D. Madison: Bp. Morlino and the surge of priestly vocations

NewPriestsIn 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?

18 votes, 4.33 avg. rating (86% score)
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ASK FATHER: Membership in a parish, borders, registration

From a reader…


I am a parishoner at an ethnic church in the Archdiocese of X with national boundaries where there are Masses, sacraments, services, etc in my preferred language.

However, I live 20 minutes away in the Diocese of Y. Who is “my bishop”? The bishop who guides my pastor and visits our parish? Or is “my bishop” the Bishop of Y?

In an ideal world, when one moved into a new place, one’s local, friendly pastor would stop by the next day or so, doff his biretta at the lady of the house, bless the domicile, and sit down for a few minutes chat over tea about the ages and catechetical stages of all the children pattering about vying for Father’s attention. Father would then leave his calling card, a recent copy of the parish bulletin, some starter envelopes, and a friendly wave.

Alas, we are mostly far from living in such idyllic villages, and people come and go so frequently and anonymously that keeping track of folks is the stuff of statisticians and guestimators.

Every Catholic has a parish. Some have more than one.

Every place you have a domicile (where you intend to live with some degree of permanence, or have actually lived for five years) or quasi-domicile (where you intend to live for at least three months, or actually have lived for three months) is within the territory of a parish and a diocese.

You are a member of that parish, whether or not you fill out a registration form, whether you ever go there, whether you even know where it is.

Additionally, there are personal parishes for some groups of people, often defined by ethnicity or nationality. If your mother is Korean, your father is Wendish, and you’re a university student who lives in a dorm during the school year, and in a house on State and Main as your permanent resident, you are, de facto, a member of St. Andrew Kim Parish, St. Knut of the Wends Parish, St. Albertus Magnus University Parish, and Old St. Ludmilla’s, the territorial parish.

Ethnic or personal parishes also have boundaries. If there are none specifically described in the decree establishing the parish, then the boundaries of a personal parish are coterminous with the diocese. A bishop can’t “poach” Catholics living in the territory of another diocese. Your bishop is always the bishop of the diocese in which you are living. If you are homeless and vagrant, your bishop is the bishop of whatever diocese you happen to be in at any moment. The pastor of a vagrant is the pastor of wherever that vagrant happens to be at that moment. Everyone has a pastor.

With modern mobility, especially in North America, many Catholics choose to go to Mass in parishes where they are not actually members. Sometimes, they even register at these parishes, thinking that registering makes them members.


Alas and alack, registering in a parish has no canonical effect. It’s simply a convenient way for pastors to gain some understanding of who is actually coming to the parish.

Please make life easy for your pastor and register.

If you are a member of an ethnic group, or otherwise identify with a group for whom there is a personal parish in a nearby diocese, by all means go. Worship. Participate. Confess. Join the Altar Society. But let the pastor know that you are resident in the neighboring diocese.

If Father Jaromar of St. Knut of the Wends Parish notices that he has 70 parishioners coming each week from the neighboring diocese, he might want to inform the bishop of that diocese that the Wendish population of his diocese is not being served, and that he’d be happy to contact a friend of his, Father Vitzlav, who might be willing to come over from Stralsund to care for the burgeoning Wendish populace.

8 votes, 4.38 avg. rating (87% score)
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LENTCAzT 12: 2nd Sunday of Lent

LENTCAzT15Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent.


How long has it been?

Here is another 5 minute daily podcast for Lent.  They are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season.


I am providing these again this year especially in gratitude to benefactors who help me and this blog.

3 votes, 3.67 avg. rating (76% score)
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Internet to be regulated by Feds… what could possibly go wrong?




Anyone else worried about this?

Think… Amtrack… health.gov… U.S. Post Office…

What could go wrong?

24 votes, 3.92 avg. rating (78% score)
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Bp. Galantino, 66, resigned

I note with interest in today’s Bolletino that His Excellency Nunzio Galantino, Bishop of Cassano all’Jonio and Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference has resigned at age 66.

You might recall that Bp. Galantino has made some odd statements. For example, his comments about “expressionless persons praying rosaries outside abortion clinics”

His successor was appointed immediately, Fr. – Bishop-Elect – Francesco Savino. I’m sure you will, in your goodness, say a pray for him.


