UPDATE: D. Madison: Bp. Morlino and the surge of priestly vocations (Parts 1 & 2)

NewPriestsI updated this with Part 2 from the WSJ, below.  Read about a seminarian who will say the TLM.

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

WSJ GernetzkeST. PAUL — Alone in his seminary dorm room on a recent afternoon, Chris Gernetzke imagined he was standing before a flock of the Catholic faithful.

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Harris says:

    Help… Is praying for a Bishop Morlino clone a sin? Even if we *really* need one in Chicago…

  2. Dave P. says:

    Things have changed, for sure. I never thought St. Paul’s (the Newman Center for UW) would become a bastion of orthodoxy, nor did I ever imagine them finally replacing their concrete monstrosity of a worship space with a real church (it’s still in planning, but I hope it happens).

  3. marthawrites says:

    Hooray for Bishop Morlino and for the Madison diocesan priests-in-formation. Another bishop, Loverde of Arlington, VA, similarly encourages vocations and wholeheartedly offers his seminarians support both material and spiritual. And he is a culture warrior, speaking out recently against the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. The K of C in that diocese are strong backers of seminarians’ expenses. The vocations director plays an important role with solid programs inspiring young men in this area to consider the priesthood. Kudos to all of them: this is a terrific diocese!

  4. benedetta says:

    “They’ve worried…that the seminarians…will be carbon copies.”

    This unfounded, amorphous and unreasonable “worry” is apparently an acceptable excuse for all sorts of intolerant bullying and harassment these days. I’m not saying that call to action types are fascists per se, but…some things are difficult to justify under any sort of ethical scheme.

    It is pretty easy to see why seminarians are pleased to be in formation under this good Bishop. No one wants to commit to a program wherein a leader so to speak, talks out of both sides of his mouth, and celebrates dissent. No one wants to be in a position where it is impossible to tell whether one is coming or going. The converse is also interesting: in dioceses led by tolerance or celebration of dissent, vocations are pretty much nil.

  5. Patti Day says:

    This just makes my heart sing. I can almost ignore the innuendo in the piece, but I thought Franciscan University professors were better than that. God bless Bishop Morlino. I hope all this good news doesn’t get him recalled or whatever happens to faithful God-fearing bishops. [When you review that article, take note of what is actually in quotes. Was it the prof’s language or the writer’s?]

  6. mburn16 says:

    What is the state of seminary education in the United States? I have to wonder if there wouldn’t be ways to make the process cheaper, perhaps through some means of combining the efforts of the various diocese. Certainly there will be many more seminarians in need of training in upcoming years. Is the process as good as it could be? That is probably a good question to start asking as the number of applicants rises again.

  7. Bea says:

    If “rigidity” means keeping the Catholic Faith, let there be more “rigidity” AND “carbon copies” to boot.

    Why can’t other bishops see what works and why their liberal policies don’t.

    Long live Bishop Morlino!

  8. GregH says:

    $250k to $300k to educate a priest? That sounds total unreasonable from a someone who works in finance. [4 years of undergrad level school and 4 years of what is (jokingly) called graduate level, including travel expenses to and from…. Tell us how much it ought to cost?]

  9. Michael says:

    Harris said, “Help… Is praying for a Bishop Morlino clone a sin? Even if we *really* need one in Chicago…”

    We can add my area to that, too!

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    Jim Green is a “Holy Wisdom Monastery” guy (post-Catholic sect–I have met Jim Green on multiple occasions when he confirmed he fell away from the Church a short time after Vatican II and does not now attend Catholic Mass). Since Jim Green does not go to a Catholic parish at all, naturally he would not receive any solicitation from the diocese to donate to the seminarian appeal.

    [Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  11. Magash says:

    To be fair to Professor Hendershott he is using “tolerant” in the correct sense. One can only tolerate something one does not agree with. One can also choose not to tolerate something. In the sane world outside of liberalism to say one does not tolerate something is a perfectly respectable stand to make. We don’t tolerate pickpockets or wife beaters or people who talk in movie theaters. Nor should bishops tolerate dissent from Church teachings on the part of clergy.
    The other bishop of Virginia, Delorenzo has also managed to garner vocations and has many fine men in formation. Like other bishops with successful programs he has a full time vocations director. Seminarians are present at all diocesan functions, especially those with young men present, in clericals, often to witness to their discernment journey. While not as loudly orthodox as Bishop Morlino or even Bishop Loverde, Bsihop Delorenzo is no progressive and is generally sound on magisterial teachings, if not flashy about it.
    There’s no doubt in my mind he was picked to clean up Bishop Sullivan’s mess, when that man retired.

  12. mburn16 says:

    Distance learning is taking off in the secular world. How practical would it be to have a better share of the academic component completed online?

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    And by the way, it’s just not plausible whatsoever that Doug Erickson the journalist doesn’t know Jim Green is a Holy Wisdom attendee and not a Catholic parishioner because Doug has written so articles about HWM that quote Jim Green. He is a frequent, repeat source for Doug. For instance in this one http://host.madison.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/holy-wisdom-monastery-provides-church-services-for-disaffected-local-catholics/article_d42597ee-609b-11e1-8f74-001871e3ce6c.html Doug Erickson writes:

    “We’re doing what the hierarchical church was afraid to complete,” said Jim Green, a longtime Holy Wisdom parishioner who is gay and describes himself as “a Catholic in exile.”

  14. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Holy and orthodox bishop, authentic masculine liturgy, vocation surge. A 550% increase in active seminarians in last decade. Who would have thought?

    The sad thing is that it seems so many US bishops are ideologues or afraid to disrupt the entrenched status quo of modernist diocesan apoptosis and therefore US bishops aren’t noticing that potential solutions to their problems could be had by imitating successful dioceses like Lincoln, Madison, Arlington…

  15. acardnal says:

    I note the seminarian trend-line graph in the article. It’s downward until Bishop Morlino’s arrival in 2003 after which it moves dramatically upward! There’s a message there folks.

