D. of Madision: liberals attacking faithful priests are harming the future of school children

Here is a sad story from the Diocese of Madison, which includes one of most liberal, in the negative sense, area in the US.

I have met Bishop Morlino and the priests in question.  They are outstanding.

From the Madision State Journal.  My emphases and comments.

Donations plummet following appointment of orthodox Catholic priests in Platteville


St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Platteville, stung by a plunge in donations following the arrival of three controversial priests, has issued an urgent plea for money to keep its parochial school open.

The 75-year-old St. Mary’s Catholic School is subsidized by the church, which has seen weekly donations fall more than 50 percent in four months, said Myron Tranel, chairman of the church’s finance council.

The school, with 106 K-8 students, has enough money to operate until at least January but needs an additional $200,000 to keep the facility open through the end of the school year, he said.

The financial crisis coincides with Madison Bishop Robert Morlino’s decision in June to bring in three priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to lead the parish. The group is based in Spain and known for traditionalist liturgy and devotion to orthodox Catholic teaching.

Changes the priests have made, including barring girls from being altar servers, led to a petition last month signed by 469 of the church’s approximately 1,200 members asking Morlino to immediately remove the priests. In a response letter to the parish last week, Morlino said the priests have his full support and will stay. He chastised parishioners for conduct he called “gravely sinful.[I must agree, though I would say it is the ringleaders who will bear the most responsibility.]

“It grieves me to acknowledge that the reputation of three happy, holy and hardworking priests has been seriously tarnished by rumor, gossip and calumny — lying with the intent to damage another’s good name — by some within the parish community,” Morlino wrote in the letter, a copy of which the diocese provided the State Journal.

Financial appeal

Monday, about 300 parishioners attended a meeting to discuss the school’s finances and hear a financial appeal. Parent Andy Shea said he was encouraged by the turnout.

“It would be very disruptive for children to have to change schools in the middle of the year,” he said. [And a shame to have to close the school for next year!  That would also be disruptive.  All because of some spiteful busybodies.]

Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Catholic Diocese, said the diocese has “no intention of allowing the school to fail.” He said diocesan officials, if asked by the church, would offer assistance in areas such as fundraising. But he stopped short of saying the diocese would provide money to help run the school, calling that an unusual and possibly unprecedented step.

Joseph Hood, school principal, said it will likely be several weeks before the school knows whether the fundraising appeal is successful. Right now, the focus is entirely on keeping the doors open until June. Discussions about the school’s long-term future will come later, he said.

Mixed reaction

Morlino invited priests from the Spanish society to begin serving in the diocese in 2006, primarily in the Sauk City area. There are now eight society priests serving seven churches. [If those priests weren’t there, who would be?  They are pretty fortunate, I’d say, to have them.  The alternative is not good.]

Their arrival at each church has ushered in similar changes. They reserve the altar server role to boys to encourage more seminarians. They eliminate participation by laypeople in the distribution of communion. And they preach homilies that supporters find refreshingly forthright in stressing Catholic teaching but critics find short on compassion. [That is liberal code language for making excuses for mortal sins.]

While opposition to the priests has surfaced in other parishes, it has become particularly loud in Platteville, a city of 10,500 people 75 miles southwest of Madison. Fay Stone, a 25-year St. Mary’s member, said the priests’ decision-making approach seems heavy handed to her. While the Catholic church is not a democracy, some degree of collaboration with parishioners would be nice, she said.

“I know they probably have church law on their side, but just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do,” she said.

People are leaving and taking their money with them, she said.  [And where, I wonder, are they going?]

King, the diocesan spokesman, referred all parish-related questions to the Rev. Lope Pascual, one of the three society priests at St. Mary’s. He did not return phone calls.

Donations down

Weekly collections had been running between $10,500 and $11,500 prior to the priests’ arrival and now average barely $5,000, Tranel said, adding that the finance council created a segregated fund so that donors can give directly to the school now.

The priests do retain considerable support in the church.

