From a seminarian: “priests of the future are excited about tradition”

Here is a note from a seminarian, whose identity I am preserving at his request.

It is a tie in with my entry here reacting to Damian Thompson’s post at Holy Smoke.

My emphases and comments.

Dear Father,

First off, I want to exercise a bit of prudence and ask that you not print my name nor location if you choose to use this correspondence. I appreciate the good work you do for the Church, and I always value honesty and openness, but I don’t need to start an electronic "paper trail" just yet.

I read your recent post and commentary on the notion that traditional Catholics are losing hope over matters of liturgy. As a seminarian studying in a well-regarded seminary … , my observation is that the good people of faith should not lose hope. On the contrary, it should be increasing

Simply observing in my own seminary environments, the priests of the future are excited about tradition. [This is my impression too.] They embrace their faith in all its dimensions, and feel both a historical and spiritual attachment to the Extraordinary Form *and* the Novus Ordo. After all, we are familiar with the Mass of our "childhood," as it were, but we also long for and want the Mass of the ages.

You can see this in things as simple as the cassock: my diocese purchases for each new seminarian a cassock and surplice, and my brothers from other dioceses across the country in a similar fashion embrace that symbol of the Church.

That’s not all. My bishop has celebrated twice a Pontifical Mass at the Throne, and has encouraged his priests to go along with the liturgical reforms of Pope Benedict. ….

My point is that, while things may seem dire in certain locales throughout the world, there is great hope in our young people. I think I speak for my brother seminarians in saying that we realize that one day, we too will be charged with the task of leading the people of God to Christ. And we will be prepared to do that in complete communion, theologically and liturgically, with the Holy Father and the Catholic Church–our formation is already geared to that, the priest-faculty being in complete solidarity with Pope Benedict.

Don’t worry – pray for your bishops, priests, and seminarians, and appreciate how far we’ve come in a few short years.

Thank you, again, Father, for your continued work on behalf of the Church. I do think we are living in challenging, but exciting times – I certainly appreciate the prayers for the continued good formation of myself and my brother seminarians throughout the world.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. toomey says:

    Dear seminarian:

    I pray for my bishop, however…. do you want to trade?

  2. TJM says:

    Dear seminarian,

    You sound like a wonderful young man who will make a wonderful priest. You are fortunate that you have a like minded bishop.

    We are counting on young people like you to be there for us. You give us hope.

    All the best,


  3. Steve says:

    Maybe it is just me, but I find the fact that so many seminarians and priests want to stay anonymous very unsettling. The fact that some are orthodox and traditional but are afraid to say so in public brings to mind visions of Catholics under the rule Stalin or Hitler hiding their faith from public view. What have the liberals in Catholic positions of power done to our faith? Why are traditionalists in such fear? This really can’t be a good thing.

  4. QC says:

    A seminarian recently came to my parish to serve as deacon for a year. So far, he seems wonderful. The one we had last year was absolutely amazing as well. Likewise, I sometimes go to a Dominican parish for daily Mass and they recently got a newly ordained priest who is also outstanding! All show a great reverence for the liturgy and also great knowledge of the faith. They also seem to have the good temperment Fr. Z has described in other posts.

  5. QC says:


    I think many people don’t feel comfortable divulging too much personal info on the ‘net in general.

  6. TJM says:

    Steve, it’s not a good commentary. However, we are in changing times, and certainly don’t want to expose seminarians with a
    traditional bent, to any potential reprecussions. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Book “Goodbye to Good Men?” The author points out
    that seminarians who are supportive of the Pope and tradition are often sent packing because they are not “pastoral” and are “rigid.” Tom

  7. Jacques says:

    Yes, I think there is a gap between this new generation of priests about 40 y.o. and their 20 years older bishops. The second ones are clinging to VatII and the “spirit of the Council” while the first ones are less aware and don’t care. They unconsciously wonder why such preVatII treasures have been strictly forbidden for decades and are eager to experiment them.
    Our young parish priest, after some months of discreet training to latin mass has begun saying one weekly mass on every tuesday evening. This was a great joy for me: “Introibo ad altare Dei… Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”.
    Useless to say that time is working on behalf of the latin mass when the current bishop’s curbings will cease.
    In my opinion the pendulum has stopped going far on the left and just started heading to the right.