    I think the perpetual adoration chapels in this diocese are a BIG factor in the number of vocations. In fact, another chapel just opened at St Aloysius in Sauk City; Bp. Morlino was there to bless and open it. AND that parish just happens to be staffed by priests from the Society of Jesus Christ, the Priest who also celebrate the TLM/EF mass daily in addition to the OF. That order has been persecuted by the liberals in the diocese. I love them. And I fully support Bishop Morlino.

  16. acardnal says:

    sic: it’s = its above

  17. Traductora says:

    Actually, I thought it was a pretty good article. It did report the negative view of the other side, but that doesn’t reflect on the reporter and instead makes the other side look like whining idiots.

    One of the subtexts of Vatican II, in my opinion, was the “withering away of the Church.” Marxists had the “withering away of the state,” where it would be replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat (guided, of course, by the vanguard of the revolution, the university professors). And VII envisaged the same thing for the Church.

    It would disappear as an entity, and Christianity would even disappear as doctrinally identifiable and instead would consider itself expressed through a bizarre combination of immanentism and “one river, many wells,” meaning that Christianity was part of a general religiosity and had nothing special in itself.

    I think this is how Pope Francis sees it. After all, he was the Pope who blessed coca leaves for a group of Latin American indigenist “activists” trying to bring back the pagan cult of “La Pachamama”.

    So bishops who actually stand up and defend Christianity and the Church, where the truth resides, will get vocations…because the human heart and mind seek truth. Not this strange mish-mash being offered them by the people in charge.

  18. acardnal says:

    No. it’s = it’s I was correct the first time. My brain is mush today.

  19. Joseph-Mary says:

    Two seminaries in Denver and I believe they are full. Faithfulness brings vocations.

  20. Eugene says:

    By their fruits you shall know them…I hope the people of the Madison diocese realize how blessed they are to have a shepherd like Bp Morlino.
    Re: CTA..forget it..not even worth a comment

  21. acardnal says:

    Joseph-Mary, there are or have been Madison seminarians studying in Denver.

  22. Pingback: Catholicism: Works Every Time It’s Tried | The American Catholic

  23. HeatherPA says:

    God Bless Bishop Morlino!

    I pray that someday we have a Bishop like this come into our diocese. Our Parish has never had a vocation to the priesthood or to religious life from its pews in over 100 years, from what I have been told. We joined it 5 years ago when we moved here.

    The diocese has 5 seminarians, currently.

  24. Athelstan says:

    “We’re at a rough replacement level,” Bartylla said.

    My friends, THAT is no mean feat. How many dioceses can say they’re at replacement level right now?

    Judging from the graph, it looks like the real boom in vocations kicked in 7-9 years ago. So it makes sense that they’re only now starting to see a surge in ordinations. Having only 6-12 seminarians – what Bp. Morlino inherited – sure wasn’t going to get it done. You have to factor in a certain attrition rate, too, even in the very best seminaries.

  25. jflare says:

    If anything, I’m somewhat surprised that the total cost of educating and training a seminarian to become a priest isn’t at least a little higher. I recall my in-state undergrad tuiton was around $11,000 in 1994, room and board were another $1,500- to $2,000. Books and fees could easily cost another $300 to $800. ..And that was at the state-subsidized university.
    I would suspect that most seminaries do not receive funding for higher education from the states in which they’re placed. In fact, I think it likely better if they don’t, precisely because they’d be less subject to harassment from the state about curriculum or practice if they don’t use state monies.
    Being financially independent from secular sources does have consequences though. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that costs for tuition, room, board, books, and other costs could be rather closer to those you might find at places like Harvard or another Ivy League school. It’s very expensive to run a school, even if you don’t intend a profit.
    As Fr Z commented, you’d need to pay for all this for all 8 years of a priest’s formation.

    If they’re able to do it for $250- to $300K by the end, I’d say they’re doing rather well.

    On a side note, what’s this deal about “worship sites”? Do they not know the word “church”?
    Or do they merely refuse to remember the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage?

  26. Elizabeth D says:

    What happened 7-9 years ago is that Monsignor Bartylla became the vocations director. He was made a Monsignor partly because of his service in this regard. He is the vicar general now. Terrific priest. And let no one suppose the number of seminarians is because of indiscriminately accepting candidates, they are really excellent in human qualities and (as far as I can see) spiritual fitness. There are more than a handful whom I am really SO impressed with and they are all so nice.

  27. GregH says:

    Not more than $20k max per year especially if you have priests as professors which i hope is the case

    [HA HA HA HA HA HA!]

  28. Giuseppe says:

    Is Bishop Morlino a Jesuit? His biography mentions that he went to Scranton Preparatory School (Jesuit high school) and Fordham University and joined the Jesuits. But he doesn’t seem to use S.J. after his name. [He was.]

  29. Supertradmum says:

    mburn16, everyone seems to be ignoring your amazingly naive comments, but I shall not.

    If a student in college goes to four years of university plus grad school, plus a year in a parish placement, the cost would be higher than $300.000. Example: University of Wisconsin tuition room and board for undergraduate degree, is roughly 100,000; grad school, is roughly 228,000, without travel or clothes. Grand total, 380,000 for a Master’s plus specialist’s degree, which is basically what a seminarian has when ordained. The deaconate time out in a parish, or if the seminary has the man out a whole year in a parish, also must be paid for….food etc.

    Bishop Morlino’s calculations are spot on. And, as to online courses, you obviously do not understand what type of courses seminarians take. I doubt is one can find an online course on St. Maximus the Confessor and the Desert Fathers, or the intricacies of G.I.R.M.

    Bishop Morlino is one of several priests who told my son he had a vocation. In England, the parents are expected to help the seminarian more than in the States. Why Supertradson wears second-hand clothes from the deacon’s throw-away box.