They’re teaching morals, and that’s what we need,” said Barbara Splinter, a 45-year member. “They are following what I’ve read the pope is for, and he’s our leader, so I don’t know why people have a problem with it.” [Perhaps because their Catholic identity is a little thin.]

The priests are “being treated very terribly,” she added.

Mike Worachek said he’s disappointed that his fellow parishioners aren’t giving the priests a chance. [Here is a good point:] “I think people should grow up and face the reality that people are different and you have to accept them for what they are,” he said.

WDTPRS KUDOS to Bp. Morlino and the men of the Society.

The people who are making trouble in that area are endangering their sacramental lives, committing scandal, and harming the future formation of many children, all for the sake of their desire to impose their will and their model on the Church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. transparent2one says:

    Maybe part of my tithe can go there?

  2. traditionalorganist says:

    Well, if I had priests like that, I’d increase my donations!

  3. Liz says:

    How do we donate, Father? I am willing to pinch a few pennies to give a modest donation. It’s worth the sacrifice. I am so impressed with the bishop and those priests. Can you imagine the impact this bishop and these priests will have on these children and their immortal souls?

  4. TJerome says:

    I assume the malcontents are a bunch of grey haired liberals used to running roughshod over the priests. Good riddance. These priests sound fantastic. They would be welcome most places.

  5. Liz says:

    I *think* this is right: http://stmaryplatteville.org/wp/?page_id=2

    Please correct that if I am wrong. Thanks.

  6. chironomo says:

    It says that donations are down… is attendance down by the same percentage? Are these “protesters” leaving the Church, or is the purpose of this “petition” to financially punish the parish for not seeing things their way, while they continue hanging around, expending resources without contributing? As sinful as it may be to say so, I sometimes wish that the troublemakers (not just THESE troublemakers) would just leave if they disagree. Instead, they just linger around disagreeing. I mean, I can say without any reservation that I disagree sharply with the teachings and liturgical conduct in the local UCC Church… but that’s why I don’t hang around there!

  7. rroan says:

    God bless Bishop Morlino.

    Would that our bishop here in Dallas would invite priests of this order to serve in our Diocese.

  8. susanna says:

    I’d like to make a donation too Father.

  9. Alex P says:

    They sound wonderful! And what a shame there are so many busybodies who seem to be going out of their way to thwart the will of God. We should pray for the priests and their Bishop, that they will remain true to the Church and not compromise, and pray for the liberal troublemakers, that they will repent of their ways and get behind their priests.

    And I too would love to have an opportunity to donate what I can.

  10. miggalvez says:

    You can make a donation by sending a check to St. Mary’s Congregation, 130 W Cedar St, Platteville WI, 53818

    or donate throught the parish website at http://stmaryplatteville.org/wp/?p=768

  11. anamaria says:

    Hi!! They need our help!!!

    Donations are accepted at the parish website, liz got it right!!! :)

  12. Liz says:

    Note: I made a little donation through Paypal on the website I listed above, but I forgot to put in the special instructions it was specifically for the school. You might want to do that because the nice lady said it would just go to general fund unless you specified what it was for.

  13. krisvog says:

    Praise God for Bishop Morlino and these priests. In our dioceses, I suppose the same thing would happen. I wrote to our bishop with a copy of an article about this order asking if he would prayerfully consider bringing them here. I was told, in the nicest possible way, to put up with the garbage because he will not be able to offer us anything else. My husband talked about withholding funds and I discouraged that really because of situations like this. It can go either way. I feel sorry for the people fighting these priests, as they must be very shaky in their faith. I truly wish we had these priests in our diocese so I could feel a little better about my children’s souls and so we could have a little Catholic tradition, as it seems it is all gone from around here. We will certainly be praying for all involved in this tragic situation.

