Skip to comments.Diocese, lacking priests, plans fewer parishes
Posted on 01/19/2007 10:56:26 AM PST by NYer
CAMDEN Citing a declining number of priests available for ministry, Bishop Joseph A. Galante said a reduction in the number of parishes that serve more than 500,000 people in the six-county Camden Diocese is inevitable.
In 10 years, half of the 172 priests in the area could be retired, Galante said. This coupled with population shifts has created a financial burden and "compromised" the ability of certain perishes to meet the demands of the future, Galante said.
"We, like most Northeast dioceses, have churches and facilities that were established decades ago in areas where the Catholic population is substantially diminished," Galante said.
A laity-led effort will look at ways to pool and share resources, Galante said. Though separate, the planning process will be similar to one already under way to address declining enrollment in 52 elementary schools.
"The status quo will not be an option if we are to serve the needs of the Catholic people now and into the future," Galante said.
There are 17 parishes with nearly 28,000 families and more than 86,000 people in Gloucester County.
Galante said it's too early to say what parishes in the county would be most affected by the planning initiative. But he did say that growing parishes, like those serving rapidly growing parts of the county like Harrison and Woolwich townships, will require additional resources and facilities.
One such facility is already in the planning stages.
Elk Township farmland purchased in 2005 has been set aside for a new facility to serve the Holy Name of Jesus parish, which is four times larger now with nearly 2,000 families than it was a decade ago.
Philip Esbrandt, a parish planning committee member who attends St. Mary's in Cherry Hill, said laity participation in the planning process will be key.
(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com ...
"In the end there are going to have to be more lay ministers," said Esbrandt, a retired Cherry Hill school superintendent.
Only yesterday, we saw another NJ diocese introduce an ambitious campaign to recruit new seminarians.
I often wonder what are all the Hispanic immigrants doing for the Catholic Churches that makes the Catholic Church court them so much.
When my grandparents all immigrated from Ireland to Bayonne, NJ, they were just as poor as today's immigrants. Yet they built grand churches and big schools and populated both with parishioners, students, teachers and religious.
I attend a Parish with a Spanish Mass and a bulletin that's half Spanish. Yet I only see this segment of the parish population picking their children up from day care after those children had attended public school earlier in the day. I may be missing something as to their involvement in parish activities and charitable missions within the community but I would expect that like the Irish, who also had big families, that some of the children would wind up in religious training. I would expect to see a crush of Hispanic American seminarians if not now, in a few years. But I don't think that's happening.
It's because the Hispanics, since the day the Dems claimed them as their own property, have never been treated as responsible Catholics but have been reduced to a sort of ecclesiastical welfare recipient status, and in addition, have been segregated off into the "Hispanic ministry" area.
Make them really members of the parish and make them really responsible for the Church in their area, and they'll do it. Keep treating them as idiot children in need of social services (which is how most American parishes treat them) and not capable of participating in "real" non-ethnic church activities, and they'll remain marginal Catholics who contribute nothing - until they become Pentecostals.
What do you think about bringing the Latin mass back as a means to integrate different ethnic communities into one "parish"? That way the cultures mix and the community becomes more integrated, and the identity is Catholic first, ethnicity second.
Yay or nay?
It's amazing what a little bit of trying on the part of a diocese will do. My diocese (Greensburg, PA), which isn't very big in size or population, just started a "Called by Name" campaign less than two years ago as well as revamping the Office of Clergy Vocations. Not only does the program provide names of men who may be interested (who the diocese contacts at least once to see if a vocation to the priesthood is something that is being considered), it also creates a general awareness among the laity in the diocese as to what a vocation is and that they should pray for vocations in general.
So far, it's working; a decent number of names have been given to the diocese, and so even if a tenth are remotely interested, it is a better situation than we had before. We have at least 5 (maybe 6) young men who either have started, will start, or are in the application process to start studies this calendar year, which is a huge improvement from where the diocese was a year or two ago.
As an aside, the diocese is theologically moderate, neither extremely progressive nor extremely traditional.
