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Location: near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

They're Hittin' the road.

Since yesterday's column about the appointment of Fr. Ross Shecterle, a priest from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as rector of the American College of Louvain (a seminary with a colorful history to say the least), I have gotten e-mails asking why his Excellency is sending away any priest when we really need them here in Milwaukee.

First, the context: Look at last spring's priest assignments list. Most significant might be the fact that while there were five men ordained to the priesthood in May, this was offset by the fact that five men retired at the same time. In truth that is good news...no net loss on that count for this year. But then we have to account for the fact that His Excellency "released" (sounds like the end of a prison term) to service elsewhere. So, the net change was a loss. The disturbing thing is that this is a completely voluntary loss, that we have to simply accept. Worse, if Fr. Shecterle had come back after having been released, it seems that there would have been the potential for a net gain! But, we wouldn't want that would we?

So, why would the Archbishop do this?

As with Fr. Shecterle, I proposed three otions (and it could be a different answer for each):

1. The priest is "a climber" who needs resume points, and the Archbishop agrees.
2. The priest is a leaker and should be sent away, or kept away.
2. The Archbishop doesn't care about Milwaukee, or only wants to keep other bishops happy about his being such a nice guy so that they will recommend him for bigger things and new colored hats.

I admit that my options have flaws. Why would anyone go to work at Louvain? Other than the fact that it has a board of bishops overseeing. Not just one bishop like a local seminary.

From the spring assignments list, Fr. Thomas Brundage has gone off to Anchorage, AK. Is this the American version of fleeing off to the French Foreign Legion to hide from troubles? Released to work in a parish in Alaska and to be the Judicial Vicar of Anchorage, Fr. Brundage left having received a resounding and ringing vote of approval when His Excellency called him "competent". Remember how some anonymous priest evaluated Fr. Brundage on the auxiliary bishop handicapping list:

Tom Brundage – 90-1, Only hope now is Alaska. Lost tribunal struggle with Hartman. Will have to settle for his growing real estate kingdom. Didn’t make it at the Catholic Herald.

So, another priest, or priests, seem to indicate that Fr. Brundage wanted a succession of high profile positions here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and stumbled (failed?) each time. As to why he is released...could the priest be thinking option #1 while the Archbishop is thinking option #2?

Next on the released (from prison) list is Fr. Eugene Kinney. OK, I know nothing about him. He wants less socializing in the sanctuary of church...that is good. Took a group to World Youth Day...another good. Is not a member of the Priests Union...wow, a three-fer.

So, Fr. Kinney seems to be a good priest, and seems to have taken a simple parish position in Las Vegas. Doesn't seem to be a climber...no indication of being a leaker...what then is the Archbishop's rationale? Hmmmm?

Lastly, we have Fr. Thomas Olszyk. He has gone off to become Judicial Vicar or the Military Archdiocese. Seems logical, was a long-time Air Force Chaplain himself. At 60 years old is he too old to be climbing much more? He is released to work for Archbishop O'Brien, Dolan's predecessor at the North American College, and the one chosen by Rome to oversee the recent seminary visits. Seems to be a good man to have on your list of character references, eh Your Excellency. Keep him happy.

(Two canonists gone...what does that mean? Does His Excellency not like canon law? Is Madame Chancelloress or Fr. Hartmann pressing to be the big shot?)

There you have it, not the same reasoning for each and every departure, but lot's of reasons to ask more questions. Basically, it comes down to the simplest question: Don't we deserve the good priests? Please send away the Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, Priest Union members!

Mike

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