  14. ChronicSinner says:

    Liz…thanks for the link to the website of St. Marys. They have a donation link on their website and the full text of Bishop Morlino’s response to the disgrutled, including an addendum that addresses their concerns line by line. I highly recommend reading the Bishop’s letter, particularly if you enjoy reading the work of a pastor who unabashedly supports the One True Faith and ain’t afraid to say so! It sounds like something Hemmingway might of written if his drug of choice was steroids instead of scotch….short, to the point, crystal clear, and brave. Kudos, Bishop Morlino…and here comes $100.

  15. youngcatholicstl says:

    I’m surprised no one said the priests weren’t being “pastoral” enough…

    Fr. Z – I think you should also give WDTPRS kudos to the Madison State Journal for writing what appears to be an unusually balanced, if not outright pro-Catholic, article.

  16. wmeyer says:

    I saw that story earlier, and frankly wish we could get some of those young priests in our diocese. They sound terrific!

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    Once again, at top right under banner, DONATION BUTTON HERE:


  18. Alex P says:

    Donation sent. Thanks for the link Liz!

  19. MLivingston says:

    Donation sent. Thanks for the opportunity. Those parishioners are doing exactly what they’ve been taught to do for fifty years — their will, not the Church’s. Their former priests did their job thoroughly.

  20. rtmp723 says:

    God Bless these brave priests and bishop! We need more of these men who stand firm for our faith.

  21. Parents supportive of this school can make a big difference. If they band together, make sacrifices and do fund raising, this school can stay afloat. It won’t be easy; but they have to make an investment, support the priests and be willing to sacrifice, heroically.
    The dissenting rabble has to be countered with a calm, assured and dedicated opposition; in favor of authentic Catholic life and teaching.
    Unfortunately, Madison Diocese has been under all kinds of crazy influences and dominances.
    May our Lady and St. Joseph give every prayer and intercession for this great endeavour!

  22. contrarian says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s called the *Wisconsin* State Journal, though they might have merged with another journal as of late, as such things are happening. WSJ is somewhat conservative in its slant, so I’m not surprised that they are giving an even handed account of the situation at this parish.

    Let us pray for these wonderful priests and the bishop to continue their great witness.

    Mad-City is a great town, and a shot of orthodoxy would do them right.

  23. Drefcinski says:

    As a parishioner at St. Mary’s, allow me to extend my deepest appreciation for your donations and prayers. Keep praying for our priests, but also pray for their critics. Although I disagree with much of their theology and all of their tactics, they are part of our parish family and we need them to come back.

  24. EXCHIEF says:

    Those of us who donate are accomplishing THREE very beneficial things: 1. Helping to keep the school open; 2. Sending a message of support to the Priests; 3. Sending a message even to the rebel parishioners that orhtodox Catholics are not only more loyal and obedient than they are but care more for others than they do. The Bishop needs to hear from us as well. He is proving himself a man among boys.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    In the Madison area, liberal Catholics are in the majority. Madison is known locally as “the city where people get easily offended” apparently, about everything. Platteville is lucky to have these wonderful priests, and this great order. I met several priests from this order when they visited TAC years ago and they were obviously humble and holy men.

    The liberals who leave with their money will fall into the “lapsed Catholic” category, and the ones I know do not bother to go to Church. I doubt whether they expected such a great response from a great bishop.

  26. NDPhys says:

    I know of a few parishes near my hometown which are scheduled to be closed under the plan recently put forth by Archbishop Nienstedt which would love to have such priests around to serve them. They wouldn’t have any trouble with only allowing males to serve at mass either.

  27. templariidvm says:

    Donation sent, prayers said. Maybe a note as well as our donations and prayers would help. To be told that they are supported by others of the faithful would likely be quite edifying.

  28. david andrew says:

    Our parish school (K through 12) is currently under some kind of attack by functionaries in the Archdiocesan Education Department who seem to have an agenda. Several schools in the area, all suffering from financial difficulties (owing money to the Archdiocese) and lower enrollments, have been essentially forced to merge into one consolidated school (K-8 only).

