Get Up, and Get Moving....

An opportunity for people of serious and orthodox Catholic faith of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to share the means to improve their own Churches.

Name:
Location: near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Good Bye, Good Men.

This was the title of a very intriguing book a few years ago. It was a string of anecdotal evidence about the methods of screening out and eliminating qualified men from our seminaries because they were too orthodox for the liberal faculties; too masculine for the not-so-.... faculties; and too devoted to Mary, the Church and Pope John Paul for the bureacratic powers that be.

Michael Rose's book did not include an extensive expose about Milwaukee, but there is a disturbing connection between a chapter about the American Seminary in Louvain, Belgium, and Milwaukee. The former rector in Belgium, Fr. David Windsor, who seems to have left under a cloud, was hired by Archbishop Dolan to work at his own St. Francis Seminary.

Ok, that being said, I use Mr. Rose's book as a way to make reference to the subtle screening and elimination tendencies that existed (or, should I say, exist?) within various archdiocesan bureacracies. My last post referred to the news that Archbishop Dolan once again hired from within the entrenched Weakland-ites when he appointed Ms. Debra Lethlean as Director of Development for the Archdiocese. Maybe I had a twinge of guilt, had I been unfair to Ms. Lethlean in my last posting? So, I decided to look more closely at the archdiocesan fundraising efforts.

I went to the website of the Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA). I started to review the list of Ministries Funded By the CSA.
As always, it is best for bureacrats to give very little information, but here are a few interesting funding areas:

Campus Ministry -- from what I hear, the Newman Center at UWM has, for years, been problematic at best.
Community Services -- what exactly does all of this mean anyway?
Human Concerns/Respect Life -- OK, it says this...but have you ever, I mean EVER, seen a diocesan employee in front of a clinic praying?
Prayer and Worshp -- Oh yeah, they have been real active in the last 25 years.
Office for Women -- ?????? What can I, or need I, say?
St. Francis Seminary -- read other posts, and Michael Rose's book.

Now to my point about the subtle elimination of solid men for the priesthood. I am all for lay participation in every level of the Church. Without us, the priests would have a hard time getting anything done (in fact, they would look kind of foolish). But, that does not justify the manner by which our priests, at least our solid ones, are being pretty much forced out of their leadership roles? Why is this carried to the point where all things priestly are called "clerical" as a negative, and thus to be eliminated?

Admittedly, this is something which Archbishop Dolan inherited from his predecessor. But what has he done to ebb the anti-priest tide. The example that caught my eye today was when I clicked on the stewardship page entitled Testimonials.

Okay, so here is my question...is there not one priest in all of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who was willing to offer a testimonial in support of the Stewardship Appeal? Some might say that no priest testimonial might be better than a bad one. But, there are good priests out there who, however reluctantly, still support the Archdiocese.

I fear that what is really happening is that, once again, Ms. Lethlean is enforcing what has become the Church's version of political correctness. Unfortunately, without a connection between our faith and our priests, we implicitly forfeit our constant connection to the Eucharist. I guess that this need to stay connected to the Eucharist might not dawn on Archbishop Dolan's personal staff.

Oh, but fear not...while there is no priest to offer a supportive testimonial...there is one from a "Certified Healing Touch Practitioner." Thank you Archdiocese of Milwaukee for reflecting the priorities of the local Church, and the strength of our tradition!?!

Mike

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Show me the money!

To whatever regular readers my little blog might have...sorry for the few days away. There was work to be done elsewhere.

One of these days I must seek out the Latin translation of the phrase "missed opportunity." I believe that there will simply come a day when His Excellency, Timothy M. Dolan will concede that this has virtually become his motto during his short, and thus far uneventful tenure, here in Milwaukee. I know that this has been a mantra of mine, but sadly, it rings so true.

Foremost among missed opportunities has been the Archbishop's seemingly pathological fear of actually hiring, or promoting, from outside of Rembert Weakland's well-entrenched bureacracy. I have noted that there are three exceptions that might show his willingness to act: Hiring Bro. Bob Smith for education, getting rid of Fr. Tom Brundage from the newspaper, and promoting Fr. Paul Hartman to vicar judicial.