  30. gramma10 says:

    This is my diocese. We are spoiled here.
    Bishop Morlino has spoken here several times locally at the ICC plus on the World Over with Raymond Arroyo who attends the church here.
    Bishop Morlino is a funny calm straight shooter Bishop! Love him!
    Bishop Loverde is a good man who has discussed his “awakening” in the not too distant past.
    The Holy Spirit is alive and well here!
    Praise God!

  31. jameeka says:

    Surely a major factor is that this diocese promotes Eucharistic Adoration specifically to pray for more vocations, on a daily basis. Wonderful!

  32. Deo gratias.

    Let’s pray for this bishop though. How soon will it be that he is denounced for not being humble enough or someone will misrepresent his finances and he is removed?

  33. Pingback: Pope Francis Offers Tips for Confession - BigPulpit.com

  34. arickett says:

    Send them to the uk as 20,000 a year would cover your cost over this side of the pond figures taken from the diocese accounts and round up.

  35. arickett says:

    Send them to the uk as 20,000 a year would cover your cost over this side of the pond figures taken from the diocese accounts and rounded up.

  36. jflare says:

    “How practical would it be to have a better share of the academic component completed online?”

    Not very practical really. I understand the point you’re trying to make in terms of imparting knowledge while keeping costs down, but online courses have their limits too.
    Stated very briefly, most people don’t attend college exclusively to “mentally download” a whole horde of information. Whether they intend it or not, they also attend college to participate in a form of a community; they ultimately learn many of the expectations of the professionals of the fields they intend to enter.
    Additionally, while online courses can offer some opportunity for discussions, such discussion tends to be rather more… … what’s the word I’m looking for? Regulated? Stiff? Slow?
    In general, it’s one thing to have a discussion about something on the internet, it’s quite another to have a discussion face to face.

    Even ignoring all that, online courses pose the particular problem that the school’s tech department cannot always easily aid a student in solving a tech issue, nor can a student necessarily always discern what the best question to ask of a professor..is.
    Sometimes, again, being able to talk to one’s professor face to face can allow the student’s question to be better or more thoroughly discerned.

  37. PhilipNeri says:

    I’m a seminary professor and formator. . .The young men we teach and form here at Notre Dame Seminary are top-notch. Faithful, energetic, service-oriented, and orthodox. They love the Church, her tradition, and they love God! Considering my own academic experience at a “school of theology,” I wish I had had the professors we have here. My studium formators were excellent, btw.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  38. acardnal says:

    Part 2 of the article on Madison’s seminarians was published this morning and is now available:

  39. JBS says:

    The seminary is not just about academics. Among other things, the staff must observe seminarian behaviors, correcting problems when possible, and removing problematic seminarians when necessary. Therefore, seminaries are necessarily residential, requiring staff trained in personal formation. (Granted, in recent decades there is a history of seminarians being removed simply for being faithful to Church doctrine.)

  40. Sonshine135 says:

    This very same thing happened in the Charlotte Diocese, where I believe we are now up to 19 Seminarians- 1 of which I helped become a Knight of Columbus prior to his departure to seminary. Last year, Bishop Jugis started the first ever multi-year campaign to help the Diocese, and we exceed the requested $65 million we needed. The campaign went to helping not only vocations, but helping with an $11 million shortfall in healthcare expenses for our rapidly aging priesthood. A large chunk is also going to help start a local seminary at Belmont Abby. As you can imagine, the usual suspects scoffed, but I am happy for our Bishop, and so glad that so many Parishes gave so much. Congratulations to the Diocese of Madison and Bishop Morlino. Keep it up!

  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    “As Fr Z commented, you’d need to pay for all this for all 8 years of a priest’s formation.”

    Seminaries are, essentially, private colleges and one would expect a cost comparison to state university costs to be too low. On the other hand, one factor increasing the cost for seminary studies is the necessary live-in nature of the formation. It would be somewhat difficult to be a commuter seminarian, I suspect, although this would, obviously, drive down costs, enormously.

    On the other hand, people who have already been through college could probably be educated for a bit less, as they already have some pre-recs out of the way. I suppose that attending classes allows for a certain amount of give-and-take discussions, but students, especially undergrads, don’t really develop sophistication in argument skills in a topical area until they are at least juniors because they don’t, yet, have enough background or maturity. If I could be a seminarian (chickens are non-ordainable), why would I want to sit in a class on chant when I could be teaching the class or studying phenomenology when I do research in a related field? In a regular college, one is given credit for work done. In theory, training some (not a lot) more experienced men could help cut costs.

    Training in a seminary involves more than just classroom training, which, in itself, does not have to be that expensive (and here’s a secret, most colleges are way over-priced for the training they provide). Training involves developing a mindset and gaining experience – in a word, being formed. In that sense it is more like a Master-apprentice relationship than traditional college education. It is closer to medical school or Julliard, in that one is observed all of the time. In music, students must sit for a jury every semester/quarter, where they perform for the full faculty in their area and only if the do well are they allowed to go onto the next level. More knowledgeable people can speak to this, but it seems that seminary training is a bit like that.

    As for graduate training, here is where things get a bit wonky. When I was in graduate school in the sciences, everything was paid for – my tuition, my living expenses (via a teaching stipend), etc. When I was in music, nothing was paid for. There is a real divide in graduate funding between the sciences and the humanities. There is nothing like the National Science Foundation for humanities (NSF grants pay for graduate science education in many instances). Graduate school is expensive for priests-in-training because there are no funding opportunities. Correct me if I am wrong, but government financial aid is not allowed. That is why diocesan appeals must be made. This is a good thing, since the people are investing in the seminarian. Still, how many of the undergrad courses could be done at cheaper institutions before matriculating to the seminary? I don’t know. Can someone speak to this?

    Most of the orthodox Orders are seeing tremendous growth, so the secret to the priest shortage seem, to me, to really be a shortage in orthodox bishops. Alas, outside of prayer, that issue is out of the hands of the laity.

    It would be interesting to do a study of seminary growth across the country to see if correlation implies causation in terms of orthodoxy. It would be really interesting to see if there is a Seminary Belt, like the Bible Belt, that goes across the mid-section of the U. S.