    The issues are several:

    1) Our parish (and school) are canonically classified as “national” parishes, originally raised to serve the Polish community. It retains this classification and is obliged to uphold and advance Polish devotional customs and practices. The parish will not be able to continue in this mission because many of these devotional practices involved participation by the school (May Procession and Crowning, Good Friday devotions, etc.). The other parishes are geographic, not national, and do not reflect a particular cultural influence. The passing on of these devotional practices will be lost as participation diminishes.

    2) The news of this consolidation was passed on to the various parishes in a way that suggested that the consolidation was a “done deal”, when in fact several aspects of the investigation and discussions were still pending. Oddly, the Archdiocesan newspaper, now no longer under the direct financial control of the Archdiocese, ran an article several weeks ago announcing the merger, causing scandal, confusion and anger among the parents and parishioners.

    3) The location chosen for the consolidated school will NOT have a church or chapel as a part of its campus, thus depriving the students of regular attendance at Mass and other devotional and liturgical celebrations. Currently, our students attend Mass weekly, participate in Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays, provide altar boys for funerals during the week, pray the Stations of the Cross and Rosary devotions during Lent, and receive regular religious education, including visits from the Pastor, on a regular basis. What will happen when these kids move to a facility where they will be deprived of these experiences?

  29. vmanning says:

    Only one thing troubles me : Why won’t the diocese support the school ? If it’s a question of not wanting to set a precedent for the diocese to bail out financially troubled parochial schools, then this is an exception if the financial trouble arises from the tactics of dissident parishioners.If the refusal to lend financial suppoert arises from an attempt to use the school’s difficulties as a lesson, then I prefer direct confrontation. The Bishop should start saying Mass there every Sunday, every Mass.

  30. tonbo says:

    You know, on the one hand I condemn the parishioners for being a bunch of stubborn donkeys and refusing to leave the 1970’s… But on the other hand the priests should be mindful that they’re taking care of a flock of sheep that’s been essentially feral for many years (I don’t know if sheep actually go feral or not but the point still is, hopefully, made…).

    I come from the diocese of Oakland, where we had erm, well, the status quo… for many, many years… until Bishop Vigneron came along. He didn’t lop off any heads or make autocratic decrees, but he did guide his flock back towards orthodoxy through more subtle means (Examples of better liturgies, quietly switching around people, etc.). Now there are a lot fewer liturgical abuses, a lot less heretical nonsense been spouted from the pulpit and a huge increase in Eucharistic adoration. It has taken about 4-5 years, but it has improved immensely. I haven’t heard about any large movements towards dissension because of this gradual trend towards orthodoxy either.

    Now I compare this with what’s going on in Platteville… Rebellion and hardening of hearts… Large groups of people don’t usually change their ways drastically, unless moved by Saints and extraordinary acts of witness.

  31. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I donated! I’m so happy to help!

  32. Liz says:

    It’s funny b/c I was going to also add, not to forget the birdies and Father’s posted it already. lol. I think it’s nice to have so many people donate. We will show them. :o)

  33. Magpie says:

    Stuff them. We don’t need the dissenter’s money. I’m here in Ireland but I’d be happy to donate a few dollars if there is a fund.

  34. Magpie says:

    Just to bump this: there is a fund and I made a donation via Paypal. In the comments box, be sure to specify that this is for the save the school fund!


  35. catholicmilitant says:

    I just spoke with the pastor there to give him encouragement from New York. Going to donate right now at paypal.

  36. Del says:

    At vmanning:
    The Diocese of Madison has a financial crisis of its own. We are laying off staff and cutting essential services. We do not have $200,000 lying around to bail out the school.

    At Magpie:
    God bless you! Scroll up a bit, and there is a link to the parish where you can send a bit to help.

    And to everyone with a bit of time for WDTPRS mischief:
    Log on to the Wisconsin State Journal, and post in the comments after the article your support for Bishop Morlino, the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, and the good families of St. Mary’s Church in Platteville, WI.

  37. Scott W. says:

    Wow. That combox at WSJ confirms the doctrine of original sin. Sending a small donation now.

