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Too Few Priests as Catholic Ranks Surge
Charlotte Observer ^ | 3/21/10 | Tim Funk

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 ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: catholic; priesthood; priests; seminaries

1 posted on 03/21/2010 6:20:43 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow

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.


2 posted on 03/21/2010 6:24:45 AM PDT by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: marshmallow

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.


3 posted on 03/21/2010 6:26:42 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: marshmallow

I am quite certain that there would be thousands more priests among the 40 million babies aborted in the USA since 1973.


4 posted on 03/21/2010 6:34:32 AM PDT by Notwithstanding (Wer glaubt ist nie allein. Who believes is never alone.)
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To: Notwithstanding

And how many more if our society (Catholics included) didn’t adopt a contraceptive mentality?


5 posted on 03/21/2010 6:43:01 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: marshmallow

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.

http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2010/03/to-save-a-thousand-souls/#comments

6 posted on 03/21/2010 7:03:38 AM PDT by Lorica
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To: marshmallow

Seminaries in Nigeria and Vietnam turn out scores of priests every year. They’ll be happy to come serve in America.


7 posted on 03/21/2010 7:05:12 AM PDT by married21
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To: married21

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.


8 posted on 03/21/2010 8:01:40 AM PDT by Coyote Choir
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To: Coyote Choir; married21

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.


9 posted on 03/21/2010 8:35:13 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: marshmallow

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.)


10 posted on 03/21/2010 9:56:25 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: Tax-chick

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.


11 posted on 03/21/2010 9:58:59 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: B Knotts

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.


12 posted on 03/21/2010 12:04:49 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: marshmallow

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!

Adoration works!

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.


13 posted on 03/21/2010 12:46:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: vladimir998; Notwithstanding

Both of you have valid points here.

But let’s all pray for vocations right now!


14 posted on 03/21/2010 12:48:19 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: B Knotts

The seminaries have been reformed and the liturgy is being updated to mean more what the original Hebrew and Greek actually meant.


15 posted on 03/21/2010 12:49:54 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
The seminaries have been reformed ...

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.

16 posted on 03/21/2010 1:22:28 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: marshmallow

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.


17 posted on 03/21/2010 8:58:33 PM PDT by RedDogzRule (><}}}">)
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To: marshmallow; netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; ...
This is a very serious issue! Unless Catholic parents begin to encourage their sons to become priests, we may soon find ourselves with Churches but no one to celebrate the sacraments. No priest - no Eucharist!
18 posted on 03/22/2010 3:11:44 PM PDT by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: NYer

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


19 posted on 03/22/2010 3:20:39 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("We are Freepers, all your media belong to us ,resistance is futile")
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To: SevenofNine
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.

20 posted on 03/22/2010 3:26:29 PM PDT by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: Tax-chick
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.

**********************

Good points.

21 posted on 03/22/2010 3:30:54 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer

OH Yeah my childhood parish has better priest than that

The Pastor not only post AOL Yahoo addy also Facebook, Twitter, and cell phone number


22 posted on 03/22/2010 3:32:12 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("We are Freepers, all your media belong to us ,resistance is futile")
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To: AliVeritas

Just think if we got rid of the dissident ones./s

God forgive me scandal.

Thanks once again for the pre-meetings with the Council of Churches and the invites of non-Catholic clergy to Vat II.

Thanks to our infiltrators with the aprons who pushed the changes in the US years before Vat. II and spread misinformation through the mainstream and other clerical press. Example, moving the tabernacle over and other ‘we can’t wait and we’re gonna do our on thing before it comes out’.

Thanks for the altar girls, way to encourge vocations and to those who still refuse to preach the gospel but Marx wrapped in baby Jesus’ blanket under the ‘world’s view’ of social justice.

Thanks for no leadership from the USCCB who sometimes act like the Southern Baptist Leadership Conference and forgetting they’re under obedience. Oh, and working with Open Society Institute and other socialist groups and using our money to do it.

Thanks for all the emails and phone calls from nine years of former RCIA candidates in tears or confusion, as I tried to explain... after my struggles to fight against this in my parish with no help.

Thanks that the biggest discussions I have are not with my protestant brothers and sisters or those who don’t attend church, but fellow Catholics.

My Lord sits alone over in a corner... with no one to spend time with him; with those who spit in his face, sell him for silver and whip him anew, and no one speaks out, except to say ‘proportional’, throwing 2000 years of teaching out the ‘open window’.