  8. Discreet Seminarian says:

    Fr. Z,

    In the diocese where I am currently studying for the priesthood, little has been done with regard to the EF. We are only allowed to wear our cassocks at Mass on Sundays, and our Bishop doesn’t seem too eager for us to learn the EF. This only makes most of my fellow-seminarians and me more desirous for tradition and everything having to do with the EF. For the “old guard” it is a losing battle, and we need only wait it out for a few more years! One shouldn’t grow discouraged.

  9. Bob says:

    To any seminarians reading this:
    I keep hearing about all these wonderful, traditional, orthodox seminarians out there, and I must say that the ones I’ve met from my diocese seem quite orthodox, but they tend to come from a Lifeteen/TEC/WYD/Praise-and-Worship kind of background and generally seem to see that as the way of the future. Are the ones interested in the TLM really just a tiny minority, or are you all just doing a really good job of keeping it a secret?

  10. Mary says:


    I’m not a seminarian but from all my peer-aged seminarian friends (I just graduated college, which had a seminary attached) they do a really good job of keeping it a secret. I don’t think they’d necessarily pick the TLM themselves (some might), but they’d have no problem learning it if they were asked (either in seminary to prepare or after ordained if someone in their parish requested it). Maybe they just happen to be safely middle-line right now?

    slightly related, I just attended homecoming and found out that the seminary is asking for them to take “as much latin as you can get” vs. the old policy of “if you’re interested.”

  11. Dear Father Z:

    Thank you for this superb blog and your witness as a priest. It is for priests like yourself that on Saturday next, 11 October 2008, the third international Lay Fast for Priests will take place. From Dawn until 3 PM, lay volunteers will fast in honor and support of our priests, the special “other Christs” (St Catherine of Siena) who bring us the Eucharist and administer the sacraments of the Church. You truly are a treasure we need to cherish. The US portion of the Fast will be hosted here in Massachusetts, “ground zero” of the scandals which have afflicted our Church.

    The Fast will also be held simultaneously in Scotland, Taiwan, Angola, Argentina and Canada. More information and sign up sheets can be found at
    Anyone can join. Fasting is praying with the body and in this Fast our priests are raised up to Our Blessed Lord under the auspices of Our Lady. God bless.

  12. Fred says:

    God bless the seminarian who wrote. I can understand his desire for anonymity. His future could be destroyed by some in the Church who are desperately fighting the current return to Catholic orthodoxy and identity. There is still a core of “spirit of Vatican II” priests and lay people who control the assignments and formation of today’s seminarians. They are sometimes bitter about the wave of the future, and will often do whatever they can, in the few years they have left, to thwart the current renewal. But time is not on their side. I pity these people, especially the priests among them. Their dreams and hopes for the Church turned out to be false. Pray for them. They also need the love and mercy of God, and true conversion and humility, as we all do.

  13. Seminarian says:

    I wrote that email to Fr. Z, and wanted to clarify a few issues.

    First, in response to Steve: my desire for anonymity was more provoked by the nature of the beast that is the Internet rather than repercussions within the seminary/diocese. I trust my bishop and rector completely; however, there are less savory types out there who would destroy a reputation and the Church.

    Second, in response to Tom: This might seem like heterodoxy, but many of my brother seminarians who do come from a background of “praise and worship” embrace tradition and the Latin Mass. I see no reason why that style of personal prayer and devotion is considered in opposition to tradition. As for World Youth Day, I was present in Sydney (with my cassock!) and consider it an absolutely life-changing and faith-inspiring event. The Holy Father is doing wonders for the young people, and I come away from Australia wanting *every young Catholic* to go to World Youth Day. It certainly will help get them through the chaos of the modern world.

    To the others, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. It helps get us to ordination!

  14. Geoffrey says:


    Thank you for your clarrifications! Your original email and follow-up have made my day. You are in my prayers and good luck to you!

  15. Jayna says:

    I’ve noticed the traditional leanings of the younger priests, too. Here in Atlanta, we had the opportunity to have some “traditional” seminarians be ordained in the spring (by traditional, I mean they are of the traditional age, and not coming into the priesthood at 40+). I’ve noticed in the way they celebrate Mass, and even in the way they conduct confessions, that they are very much in touch with the traditions of the Church. While I love my parish priests, sometimes I wish that they’d sent us one of these guys the last time one of them retired. Still, it’s good to know there is hope for the future.

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