Here is just the latest sad example though. At the Archdiocesan website it has been announced that His Excellency has promoted a 16-year long, Weakland hiree, to be the new Director of Development. I will admit that I know nothing of Ms. Lethlean personally, but not only did the Archbishop miss an opportunity that might have shaken up the diocesan offices a little, I cannot say that there is a track record of success to be recognized here.

Remember that "development" is the new byword for what we all used to call fundraising. So, there are quantifiables that can be measured in this sort of thing. (This leaves aside for now the intangibles of how little success the development office has shown in taking advantage of the change in regimes for fundraising purposes.)

Our local diocese of some 730,000 Catholics, has an annual Catholic Stewardship Appeal that barely exceeded last years goal of $7.4M. Sounds pretty significant, doesn't it? But how does it compare?

Archdiocese of St. Louis, 555,000 Catholics -- annual appeal goal = $11.25
Archdiocese of Hartford, 695,000 Catholics -- Archbishop's Annual appeal = $8.73M
Diocese of Buffalo, 707,00 Catholics -- Annual Charities apeal = $10.9M

These are just a few. But it seems that our very slowly rising $7.4M represents one of the following:

1) People are voting with thier pocket books. Bold initiatives for the faith will produce far better results.
2) The present "development" structure has been either unable, or unwilling, to take advantage of the charisma of Archbishop Dolan. But, then again, this may be in the face of option one.
3) Given the aforementioned options...our Office of Development just isn't very good.

I think it was Jimmy Durante who had the line..."What a revoltin' development." So true.

A closing thought would be the hope that comes from unintended consequences. At the present rate (wherein development does not even keep up with inflation) someday soon there will be no diocesan employees left from which to hire from within. Of course between now and then alot of damage can be done and it is likely that those kept on will be the most harmful ones.

There you have it...today's rant. I will give something to the Church: my parish, some schools, maybe direct support of the Pallium Lectures. But, all in all, I am not confident about giving to the diocese itself any time soon.

Mike

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

When the moments of hope do come.

There are plenty of things about the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that cause consternation, sadness, and even fear. But, every once in a while something positive comes along. One of the few steps that an otherwise non-assertive Archbishop Timothy Dolan has taken has been to host, every year, a lecture series called the Pallium Lecture Series. On the one hand, I am waiting for this program to be hijacked by the holdover, Weakland era, Church bureaucrats who will invite speakers like Andrew Greeley, Richard McBrien, and Charles Curran. But, on the other hand, until then, we, the solid Catholics of Milwaukee, need to support one of the only good things happening at the archdiocesan level.

This year's Pallium Lecture Series looks pretty good. I have to be honest, and maybe show my softer side...even John Allen, a reporter for the Voice of the Faithful mouthpiece, the National Catholic Reporter, has shown some promise in recent years. His views of our present Holy Father have been developing nicely.

The first lecture this year, by His Eminence Francis Cardinal George
, will be on Tuesday, January 31st. Please encourage a big turn out in any way you can.

During the Q&A, or the reception afterward, when you are shaking the Cardinal's hand, this would be a good opportunity to put in a good word for the best priest, or best parish you know. Cardinal George is now one of the most influential men in the Church today. (We used to call his role a "kingmaker".)

Another thing to remember, the lecture series is a result of the efforts of one of the few good priests in Milwaukee, Fr. Paul Hartman.

Hope to see you all there.

Mike

Saturday, January 14, 2006

See, it can be done.

Was surfing a little last night. Have you heard...it is National Vocations Awareness Week. I was not aware of this, were you aware of this? What are we to do. Oh my, just what are we to do?

Actually, I did know something about Vocations Awareness week. The local Catholic Radio Station, a Relevant Radio affiliate (a group to be highly commended and supported!), talked about this. Some blogs I have seen talked about this. I have found a number of diocesan websites from other places talking about this. But, here in little old Milwaukee, at least the little corner that I live in, nothing, zip, zilch, nada.

Hopefully, for masses this weekend we will hear something, but (if mentioned at all) it will have to compete with the march we have to do for Martin Luther King Day, and the openness we are to show to others (aka heretics) for the week of Christian Unity.

