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.

Location: near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Monday, July 03, 2006

Something for the Whiners!

An interesting little article in yesterday's Washington Post begs questions about just how "overworked" our priests are. Someone should pose serious questions, with the support of facts, to the whiners in the Milwaukee Priest Union. These are the guys that frame laziness as "reasonable limits and expectations of priests."

According to the research collected by the Washington Post, there are a lot fewer Catholic weddings today, than there were in 1970. No surprise there. Specifically, nationwide, the number of Catholic marriage ceremonies declined from 426,000 marriages in 1970 to 212,456 in 2005. That means that last year, there were less than 50% the total of Catholic weddings than in 1970.

OK, so the first thing you will cry to me is "priest shortage." True, but how do the numbers really work?

Presumably, Milwaukee's decline in marriage ceremonies is not much different than the nationwide trend. It is also logical to assume some degree of correspondence between this number and the totals for things like baptisms, funerals, etc. If one declines, all decline.

Now here is the point: Thanks to Catholic-Heirarchy.Org, we know that in 1970, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had 1,150 priests, no permanent deacons, no such things as pastoral associates or much lay staff in any parish. Last year, there were 744 priests, plus 152 deacons (remember, deacons can perform weddings, funerals, and baptisms). This does not include all of the new lay staff that handle prep for these sacraments. At minimum, 896 ministers represent 78% of the workers to perform 50% of the work. Hmmm, it seems that the workload is getting lighter.

Now, before someone e-mails with a complaint, I admit that the numbers above reflect all priests, both diocesan and religious orders. If you just count diocesan priests (and deacons) the comparison is 93% of the ordained ministers, for 50% of the work.

So, a question for Fathers Cooper, Mich, Last, and the other Jimmy Hoffa wannabes...What are you complaining about?

More to come.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kind of get what you're saying, but, the true comparison would have to come between active priests in 1970 and active priests in 2006. I don't know either of the numbers, but my guess is that the large number of priests today also includes a hefty amount of retired priests. Don't get me wrong, some priests are just plain lazy, but there are lots of good ones out there who do carry a large burden...and aren't memebers of the whining alliance...

Monday, July 03, 2006 1:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mike, the Faithful Catholic said...

OK, anonymous you might have a point. But again, look at the 1970, before there was such a thing as retirement for priests, there were 614 diocesan priests. Therefore, to match the trends of marriages, there would only be a need for about 307 ministers of those sacraments today.

The same statistics indicate that today there are 451 diocesan priests and deacons. That would mean that 32% of all those men would have to be retired, and inactive, just to match the workload of 1970.

Again, I point out that we need to also account for all of the lay ministers who are also assisting in preparation and teaching.

I still think the workload is any greater than 1970. In fact it might be less.


Monday, July 03, 2006 2:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, point well taken, but, first of all not all of a priest's work is defined by how many marriages there are in the parish. That's one number among many, but certainly doesn't give the full story. My guess is that having a bunch of lay ministers running around is more work than it's worth! Secondly, you say "before there was such a thing as retirement for priests." Are you suggesting that priests should never be allowed to retire? Just run parishes until they die? Also, I think an assessment of a priest's workload is best left to a priest. If priest after priest after priest is saying that it's too much, maybe we who are faithful Catholics need to listen - so we don't kill them off. Finally, to think that you can claim that priests are working less today than they were in 1970 because there are fewer marriages seems to be a huge logical leap.

Monday, July 03, 2006 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger Karen Marie said...

Real Catholic matrimony takes a whole lot of more effort now than it did 40 years back, from everybody, but especially the pastors and catechists. Because, first, one has to convince the bride and groom that they actually want Holy Matrimony. If all they want is a civil union --- with the ability to go back to the same courrthouse where they got their marriage licence to get unmarried --- then they should _not_ receive the form of the Sacrament of Matrimony. That is only a sacrilege and adds to the workload of the Tribunals.

Monday, July 03, 2006 5:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mike, the Faithful Catholic said...


A couple of things:

1. As I understand it, in 1970, there was no such things as retirement for priests or bishops, etc. I'll concede that the work of the 80 year old rectory-resident, was lesser than his younger counterparts. Kind of like today I presume. So the "active" number of 1970 might be rounded down some, which would only bolster my original point. In the end some parallel can still hold up.

2. I grinned, and liked, your comment about lay ministers probably adding more work than lessening the load. Hmmm..what would they say?

3. You say "I think an assessment of a priest's workload is best left to a priest." Why? Who else gets to do that? Doctors, Firefighters, Parents? Nope. I don't know about your job, but mine does not let me be the only judge of my workload (then again I am not in the Teachers Union). Alot of other people are involved (and dependent upon) how much I have to get done in a day. Why should priests be different? I am not saying that Catholics can be unreasonable...but your approach cries out for the victory of laziness.

4. As to my observations being a "huge" leap of logic. I concede some leap, but not a huge one. I have contended that marriage ceremony numbers are just a bellweather indicator that should induce us to review the facts, not the feelings, of the situation. Everything I find on the internet say priests "feel" overworked compared to years past...I just want to see some facts as to whether or not they really are.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006 8:59:00 AM  
Blogger Dad29 said...


If priests would understand the term "vocation" as do parents--you know, cleaning up puke at 0300, sleeping for 5 hours/night between driving the darlings here, there, everywhere and remaining semi-awake until the darlings return; doing NOTHING except support-services for the chilluns (cook, clean, launder, interface w/schools, and administrative: tax, insurance,etc., etc.)--then there would be a LOT less crying and whining.

Another topic: No idea whether the Episco-Wedding has been attempted yet. I don't know if I kept the informational email; but if you REALLY have to know who it is, I'll get back to my source.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mike, the Faithful Catholic said...


Would like to know to the extent that the who of it would likely only reiterate concerns about the diocese.

Do I really need to know...not really. No need to use your source for this.

Unless you really want to....


Wednesday, July 05, 2006 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree that Priests of today do not seem to do as much as those in former years. When I was a kid we had 5 - 6 Masses on a Sunday...What's the problem nowadays with a Pastor having to celebrate more than one Mass on a Sunday? Isn't celebrating the Eucharist one of the main reasons for ordination??? Why do we whine about funds and then pay for Priests to come in from the outside so that the Pastor only has one Mass to celebrate???

Friday, July 07, 2006 9:21:00 AM  

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