From an SMS I received:

Gagliarducci: totally expected Galantino would be asked to resign so he can devote all of his considerable talents to CEI

8 votes, 4.62 avg. rating (91% score)
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WDTPRS – 2nd Sunday of Lent: Purify your “spiritual view” lest God be offended

Transfiguration_by_fra_Angelico_(San_Marco_Cell_6)Here is the Collect of the 2nd Sunday of Lent, a new composition for the Novus Ordo based on a precedent in the Liber Mozarabicus Sacramentorum:

Deus, qui nobis dilectum Filium tuum audire praecepisti, verbo tuo interius nos pascere digneris, ut, spiritali purificato intuitu, gloriae tuae laetemur aspectu.

Used by early Latin writers such as Sts Hilary of Poitiers (+c 368), Ambrose (+397) and in liturgical texts, gloria is more than fame or splendor of appearance.  Our Latin liturgical gloria is the equivalent of biblical Greek doxa and Hebrew kabod.   Romans translated these concepts also with words like maiestas and claritasGloria has to do with man’s recognition of God as God.  Gloria is a characteristic of God which He will share with us so as to transform us throughout eternity.

The vocabulary of the prayers reinforces that this covenant we are in with God is not a contract between equals: He is Almighty and eternal, we are lowly and mortal.  We do well to beg as supplicants before His Majesty, not as cowed slaves terrified of a harsh master, but with the reverential awe of children looking at authority with the eyes of truth.  Our orations during Mass help us to see who we are and who we are not.


O God, who commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, deign to nourish us interiorly with Your word, so that, once (our) spiritual view has been purified, we may rejoice in the sight of Your glory.


God our Father, help us to hear your Son. Enlighten us with your word, that we may find the way to your glory.


O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.

Note the senses of hearing (audire) and of seeing (intuitus, aspectus), both physically and also inwardly, spiritually.  The voice of God the Father spoke at the Transfiguration commanding us to listen to His beloved Son (Matthew 17:5).  We listen to Jesus and look at what He does, both in the pages of Scripture and in His continuing work through Holy Church.  Christ’s words which we hear and His deeds which we see both save us and teach us who we are (cf. GS 22).

Aspectus has both active and passive connotations, that is, the sense of sight, the act of seeing a thing, and the appearance of the thing itself.  Aspectus can mean, “mien, countenance”, how something “looks”.  Think of Henry V in Shakespeare’s play inciting his soldiers before battle to “lend the eye a terrible aspect” (III, i).  Intuitus (from intueor) means “a look, a view; respect, consideration.”  You know intueor from a verse of the hymn of St Thomas Aquinas Adoro Te Devote: “I am not looking (intueor) at the wounds, like Thomas; I am nevertheless professing faith that you are my God; make me always more to believe in you, have hope in you, love you.”  That hymn also sings “ex auditu solo tuto creditur’, only “by hearing” is the doctrine of the Eucharist believed “safely”.  Sight, touch and taste can deceive us.

Our intuitus spiritalis could be our own ability to see clearly into the state of our soul. Our intuitus (“insight”, “view”) is that spiritual lens which must be cleansed so that we can have a more perfect “view”.  Otherwise, intuitus could be the spiritual landscape within us, the “view” God sees, how we “look” to Him.  “View” picks up both views of intuitus (the power to see and that which is seen).  “Insight” would favor just one possibility.  The cognate “intuition” suggests the wrong connotation from common usage, that is, “sudden insight” or “good guess”.

Both how we see and what is seen in us, our “spiritual view”, must be purified (purificato) so that God is not offended (cf. Habakkuk 1:3)  

God and neighbor must see His image in us.  We must see His image in ourselves and others if we are going to treat them with the charity Christ commands.

St. Bonaventure (+1274) wrote about how Thomas the Apostle looked through the Lord’s visible wounds and saw His invisible wound of love.

We must with charity try to look past our neighbor’s imperfections, the wounds caused by sin, to see the intended reality.

Lent is a time for gaining a “view” of the Love who died and rose for us, thus transforming us into more perfect images of who He is: risen, living, glorious.

This necessarily requires a close examination of our lives to see and to hear what or whom we have placed at the center of our lives, Jesus Christ’s rightful place.

4 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (80% score)
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Two years ago… Sede Vacante

Two years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI abdicated.

My posts from that sad, remarkable day, HERE.

7 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (80% score)
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Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the perps in the Vatican… SHOCK!… he is now being attacked on a personal level.