While comparing the Vocational efforts of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to that of other diocese's I must concede little first hand evidence. Even if good resources are out there, I believe that many parish priests here in Milwaukee would let their lay staff screen out far too much of the quality materials. These are the quality reminders that should be available to our young men. Even with that being said, I can compare things like websites...

Here in Milwaukee, we have a website with a nice name: www.ThinkPriest.org

Go ahead, look through it, it won't bite. If fact, it probably won't do much of anything for you. Nice name, but, like the rest of the diocesan leadership of Milwaukee, mostly pablum. It's not bold, not challenging, and from what I can tell, not even aimed at young men.

Look at some other examples:

The Diocese of Manchester: www.liveinblackandwhite.com
The Diocese of Rapid City: www.Gods-call.org

Admittedly, both look to be made by the same designer, but which type of website would appeal to you? Which would appeal to a solid, masculine, devout, young man? What type of man, what type of vocation, is each site really looking to attract?

I also recommend the sight for the Diocese of Providence: www.catholicpriest.com
While not as flashy as Manchester or Rapid City, it is still vastly better than Milwaukee's website. But, what convinced me of the strength of thier vocations efforts was the new television commercial that you can download and watch. So bold, so clear, so PRIESTly! Bishop Tobin has been in Providence less than a year and is acting fast to make inroads for vocations. Sadly, bold and decisive action was not, and is not, the path that Archbishop Dolan followed regarding vocations, nor much else in Milwaukee. Oh, well.

Pray for solid vocations! Venerable John the Gardner, pray for us.

Mike

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Start spreadin' the news...

Been thinking about some of my own remarks about Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of the meat and potatoes Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Why, after three and a half years, so much promise, and so little product?

When His Excellency arrived in Milwaukee he was quick to tell us all of his first visit to the crypt below the Cathedral where past bishops are buried. In the wonderfully quippy way that he glad hands us all, he stated something to the effect that he had, at that moment, picked out which niche would be his when the time comes. At the time we all kind of smiled like children who were being reassured by our parents after striking out in little league baseball. After all, Archbishop Dolan knew that his predecessor had numerous missteps at the start of his tenure because that Archbishop believed that his future lay in Chicago like Meyer and Stritch before him.

Sadly, I fear that Archbishop Dolan played on our weaknesses and needs. He likely has the same flaw as his predecessor in this regard. I think it can be said that His Excellency, having moved so rapidly up the ranks of the Church, has now begun to believe in his own press reports. Consider the report of a Rabbi, after the Archbishop made a trip to Poland last fall: "I see him as a future cardinal and a very important leader of the Catholic community in the United States." (I want to thank the blog of Rocco Palma for reminding me of this quote.)

Logic dictates, no Cardinals in little old Milwaukee. That means keeping everything here all smiles and pudding until the call comes from Rome to pack his bags and head east. I do not begrudge anyone their success in life...but please, can it come as a result of the number or power of bold deeds done, and not depth of pablum spread?

For those looking to start assesing the odds...Cardinals Maida (Detroit) and McCarrick (Washington) are both over 75 years of age; Keeler (Baltimore) is 74; Egan (New York) is 73; and Rigali (Philadelphia, and Dolan's patron) is 70. All bishops turn in their retirement papers at age 75, but Pope John Paul II allowed most cardinals stay in office until age 80. No indicate yet if Pope Benedict will continue this tradition.

For those interested, a great place to find information about the hierarchy, check out the website Catholic-Hierarchy.Org It is great.

One last thought, as we all nurture our hopes for good bishops, as the name of the blog says...Get Up, Get Moving: Write a letter to the new papal ambassador to the USA. Give the names of solid priests whom he should meet in his time here and consider as possible bishops. We all know that "the system" does not necessarily guarantee that the good men will come to the attention of Rome and become our bishops.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington, DC 20008-3610

Well folks, another day is another day to hope. Blessed William Carter, pray for us.

Mike

Monday, January 09, 2006

Get out the vote!

Life is full of choices. There are few times when an internet survey can make a difference but maybe, just maybe, this could be one of them.

Here in Milwaukee, the local press club is sponsoring a survey seeking the "gems of Milwaukee". On the rather long list of nominated locales to be considered "gems" of our community are both the wreck-o-vated Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and the wonderfully restored St. Josephat's Basilica.

