Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Little History of the Milwaukee Seminary

Wonder why the Milwaukee Seminary, (St Francis) closed? A few hints are right here in a National Catholic Reporter article dated 1997. The article compared/contrasted St Francis with Mundelein (St Mary of the Lake) seminary in Chicago.

The similarities began to dissolve in 1969. That was the year that Msgr. William Schuit became rector at St. Francis and quickly instituted a shakeup in curriculum and every other aspect of seminary life; it came to be known as the "Schuit shift."

(As you will see, the word "shift" actually has an extra letter.)

He and his associated took seriously and literally the Vatican II decrees that called for the church to immerse itself in the language, culture and concerns of the modern age.

Seminarians were no longer to be isolated from society; rather, they were to become general practitioners, well equipped to apply Christian values to modern society.

In 1970 the curriculum reflected the new emphasis. Among the new courses were: Introduction to Theology and the Personal Sciences, and Pastoral Analysis of Contemporary Social Problems.
Field education programs put students to work outside the seminary and traditional discipline was relaxed.


The most important change was the dramatic, full-scale opening of the school to lay students. "Our offerings are such that a good share of them can be of significant value to anyone interested in following the directives of the council, not just those seeking a full share of the priesthood," the rector said.

...As interest and numbers of lay students grew, the curriculum was revised to maintain at least some distinction between seminarians (working for a master of divinity degree) and the laity (earning a master's in theological studies). But lay students attended the same classes as the seminarians, mixed freely and were virtually indistinguishable (except for the women) from those destined for the priesthood

...In 1976 the Schuit shift ran into unexpected complications. By then laity accounted for 20 percent of the enrollment, and the number of seminary students had dropped from 144 to 94 in just three years

...St. Francis continued its commitment even as the enrollment shift continued. In 1985 laypersons constituted 50 percent of the student body; 28 of these were women and seven men

Oh, yah. Just like "altar girls:" the effect is to eliminate men, slowly but surely.

...St. Francis grew more troubled. In early 1985 a five-member, Vatican-appointed visitation team studied the seminary and issued a highly critical report. The still growing proportion of laity, it said, indicates "a shift in the primary purpose of the institution. ... Mixing of all students for classes or formation events may present a problem." The school respond, "We consider this to be a very favorable situation, given the kind of theological and pastoral situations encountered in the church today. It has provided us with a fine opportunity to clarify the identity and responsibilities of both the priesthood and all the baptized."

Typical Rembertian crap. Vatican says the sky is blue; Rembert says the sky is red. How'd that work out in real life?

In 1987 the school still had representatives from six dioceses; in 1997 it has none except for the five students studying for Milwaukee.

...Fr. Andrew Nelson, the present rector, acknowledged that some of the administrative decisions over the past 25 years were ill-conceived but insisted that the visitation team report "terribly misrepresented what we had done and were trying to do. ... The criticisms were deadly and gave us a negative image among bishops."

Perhaps in time seminarians will return in substantial numbers, but Nelson makes no apologies for St. Francis' present condition. "There is absolutely no future for this church without incorporating men and women together," he said. "That's how it is. I can see no other way!"

Well, Andy, you were wrong, just like you were in Green Bay.

There WAS "another way."

Close the joint.

11 comments:

RAG said...

There is no identification is what is wrong with having non-priesthood bound students in some classes. Why should that make a difference as long as the core requirements are met by prist candidates?

I'm more concerned about the church's dirty little secret of homosexual priests.

Dad29 said...

Yah--I didn't show the Mundelein results in contrast to St Francis.

Mundelein's enrollment went up while St Francis' went down.

Mundelein will NOT admit women, period.

It's not a "non-priest" issue; it's a "wimmin-in-class" issue.

RAG said...

I need to expand.

I also think today's pastors do little, if anything, to encourage vocations. Maybe it's the "MBA pastor" syndrome.

Terrence Berres said...

'Just like "altar girls:" the effect is to eliminate men, slowly but surely.'

Wasn't it more a case of first eliminating much of the altar server's responsibilities, then letting girls into what had become an all but superfluous position?

Anonymous said...

Dad29's casuistry in this blog entry shows that's been a while since he reviewed his logic courses; it is replete with non-sequiturs, undistributed middles, kai ta loipa.

Dad29 said...

The source-document is the notoriously liberal Nat'l Cath. Reporter.

Feel free to jump right in and demonstrate any false conclusions. You may do it in Greek, if you like.

Meantime, I'll think of your response as kaka. That's Greek, too.

Dad29 said...

Terry--the two are unrelated.

Denuding the position of responsibilities did not reduce the number of applicants/volunteers.

However, admitting girls DID reduce the number of boys who volunteer/apply.

Terrence Berres said...

"undistributed middles"

Last I saw you, it did look like you've been watching your weight.

aquinas said...

Hmm. Anonymous eschews the more familiar et cetera for the (rather pretentious) Greek kai ta loipa. Probably doesn't get much excited at a "Latin" Mass, either, except when the Kryie rolls around...

aquinas said...

That's Kyrie (just to fend off any hyperventilating from the spelling Nazis).

Anonymous said...

"I also think today's pastors do little, if anything, to encourage vocations. Maybe it's the "MBA pastor" syndrome."

Actually, a certain Pastor/Priest in our neck of the woods said that he no longer prays for vocations and will not pray for vocations until the Church ordains women and married men to the priesthood............I think he probably prays for an increase in those called to lay pastoral associate roles.......me thinks he is waiting for the day when people refer to him as "only the sacramental minister".....while the lay pastoral associate does most of the "heavy lifting" in the parish......