Get Up, and Get Moving....

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Location: near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Where have all the good men gone?

Since I posted my observations about the appointment of Fr. Ross Shecterle as rector of the American College at Louvain, a couple of you have sent me e-mails asking the same basic question from various perspectives...With all of the oddballs that remain in our parishes, why would His Excellency release presumably good priests and leave us with the dregs?

Let's give this issue some perspective. According to the archdiocese there were five priest who retired this past summer (I trust that they still will be helping out somewhere locally) , this loss would be offset by the five ordinations. Actually evening out like this is a new phenomena, so it is basically a good thing. But them what happens, three priests are released to serve outside of the Archdiocese. Add to those three Fr. Shecterle, and the Archbishop could have (if he really wanted to) had four more priests to serve his flock than he had just weeks before. That would be four places that wouldn't need to share a priest; four large parishes could reclaim an associate pastor; four people serving our "shortage" of priests here.

So why would the Archbishop let them go? I alluded to some of the possible reasons in comments about Fr. Shecterle. Here are four possible reasons laid out:

1) There is a bona fide need in some other place or setting.
2) The priest is a real leaker and it is best that they go away.
3) The priest is a climber looking to become a bishop and needs to have his resume lengthened. (This requires the Archbishop to be cooperative and agreeable to the climbing mentality.)
4) The Archbishop really does not care about what happens to the faithful here in Milwaukee and uses his priests as pawns to endear himself to others in his way to bigger an better things.

Shall we try a basic analysis of four priests now in question?

Fr. Ross Shecterle: Do you remember the list that some anonymous priest, or priest put together "handicapping" possible future auxiliary bishops? This is what was said of Fr. Shecterle:

Ross Schecterle – 150-1, had the episcopacy in mind from the beginning. Must play his Roman cards correctly. Is impatient for higher things. Needs to cultivate patrons.

So, he could be a climber. Is there a bona fide need in Belgium? Well, there are only eleven seminarians!!! What do you think? Is he a leaker? Well, he is a "counselor," who does not like wearing black, clergy clothing. So, the other sounding like he could be stuck in the 1970's, the jury is out on this one. Does this help Archbishop Dolan? The American College itself seems to be pretty small, beyond being another excuse to travel to Europe, the key element might be that the college has its own committee of bishops for oversight. I trust that all of them are thankful to His Excellency for his willingness to share a priest. Maybe they will repay the favor someday! So for Shecterle, let's call it a half point for climber, and a half point for the Archbishop endearing himself to other bishops.

Now let's go on to the others recently released. According to the Archdiocese there were three priests hitting the road this past summer.

The first, Fr. Thomas Brundage is heading to Alaska. Isn't that the modern day version of someone fleeing to the French Foreign Legion to hide from something? Fr. Brundage was also on the handicapper's 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.

I would definitely guess that there is a need up in the great white north. Locally, he was Judicial Vicar and seems to have been pushed out of that; headed the local Catholic gossip rag, and seems to have faultered; now in Alaska he is once again a judicial vicar and is a pastor of a parish. It seems that on his departure to Alaska, Archbishop Dolan gave Fr. Brundage the ringing and resounding affirmation of saying that he is "competent." Hmmmmm?

So, the rationale here, definitely a need; but since he seems to want to keep going to high profile positions, even though he trips up in them, can it be that he is a climber in his own mind, and a leaker in the Archbishop's? You can assign the points.

Next we have Father Eugene Kinney. First off, there is clearly a greater need in Las Vegas. For perspective, according to Catholic Hierarchy.Org, Milwaukee has one priest per 983 Catholics and Las Vegas has one priest for every 6,482 Catholics. As for his priestly qualities, I know nothing about Fr. Kinney, I think it can be said that: he is not a member of the priests union; he serves in a parish in Las Vegas, not some specialized ministry; he would take his kids to World Youth Day; and he wants the sanctuaries of churches to be quiet, prayerful places. All in all, he seems to be a good priest, and a fairly substantial loss to the Archdiocese. Some thought should be given to the degrees of seperation issue....Fr. Kinney's new bishop is from Philadelphia, Philly is where Archbishop Dolan's former Archbishop is....hmm, a little bit of #4?

Last of the movers is a Fr. Thomas Olszyk. Going to the Military Archdiocese as their judicial vicar. (What's the deal with sending away canon lawyers...what, or who, scares them away from Milwaukee? The Archbishop not like them? The Chancelloress wants less competition? Fr. Hartmann being isolated?) At age 61, likely not a climber. There is the fact that the Archbishop of the Military is Edward O'Brien, Archbishop Dolan's predecessor at the North American College in Rome and, more importantly, the Vatican designated head of the recent seminary visits. Seems to be a guy to keep on you list of possible character references. All in all, Fr. Olszyk looks to be a good man, serving a bonafide need.

So, the tally of why we are sending priests away: One likely leaker (who wants to be a climber); one possible climber (who wears sandals and could like the enneagram); and two serving genuine needs. But, all four have ways of reflecting well on Archbishop Dolan's generosity and creates an image that he is having overwhelming vocational success. (Some succcess, but net losses continue.)

Oh well. these four are "released" to serve elsewhere (sounds like the end of a prison term), and we are left in the prison of mediocrity the Archbishop allows to continue.

Mike

4 Comments:

Blogger Dad29 said...

Fr. Olszyk just returned from 20+ years' service in the military a few years ago. My hunch: he saw a greater need there (there's a war on...) and asked to get back into the field. He's a very good guy, but just wasn't comfortable in the civilian world.

Fr. Kinney's family has moved to Vegas, which had a good deal to do with his move. He's slightly left-of-center in his Catholicism, but not a wacko, by any means.

Thursday, September 28, 2006 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what i remember from Michael Rose's book on the American College at Louvain, it sounds like it is a cesspool of sodomites , maybe this is a way of chasing the rats out of the wood pile.

The Church moves to slow for me, when you see cancer get rid of it, fast.

Friday, September 29, 2006 7:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"chasing the rats out of the wood pile." It's more like the fox guarding the chicken coop. The Weakland legacy lives on, thanks to Dolan.

Friday, September 29, 2006 5:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading some of your stuff here. Tell me, with all your pontificating about priests, have you ever considered orders? Maybe as a permanent deacon? Better yet, how much effort have you put into encouraging your own son/daughter to enter the priesthood/religious life. There are too many small minded people standing outside the house casting stones rather that supporting positive change from within.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 8:08:00 AM  

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