    Since I have no practical experience within a seminary (except to use their library), my observations are probably way off the mark. So, sorry for wasting your time. Consider this your chance to practice Monday morning charity.

    The Chicken

  42. mburn16 says:

    My “amazingly naiive comment” was introduced to be a discussion point. I know little about seminary, having never seriously considered a vocation in the Priesthood myself (in no small part because of the celibacy requirement). And quite obviously, seminary is not confined only to traditional academic courses. I see no reason why, however, this should bar us from asking whether we are truly doing things the right way. You tell me “good luck finding an online course….” well, how easy would that be to change? How easy was it to find a respectable online course in statistics a decade ago? Yet today such courses are plentiful.

    I was not asking whether such an alternative structure actually exists. I was asking whether it would be practical for one to be established.

  43. JBS says:


    I’m not sure how publicly declaring a personal lack of openness to God’s call contributes to this conversation, but it is certainly important for dioceses to look for the best value in seminarian formation. Indeed, cash-strapped dioceses and seminaries do this frequently, and occasionally even desperately.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    arickett, because of immigration laws in Great Britain, dioceses are no longer allowed to take seminarians from any country outside the EU who already do not have resident or citizen family members in GB. I was told this by two sources, one a vocation director of a very large diocese in England.

    Masked Chicken, many of the Midwest seminaries are very liberal–I worked in one. Example: no Latin Mass except once a term and in one, the students had to ask for Adoration once a week. Formation is also liberal. The bishop is one diocese took his seminarians out of the local “Catholic university” and put them in another seminary as the curriculum was and still is very liberal. Sadly, the permanent deacons still get their theological training there and it shows. All I have met in that diocese want women priests and some ssm and are open about these stands.

    mburn16, one of the problems is that people are no longer tithing 10% of their income. Another priest told me recently that the envelopes do not respond to income and this affects money. Also, some dioceses do not demand money back from the seminarians if they quit, which I do think is wrong. I know some young men in another state who have never paid back the diocese for several years of seminary training and are now in the world working. To me, this is wrong. Some dioceses ask the student seminarian to take out student loans and if they go through to ordination, these diocese will pay the loan off. I personally think that is a better plan than paying outright and losing money.

  45. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry for typos, in a rush..

  46. Supertradmum says:

    arickett, as I noted above, parents are expected to help in Great Britain–different perspective.

  47. Kathleen10 says:

    Supertradmum, I couldn’t agree with you more. The seminarians should be reimbursed for tuition if they complete their seminary education, and not have the diocese pay beforehand.

  48. Kathleen10 says:

    I should have added, this just seems to make sense for a number of reasons I’m sure others can figure out without my stating them. I would also like to add, I stand in awe of seminarians. Only God could call a young, healthy male to the priesthood out of this disordered culture. My heart goes out to them in appreciation and gratitude for what they are doing. Seminarians really touch my heart, and I wish that I had millions so I could pay the way for a few of them myself.
    The photo of this young man practicing the rubrics makes me emotional, it is so beautiful. God bless all of them.

  49. mburn16 says:

    “Publicly declaring a personal lack of openness to God’s call contributes to this conversation”

    1) It was to emphasize my unfamiliarity with the specifics of the seminary process, it response to an attack that I was “naiive” in musing publically whether some of the academic components of seminary might not be suitable for a [cheaper] digital learning format.

    2) It is not a “lack of openness to God’s call”, but an attachment to and belief that my call will be to form a family and raise children. As some on here have said before, parenthood is also a vocation. One that, for the time being, is deemed incompatible with the clergy.

  50. Supertradmum says:

    Pray for seminarians. The devil works overtime to stop their formation and coursework. Pray for them as many young men bring the world into the seminary with them. And there are still subcultures of you-know-what in some seminaries. Not Madison, of course. So pray…it is hard to be a good sem, and even harder to be an excellent sem.

  51. Michael says:

    All of this really does make me hopeful for the Church. I pray for these seminaries, as well as all those throughout the country, that the zeal they have now will carry over into their priesthood and guide them in the years to come.

    Keep them under thy protection, O Holy Mother of God!

  52. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Masked Chicken, many of the Midwest seminaries are very liberal–I worked in one. Example: no Latin Mass except once a term and in one, the students had to ask for Adoration once a week. Formation is also liberal. The bishop is one diocese took his seminarians out of the local “Catholic university” and put them in another seminary as the curriculum was and still is very liberal. Sadly, the permanent deacons still get their theological training there and it shows. All I have met in that diocese want women priests and some ssm and are open about these stands.”

    Good to know. Does one have to stick with the way they are trained?

    The Chicken

  53. Dave N. says:

    Good news for the Diocese of Madison!

    “Priestly ordinations are on the uptick nationally after bottoming out in the 1990s, though there is great variation across dioceses, said Anne Hendershott.” As much as Anne Hendershott would like to think so (so she can sell her book, which is basically a collection of anecdotal evidence and hearsay), ordinations were actually higher in the 1990s than they are today. SOME good things are happening in SOME dioceses. Overall, the situation is quite grim. Pray for vocations. The “Vocation Boom” is a hoax.


  54. JBS says:

    “[S]ome dioceses do not demand money back from the seminarians if they quit…”

    Former seminarians should certainly support their local parish and diocese. However, if there is a financial penalty attached in this way, especially one enforceable in civil law, then there is a very real danger of a seminarian who no longer feels called to the priesthood continuing his studies anyway out of fear. There is little one can do with classes in philosophy and theology in one’s transcript, which means a former seminarian would be obliged to pay an expensive, in effect “private university” bill, but without sufficient jobs prospects to do so.

  55. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Supertradmum,

    My understanding and experience is that tithing has always been the exception rather than the rule among U.S. Catholics.