In my opinion, the "more lay ministers" idea is a cop-out. Lay ministers (in general) simply won't foster vocations in the same manner as holy priests will.
(A far aside: It makes me think of that WWII propaganda poster: "Together we are strong, together we will win.")
lay ministers(priest replacements)= I want to serve on my terms
Most Hispanic Catholics, just like most white Catholics, are only nominally Catholic.
I think it would be wonderful.
One of the problems with the vernacular mass is that it has basically become a "sign of division" in parishes - and in countries. I go to Spain a lot, and when I go to Pais Vasco and Catalunya, the fact that they NEVER have masses in Spanish anymore is not because the people never speak Spanish (most of them speak it every day and most of them actually speak more Spanish than regional language). It's a political decision on the part of the (separatist) bishops, and divides the Catholic Church in a way it should never be divided.
I think here in the US, keeping Spanish speakers separated by language is a scandal. I think if the mass went back to majority Latin - with the homily and the propers in two languages, if there is a parish that has a large number of non-English speakers, whether they are speakers of Spanish, Tagalog, Hmong, or anything else - we would be getting back to what the Church was all about. The Faith, not nationalities.
Build it and they will come!
Granted that 'selling' vocations is quite different from selling refrigerators but the concept of appealing to or 'inviting the sale' does not change. There are many young men who have simply never considered the priesthood as a lifetime vocation.
In my opinion, the "more lay ministers" idea is a cop-out.
Amen and "high electonic 5"!! This concept is popular in those dioceses, like mine, where the bishop is actively promoting such a program as a replacement for the (artificial) "lack of priests" (the result of turning away) 'orthodox' young men from the seminary.
Hmmm.....and some dioceses have more than enough priests.
Checking out the orthodoxy of the bishop might tell us why Camden Diocese has this problem.
Anyone from New Jersey care to weigh in?
I'm not from New Jersey, but I found this on Wikipedia (which I know is only marginally reliable):
Prior to his installation as bishop of Camden, he announced that if then-Governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey, attended the installation Mass, he would deny him communion due to his remarriage without having had his first marriage annulled by the Church.
Now, that sounds pretty orthodox (and gutsy!) to me. But that could only be part of the story.
On the topic of Catholic schooling, both of my older daughters attend two different Catholic schools ( will be in the same one next year). The ONLY population that seems to be solely dedicated to Catholic education are the Phillipinos.
This seems to be true. I went to school with a lot of them in the 80s (I attended Catholic school from grades 1-9). Very dedicated students too!
Good find! And thanks for posting it to the thread. Gutsy, indeed!
Yhanks for your research.
Thanks for your research.
I guess the Hispanic population in central New Jersey, many illegal, was much more transitory in the past. Now that it's become more difficult to go back and forth across the border, many are staying and enrolling their children in public school. They haven't made the commitment that Irish immigrants 100 years ago made to the place they are living and working.
The second class status is probably as much desired as it is imposed.
With my daughter is on the basketball team this year, I've been visiting lots of Catholic parishes in central NJ. Most players have Irish or Italian names out here (they occasionally announce them ahead of the game).
My tagline is the battle cry of the Cristeros, Mexican revolutionaries that resisted the Mexican government's attempt to squash the Catholic Church. Despite their resistance and martyrdom, Mexico did became very secular during the last century.
So now we have these nominally Catholic Mexicans arriving in urban areas that have beautiful old churches that were built by poor immigrants ahead of them. Why stick with the old Mexican ways? I know that RENEW is specifically targeted at these immigrants. Perhaps that will be the only way to kindle the fire of faith in these immigrants who, with their large family sizes, should encourage their children to consider a vocation.
They say that one of the things that prevented the Puerto Ricans from assimilating for a long time was the $99 ticket to PR. They'd go back and forth so much that they never really committed to learning English and making a life on the mainland.
Other non-English speaking groups didn't have that option, and perhaps it was for the best.
Didn’t work back in the old days. When my ancestors came to this country they DEMANDED Polish and Italian churches, despite the large Anglo-Irish parishes nearby, despite the “Latin” mass.