I look upon this as an opportunity to express support for dignified liturgical spaces, and to show our disdain for the "Churches-R-Us" nightclub theater design being pushed upon us.

So, in the limited time that the survey remains, please go and vote for the Basilica and relish in the image of the panting of disbelief that will occur among the Cathedral staff, and the diocesan office of liturgy, when classic design is preferred over lack of design.

Again -- www.gemsofmilwaukee.com

The survey only lasts a few more days....please vote now and forward to all of your friends.

Mike

Friday, January 06, 2006

Oh, what to wear?

In his most recent "Herald of Hope" column, in the ostensibly Catholic, archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Herald, Archbishop Timothy Dolan speaks of presiding at the funeral of an elderly priest.

I was struck by how impressed His Excellency was that the priest had meticulously preserved, for more than 66 years, the vestments that he wore when he celebrated his first mass. Left unstated is whether or not the present pastor who had the responsibility for preparing the body in those vestments could even recognie a fiddlebacked chasuble. I daresay, he might of thought it an early version of a burlap banner to be hung from the altar along te hand prints of the first communicants.

While there is great value in what the Archbishop has to say in his column regarding the Blessed Mother (admittedly, the actual focus of that commentary), the anecdote raises a good question about the preservation of various liturgical elements (vestments, vessels, statuary, etc.).

Again, there is cause to be afraid that His Excellency consistantly misses the opportunity to set a proper example for things. For example, I have come to understand that when visiting parishes His Excellency generally just wears whatever vestments are there. Why? With so many putrid designs, cheap materials, and Sir, ill-fitting vesture out there, why not simply set a good example for your priests. You have a baggage-carrier...let him carry one more vestment. (As a side note, remember then never to give His Excellency nice vestments as a gift...after the first use, they likely will never see the light of day in the Cathedral or in any parish visit.)

People should look upon their archbishop and be inspired to at least two thoughts: 1) This man is attentive to the best details of liturgy, right down to the best examples of noble vestments for the Eucharist; 2) When he comes to my parish, it is unique, special, and out of the ordinary.

I have spoken before that the Archbishop is afraid to use the moral influence of his "bully" pulpit by affirming the good priests with visitations, and challenging to the lax ones with a statement "I'll come to you parish when you...." Even if he is unwilling to do that, Archbishop Dolan could at least realize that an episcopal visitation should not be a situation when the archbishop comes to a parish and is pulled down to whatever banal liturgical, reductionism the pastor has wrought on his people. No, it should a lifting up to the best standards of liturgy and prayer. (A higher mass, if you will.)

I realize that the Eucharist is the Eucharist. I can even look past ugly vestments (most of the time). But sadly, this anecdote merely reflects how His Excellency, in a naive attempt to be liked by those who are most critical of him behind his back, constantly misses out on both big and little opportunities to set a more inspring example. He might not be as well-liked, but he would be stronger leader. There in lay the crux of his difficulties.

Mike

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Start Practicing Those Showtunes.

If you were the boss of a company, or the leader of a group, it seems to me that two expectations would present themselves: 1) Shouldn't the boss expect his employees to adhere to, and even further, the mission, priorities, and policies of the organization; 2) Shouldn't the stockholders of the company, or the members of the group, expect the boss to actually apply the first expectation consistantly?

Both of these expectations seem to make perfect sense to you and me...but not to the leadership of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Let's play a little game of connect the dots....

1. Should a priest, any priest, be frequenting a New York City gay night club for open mike night? But, don't stop there, should that priest be going on the record in the New York Times happily proclaiming his New York vacation itinerary. Friends, meet Fr. Andre Papineau. (Granted, this may mean nothing about Fr. Papineau's own lifestyle, but certainly it reflects very questionable activities for the public person that is a priest.)

2. Should the aforementioned priest have ever received a mandate from any Church authority to teach at a Catholic seminary? Friends, have you heard of Sacred Heart School of Theology?

3. Should that same priest be asked by one of the Archbishop's regional deans to be a weekend assisting priest at a comfortable North Shore parish with a large thriving elementary school? Friends, let me introduce you to the Very Reverend Kenneth Knippel and St. Eugene's Parish, Fox Point.