  56. Elizabeth D says:

    When I have talked with Deacon Chris Gernetzke it has come through clearly how he wants to be of good and kind service to everyone, not just Traditional Latin Mass folks. But as far as I am aware he is the most “Traditional” of our seminarians. The diocese sent him to a seminary that doesn’t emphasize that but seems to give a very mainstream formation and tends to assign the more traditional students to learning placements at less traditional parishes. Bishop Morlino clearly wants well-rounded men as well as supporting love for our traditions. There is unmet demand for priests able to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese so I have looked forward to Chris’ ordination. I know others of our seminarians who have no particular inclination at all to be interested in the Traditional Latin Mass.

  57. frjim4321 says:

    A lot here to read and a fairly hectic day at the parish … it’s probably in here somewhere but did they report the ratio of seminarians from within the diocese to those who came from other dioceses? In other words, are all 33 seminaries indigenous or are many refugees from moderate and progressive dioceses? That would seem to be part of the story.

    Again, sorry if it’s here and I missed it. [Most of the seminarians are homegrown. There are a few exceptions, but they’ve been here a while. For example, our guy from Zimbabwe is from, well, not Wisconsin. Again, I think he’s been here since 2005. Another, from S. Korea, had grown up in Madison but was back in Korea for a while before returning. UPDATE: I now know that only two of the men are not homegrown, and there is one convert who didn’t have Catholic roots here, though he was from here. Otherwise, they nearly all were raised here, went to school here or moved to the area for work before entering formation.]

  58. Sam Schmitt says:

    “The ‘Vocation Boom’ is a hoax.”

    It’s hard to tell what’s gong on year by year with the chart that you link to. True, ordinations were higher in 1995 than they were in 2014, but they are higher now than in 2000.

    I haven’t heard of anyone talking about a nationwide “vocations boom” – but there are mini-booms going on in various dioceses like Madison.

  59. thomas tucker says:

    Some professional schools ( medical, pharmacy) have looked at shrotening the requirement from 8 years to 6 years by cutting out some of the unnecessary fluff. I would think that could be done for seminary as well, at tleast for those who are entering it at the undergraduate level. That would save some money.

  60. Blaise says:

    Someone suggested shipping students to the UK for formation as it is cheaper. I think my Lord Morlino would find the formation, particularly as regards Latin and the Liturgy to be woefully below par.
    As a former seminarian, now married, I think the idea of making seminarians pay in advance for their training would mean there would be almost zero seminarians in England. Frankly my three years of training in seminary are worth pretty much nothing in the job market. My philosophy degree means nothing to UK employers once I clarify what it is: ecclesiastical universities are not on a par with English universities in the mind of British employers.
    But you could reintroduce cold.showers minimal heating and poor quality food: that would separate the orthodox from the wimps, sorry liberals :)
    If seminarians were required to wear the cassock/soutane at all times they could cut down on the need for clothes and thus cost of keeping them. :)

  61. Fatherof7 says:

    Bishop Ricken is doing great things next door to Madison in Green Bay. We are approaching 30 seminarians in our diocese. I think there is an undeniable correlation between the orthodoxy of the bishop and the number of vocations in the diocese.

    It goes back to being luke warm. No one wants to give one’s life for a luke warm cause.

  62. frjim4321 says:

    “I think there is an undeniable correlation between the orthodoxy of the bishop and the number of vocations in the diocese.”

    I would be happy to see more hard-working dedicated priests who are genuinely Catholic. But I think it can be argued that what is going on in Madison is related not only to substance but to style. Undoubtedly there are diocese which practice nearly exclusively the reformed rite of 1973 which are indeed ‘orthodox.’

  63. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I agree with frjim4321’s comment there. There are very many holy and orthodox priests who practice nearly exclusively the OF.

  64. Supertradmum says:

    Blaise, you did not read my comment on that comment….

  65. Gregg the Obscure says:

    As noted above, there are two seminaries in Denver and they’re both full – though neither is huge. One of the big factors in their success is the formation program, which can’t be duplicated in distance learning. The first year of the seminary is highly structured to inculcate particular virtues and spiritual insights. (I’m pretty familiar with the seminary because I have a friend who is a librarian there and our parish has had three transitional deacons assigned to help us during their final year before priestly ordination.) Many faculty are priests, some others are non-ordained religious, some are laity. Many of the buildings had housed a seminary that closed in the late 1980s, but, unsurprisingly, those buildings have required substantial renovations. There are also some new buildings. There’s no one getting rich off of that place.

    Because of the number of seminaries that have closed in the past five decades or so, we get many seminarians from other places. Our parish had one transitional deacon from Madison (a wonderful fellow whom I hope to catch up with some time- I had the honor of supplying him with a biretta so he is properly equipped to celebrate the Extraordinary Form), one from Fargo (got to hear him say Mass a few months ago in the parish where he was assigned!) and one from the outer suburbs of Denver who will stay around our archdiocese after his (presumed) May ordination to the priesthood. I’m hoping to provide him with a biretta as well. I’ve met a few other of the priests who studied in the new seminaries too. Each of these men is prayerful, serious about the faith and joyful. While these are some very dark days for the Church, there are good workers for the harvest, good soldiers employing the full armor of Christ.

    One more anecdote: in June 2013 a priest from one of the new seminaries was assigned as pastor to a large suburban parish that was founded in the mid-sixties. In less than two years he’s increased the weekly hours available for confession from 3 1/2 up to 6, added daily exposition and benediction, held the first processions ever in that parish, promoted Bible study and established a Gabriel House ministry to expectant mothers. I mention him because he’s a prime example of the type of new priests we’re seeing here, the least common thing about him is the fact that he does yet not celebrate the Extraordinary Form.

  66. Supertradmum says:

    As to the “vocation boom”, there is none except under great bishops like Bishop Morlino. My home diocese is way under replacement rate as are most. Some priests have to cover five parishes. And, some share parishes, in teams. The poor showing of Hispanic men has not been addressed. Here are the statistics from last year.



