Bp. Morlino (D. Madison) staffs more parishes with traditional priests

For your brick by brick file…

I have written about Madison’s bishop, Most Rev. Robert Morlino before (for example here and here).

Pro-abortion activists, aging-hippie liturgy types, and proponents of wymynprysts really dislike this guy. 

All the more reason to support him in prayer and with notes of encouragement.

Bp. Morlino is taking fire in the press for his decision to staff more parishes with priests from a traditional institute of men called the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest (based in Spain and not to be confused with the Institute of Christ the King).

This group roused the ire of some liberals in one parish when they properly phased out service at the altar by altar girls and by recuperating the use of – wait for it – LATIN in our Latin Rite worship.

They are accused of [CLICHE WARNING] trying to turn back the clock.

There is an article on Bp. Morlino’s latest efforts to staff parishes … would the alternative be to close them? … with members of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Bishop Morlino criticized over plan to bring in conservative priests

Posted: Monday, June 21, 2010

The effort by Madison Bishop Robert Morlino to staff several Catholic churches in the diocese with priests from a conservative Spanish society has met resistance in another community.

About 200 members of St. Mary’s Parish in Platteville met with Morlino at the church Monday night to question his decision to bring in three priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to lead the church. [I would like to know the mean age of the people who came.]

A diocesan official and parishioners who attended the 90-minute meeting described it as largely civil but occasionally heated, with Morlino apologizing toward the end for having raised his voice earlier in the meeting.

“It was a tough evening for everyone,” said diocesan spokesman Brent King.

The society, based in Murcia, Spain, is known for a staunch, traditional approach to Catholic practice. There are now eight society priests at seven parishes in the diocese.

At other churches where they serve, the priests have prohibited girls from being altar servers, dispensed with the common Catholic practice of using trained lay people to assist with Communion and added Masses celebrated only in Latin[To be clear: male service is the norm, Extraordinary Ministers of Communion should not be used unless there is real need, and Latin is the language of the Church’s worship.]

Morlino invited members of the society to begin serving in the diocese in 2006, primarily in the Sauk City area. Some parishioners praise the priests for deepening their faith and bringing discipline to wayward Catholics; others have left the church, saying the priests’ approach is regressive and too rigid. [bzzzz]

“To me, it seems like a step backward,” said Fay Stone, a St. Mary’s member. The priests’ approach is “quite different than we have become accustomed to,” she said.  [When the earthquake hit the Church in the ’60’s and ’70’s people weren’t used to the changes then either.  But no one cared about the people who didn’t like the changes back then.]

The parish has about 700 families.

Monsignor James Bartylla, the diocese’s second in command, [probably means Vicar General] said in an interview Monday the priests are a good fit for Platteville because their gifts align with aspects of the parish.

Priests from the society are known as good school administrators, Bartylla said, and St. Mary’s has a K-8 parochial school. The society has a special mission to encourage young men to enter the seminary, and the priests will lead St. Augustine University Parish, the campus ministry at UW-Platteville, in addition to St. Mary’s.

It’s a great blessing in this time of a priest shortage to have these priests here,” Bartylla said. [Or… the diocese could just start closing places.  Would the people want that too?  Or do they simply want a Church which conforms to them?]


Some parishioners say the timing is bad. The congregation is in the midst of a capital campaign to buy the building it currently rents for its parochial school. The school also is in the process of hiring a new principal.

“With the more conservative priests arriving and a change in the principal, there’s just some unease with the amount of change at one time,” member Lee Eggers said.

Some parishioners also are miffed that the new principal may end up being the father of a society priest. [That’s interesting.] A parish search committee wasn’t aware of that possibility and had verbally offered the position to someone else.

[Read more about that issue on the linked website… let’s stick to the liturgical issues here.]


Member Barb LeGrand said she went into the meeting very worried that trained lay people such as herself would no longer be allowed to offer Communion to the homebound, a ministry the church has offered for 20 years[It is not a right.]

After the meeting, LeGrand said she was feeling slightly upbeat because Pascual had agreed to meet with her and others about the ministry’s future. “He seems like a very nice man,” she said of Pascual, whom she met for the first time Monday.

King said he does not anticipate the bishop will change his mind on the new priest appointments. The message from the bishop to parishioners was to get to know the priests and give them a chance to explain why they make the decisions they do, King said.

“It’s our hope that, given the opportunity, the parishioners will grow to love the priests and the priests will love the congregation,” King said.

I am sure things will work out, given time, good will and common sense.