Praise be to God many of my friends are young, faithful and have become priests and sisters... and they’re fighting for the faith daily.

I pray for the reform of the reform.

We now see the devil’s smoke Paul VI spoke of and the apostasy spoken in the scriptures, telling the end before the beginning.

May God have mercy on us... even though we don’t deserve it.

God’s will be done. The devil’s time is short.


23 posted on 03/22/2010 3:49:22 PM PDT by AliVeritas (Pray, Pray, Pray.)
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To: Tax-chick

We are the mission now.


24 posted on 03/22/2010 3:50:21 PM PDT by AliVeritas (Pray, Pray, Pray.)
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To: AliVeritas

In addition to excellent points brought up earlier in the thread, prayer and sacrifice are needed by every single faithful member of the laity, every day.


25 posted on 03/22/2010 4:12:38 PM PDT by PatriotGirl827 (Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner)
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To: AliVeritas

It’s not the first time. And until the whole world is converted or Jesus comes in glory, everywhere is mission territory.


26 posted on 03/22/2010 4:56:05 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: NYer

We have always encouraged our children to think of having two general choices: religious life or married life. Any specific occupations - doctor, lawyer, typist - can be part of either of the overarching vocations.

My seminarian in Ethiopia, who is supposed to be ordained in June!, is praying for at least one of my sons to be a priest, and I’m sure it will work.


27 posted on 03/22/2010 5:00:34 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Mother of your new alien overlords. You want to be on my good side.)
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To: marshmallow
One reason we have the problem of too few priests is that the most recent two generations of Catholics have been poorly catechized, and many have become 'nominal Catholics' at best. It's harder to raise faithful young men from such uninterested and ill-informed ranks. But even when some young men who were interested presented themselves to seminaries, the liberals who made up the Admissions Committees rejected them in favor of the young men they felt were more 'mature'; which they meant more 'flexible' on moral issues.

Thankfully, the younger Bishops are beginning to clean out those seminaries, and make them welcoming places for young men who truly want to serve the Church.

28 posted on 03/22/2010 8:47:13 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: married21
Seminaries in Nigeria and Vietnam turn out scores of priests every year. They’ll be happy to come serve in America.

They already are! We had a Vietnamese deacon ordained last year, and a Ugandan man ordained a priest. We also have several young men who came from Colombia to finish their seminary studies, and to learn English, so they can be ordained for our diocese, in MA.

29 posted on 03/22/2010 8:51:01 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Tax-chick

Thankfully, many of those ‘loony-tunes’ in the seminaries are graying, as are many liberal Catholics, which means they’re getting old and will be retiring soon!


30 posted on 03/22/2010 8:53:50 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: RedDogzRule
Are there seminaries in South America that can provide the US with Spanish-speaking priests, like we seem to be getting from Africa?

There are quite a few Latin American priests coming to the US. We had a wonderful Assoc. Pastor a few years ago, who is originally from Colombia. There are now several more Colombian men here in the Diocese, learning English, so they can do better in their studies at the seminary.

On the MS Gulf Coast, there are a few young Mexican men who are preparing to study for the priesthood. Both the Dioceses of Biloxi, and of Jackson, MS have supported a Catholic mission in Mexico for over 40 years, and we're beginning to see some young men from it who want to be priests, and who are planning to complete their studies in the US.

31 posted on 03/22/2010 8:58:49 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: marshmallow

I am happy to report that we have 30 seminarians here in the Diocese of Little Rock (which includes the whole state of Arkansas). Three of those seminarians are from our parish, Immaculate Conception here in Fort Smith.

Thirty may not sound like much, but hey, we Catholics aren’t in the majority around these parts!

We are also blessed with two wonderful priests, Father Greg (who was orignally assigned here as an associate pastor back in the late 90s and returned last summer as the top dog, LOL), and Father Eddie, who was just ordained last year. Fr. Eddie is very ‘old school’ as one parishoner told me, and the kids at the school just love him. Deacon Greg reminds me of Father Corapi in his demeanor and his life story, but with a strong Southern drawl.


32 posted on 03/22/2010 10:03:36 PM PDT by Hoosier Catholic Momma (Arkansas resident of Hoosier upbringing--Yankee with a southern twang)
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