    Here is an interesting part of this report:

    ? On average, responding ordinands report that they were about 17 when they first
    considered a vocation to the priesthood. They were encouraged to consider a vocation by
    an average of four people. Seven in ten (71 percent) say they were encouraged by a
    parish priest. Other frequent encouragers include friends (45 percent), parishioners (43
    percent), and mothers (38 percent).
    ? Almost half of responding ordinands (48 percent) indicated that they were discouraged
    from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Among those who reported
    discouragement, on average, one individual is said to have discouraged them. 17 percent
    indicate that one person discouraged them from considering the priesthood and the same
    amount indicate that two people discouraged them.

  67. dbonneville says:

    Speaking (briefly) of architecture, this is fascinating…

    What happens when you build a Brutalist style seminary? Can you guess? The seminary closes after barely a dozen years, goes derelict, then gets repurposed into a modern art museum. Very fitting:


    “Designed by celebrated architects, the late Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, the concrete seminary was completed in 1966 but was only used for its original purpose for 14 years, followed by an even briefer spell as a drug rehabilitation centre.”

    But this is even more interesting:

    “Rather than restoring the ruined building to its original condition, the team plan to take its current state as inspiration, “finding value in the unmediated changes that have emerged over the last decades”.

    Inspiration from unmitigated decay. Kasper beat them to the punch though, with last February’s Synod intro speech.

  68. Militans says:

    Blaise – I visited one of the English seminaries recently, minimal heating is par for the course. I think the food was fine though!

    It costs over £500 a day to turn the heating on, so it’s left as late as possible – it wasn’t on when I visited at the beginning of November and all the seminarians and faculty had hoodies or fleeces or pullovers on. Unfortunately the students were banned from lighting fires in the grates in their study-bedrooms because someone emptied the ash when it was still hot and burnt the floor.

    However – I think Allen Hall in London must have good heating.

  69. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Rev. Mr. G is clearly holding the chalice with his thumb and first finger together and the remaining 3 fingers clasping chalice stem. And, the picture resolution is insufficient, but I’m pretty sure that’s a Last Gospel altar card seen in front of the open chapel missal. I am pretty confident he is practicing the EF…

  70. frjim4321 says:

    [Most of the seminarians are homegrown. There are a few exceptions, but they’ve been here a while. For example, our guy from Zimbabwe is from, well, not Wisconsin. Again, I think he’s been here since 2005. Another, from S. Korea, had grown up in Madison but was back in Korea for a while before returning. UPDATE: I now know that only two of the men are not homegrown, and there is one convert who didn’t have Catholic roots here, though he was from here. Otherwise, they nearly all were raised here, went to school here or moved to the area for work before entering formation.]


  71. Fatherof7 says:

    Frjim, I never equated orthodoxy with the EF. Rather I equate it with clear, consistent Catholic teaching. When you hear Bishop Ricken or Bishop Morlino speak, there is no ambiguity. Bishop Morlino was on A Closer Look, a Relevent Radio program, last Friday. Listening to him defend marriage with clear conviction is inspiring. Having a bishop who talks in circles and doesn’t visibly stand for anything is not going to inspire people.

  72. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, the tradition from the earliest Christian times is that the bishop takes all men training to be priests (and deacons, IIRC) into his own household. Whatever happened to them afterward, and whether they became priests or not, he was supposed to be like their father and teacher during that period. The earliest seminaries were literally in the bishop’s house; and this still happens often in the developing world. Pope John-Paul II famously attended the secret seminary run in his bishop’s house during WWII and Communist times. Canon law tends to support this concept, as you’d expect.

    So you can argue that bishops should be receiving more tithes so that they have more money to take care of his students, but you can’t argue that students should have to pay their own way. Whatever happens, and whether they study in a seminary in their own diocese or in one where their bishop sends them, they are under the bishop’s care and the diocese’s care.

  73. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Isn’t this comment a hoot:

    “At trying times like these, when Scott Walker prances around the nation ignoring his Wisconsinites, young men find there are NO JOBS in Wisconsin so they join these radical groups!”

  74. Pingback: T -215: Alternative Realities – Polar Bear Hunting | The Deus Ex Machina Blog

  75. jflare says:

    ” I suppose that attending classes allows for a certain amount of give-and-take discussions, but students, especially undergrads, don’t really develop sophistication in argument skills in a topical area until they are at least juniors because they don’t, yet, have enough background or maturity.”

    Chicken, I’m thinking that sounds somewhat directed toward my comments regarding online vs in-classroom teaching. I think perhaps we’re referring to somewhat different concerns. As I recall, in-class discussion during my undergrad career depended on several factors. Class-size, professors’ inclinations, the subject-matter at hand, and certainly student interest all played roles. So did the possibility that different students came from similar backgrounds, were involved in the same extra-curricular activities, or some other unexpected circumstance.
    ..For that matter, some classes that I took which had both undergrad and graduate students tended to induce more discussion because the grads had more background to use as reference. We undergrads certainly benefitted!

    My comments related to discussions amongst students though actually focused more on the community tendency amongst students outside of class. I recall that Chemistry, Calc, Synoptic Met Lab, and other courses wound up being actually quasi-fun. We might all meet in the same study area on a Friday, then start chatting amongst ourselves after completing homework; or we’d be assisting each other with solving problems! In two classes (Chemistry), an older student started up a study group wherein a bunch of us met at her house so we’d all survive the class. Great conversations and friendships developed there. (Sadly, I’ve not managed to keep up with anyone from that crowd. That particular lady moved to another state though. Someday it’d be cool to find out what she, her husband, or her kids wound up doing….I’d simply need to find them in Montana. Hmm… Good luck with that… For that matter, I’d love to know what Nikki–from Jamaica–is doing now….)
    Or, while a ROTC cadet, I discovered that I could enjoy impromptu conversations with other cadets when we all wound up finding the cadet lounge after summer school classes.

    These are the sorts of things that people taking online classes would miss.
    ..They’re the reasons why I should think a seminary would best done in on a physical campus.

  76. frjim4321 says:

    “At trying times like these, when Scott Walker prances around the nation ignoring his Wisconsinites, young men find there are NO JOBS in Wisconsin so they join these radical groups!” – xgnecath

    It’s rather unnuanced.