More kudos for Bp. Morlino!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. becket1 says:

    Sounds like a good trend to start with other Dioceses and Archdioceses. God Bless him!:)

  2. sawdustmick says:

    Oh, that our Bishops would follow suit in England !

    Ora Pro Nobis !

  3. Bishops like this…who have had a true conversion in their liturgical sensibilities after the Motu Proprio need to be promoted to high up positions…

  4. dad29 says:

    The good Bishop encounters significant resistance both from laity and clergy in his Diocese.

    You are right: he needs prayer.

  5. Del says:

    Bishop Morlino has done a brilliant job of inspiring young men into seminary life.

    One of his most prolific sources of new vocations to priesthood and religious life is the Newman parish at the University of Wisconsin, which he has staffed with two “conservative” priests who are extraordinarily holy and inspirational. The young people love it! — but the aging hippies who dominated the University parish for decades are having trouble keeping up.

    Platteville is home to a another smaller Wisconsin university. Apparently, Bishop Morlino is willing to enduring the whining of aging boomers who think that altar girls and EMHO’s are important. He knows that the future of the Church is with the young, college-age members… and he wants to make sure that they get the best priests.

    We are very fortunate to have the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in the Diocese of Madison. They are holy and humble, and they have all of the right enemies!

  6. Sandy says:

    God bless this wonderful bishop! May all the critics be converted. I have no patience with people like them. After a period of “spiritual awakening” (through a renewal of my consecration to Mother Mary)years ago, one of the things I did was remove myself from being a EMHC. There are too many lay people running around trying to do what the priest was ordained to do! (Rant)

  7. JohnW says:

    Bishop Marlino is a great gift to the church from God. We need more like him in the church. I listen to his Corpus Christi sermon and it was wonderful. I will say some prayers for the good Bishop.

  8. TJerome says:

    Sounds like great news. I suspect most of the complainers are older, spirit of Vatican II types.

  9. Member Barb LeGrand said she went into the meeting very worried that trained lay people such as herself would no longer be allowed to offer Communion to the homebound, a ministry the church has offered for 20 years.

    Ya know…a REAL servant is willing to be dispensed with. A REAL servant is willing to stand down when asked to do so. If you cannot bear to be dismissed, then whom are you really serving?

  10. wanda says:

    You rock and roll good Bishop! If those folks don’t want the priests – send them to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Gosh we need them so very badly. Be grateful to God folks that you will have such good priests to shepherd your flock.

  11. DT says:

    Interesting quote citation from Barb LeGrand there. Her view seems to be too narrow, which segues into my question for the clergy on these pages. Besides bringing the Eucharist and anointing the homebound when necessary, do priests also visit the homebound to hear confessions? Always wondered about that.

  12. jasoncpetty says:

    That Society’s fantastic. They had a couple of priests in San Antonio for a time, and they offered daily (!) Mass in the Extraordinary Form, even on Sundays. They are truly missed.

    I understand that they run (ran?) an international boys’ school back in Spain.

  13. JosephMary says:

    I was an EMHC for 20 years having been recruited in my 20s. But I no longer serve at Mass. There is indeed enough lay folks doing this although in the past parishes I have been in, there are NO new folks stepping up to do this…only the same people week after week. Has anyone else noticed this? For me, my knees started to shake at the awesomeness of what I was doing. I still am ‘mandated’ and take Holy Communion to an assisted living facility weekly. That is the apostolate of our Legion of Mary and we see about 100 people a week which our priest would not be able to do with weekly frequency. We go to the hospital and homebound as well.

    For so many years those who desired the traditional way were marginalized and ridiculed. Now with things slowly turning around, we do need to proceed with all charity. And certainly many souls are still in the grips of liberalism and litugical abuse. There are still many (mostly aging) priests who seem to act as if the Mass was their personal property to do with whatever they like. But the new young priests in many places are cut from a different cloth. Deo Gratias.

    I think offering parishes to the Societies and Fraternities of traditional priests is the most excellent alternative to the closing of so many churches. Kudos to this bishop.

    And how we need orthodox priests as college chaplains. We are missing that in my university town but the priest is retirement age so I hope only one more year and pray archbishop will put in a vibrant orthodox young priest. The ‘bread that looks like bread’ and the multipurpose room with the strangest looking wood thing that serves of the altar can all go bye-bye.

  14. moon1234 says:

    The priests make it a point to list their cell phone numbers on the parish bulletin. They ask that anyone entering the hospital or home sick to call them. They WILL come visit you!

