Over at Catholic World Report there is a piece by Fr. Peter Stravinskas, who reflects on 40 years of priesthood… his own. His 40th anniversary of ordination comes up on 27 May.
This bit got my attention and sympathy.
The college seminary experience was not too bad; indeed, the academic formation was stellar, while the overall environment in the Church was harrowing, especially as defections from the priesthood reached epidemic proportions; I often say it is surprising that the suction didn’t take the rest of us with them. The theology years were a nightmare at every level: outright heresy taught as Gospel truth; rife liturgical abuses on a daily basis; persecution of “retrograde” seminarians – with Yours Truly being told that he was “unsuited for ministry in the post-conciliar Church” and forced to find a benevolent bishop three months before diaconate. My seven years of supposed priestly formation were, bar none, the most unhappy years of my life, characterized by intense polarization and draconian imposition of aberrant viewpoints by those in authority. It must be noted that there were, to be sure, some good and faithful priests on the seminary faculty, but they were a distinct minority and largely reduced to window dressing. In short, my generation of priests had been robbed of our Catholic and priestly patrimony by a generation of angry rebels.
At any rate, by nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace, I was ordained a priest on May 27, 1977.
A lot has happened since 1977, including the passing of Paul VI and the election of John Paul II… etc.
With a few variations, what Father wrote, above, can be echoed by so many priests of a certain era and age, including the undersigned. For my part, I can say that my seminary years were sincerely dreadful. In fact, it was a nasty diabolical war for part of it. “Living hell” over states it, but not by much.
For those of you who are considering priesthood: Do NOT let the experiences of those who went through those bad years slow you down for a moment. Conditions have improved enormously, so much so that my not-in-the-least “alma” mater is unrecognizable today.
He goes on to offer his view of the present state of things along with his aspirations for the time to come. Go have a look.
Congratulations in advance to Fr. Stravinskas for 40 years. Stop and say a prayer for him today and on 27 May.