    Though I think it would be naive to believe that socioeconomic forces have no influence on the rate of religious vocations.

  77. frjim4321 says:

    {OFF SUBJECT: How delayed is the “Live Traffic Feed?” It doesn’t even get close to my location.} [The locations are sometimes approximate, depending on where the internet “nodes” are. Some will register on by country.]

  78. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Dear Supertradmum,

    I think you didn’t read the comments on seminary training in the UK, to which you replied, carefully enough.

    I think that the only impediment to an American seminarian spending some or a large part of his studies in the UK, probably even all of his studies, would be his bishop’s preference and budget. Overseas student visas (“Tier-4 visas”) are easy to get, and overseas students are strongly encouraged. Several “seminaries” appear on HMG’s list of approved Tier-4 sponsors (although I think that none of these are catholic seminaries).

    Your comment was, or appeared to be, about dioceses recruiting seminarians for eventual incardination in those dioceses. That’s not what the original comments were about, but again I think you are wrong – or at least not quite right. My own family is served by an American priest, resident in England for about two years now although not incardinated into an English diocese. I’ve never thought to ask him, but I suppose that he is here on a “Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)” visa. That’s certainly available to clergy, and I think probably also to all seminarians. Perhaps your informants were themselves incorrect, or misunderstood.

  79. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Oh! How could I forget? My parish priest is African – from Nigeria, I think.

  80. Elizabeth D says:

    “Though I think it would be naive to believe that socioeconomic forces have no influence on the rate of religious vocations.”

    Oh sure, and that explains why we have a successful medical doctor in seminary, and why another man who just completed his PhD in medical physics entered seminary, and why other professional men and young men with highly evident talent that could be used for secular success, are entering seminary in our diocese. One suspects that they believe God has called them to choose God over mammon.

  81. The Masked Chicken says:

    “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.”

    This concerns me, greatly. Most psychological exams are little more than personality inventories. I refuse to take them on scientific grounds. They are easily defeated and don’t pick up socio-pathology very well. Oh, and they stink as far as what they do. Evaluations by psychologists and psychiatrists, also, have never been correlated with predictive power – as evidenced by the failure of criminal profiling. This is just society’s attempt to legitimize a particular point of view. How many people become priests only later to become alcoholics, for example. Psychology really can’t predict such things or else they would be focusing on prevention, eh? I hate to be all anti-psychology, but they really do not have a mature enough theory to be granted the responsibilities they have in society. I do research in humor processing in the brain, so I gave a dog in this fight. I know the state of the art in research in how psychology works in this area. Depression research, etc., is not, essentially, different. There are many people who have psychological wounds who would, nevertheless, make excellent priests, and many people who test, “normal,” who one should never go near.

    “Oh sure, and that explains why we have a successful medical doctor in seminary, and why another man who just completed his PhD in medical physics entered seminary, and why other professional men and young men with highly evident talent that could be used for secular success, are entering seminary in our diocese. One suspects that they believe God has called them to choose God over mammon.”

    Elizabeth, that’s a little unfair. Not everyone who has a different vocation than the priesthood is doing it because of mammon. A vocation is a vocation – a call from God. Some people have definite vocations or at least professions to things other than the priesthood.

    The Chicken

  82. Elizabeth D says:

    I think you must realize I am not putting down other professions or people who serve God and their neighbor doing these things, but pointing out a priest makes less than what many of these men could obviously earn in the secular world, so the argument that economics figures into why they applied to the seminary is clearly false.

  83. benedetta says:

    I find it particularly fascinating that as the younger generations have become more and more prolife as compared to previous generations, there has been an uptick in solid vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I’m sure there are many better qualified than myself who could examine this phenomenon more closely. My own sense is that the more sensitive younger generations are to humanity generally, the more closely they are able to recognize a call from God in relationship with Him to serve their fellows. And, perhaps, a fuller recognition of the trauma self imposed by Western materialism to sacrifice the littlest in the name of sex without love has repulsed many and left them yearning for the fullness of life that participation in Holy Mother Church through the universal call to holiness makes present.

  84. Katherine says:

    The story was encouraging but then I took a second look at the graph. Prior to the Bishop, they were ordaining 3 priests for each of the 3 preceding years. [But, when Bp. Morlino came in, there were only 6 seminarians, in various stages of formation.] Now change does not happen overnight and you have 7 years (isn’t it) of preparation, [It varies from 4-8.] but just taking the most recent four years, there have only been an average of 3.2 priests ordained. The increase in seminarians, starting long enough ago that they would be priests by now, as not resulted in much of an increase. This is a bit of a let down from my first eyeballing of the story. [You need to reconsider how long it takes to get men to the point of ordination to the priesthood. Now there are over 30 seminarians. This year there will be 4 new priests, but in a couple years there will be 9, God willing.]

  85. Stephen Matthew says:

    Speaking as someone with some experience with some of this sort of thing, seminary formation is inherently expensive, and any attempt to cut those costs by taking short-cuts in formation programs is usually a very bad idea. Some diocese are attempting to avoid the costs of college seminary by having a “house of formation” near or at an established university, but the powers that be are strongly discouraging this approach. (Though in my mind at least a “house of discernment” for those considering a priestly or religious call is a very good idea if run properly.) Many seminaries must hire many lay professors, which probably increases academic quality from a secular point of view, but increases costs and decreases the ability of the faculty to mentor the seminarians in a broader sense. Neither diocesan nor religious affiliated seminaries have anything like enough priest formators on staff, but to do so would mean taking priests away from parishes.

    Online classes are almost completely unsuited for seminary formation, because formation should include four areas: academic, pastoral, human, and spiritual. Online classes are largely restricted to the academic only. However, I could see some program to offer some supplemental online classes for undergraduates contemplating a calling but not yet in seminary, take care of some of the basic prerequisites, that sort of thing. In fact some program of online classes offered to Newman center students at public secular universities could go a long way to helping get all Catholic students better formed in the faith.

