Skip to comments.Too Few Priests as Catholic Ranks Surge
Posted on 03/21/2010 6:20:43 AM PDT by marshmallow
Charlotte's parishes add overflow Masses, think creatively to accommodate attendance boom
The pews are packed at many Charlotte-area Catholic churches, but a scarcity of priests is leaving even some of the biggest parishes short-staffed and scrambling for help from retired and visiting clergy.
Recent examples aren't hard to find:
Just one full-time priest for months at 13,000-member St. Gabriel in Cotswold.
A pastor's heart bypass operation, with complications, that left 14,000-member St. Mark in Huntersville struggling to find substitutes to celebrate Mass.
A sanctuary so crowded on Ash Wednesday that a parishioner at St. Matthew in Ballantyne, where two priests serve a flock of 28,000, called the fire marshal.
Why not just build more churches? Not enough priests to staff them.
And while four newly ordained priests will be assigned to Charlotte diocesan churches this summer, some of the busiest Catholic pastors in town are just a few years shy of retirement age.
The graying of the priesthood and the shortage of priests are old news in parts of the country that have long had large Catholic populations. But the crisis is starting to touch the Charlotte area, where Catholics - once a tiny minority - have surged in the last few decades. They now make up the largest denomination in Mecklenburg County if you count children, which Catholics do.
To help replenish the clergy ranks, a few veteran local pastors are even calling for the Vatican to consider allowing the ordination of married men - a suggestion that virtually no one expects Pope Benedict XVI to seriously entertain.
"I wouldn't say the problem is down the road. It's already here," says the Rev. Frank O'Rourke, pastor at St. Gabriel, where his solo stint lasted for three months last year. "If you can't open parishes because of a lack of priests.............
(Excerpt) Read more at charlotteobserver.com ...
Can we incorporate and hire lay people to do much of the administrative stuff?
Or have they reached that threshold.
all the more reason to support our priests and pray for them.
True, it is very crowded in the churches here in Charlotte. (Try a Spanish service, if you want to sit ... good music, too ;-). I always laugh at articles about Protestant “megachurches”: my parish has over 1,500 households, and we’re not nearly the largest in “greater Charlotte.”
We have seminarians, including one from my parish. A vibrant diocese, which this is in many ways, will produce the priests if we are patient. At least they’re not all dying young, as in the days of Father McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, or being executed like the Mexican Martyrs.
I am quite certain that there would be thousands more priests among the 40 million babies aborted in the USA since 1973.
And how many more if our society (Catholics included) didn’t adopt a contraceptive mentality?
For a thorough handbook for discerning priesthood To save a thousand souls is a great title. Fortunately the book lives up to the title in that it is both a serious and worthwhile guide to those thinking about and further discerning a call to the priesthood.
Seminaries in Nigeria and Vietnam turn out scores of priests every year. They’ll be happy to come serve in America.
Right! —This makes so much sense for the truly Catholic church. There are no boundaries. What would probably help ease the way for foreign priests would be our all going back to Latin as a common learned language (and if people gripe about Latin but learn to do something like tweet, well - ) or our all embracing English as a new common language. Or any widely spoken language - just pick one and let’s get going. I am a convert, and I don’t have an axe to grind, but I do love the Father Z translations of the texts from the mass readings, so that is the reason for my enthusiasm for going Latin. Long term, of course, it is bad news if we do not bring forth a crop of priests from our own country, too, but maybe we need, at this time in history, a spark to the fire sent from abroad- or a kick in the pants- from an infusion of faithful priests who DO look at our culture as outsiders. Of course, with the health care vote coming up today, we conservatives all may be looking at our country as very alien very soon. I kind of think the current mess in our country will get rid of the butterfly spirituality and replace it with a “tough as nails” spirituality. Here in Lent, we are being stripped of everything we took for granted in our daily lives just as the mass itself pares down to the stripping of the altar.
We had several Nigerian priests and some Nigerian seminarians in Tulsa. Wonderful men, very spirit-filled, all seemed to come from large families. Charlotte has Vietnamese priests and seminarians, as well as other nationalities. They even found an Eritrean Catholic priest somewhere, to do Mass for our Eritreans.
I love seeing the variety of nationalities in the Church.
There is no mystery to the priest shortage. Read “Goodbye, Good Men,” and consider the level of vocations in dioceses that do it right (e.g., Lincoln, Nebr.)
There can, however, sometimes be linguistic and cultural difficulties when you rely on this strategy.
Better to reform the seminaries, and restore the liturgy, IMO.
I wasn’t thinking of it as a “strategy” but simply a reflection that we are a worldwide Church, with Ethiopians just as much Catholic Priests as Americans or Italians. I agree there are issues of language and culture when people are outside their nation of origin, but that has been the universal situation of the Church since its founding.
So I vote “All of the above”: reform the seminaries and the liturgy, *and* make provision for the involvement of the faithful, clergy and laity, with those of other countries and cultures.
What is the answer?
Have the Priest of the Blessed Sacrament Ministries come to do a Lenten mission on starting an Adoration Chapel.
Then pray, pray, pray 24/7 for vocations in front of the blessed Sacrament.
Our vicariate (4 local churches) has ordained two in the last two years and our parish just sent a seminarian up to the local seminary!
What are the marks of a growing Catholic Church?
How long are the lines for Confession — we have over 100 at our Eater Penance Service and we were the first of these four churches to have one!
Secondly, how many vocations to the priesthood and/or religious life you have from your parish.
Both of you have valid points here.
But let’s all pray for vocations right now!
The seminaries have been reformed and the liturgy is being updated to mean more what the original Hebrew and Greek actually meant.
I think that's a pretty categorical statement that perhaps doesn't entirely reflect the reality on the ground. The seminaries *are being* cleaned up, but you don't evict a couple of generations of looney-tunes in one swell foop, especially if there are religious-order jurisdictions involved.
Anyway, as vladimir-with-some-numbers points out, the real change has to come from the laity's overcoming their addiction to contraception.
I see a secondary problem with this shortage: as the US gets more and more immigrants from south of the border, who only speak Spanish or poor English, there is going to be a greater need for priests who speak Spanish or who can do mass in Spanish. Are there seminaries in South America that can provide the US with Spanish-speaking priests, like we seem to be getting from Africa?
The only other option I see is convincing more Anglican priests to swim the Tiber.
We have nice Vietnamese priest that got transfer to my church he speak very good english he is connect with parisohner on Facebook or Twitter
Glad to hear this! Our priest posts his personal cell phone in the parish bulletin. And, yes, he does return all of our calls.