    They also make rounds at the hospital in Sauk City. When was the last time you say a priest in Cassock making rounds at a Hospital? The hospital has also made it a point that they do NOT hire any OBs who perform abortions.

    Many people I know have switched their care to this hospital as they don’t want to take their chances with a baby killer at the University or Meriter hospital in Madison. St. Mary’s is the only “Catholic” hospital in Madison.

    Pray for the Priests! Pray that we get more of them!

  15. moon1234 says:

    I understand that they run (ran?) an international boys’ school back in Spain

    Shoreless Lake School

  16. Elly says:

    Del, that is great news! That is really the University of Wisconsin in Madison you are talking about? When I was there about 8 or 9 years ago there was a woman who dressed up like a priest and did a lot of priestly things during Mass such as giving the homily. My friend who I was visiting, who was not the most knowledgable Catholic, told me she was a priestess (i knew better). So it sounds like things have improved a lot!

  17. Leonius says:

    What they were probably hoping for was to have no priests and then be able to have some form of lay led prayer service with EMHC handing out pre consecrated hosts in the place of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  18. Aaron says:

    This is a good example of something I’ve been saying for a while: Those of us who would like to see the TLM brought back are often told it would never work because the people who are opposed to Latin, altar boys, etc., would scream bloody murder. But if the new Mass is reformed to any meaningful extent, the same people will be screaming just as loudly, for the same reasons. As these complaints show, the fact that it’s still the new Mass doesn’t make them any happier about introducing any traditional elements into it.

  19. Supertradmum says:

    God bless Bishop Morlino, who told my son many years ago to consider being a priest. The Bishop would say the rosary outside the abortion clinic on a regular basis.

    The Society of Jesus Christ Priest, some of whom I met in California three years ago, is a great order. Those priests I met were in love with Christ and His Church and had special reverence for the Eucharist.

    The Diocese of Madison has a problem in that the members of the Church are fragmented liturgically and doctrinally. We lived there for almost two years and found the liberal Catholics very aggressive, even about such things as using fetuses for research and in preferring weird liturgies. Bishop Morlino’s choice of orders is not only prophetic, but a grave necessity in a very liberal atmosphere, partly created by the University and years of bad teaching in the schools.

    Thankfully, having excellent liturgies will help. We went to the Society Masses off and on, as we got tired of the stuff going on in our parish and in other parishes. Opus Dei is also a growing stronghold of orthodoxy in that Diocese.

    I wish we had that order in our diocese.

  20. benyanke says:

    I LOVE Bishop Morlino!! I have known him personally about a year, and have served/attended his masses for 2-3 years. He is very traditional, and I don’t know what I would do without our parish!

    Kinda changing topics, it drives me crazy when people refer to not using altar girls as a ban. It’s not a ban. It’s not using something that is optional.

    moon1234, that is correct. I’m not sure if that is the exact school I’m thinking of, but I have a friend who went over to one of their schools for a semester.


  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Hooray for Bp Morlino! He’s from southwestern Michigan! [Wish we had him back. Only as a bishop HERE.]

  22. elizabadger22 says:

    Re: Elly, yes, it is true! It really IS the University of Wisconsin-Madison! I graduated from UW about two years ago, and am very grateful for the spiritual formation my husband and I received at the Catholic campus center during our time in college. The Holy Spirit is doing beautiful things there, and the campus center has the love and support of Bp. Morlino, which has been invaluable. We are truly blessed to have him shepherding our diocese!

  23. kiwitrad says:

    Please, please send some of those priests to NZ. Or just the Bishop would do! We’re not fussy but we’re gasping in a liturgical desert

  24. eiggam says:

    I knew Bishop Morlino when before he was a bishop (Rector of the Cathedral in Kalamazoo) and he did not make drastic changes without thinking. He deserves our support. Mass at the Cathedral continues to be holy and majestic.

  25. Sixupman says:

    AS you comment Father, almost overnight the laity were disenfranchised from their cherished Mass and their Missals made redundant. Clergy were seriously victimised if they sought to hang-on to that into which they were Ordained. Charity was not abroad in the land!

  26. Geoffrey says:

    I have never heard of this order of priests before. The article does not mention whether they are celebrating some Masses in Latin according to the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form. I hope it is in the Ordinary Form. These are so very rare!

    One item should make us pause: “…others have left the church…”

    While trying to reign in current practices so that they are no longer abusive, how do we keep some of the Faithful from leaving through misunderstanding?