So, where is the leadership, conviction, or standards? What expectations should Archbishop Dolan have about this? What expectations can we have about his leadership in this matter?

Let's add insult to injury --

The Board of Directors of Sacred Heart Seminary includes not only the Archbishop himself, but also the archdiocesan Chancellor (a holdover from the previous archdiocesan regime); a staff member from his own St. Francis Seminary; and one of his priests. The faculty of Sacred Heart includes two of his Excellency's priests and two employees of the archdiocesan bureacracy. Wouldn't you expect that this degree of influence would make any sort of difference? No expectations being met there. Seems that there are pretty low standards here.

Another point of fact; the Very Reverend pastor of St. Eugene's is a regional dean appointed by His Excellency to a postion of leadership.

Well, there you have it...when the Archbishop has a chance to act protect and even further the moral teachings of the Church....whether directly or even indirectly; to make a clear statement about the roles that Fr. Showtunes Papineau would play in the archdiocese; to surround himself with solid people in pastorates, as deans, at the archdiocesan offices....all of this goes undone. At best, an opportunity missed. At worst, real stripes are exposed.

Oh, how we fail to see any real expectations of ours even being remotely met by our leadership.

Sorry to once again be the bearer of bad news. Like the title says, we need to get up and get moving.

Mike

Monday, January 02, 2006

Taking their show on the road.

The other day I was told by a friend that each year, at the start of the second academic semester, all of the seminarians at Milwaukee's own St. Francis de Sales Seminary go on retreat. Fearing that the worst of Milwaukee's modern neo-Catholicism might be wrought upon these men (fears of Buddhist sprituality, visiting ashrams or covens, and poor retreat directors are not too far out of the realm on this score), I tried to do some research.

What one finds is not necessarily a lot of disturbing information, but rather a surprising dearth of any information. Compare two very different approaches to explaining the spiritual dimension of seminary formation:

At our Archbishop's former realm of responsibility (the Pontifical North American College), an endowment fund has been established in his name to support the anual retreats for the seminarians. I will leave for another day why exactly the annual retreat needs to seek outside funding. Should it not be a central to the budget priorities as the food bills and the extensive travel expenses of the rector? That being said, the description given by the Pontifical North American College for the purpose and value of a retreat, and a solid program in spirituality, for it seminarians is quite nice. A notable manner by which to evaluate the North American College in comparison to our local St. Francis Seminary is to make note that the fact that these men are being prepared to be PRIESTS is refered to five times in one internet page.

Now, let's try to compare this to the way that our own St. Franics Seminary (School of Lay Ministry --Institute of Pastoral Ministry -- Center of Politically Correct Theology) describes its program of spiritual rigor for the seminarians.

Not only is the St. Francis Seminary internet descriptive page about spiritual formation sterile and lacking in any real information, but it seems to set up spiritual formation as somehow subordinate to the academic coursework, and what is called "Pastoral Formation" which, when I was in school is more precisely 'hands-on experiences' or internships. It would seem the all three should be at least viewed as equal elements of overall preparation to be priests.

Make particular note of two things at the St. Francis de Sales webpage: 1) there is only one reference to these young men actually preparing to be priests; and 2) there is little clarity about the fact that the spirituality we need and expect from our priests is vastly different from the spirituality we need from lay employees at our parishes.

I concede that websites are not the be-all and end-all of what either school does in this area. But priorities are reflected in this prism of communicating information. Sadly, for Archbishop Dolan, his legacy at the Pontifical North American College is that his name needs to be slapped on the fundraising materials for something that should be one the first requirements in the budget. Even more sadly, the seminary that he now controls doesn't even have the astureness to try and emulate the those limited expectations that the Archbishop set up in Rome. But then again, it would seem obvious that the seminary leadership will only do what the Archbishop places upon them as an expectation.

Given the lack of substantive action in the last three years, it seems that the best which we too might expect will be some sort of an Archbishop Dolan spirituality fundraiser. Just don't expect any real product to follow from the money asked for.

Regardless, I will pray for our seminarians while they are on retreat. I hope that you will too...I fear that they will need all the spiritual help they can get.

Mike