Damian Thompson has a good summary with comments on what has been going on:

The Sydney Morning Herald, no fan of Pell in his days as Archbishop of Sydney, has accused him of ‘living it up at the Holy See’s expense’. They cite leaked documents purporting to show he rented an office and apartment in Rome at a cost of £2,580 a month – which, unless I’ve got the figures wrong, isn’t very expensive. Plus £1,270 on ‘religious robes’. Oh, for God’s sake. [Indeed.  Find the most ignorant people you can to write this stories.] As a senior cardinal, Pell is required to wear a soutane plus other bits of church uniform, and since he’s massively tall with a rugby player’s build I’m guessing they can’t come off the peg. [Indeed.  That amount is chicken feed when one considers nearly any professional person’s clothing expenses.  And.. there’s more!]

[Update: I now learn that the robes were for the chapel in the Secretariat which had no vestments at all. So they’re not Cardinal Pell’s – they’re for any priest using the chapel.]

Card Pell conclave oathHe travels business class, too. As he should. [Exactly.  When he hits the ground, he has to hit the ground running.  I fly a good deal and, as I get older, the economy cabin is harder and harder to take for long flights.] Again, this is one hell of a big bloke, getting on a bit, with heart problems and a terrifyingly ambitious brief from Francis. It didn’t take him long to identify hundreds of thousands of euros hidden in the Vatican accounts. He revealed this in an article for the Catholic Herald, at which point we all knew that the Vatican mafia would arrange for him to have a little PR ‘accident’.

As this article in Crux explains, Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy this week formally required all heads of Vatican departments ‘to certify in writing that they’ve provided complete and accurate information’. This has never happened before, and the old boys from the Curia are flouncing around Rome like offended dowagers. There are rumours that, as an emergency measure, they’ve reduced the length of their lunches in the Borgo Pio trattorie from four to three hours.

Anyway, the tattling that’s going on is meant to drag Pell down.  That’s what thugs do and that seems to be how certain people in the Vatican are determined to work right now.

Today the Secretariat for the Economy issued a statement:



I love that last bit.

I wish he did have cappa. Maybe we should get him one.




19 votes, 4.68 avg. rating (93% score)
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LENTCAzT 11: Ember Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent

LENTCAzT15Today is Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent. Today is an Ember Day.


How long has it been?

Here is another 5 minute daily podcast for Lent.  They are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season.


I am providing these again this year especially in gratitude to benefactors who help me and this blog.

4 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (96% score)
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Ancient Greek Fish on Friday

One of the blogs I follow is Pass the Garum. They recently moved to a new site, by the way. As you know from reading this blog for a while, garum is a fermented fish sauce that the Romans put on everything. It is rather like modern Vietnamese fish sauce.

As I was contemplating how to prepare Friday supper, I found an interesting recipe at the aforementioned blog for Baked Mackerel and Cheese. That’s mackerel and cheese, not macaroni and cheese.  Even though, these days, Romans are starting to experiment a bit with cheese on fish… a heresy… it seems that in the ancient world there was no such reluctance.

The blog has the source of this inspiration:

“When you’re by the sea at Carthage, bake some bream after washing it well.  You’ll find great big bream in Byzantium too, their bodies the size of round shields!  Work with the fish whole.  Once you have coated the fish with cheese and oil, hang it up in a hot clay oven and bake it through.  Once done, sprinkle with cumin and salt, and drench it with divine grey-green oil.”

- Archestratus [mid-4th c. BC – a source for ancient Greek food] fr. 13, as recorded in Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 320b-c

I was short of bream, and also of mackerel.  I had some cod, however.  Friday… Lent and all…

The approach is simple.  Grate cheese and make a paste of it with olive oil.

Smear it onto your fish.

Bake it at 350° F.   When it is finished (the recipe said 20 minutes but mine took a bit more… it’s a toaster oven), sprinkle it with salt and herbs.

Meanwhile, toast some salt and your spice: cumin.  I didn’t have cumin seeds, alas, but I did have some grated.

When finished, sprinkle with the spices.  NB: broccolini and lemon.

I’d like to do this again, but with seeds and with a better cheese, perhaps with a different fish as well.  But, in a pinch and with what I had on hand, this was pretty darn tasty.  I’ll probably broil rather than bake, depending on the thickness of the fish.

There is also a recipe for Mackerel in a Coriander Crust, which I am going to try.  That’s from Apicius, as it turns out.

So, be creative with your Friday repast.

7 votes, 3.86 avg. rating (78% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Fr. Z's Kitchen | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments