Tuesday, June 07, 2005

When "Shortage" Means "So What?"

Over the last several years, Milwaukee-area Catholics have heard noises about a "priest shortage" and about "priestless Sundays," and have been treated to scenarios such as driving 30 miles one-way (uphill, through 6 feet of snow, in gale winds) just to get to a church with a Mass because there will NOT be enough priests, yada yada yada.

Much of that background noise diminished or disappeared when Abp. Weakland 'retired;' either his successor either does not choose to talk about it, or there really is NOT a 'priest shortage,' now or in the near future. In addition, we all knew that Abp. Weakland had an agenda, and many of us discounted the projected disasters heavily.

Given that, we are aware that it's difficult (if not impossible) for priests who are in Milwaukee for one reason or the other to find assignments in priestly ministry--the Chancery simply tells them that 'there are no available positions' for priests. So what's the real story?

Should we conclude that there is no shortage? That the shrinking or non-existent 'confessional hours' are just fine, (as there are no sinners anyway)? That parishioners should be perfectly happy with only 4 (or two) Sunday Masses? That there will be ZERO daily Masses offered in parishes when "Father's day off" comes around?

Should parents who send their children to Catholic schools really be satisfied with the fact that their children attend a school Mass only once or twice a week? This is the one which is most difficult to understand for me...

Those who don't get it will tell us that daily Masses are poorly attended, so "why bother?" Same-o for confessions. So I suppose the lengthy shriving-line at Gesu every weekday is just a chimera, right? That the noon Mass a the same place really doesn't have 50-100 attendees, no matter what one seems to see.



Karen Marie said...

I'll be a little sassy-cynical here:

Maybe it's because Catholics who are in the city center, such as Gesuians and Cathedralites, are somehow naturally more observant than Catholic exurbites?

and more seriously:

the fathers at the Gesu are Reconciliation and spiritual direction specialists, and a lot of folk who on Sundays are in the exurbs are taking advantage of those Jesuits' special talents during the week when they come to the city to work --- and slipping in an occasional weekday Mass at Gesu or Cathedral on their way to or from work or on their lunch hour, when they are far away from their exurban parishes

karen marie

Dad29 said...

I'll buy the logic that since a large number of Catholics are downtown every day, that there is increased 'demand' for the sacraments in that location.

I'm not as easily persuaded that those who live in the city center are 'more Catholic,' but I'm open to the discussion.

Given that, this Archdiocese' unwillingness to employ priests from other countries on a part/full-time basis is still mystifying.

Interesting that one of your posts deals with Abp Dolan's goal of increasing the use of Confession--

How does one DO that without increasing the AVAILABILITY of the Sacrament? (Hint: "controlling" the number of priests is not helpful...)