we? And now we're paying for that....

If numbers were so important, then shouldn't Rome just give it up, roll over and submit to the dictates of polling data?

-30-

5 Comments:

Blogger Jason Cardona said...

Seems to me that the Bishops cited aren't just basing their hope on numbers, but on solid seminarians whose vocation has been nurtured by authentic Catholic doctrine and spirituality.

31/8/05 19:43  
Blogger Todd said...

Or, in some cases, less-than-solid guys on the road after being rejected elsewhere.

31/8/05 22:55  
Blogger Jason Cardona said...

What proof do you have that they are less than solid?

31/8/05 23:18  
Blogger Jeff said...

Yes, Todd, of course that's what Bishop Bruskewitz is doing. Picking up hitchhikers and shoving them into the seminary. "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the priesthood. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the diocese was furnished with seminarians."

Sticking up for dissenters and equivocating on women's ordination addles the brain.

31/8/05 23:24  
Blogger David said...

Bishop Doran in the Diocese of Rockford, IL has a large crew of seminarians. I think there are 42. I have not met them. Hopefully they will all work out.

31/8/05 23:38  

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