A rapid surge of interest in priestly vocations in the Diocese of…

A while back I posted about the surge of vocations in the Diocese of Madison under the influence of the Extraordinary Ordinary, Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, the diocesan bishop.  It’s a small diocese, but there are more than 30 outstanding men in formation.  This fact has made liberals quiver with anxiety.

I received a note from a friend of mine in New York state who is well situated to hear all manner of news.

The vocations office in Albany has gone from zero to 120 inquiries from young men of the area.

My first reaction is to say, with Henry, “Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum“.

Next, I say, “Yep.  This isn’t rocket science.”

Then, I say, “What do you want to bet that none of these men have subscriptions to the National Schismatic Reporter?”

Finally, I remind the readers what I posted the other day.  HERE  The new bishop of Albany, Most Rev. Edward Scharfenberger celebrated Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form in his Cathedral recently.  This was the 1st time Mass has been celebrated in Albany’s Cathedral in decades.

Let’s be clear.  I am not suggesting that there is an immediate connection between saying a Pontifical Mass and a sudden increase in vocations, though I think that the fact of the Mass will be helpful for prompting vocations in the future.  I think that, if the numbers are accurate, men are reacting to a new style, a new vision which the new bishop has brought in.   Part of that new style and vision now includes willingness to celebrate Holy Mass also in the Extraordinary Form.   He is a both/and bishop.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Scharfenberger.

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  1. ASPM Sem says:

    Hi Father, I think you have a typo:

    “This was the 1st time Mass has been celebrated in Albany’s Cathedral in decades.”

    Do you mean “This was the 1st time the Extraordinary Form Mass has been celebrated in Albany’s Cathedral in decades.”? Or is there really an extremely sad state of affairs in Albany?

  2. Michael says:

    Perhaps it’s wrong to say this during Lent, but in a non-liturgical-setting kind of way, this makes me want to say, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

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  4. ChesterFrank says:

    I think the Albany Diocese also had a campaign seeking out candidates for priesthood, which went by the title “called by name”, and that campaign was started by Bishop Hubbard. I am not saying anything negative about Bishop Scharfenberger as I am sure he will bring many good things to the diocese.

  5. juergensen says:

    Bishop Scharfenberger of Albany is a very recent appointment. Must have slipped through the cracks. On a lighter note, he does look a bit like Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter”, no?

  6. acardnal says:

    Story and photos of the Mass at NLM: HERE

  7. kneeling catholic says:

    Hello Father! The vocations explosions in Albany and Madison should be easy to interpret for any of the people-that-run-things who pride themselves on their pragmatism……http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-francis-effect-in-argentina.html…..the preceding link details a Pew Research article which details who the Church in Argentina fared under Francis and his colleagues’ , i.e. a slow and steady decline in attendance and in the faith of those remaining. i.e. the few remaining in the pews solidly favor same sex marriage and abortion. As in the time of Elijah’s Mount Carmel contest, it is well past time for our ‘kings’ to open their eyes and witness what builds the Faith and what does not!

  8. majuscule says:

    I find myself reading (for the first time) Goodbye Good Men: How liberals brought corruption into the Catholic Church. (I sure hope and pray that times have changed, since the book was published back in 2002.)

    I was struck by this phrase:
    Spiritual formation is necessary if…the seminarian is to one day be a priest rather than simply act as a priest.

  9. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    The most important (not the only, but hands-down the most important) factor raising or depressing arch/diocesan vocational inquiries is the (perceived, if it comes to that) character-qua-Catholic-man of the arch/bishop.

  10. KatieL56 says:

    I’m praying that the bishop gets around to visiting my parish one of these days and gently reminds Father that we don’t ad lib the Eucharistic prayers, skip any penitential rite whatsoever, never say the creed, and don’t have the Easter bunny process in throwing candy to the kiddies. I KNOW that the priest is wildly popular for “having brought so many people back to Church” but please God, why can’t it be the CATHOLIC CHURCH he brought them back to and not his own made-up one?

  11. benedetta says:

    ChesterFrank, If I am not mistaken “Called by Name” was started in other dioceses with solid success in many places of the country some twenty years ago, however, the Diocese of Albany did not demonstrate any interest in adopting this program, even with its track record of success in recruiting seminarians, until Fall of 2013. Just a few months later the new bishop was appointed by Pope Francis. The new bishop has had a solid year now, so these current numbers of zero to 120 would seem to reflect the time period of his tenure.

    We certainly must pray for the diocese, this bishop, and the lay faithful in the region. And, especially, our priests who are working way beyond capacity in most cases and who deserve better working conditions, the fraternity and support of others and a more balanced way of life, which a rise in vocations who will serve Catholics will indeed help to foster.

  12. Perhaps some of the decent, orthodox men who wouldn’t even bother to try to become priests under the old regime in Albany instead found decent, orthodox wives and had large families, the young men of which are now ready to come out of hiding and make up for lost time. It would be ironic if the suppression of the orthodox in the last 30 years now results in a small surge of orthodox priests at a time when they are perhaps more sorely needed than before.

