Is an American Catholic renaissance possible in our lifetime?
One sign of hope is the Under-35 Priest.
We tend to think about the shortage of priests in numeric terms. And we take hope when the latest reports show that there are more men studying for the priesthood now than a decade or two ago. But what fascinates me more is the quality of the men studying for the priesthood now and of priests in general under the age of 35.
One of the most striking features of these young priests is their orthodoxy, especially when you contrast their theological views with the set of priests who graduated seminary in the 1970s. Just as we talk about the shared characteristics among generations of Americans [i.e. the baby boomers, the “greatest generation” etc.] we can talk about shared characteristics among generations of priests. So many of the men who became priests in the 1970′s sought to change the world through the Church. Men under 35 become priests to serve the church.
Here’s a dynamic I’ve seen in parish after parish. The liberal monsignor is the pastor. He is in his 60s. His homilies and pastoral priorities are cryogenically frozen and preserved from the 1970′s. He never preaches against sin. The assistant priest [i.e. parochial vicar] is probably in his 30s, maybe late 20s. This under-35 priest loves St. John Paul II. He loves Latin in the Mass. He may have fallen away from the church in college, but he had a powerful conversion. He talks about sin and the beauty of confession in his homilies. He quietly tries to introduce Eucharistic adoration.
Does this sound like a parish you know of, maybe even your own?
It’s happening all across America. And it’s going to change the face of the church in this country.
Over the past decade I have met hundreds of seminarians and young priests. I can only recall a handful who didn’t fit the pattern I’m trying to describe.
I think it’s impossible not to trace this quiet revolution to St. John Paul II, and in particular the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver. So many young priests trace part of their vocational discernment either to St. John Paul II or a World Youth Day [Denver in particular]. This positive trend also appears to be more pronounced in America than in other parts of the world.
I think it’s also particularly revealing to note which bishops and religious orders are attracting the most vocations — orthodox ones. That’s why the Dominicans on the east coast are flourishing while the Paulist Fathers are having a harder time. Or why Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz can have over two dozen men in formation in a diocese that numbers less than 100,000 and another diocese did not ordain a single priest in ten years because the bishop refused to ordain another man until he could also ordain women.
The under-35 priest is not running the show right now. He is waiting in the wings, serving the church he loves. The vast majority of these young priests will not be old enough to be appointed bishops for another decade or two. But when they do, one of the pillars of an American Catholic renaissance will be in place.
The article comes from a Catholic Vote article by Thomas Peters.
May we get better and more plentiful priests than we deserve! Pray for good vocations and strong Godly mentors.
Yes lets continue to pray for this and that our church will also give them the option to train well in areas that also help give support to families and home life. After all we are in great need of good guidance, for all in need of it, and our priests need the training as well to help give them the confidence to combat the battles that are often destroying our faith and family.
Is this true? Is there an American bishop that refuses to ordain a man because he cannot also ordain a woman? If so, that bishop must be sacked, and publicly, and immediately. His position is an outrage against the Papacy, as St. John Paul II spoke explicitly and fully about this topic (which was again affirmed by Francis). Also, what if a bishop said that he would not ordain a man until a homosexual man could also be ordained? Or a married man? Complete arrogance and hubris; he must go (if true).
This story has a bit of hope, but ask yourself: what are these priests learning? Under Francis, his henchmen are literally destroying new Traditional orders (Franciscan Friars/Sisters of the Immaculate), with attacks on established Traditional orders surely to come (i.e., FSSP and ICKSP, among others). Certainly seminarians that show any inkling toward Tradition will be rooted out of seminaries or, if ordained, then shunted to career-killing parishes.
Secondly, how long before Summorum Pontificum is abrogated? There are already requests that this be done, and so far, Francis has resisted. So there is no guarantee for Tradition, at least yet. Young priests and seminarians that are not with an established Traditional order will likely be dissuaded from continuing if they show Traditional direction.
Even in the vast majority of N.O. diocese, the teaching is likely to now take on a decided anti-Catholic tone. What? How can this be?
The American bishop who refused to ordain men until he could ordain women is dead. It is a reference to Bishop Kenneth Untener. He became the bishop of Saginaw in 1980. He was controversial even before he was appointed by Pope John Paul II. He died 10 years ago.
As a requirement in ALL Seminaries and Convents, the study and reading of Sacred Scripture and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition” MUST become a REQUIREMENT.
The study of the teaching of heretics such as Karl Rahner, Von Balthazar, Origin, etc, should be minimized. And they should be called heretics for some of their writings.