    Now the idea of the seminarians taking on the expense of seminary, is rather common at the college level. Usually the seminarian pays for their own tuition and the diocese will pay the costs that are particular to seminary formation. At the graduate (theology) level it is normal that the diocese will pay all of the expenses, though in some cases the seminarian may be asked to pay part of it back if he leaves. On the other hand, I know of a man who was stuck paying for 100% of his seminary costs upfront (with no hope of being reimbursed) because his diocese is a very poor mission territory, and the money had a good deal to do with his leaving seminary. Most diocese take the view that major seminary will in some way prove to be a useful investment for the good of the church even when the seminarian does not go on to ordination. I can also say that seminary formation is pretty much worthless in the secular job market, often constituting even a black mark against your resume in many situations.

    Also, I will attest that while the life of a seminarian may appear easy and comfortable, very often that is only at the physical level. Psychologically, mentally, and particularly spiritually it can sometimes feel more like a fight to the death every day. Most of our seminarians are today having to learn much that was once assumed about even the basics of not only the knowledge of the Catholic faith, but also the basic practice of it, because our parishes, schools, homes, and families have so utterly failed to transmit this (yet God continues to call men even if they practically need remedial classes in basic Catholicism and Christian living). The men who are undertaking this are, for the most part, as earnest and committed as they know how to be, and are trying to follow the will of God as best they can. Some will validly discern they have other calls, some will mistakenly give up their calling, others will have a true call but will become a casualty to the devil and their own weaknesses (or even to a poor budget climate at their diocese), and some will make it through to ordination (and hopefully all of those were meant to, but occasionally not).

    Also, US seminaries are pretty much universally full at present. This is in part due to a micro trend increase in seminarians, but also due to closures and consolidations of seminaries and houses of formation. Every seminary today has its strengths and weaknesses. I know of one that is producing very good academic results but seems to be somewhat deficient in pastoral and human aspects. Others manage beautiful masses but don’t give justice to the divine office. Pope Francis talks about a “field hospital” for sinners, and in truth we must acknowledge that this field hospital is being staffed by medics given something of the abbreviated emergency training program, though the standards are dramatically better now than 20 years ago.

    Well, I have likely used too many words to say too little yet again, so my apologies to anyone who suffers through all that, and perhaps you can offer it up as penance for the good of seminarians.

  86. Bea says:

    “Gernetzke is one of 33 men studying to be priests in the Madison Catholic Diocese”

    33 ! How meaningful !
    God’s Hand is certainly there.
    I’ll bet Eucharistic Adoration is popular in this diocese, too.

  87. benedetta says:

    The corollary to the fact of discerners and seminarians who are unwilling to perpetuate and live out the lie that the culture of death has been altogether a good thing and helpful to women etc is that when discerners and seminarians have a Bishop who refuses to play the game of political pretense and goes ambiguous on the sanctity of human life and the grave need for societal protection of it from the earliest stages, of course there is going to be a lot more of a foundation for a relationship of openness, transparency, generosity, and even father to son and vice versa between Bishop and his men in formation. This just stands to reason, and the way of human development. When one even subconsciously fears or suspects that one’s leaders or mentors sbuy into the notion that their sacrifice to abortion, arbitrary because who can predict who gets to live or not, would have been ok, in other words, that it would be good that they had never existed, just the same, or their peers, or even siblings or extended family, friends…then of course a relationship of real trust and confidence in one another simply cannot honestly and openly thrive.

  88. benedetta says:

    In other words, a Bishop who is unafraid to be openly supportive of prolife is not only is a more credible witness for authentic humanism, but is one in whom young people feel they may put their trust as a shepherd.

  89. Latin Mass Type says:

    Re frjim4321’s off topic comment on the live traffic feed:

    It places me around 50 miles away from my location. Close enough for me. When the persecution starts they will have to knock on a few hundred thousand doors to find me.

    I’m wondering if this live traffic feed “feature” is what’s bogging down this site for me? Page load is excruciatingly slow. Or maybe that’s just good old WordPress…?

    Now back to our regularly scheduled topic…

  90. Supertradmum says:

    (X)MCCLXIII, There are two things you are confusing. The application for ministerial visas are not applicable for seminarians. Neither are student visas. Men from the EU do not need visas and they can apply, but men who are not from EU countries cannot apply. As to student visas, with which I am familiar, as I had one and the rules are even stricter, one must first be accepted by the institution of higher learning before getting the visa. And, the seminaries can no longer do this. acceptance first, visa second. If the seminaries are not allowed to accept non-EU students, of course, they cannot get a student visa.

    Ministerial visas are harder to get at this time and some ministers and priests, even in the same orders as existing in England, cannot get them, or cannot get them renewed. Some orders have had to pull back on serving certain parishes and dioceses because of the refusal of the government to give such visas. This is affecting orders in Ireland as well, if the person is not from the EU. I know of several examples of monks, nuns and priests not getting long ministerial visas, or none at all. One Carmelite priest from Africa told me how sad he was that the government only gave him two months instead of two years to be with his own order in Ireland, because he was not an EU citizen.

    I know my sources, as I noted above, who told me that the government has changed the rules on oversees men in the seminaries.

    I am sorry you do not believe me or my excellent sources, whose hands are tied by anti-religious legislation.

    Masked Chicken,

    The psychological exams are highly professional and excellent means to discover certain problems or traits which would keep a man from either living a celibate life, or being able to do the demanding job. I totally agree with these arduous tests. One group in America and Great Britain of professionals has a “clinic” which does this type of testing not only for Catholic seminarians to be but for other Christian denominations. One thing the tests do is screen out homosexuals, which is absolutely a necessity. These tests should be given to all young men who want to enter orders as well. They are not “subjective”. If you want to know more about these, ask a seminarian in England about the tests.

  91. Pingback: Bishops who are unambiguous about doctrine and don’t tolerate dissent get most vocations | The Catholic Legate

  92. Pingback: The Daily Eudemon

Comments are closed.