To make a donation to the Diocese of Madison and to earmark it for seminarians, click HERE.
Once you click the “one time” or “monthly” button, you’ll get a menu. The St. Joseph Fund is for seminarians. Otherwise, there is a diocesan fundraising project going on that Part 1 of the WSJ article explains. Thanks in advance!
___ Original Published on: Mar 1, 2015 @ 10:14 ___
In 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?
UPDATE 2 March:
Part two of the two-parter is out. HERE
Samples with my patented treatment:
For young priest-in-training, days of classes, prayer and hypothetical confessions
He cleared off his computer desk, the one with the mini-fridge underneath, and placed a wine chalice on the makeshift altar.
For the next hour, he rehearsed the prayers, blessings and rites that constitute the Roman Catholic Mass, something he does every day. [I wouldn’t put all the money in my pocket on it, but I’d wager that Rev. Mr. G – whom I know pretty well – usually practices the TLM. Come to think of it… what’s to practice with the Ordinary Form? – UPDATE – I noted that in the photo description at the WSJ it says: “Chris Gernetzke, a seminarian from Evansville, raises a chalice while practicing the Latin Mass in his dorm room”. Yep. He even heads over to the FSSP parish in Minneapolis from time to time.]
“There’s a spiritual aspect to it, of course,” said Gernetzke, 26, who is in his final semester at The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minnesota. “But there’s also just the mechanics of it that you have to get down.”
Gernetzke is one of 33 men studying to be priests in the Madison Catholic Diocese and one of five who will graduate this spring and return to the diocese for a parish assignment. They are part of a wave of new recruits since Bishop Robert Morlino arrived in 2003 and made vocations — or discerning a call to the priesthood — a priority. [As a matter of fact, Bp. Morlino has postponed building a cathedral in order to support seminarians. The cathedral burned down some year back. Seminarians are the future.]
In just a few months, the diocese will ordain Gernetzke. He will then be entrusted with all of the authority, responsibility and sacred duties of a priest.
When he consecrates communion bread and wine, it will become, as Catholicism teaches, the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. He will hear intimate confessions, baptize babies, console the distraught, bless the dying.
“In some sense, you try not to think about the gravity of what you’ll be doing, because it’s sacred work and we’re unworthy of it in and of ourselves,” said Gernetzke, who grew up in Evansville, about 20 miles south of Madison. “But the Lord calls the unworthy and gives us the grace to make it possible by working through him.”
Gernetzke, an Eagle Scout and Ultimate Frisbee player, said he first felt a pull toward the priesthood in seventh grade while serving as an altar boy at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Evansville.
The parish priest at the time, the Rev. Eric Nielsen, [Now at St. Paul’s downtown, the U of W Madison parish and Catholic center, doing great work. They have a building project there to replace the hideous Brutalist church that replaced the perfectly good original church, and to expand the facilities. For photos HERE] ministered with such joy that it inspired the 13-year-old boy. But it wasn’t cool to discuss the priesthood in middle school, Gernetzke said, so he suppressed the idea. Also, he saw himself marrying one day.
He went to college at Viterbo University in La Crosse, where he studied nursing and dated. While assisting at a funeral Mass on campus, a priest asked him if he’d ever thought about the priesthood. Gernetzke had a ready answer: “Father, I like girls too much.”
The priest responded, “Getting married is giving up all girls but one; becoming a priest is just giving up one more girl.”
Something about the way the priest framed the issue jolted Gernetzke. It was like a switch flipped.
“That was my last defense to really seriously considering the priesthood,” he said.
He prayed for guidance, and one evening during his sophomore year, alone in the campus chapel, he said he heard God’s voice: “Go to the seminary.” It wasn’t an audible voice, but one “that speaks to you in the depths of your heart,” Gernetzke said.
Not every seminarian hears such a distinct voice when discerning a call, nor is it necessary to, said Monsignor James Bartylla, the diocese’s second-in-command. But it is not uncommon, he said.
Bartylla likens the voice to “an extremely clear thought that comes from the outside,” one that is “very succinct and persuasive” and “followed by great peace.”
Gernetzke applied to the diocese to become a seminarian. The lengthy process includes a psychological exam of several hundred questions, written essays, an extensive background check, and interviews and evaluations by a psychiatrist and psychologist. A panel of priests and lay people conducts a final interview before making a recommendation to the bishop.
Gernetzke left Viterbo after his sophomore year and enrolled at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, where he earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy, a diocesan requirement.
There’s a lot more over there. I warmly recommend you check it out, especially you young men out there who are thinking about what to do with your lives.