  27. New Sister says:

    What a gift – thank you, Father Z, for linking us to such an up-lifting story. I will pray for Bp Morlino and this order of priests – may they thrive!

  28. irishgirl says:

    Hooray for Bishop Morlino! And the Society of Jesus The Priest!

    I’m of the ‘aging boomer’ generation-but I LIKE what this Bishop is doing!

    Wish we could have priests like them here in the Northeast!

  29. laurazim says:

    “That is really the University of Wisconsin in Madison you are talking about?”

    YES! The Fathers Eric (for they are each Father Eric–Nielson and Sternberg) are amazing priests. Fr. Sternberg is, blessedly, the Godfather of our youngest daughter. The website is http://www.uwcatholic.org/ . Parishes in the Isthmus area have been staffed with holy, faithful servants of God…we are so blessed to have our priests! Check out http://www.isthmuscatholic.org to see the Cathedral Parish website, where the Cathedra remains at Saint Patrick Church until the building of a new cathedral is completed, God willing.

    We love Bishop Morlino. We know how blessed we are to be taught the truth in love by a man who lives to serve God alone. And many here are correct in their assumptions about the Sauk City church (where I grew up, was confirmed, was married, and our first three children baptized) and the Platteville church (where my husband and I have facilitated sacramental preparation for marriage days) having been under the leadership of extremely liberal priests for many, many years. Of course people there are comfortable–they’ve never been held accountable. I can speak this way because it was absolutely true for me, and apparant that it was also true for many others. My husband and I were not required–it wasn’t even suggested!–to go to confession before or marriage, even though it was obvious we had not been living an ideally chaste lifestyle up to that point. If there is such a lack of charity on the part of the priest, to not even offer confession when it is so sorely needed, then how can the hearts of their parishioners be anything more than tepid? Of course there were the beautiful, blessed faithful remnant who gathered every day before Mass to pray the Rosary…and thank God for them! Look at His response! Praise be Jesus Christ!

  30. Del says:

    Geoffrey wrote:
    “I have never heard of this order of priests before. The article does not mention whether they are celebrating some Masses in Latin according to the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form. I hope it is in the Ordinary Form. These are so very rare!”

    The Vicar General of the Diocese of Madison (Bp. Morlino’s See) celebrates the Ordinary Form in Latin, every Friday at noon in the diocesan chapel.

    The Society of Jesus Christ the Priest celebrate the Extraordinary Form, scheduled so that people in surrounding area parishes can easily choose the worship that they prefer.

    One of the priests at the University of Wisconsin also offers the Extraordinary Form at a downtown parish near the University. Some students and older Catholics attend regularly; however, most are 30-something families when small children. (lots of bricks on bricks!) Still…. every Catholic university student can easily experience the EF, at least once.

  31. doanli says:

    I always crack up when I see that awful “wymyn”. LOL

  32. techno_aesthete says:

    We are very fortunate to have the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in the Diocese of Madison. They are holy and humble, and they have all of the right enemies! – Del

    Yes, you are very fortunate. They used to staff a chapel near me and were excellent. I wish they hadn’t left/been transferred. The congregants in the article are blessed to have them, even if they don’t see it now.

  33. They used to staff a chapel near me too. Except that it is now staffed by ME. They chose to leave and I was sent here instead because I know how to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I would hope that people come to church because of Christ and not just because they do or don’t like a priest or priests. Otherwise, they’ve REALLY lost the plot!

  34. RoamingCatholic says:

    Wow! This is great to hear! And Bishop Morlino also welcomed Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea, who only offers the EF/TLM Mass, into his Diocese too. He moved in a couple months ago. :)

  35. Murciano says:

    I have the privilege of attending EF Masses from a SJCP priest in Murcia, Spain.
    I wish to share with you SJCP’s official website (English and Spanish):

  36. Mary Ann says:

    Here’s a link to an encouraging article on LifeSiteNews.com:


    “Wednesday June 23, 2010
    Young Wisconsin Catholics Cheer Bishop Morlino for Welcoming Orthodox Priests
    One of the most outspoken advocates for unborn among the U.S. Catholic hierarchy”

    Very positive, informative article.

    Here’s one quote:
    “St. Paul [University Catholic Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison] has probably become the epitome of what a good Catholic parish would now look like,” he said [ProLife Wisconsin board member Greg Wagner], with hundreds of students attending daily Mass, and maintaining Eucharistic adoration, Bible studies, and regular attendance at the sacrament of reconciliation – all on what is considered one of the most heavily liberal public research universities in the country.

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