  38. The Egyptian says:

    Yes Supertradmum , I know and do business with many Wisconsinites from that neck of the woods, truly liberal and touchy about anything, they firmly believe that any mention of sin is an insult, oh well

    As far as these wonderful priests are concerned, please send them our way, (northern Cincinnati Diocese ) I would welcome them and the screaming would warm Torquemada’s heart

  39. Central Valley says:

    I pray God we had priests like these fine men in the diocese of Fresno, Ca. Some years ago I pulled my children out of “catholic” schools in the diocese. The forced communion in the hand, liturgical dancing at First Communion, centering prayer and the invitation to political activists who support homosexual “marriage” and abortion to speak at catholic school was too much to take and endangered the souls of my children. If….If only we had priest like this in the diocese of Fresno, Ca and a good sheperd like Bishop Morlino. Oremus

  40. anamaria says:

    r.j.sciurus: it is real :)

    Why cant God send more bishops like B. Morlino to the Church?

  41. Here’s the thing dissenters who campaign against priests never stop to consider. Suppose they succeed in getting rid of the priests. What makes them so sure they’ll get replacements? How do they know the parish won’t be closed down altogether — especially if nobody is supporting it or going to Mass?

  42. Mercyknight says:

    I just sent my donation.

  43. Calypso says:

    I don’t know what kind of fundraising they are currently doing for their school, but is there a way to suggest to them that something like a Jog-a-thon be considered? Get the children involved! There is about the same size Catholic school where I live (with just over 100 students K-8) and their biggest fundraiser each year is their annual Jog-a-thon. It was the similarity in enrollment that made me think of the idea. The children go door-to-door (accompanied by responsible parents or older siblings, of course) or stand outside of church on Sunday morning, or else stand outside different businesses, malls, etc. in the area, petitioning people to support their school by sponsoring them for their annual Jog-a-thon. People pledge either a certain amount per lap, or else give a one time donation. It is more difficult to tell a little child “no” who asks for money then an adult. Also, it is good for the children, for them to be able to get out and associate with other adults, and not just be in a classroom all day surrounded by peers. This teaches the children to be more involved and to take pride and responsibility in the preservation of their own school. Although normally for the Jog-a-thon here I think they raise under but close to $100,000 — one year, following an anonymous donor’s offer to match whatever the children were able to gain, saw the total amount that year raised to over $253,000.

    My best wishes and prayers for this school, church and diocese! May God help those who are willing to stand up for His truth despite opposition. We need more of that today.

  44. ChronicSinner says:

    I have already made my donation. But for those who haven’t yet, consider making it in lieu of the giving to the CCHD one scheduled in a couple of weeks from now. That should really tick off our more liberal brethern…all in the name of “social justice” of course.

  45. miggalvez says:

    I would like to thank all of you who have donated money to save St. Mary’s School, Platteville. It moves us (Fr. Gálvez, Fr. Del Priore and me) to see your thoughfulness, your generosity and your prayerful support. In just a few hours we have received around $ 2,200 through PayPal donations. It means a world to us. To each and everyone of you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. Please, keep on praying for Bishop Morlino, for us, and our priestly work in Platteville.

    Father Lope Pascual,
    Parochial Administrator.

  46. Clinton says:

    I was delighted to donate to St. Mary’s School. From the looks of the parish bulletin, the
    new priests are busy men–Masses in English, Spanish and Latin (EF? OF? not sure), plenty
    of times for Confession, scheduled Rosaries, etc. Seems like the good priests there are not
    scared of hard work.

    I wonder if the disaffected parishoners have thought this one through completely. I assume
    that the Bishop brought these fine priests in because the diocese is in short supply for
    now. I also understand that the diocese, like many others in this economy, is not exactly
    rolling in cash. If the Bishop were to have sent these priests away, isn’t it possible he might
    have to close the parish or merge it with another? Would these discontented folks be
    pleased with that outcome? If the school has to close, I doubt that the town of less than
    11,000 people has another Catholic school those children can attend. Were that to happen,
    would the protesting parishoners still feel they had done the right thing?

