Turmoil at Huntington
A well-regarded priest who oversaw the seminary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre for five years announced in a prayer service Friday that he was stepping down immediately, stunning faculty and students.Murph's people are trying to say it isn't so remarkable.
Msgr. Francis Schneider, 49, told those gathered in the chapel of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington that he was resigning for personal reasons, citing stress. He said Msgr. Robert Emmet Fagan would become interim rector.
But the timing surprised some faculty members - coming a few weeks after a Vatican-ordered evaluation of the seminary, which was part of a nationwide review in response to the U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis. It also came just a few weeks before the end of the semester.
"There was no advance word," one priest who asked not to be named said yesterday. "People were blown away. There was total shock and disbelief."
Sean Dolan, a spokesman for Bishop William Murphy, said yesterday that Schneider asked to be allowed to step down for personal reasons, and that Murphy accepted the resignation.It's not easy being a seminary rector these days. Never has been to begin with.... Whatever the case, it's another example of how being a priest these days can be harmful to one's health; the lack of morale, the stress levels, the absence of affirmation.
Dolan insisted there was no connection between the seminary's evaluation and Schneider's resignation.
It's really a jungle out there.