In Madison there has been over the last few years a surge in vocations to the priesthood. The Madison State Journal has the first part of an article on the phenomenon.
Here is a sample of part 1, with my emphases and comments:
As number of seminarians surges, Madison diocese seeks $30M to fund priest training
Midway through the Sunday Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dodgeville, the service took a sharp turn toward fundraising.
Monsignor Daniel Ganshert, the parish priest, told parishioners that for years, people in the Madison Catholic Diocese had been praying for more men to be called by God to the priesthood. The Holy Spirit has responded, Ganshert announced jubilantly.
There are now 33 seminarians, or priests-in-training, up from six in 2003 when Bishop Robert Morlino arrived. [! And the diocesan foundation for seminarians was set up for the 6, not the 33.] But that increase comes with responsibility, Ganshert said.
The diocese needs $30 million to educate current and future seminarians — “a serious chunk of money,” he acknowledged.
Ushers distributed pledge cards. The assembled were asked to dig deep.
The same scene is playing out across all 134 worship sites in the 11-county diocese. The effort, which began last fall and will continue through the end of this year, is the first diocesan-wide capital campaign in more than 50 years. [50 years!]
So far, the faithful have responded with vigor. Although the campaign has yet to expand to all churches, parishioners already have pledged more than $28 million.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Morlino said in an interview, giving immense credit to the diocese’s 110 priests who’ve been rolling out the campaign in their parishes. “They love the priesthood and they love the church, and this is the Holy Spirit working through them.”
A priest’s training, called “formation,” doesn’t come cheap, and the diocese picks up much of the tab.
The diocese declined to pinpoint a per-seminarian cost. But back-of-the-envelope calculations, based on interviews and available data, suggest the diocese spends $250,000 to $300,000 to train each new priest, figures diocesan officials did not contest.
Behind the rise
Priestly ordinations are on the uptick nationally after bottoming out in the 1990s, though there is great variation across dioceses, said Anne Hendershott, who has researched the topic as co-author of “Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops is Revitalizing the Catholic Church.”
The Madison diocese has a “remarkable” number of seminarians for its size, she said.
[Quaeritur…] Why the local success? Morlino has made priestly vocations — the spiritual call to serve — a priority. He increased the position of director of vocations to full time, and he routinely promotes the priesthood at functions.
But there could be more to it. [Here we go!] The very traits that have made Morlino controversial may be the reason he’s successful at recruiting new priests, Hendershott’s research suggests.
[Keep going…] Bishops who are unambiguous about church doctrine and don’t tolerate dissent tend to inspire the greatest number of vocations, said Hendershott, who references Morlino positively in her book. [Notice how the writer worked in the concept of “tolerance”. It’s not that he defends or teaches sound doctrine, is’s that he doesn’t “tolerate dissent”. What is the reader supposed to take away from that? Watch where the article goes next…]
“I’d hesitate to call them culture warriors, but they know what they stand for,” [Remember… amongst liberals it’s a bad thing to be a cultural warrior.] said Hendershott, a sociology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. “If you are considering the priesthood, you’d want to see that. [NB]You don’t want to commit yourself to something that’s backed only halfway.” [Exactly. It’s common sense. But wait! There’s more…]
Morlino’s traits can cut both ways. Members of the Madison chapter of Call to Action, [HA HA HA HA HA! They had to find someone to sound the sour note.] a national group of progressive Catholics, find him rigidly doctrinaire and lacking in pastoral empathy. [That’s because they have never met him and they are stuck on … probably… sex.] They’ve worried in the past that the seminarians recruited under his tenure will be carbon copies. [How likely is that? On the other hand, the men are going to be faithful to the Church’s Magisterium.]
Jim Green, a leader of the local chapter, said by email the group had decided not to comment collectively or individually on the fundraising campaign. He added, “We will not be donating to the aforementioned cause however.” [Isn’t that typical?]
When asked if he thought the campaign was a referendum on his tenure, Morlino said, “I hope not.” [HA HA HA HA HA!]
Parishioners need to consider the far-distant health of the church, he said, not just one bishop’s leadership. [Seminarians! That’s why Bp. Morlino’s tenure in Madison will exercise a profound influence for decades to come.]
Read the rest there. And, make popcorn – unless you gave it up for Lent – and watch the combox over there explode into spittle-flecked nutties.
After all, Madison – which elected Tammy Baldwin to Congress – has been described at 77 square miles surrounded by reality and this is the local paper.
Meanwhile… Fr. Z kudos once again to Bp. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary.
And may I remind the readership that, a couple years back, His Excellency told all the seminarians that he wanted them to learn the Extraordinary Form before ordination?