  47. DMH says:

    On Divine Mercy Sunday of this year we became members of Divine Mercy Parish in Sauk City and are very grateful to have priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. The priests show great love for Jesus Christ and for us parishioners. It is wonderful to see our priests in the Church praying at various hours, taking communion to the sick and elderly/homebound, and to see them work with people of all ages. They teach the Truth with great love and are very, very concerned about the souls of each person who they meet. Sometimes the Truth can make me stir a little and I examine my conscience and ask Jesus to help me to change and to understand more fully why I am uncomfortable and it is only when my eyes are opened through hearing the Truth that I can make a choice to change my sinful ways. The catechesis I had in the 1970’s and 1980’s was very poor and when I returned to the Catholic Church about 14 years ago I was thirsting to learn more, and in joining Divine Mercy Parish I am being fed Spiritually and learning much more about the Catholic Faith. The priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest are great educators for all ages.
    When I had surgery this past spring, I was so happy that our pastor brought Jesus to my home so I could receive Him through the hands of my priest, it is so comforting to have a priest bring Communion when you are ill.
    We as Catholics need to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist and show respect for Jesus, and the Priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest teach us how to grow closer to Jesus and how to respect Jesus. Our priests teach by their words, but more importantly by their actions and seeing how much they love and respect Jesus brings joy to my heart.
    Having the option to kneel down to receive Jesus is so beautiful, some day I may physically not be able to do so, but for now, it is a chance for me to kneel down to receive Jesus who died for me.
    To have the young boys/men serve at the Mass is so wonderful, I can see budding vocations to the priesthood.
    Many people have made comments to me and my husband about us being members of Divine Mercy Parish and they say why would we want to be with “those priests”. Many negative comments have come our way, but I respond with great love and joy in my heart that these are our friends (our priests) that you are talking about and I ask them if they have ever met and talked to any of them and their response is most often “no”. I kindly say to them, please do not judge and I invite them to come and meet our priests.
    I pray that the priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest can persevere through this trial and stay strong in the Truth and I look at the situation this way, the more that they are persecuted the more they remind me of Jesus Christ, may their rewards be great in Heaven. Praise God for all the wonderful priests who are obedient to the Magisterium of the Church and who are striving just like us to get closer to Jesus. Pray for all priests. Thank you Bishop Morlino for bringing these priests to our Diocese. My husband and I have been blessed by God through these wonderful priests.

  48. irishgirl says:

    I already stated it in the post about the Bishop’s letter, but I’ll say it again: Bravo to Bishop Morlino and the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest!
    And Boo to the dissident parishioners who are complaining! I have a message to send them-THE NINETEEN SEVENTIES ARE OVER! Get over it, get with the program, and get a life!

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    They’re just separating the Catholics from the tourists. It’ll happen everywhere at some point the way the culture is going.

  50. Syte says:

    Anybody wishing to support our great Bishop Morlino can do it two ways:
    – Sign up to pray a monthly rosary for Bishop Morlino at RosaryForTheBishop.org.
    – Sign your name in support of Bishop Morlino at SupportBishopMorlino.com.

  51. Nelle says:

    I am from St. Norbert’s Parish in Roxbury and we also have priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest . DMH above has said everything I want to say about our dear Priests. Our Blessed Mother must be oh so happy with them. Get to know them personally and I am sure you will be as pleased as we are. They only want to get us to Heaven. That is their responsibility and they know they will be asked by Jesus if they did everything in their power to show us the way!

  52. adeodatus49 says:

    It seems that Bishop Morlino is separating the sheep from the goats. An Alter Christus in action!

    One other comment: “They only want to get us to Heaven. That is their responsibility and they know they will be asked by Jesus if they did everything in their power to show us the way!”

    Responsio: Priests who consider it their vocation to get their flocks to heaven? Imagine that! What ever happened to the “saving the baby whales” Mother Earth theology, etc., of the Spirit of Vatican II? LOL

    God bless this holy high priest and his brother priests-cooperators in the vineyard of the Lord.

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