  13. The Cobbler says:

    Andrew Saucci, if that were to turn out so, I suppose in terms of the Church Militant we could then say that the enemy’s control of the seminaries in the preceding generation was a pyrrhic victory? Or perhaps that’s wishful thinking. Time will tell.

  14. Athelstan says:

    Their Excellencies Hubbard (Albany) and Clark (Rochester) seemed determined to execute a strategy to see how fast it was possible to downsize their dioceses. Or at least that’s the best explanation I can come up with. The numbers for Albany are especially staggering. From 426 diocesan priests in 1965 to 106 last year; from 1,595 religious brothers and sisters teaching to…uh, 8 this year. That is not a typo. I recall Fr. Z noting a year or two ago that their vocations webpage listed only six seminarians, along with an odd passive aggressive statement noting that women and married men could not be ordained “presently.”

    But things seem to be looking up now. I second the kudos to Bp. Scharfenberger. He needs our prayers.

  15. govmatt says:

    Considering how obvious this solution is, is it delusion, evil or ignorance that is blinding so many other bishops and priests? Regardless, it’s so encouraging to see the brick-by-brick changes taking place (even in a hostile climate).

  16. CatherineTherese says:

    One of the more subversive tactics has been the “planning committees” or “task forces” organized by administrator types (mostly women, perhaps (?), who seem to come from a subset that leans in a particular direction, if you know what I mean), set up to help parishes transition to a future without a full-time pastor.

    Mind you – it’s not lost on me that we have yet to enter into the worst of the vocations drought, as we still enjoy the tireless and selfless work of the generation of priests who might prefer to be retired by now, say the 70+ set, even infirm and still running parishes. But we all know there’s realism, and then there’s pushing an agenda.

    When committees are bustling around talking about how things will soon be different, with new onus put on the laity for all manner of pastoral and liturgical duties as a matter of course, because the priest shortage is inevitable, an unwitting and beleaguered laity might actually fall for that – “planning,” “organizing,” “committeeing.”

    The unspoken philosophy underlying this “planning” is that it is a good thing – the future of the Church – that more laity be involved and that new visions and new possibilities are on the horizon. “We’re here to help.”

    (Or, on the other hand, there’s the Morlino model.)

  17. mpmaron says:

    If, by some imagined spark of insight, you would attribute the rise in inquires to +Bp Hubbard, how on earth do you reconcile that with the first 36 years of his episcopacy with respect to vocations?

    I am not interested in internet arguing. It is clear that young men in my diocese felt safe to come forward with +Bp. Hubbard’s retirement. EF Masses and calls to orthodoxy are encouragement.

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  19. benedetta says:

    CatherineTherese is of course so right on this. It takes a tremendous amount of fortitude and faithfulness for bishops to go against the sometimes deafening voices of discouragement and step out in hope.

    Having taught and worked with young Catholics, it is my sense that they do not want to lay down their lives for just “a good man”, which many of us could be convinced to do for a variety of reasons or temporal causes. It stands to reason that men would line up to be a part of leadership which, for one thing, doesn’t speak with two sides of one’s mouth with respect to whether it would have been ok had they been aborted or not, and even affirming the goodness of their existence, affirming besides what we all as Catholics are called to do, in the Church Militant on earth, to fight against evil active and at work, a murderer and a liar from the start.

    The faithful want the Real Presence here. They don’t want a protestantized interpretation of the ordinary form not commensurate with faith. They want to grow in prayer and holiness and in our liberating communion. Priests cannot shoulder what our times call for without the support and sacrifice of a shepherd who is himself loyal to what a priest truly is. It’s hard enough for anyone trying to fulfill any vocation today as a Christian, in some places of course it’s much harder than others, and in some it’s a matter of martyrdom. It’s not all fun and games. And it certainly is not about “politics” or “ideology” as some would style it dismissively. A young man of integrity who wants to pastor souls will naturally be interested in being led by a man who does not take our eternal salvation in Jesus lightly.

  20. mpmaron says:

    Hear, hear!

  21. Sonshine135 says:

    The same holds true in the Charlotte Diocese. The churches with the highest percentage of vocations per capita are the two churches in Charlotte that have both forms of the Mass: St. Ann and St. Thomas Aquinas. The most progressive church in the Charlotte Area, which shall remain nameless, has not produced a single vocation to this day from its original founding.

  22. ChesterFrank says:

    Benedetta you are correct, “Called by Name” was started outside of the Albany Diocese and was implemented in Albany during the fall of 2013. I did not know that it began 20 years ago as that might not have been noted in the literature.

  23. benedetta says:

    ChesterFrank, interesting. As you seem to have some involvement or knowledge of this effort, why do you think Bp Hubbard did not implement something like “called by name” much sooner than fall 2013? Do you agree, as some commenters have stated here, and elsewhere, that the general predilection over those decades was neglect of vocations in favor of lay run communion services, and parish clusters run by committees, with “sacramental ministers” riding the circuit to go from town to town to consecrate hosts on Sundays only?

  24. ChesterFrank says:

    benedetta, I will agree with you.

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