Pray and don’t worry! The flood of young, energetic, well-educated, orthodox Priests from Africa will be coming to America in the future. In fact, in some parts of the States they have already begun to arrive. I’m an American, and for the past five years have been teaching in a Major Seminary in Nigeria, so please believe me when I say that I know what I am talking about. Our seminaries are filled with wonderful young candidates. The Holy Spirit is in control. May Jesus Christ be praised now and forever more, Amen!
Mary Jo – Your Good News is spreading, and it is not just Africa but the rest of the world (like Viet Nam – I even met a young Priest who grew up in Hanoi, long after the war but still under the ‘communists) that is Sending Us Missionary Priests.
It used to be that the ‘Island of Saints’ (and Sinners too, lets be honest about it) – Ireland was a ‘net exporter’ of Priests, but unfortunately (the land of sunny fruits & nuts) California all too often got those being swept out under a blanket of coverups – for scandals that could (and should) never be covered sufficiently.
Catholic Priests in the World Wars (at least back when we still numbered them) earned great respect from the rest of the population for their willingness to go where the Danger was Greatest to serve the neediest. This built up a great amount of good will, which the Gaystapo has targeted like those who still stand up to the same Evils today.
I have talked with a number of these New Missionary Priests, and they are often unaware of the manner in which Radical Gender Feminist Misandry & its allied Gaystapo Agenda / Alliance have permeated the ‘west’.
I see it as one of Our Duties to help them Understand the nature & underpinnings (Particularly Anti-Catholic Propaganda) of the ‘pagan lands’ they have come to, and how to turn things around, – Away from the Thought Police and Back to God
And you’re definitely the “go to” guy for that, McD. LOL!
This is a wonderful article, and I hope it is true! I also am surprised, because I worried so much, for many years, about the inappropriate, “hippie liberal” World Youth Days! What a wonderful surprise, that this event could actually do so much good, to inspire ORTHODOX religious vocations!! A MIRACLE!! Now– what about those immoral and heretical bishops, which this article states, have refused to ordain good priests, with the excuse that they are “waiting for the Church to accept women as priests??” These horrible, false bishops, are hurting the Church terribly! They all should be EXCOMMUNICATED!! How I wish I could live long enough, to see what these beautiful, young orthodox priests will do, with the future of the Church in their hands! What a wonderful HOPE they all bring, to the Church and to the world!!
Bishop Bruskewitz retired in 2012. What is the vocation rate of the current ordinary? Or perhaps the rate in five years when those in Seminary in 2012 have moved though the system.
According to the current Lincoln Nebraska Diocese web site they have 44 Seminarians.
Bishop James D. Conley is the current Bishop.
You need to pray for more vocations. We have 54 in the Diocese of Wichita. In addition, Bishop Conley was our pastor before becoming a bishop. ;)
Priests who were trained in the 70s received a different education and formation than those in seminaries today. There has been reform in the curriculum and who can teach in the seminaries. Like any other major organization, the Church goes through phases. We are in a new phase that is raising up new Priests in a different way all over the country. The church is recruiting a different crop of seminarians, no longer trying to woo them at eighth grade graduation, but letting them go out into the world to know what they are giving up before the enter formation. I would guess that we will see this new trend last for thirty years and then something else will change.
The total number of priests is in rapid decline. While it’s fair to say that there are more seminarians studying for the priesthood now than a decade ago, the number of seminarians was abysmally low then and remains abysmally low now, +4%. The number of men being ordained each year continues to DECLINE. Just because men are in seminary doesn’t mean they will necessarily complete seminary.
People like Thomas Peters and Anne Hendershott (currently peddling a book on the same theme) who continue to go on about the big “vocation boom” or “seminaries bursting at the seams” mislead people into a false sense of security, thinking that the problem’s been solved and therefore we don’t need to think about it (or pray about it) any more. This is akin to saying, “Wow, so glad it rained last week, guess the drought is over!” Sure we absolutely should be thankful for “rain,” but the “draught” of priests is far from over. Don’t let people like this lull you into false complacency. Keep praying for vocations!
I see the link doesn’t lead anywhere. Maybe Thomas Peters has reconsidered his remarks?
Thanks! Link is fixed.
From the article:
The saying goes that the church “outlives all heresies”, and the makeup of young priests in America is testament to the truth of that adage
“Draught’?? Who brought beer?
Sorry, couldn’t edit, lol.
St. Francis of Xavier we pray for your intercession for these young priests, may they follow your great example and care for souls.
From: https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06233b.htm on St. Francis of Xavier
It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 – 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many infidels. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622, although on account of the death of Gregory XV, the Bull of canonization was not published until the following year.