"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Who is this parish with 22 new Seminarians?

As stated in the Diocese of Phoenix press release regarding their decision to restrict service at the cathedral's altar to boys-only, a parish in Ann Arbor Michigan was referenced.  This parish had twenty-two new seminarians in 2008.  Considering that's more than the Diocese of Hamilton has in total I was curious to know which parish it is to find out what they're doing differently.

There are four parishes in Ann Arbor Michigan.  Here is what we can find out from their websites:

1. Old St. Patrick's Church: http://oldstpatrick-annarbor.com/

- Extraordinary Form every 2nd Sunday
- Adoration on Tuesdays and 1st Friday (Devotion)
- Confessions Tuesday (1 hr) Saturday afternoon (1 hr) 1st Saturday (Devotion)
- an emphasis on catechesis through private reading. Recommended authors include Fr. John Hardon, Peter Kreeft, Charles Rice, and Cardinal Ratzinger
- a tab entitled "What do you believe" which then lists more books and links
- a referral to adoremus.org for information on the liturgy

2. St. Thomas the Apostle:  http://sainttc.com/

- emphasis on the Risen Christ and encountering Him in the Eucharist
- large staff
- Neocatechumenical Way
- regular Rosary & Divine Mercy Chaplet
- 1st Friday Devotion & Adoration
- Confession Saturday afternoon (1 hr)
- active Pro Life Group (prayer vigil outside Planned Parenthood every Friday)
- Schola (chant) and regular use of incense
- Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
- many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Christ the King: http://www.rc.net/lansing/ctk/

- Charismatic Personal Parish
- Confessions: Friday (1/2 hr) Saturday 9:30 until everyone's confessed 4:00 (1/2hr) & 1/2 hr prior to all Sunday Masses
- Perpetual Adoration
- Carmelites
- Life Teen Mass
- several references to papal documents

St. Francis of Assisi http://www.stfrancisa2.com/

- emphasis on the words "liturgy" & "Eucharist"
- an on-line parish picture directory
- large staff
- Confession Saturday afternoons
- Adoration Thursdays 9:45am-7:00 pm
- 17 page bulletin: many social groups and events

Based on the evidence provided above, I would have guessed Old St Patrick due to their Extraordinary Form Mass since the rubrics of the 1962 missal don't allow girl altar servers.  I was impressed by Christ the King's Confession schedule and Perpetual Adoration.  St. Thomas the Apostle's commitment to the Pro-Life movement is impressive as well.

The USCCB regularly surveys its seminarians to find out factors influencing their decision to answer God's call to the priesthood.  Aside from being from a larger than average family, the Rosary and Adoration are usually listed.  It is my personal observation that parishes that offer the Sacrament of Confession more than Saturday afternoons attract vocations too.

The answer is...Christ the King.  I have to admit to being surprised by this discovery.  I would have guess a charismatic parish would not be a source of vocations given their liberal liturgical style.  They are a personal parish meaning they attract people from outside usual geographical boundaries.  That along with their commitment to Confession and Adoration is my explanation for their tremendous contribution to vocations.

The days of people walking to work and their church are mostly over.  It's a very lucky few that can walk to Mass on Sunday morning.  Today's reality is that within the urban areas (where 80% of all people live) most people have a car or accessible public transport.  If the Church treated a city as one entity instead of several geographical parishes I believe we'd see an increase in Mass attendance and vocations everywhere.

The pastors of every city need to work together to strengthen the faith.  If seminarians report the Rosary and Adoration were important in their discernment then make both available.  Each church should have one night per week for an evening Mass, at least an hour for Confession, and Adoration.  Of course Perpetual chapels are ideal.  The same strategy should be employed for Confession.  Make it available and people will come.  Offering the Sacrament on Saturday afternoons in every church in the city is poor planning.

If some people are attracted to the charismatic style of liturgy then make one church in the city offer it; same for the Extraordinary Form.  No matter what style of liturgy people are drawn to one thing that cannot be compromised is orthodoxy to Holy Mother Church.  If pastors don't emphasize the supremacy and authority of the Catholic Church then people quickly deduce there is no point making their Sunday obligation.  If young men are led to believe a priest is just a poorly paid social worker not many will consider it for a vocation.


"Why such a number of vocations from a parish of 830 families? Father Fride [ Pastor, Christ the King] has his theories.

“The spirituality of the parish, in which a personal relationship with Jesus is continually stressed, is key,” he said. “We began as, and still are, part of the charismatic renewal, again where a living, active relationship with Jesus is encouraged.

“In addition, since beginning perpetual adoration five years ago when we finished our church building, almost all of the present seminarians, and those to begin this fall, have heard the call to seminary,” Father Fride said. “Jesus has a plan for everyone, whether to marriage, religious life or celibacy, and I address that, but it is proximity to the Lord Jesus during adoration that helps people hear the call.

“Also, we can’t overlook the influence of John Paul the Great,” he continued. “We constantly reference him, his teachings and the example of his life. He was the only pope that these kids knew, and they want to be like him. They want to participate in the New Evangelization, and becoming a priest is a great way to do that.

Said Father Fride: “When you preach orthodoxy, the Eucharist and the centrality of Jesus, vocations result. It seems natural to me to have so many young people who love Jesus and want to serve him become priests. I’m surprised there aren’t more vocations, both here and elsewhere.”

Large Families

Christine Brinkman, whose son, Andrew, is at St. John Vianney in St. Paul, Minn., notes that Father Fride’s love for the priesthood, along with that of other young priests Andrew met, especially at World Youth Day in Toronto, was influential in his decision to go to seminary. “At one point, he was avoiding seminary, but joyful priests impacted him,” she said.

Sister Mary Ann Foggin, a member of the Servants of God’s Love, and director of vocation services for the Diocese of Lansing, talks with many high school students about vocations. When she mentions that she is from Christ the King, they say, “Oh, that’s the parish with all the children,” or “that’s the parish with all the vocations.”

Sometimes people realize there is a connection between those two statements, Sister Mary Ann said.

She is another believer in the effect of Eucharistic adoration upon vocations.

“Where they have it, kids are on fire with the Lord,” she says, “and then they run toward God’s call, which sometimes is a [religious] vocation. If kids are raised having a relationship with Jesus, as is the goal at Christ the King, they will not be afraid to give their life to him, and will trust him when they hear his call, regardless of what it is, because they know he loves them.”

Msgr. Edward Burns, the executive director of vocations and priestly formation for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, finds it amazing that Christ the King has more seminarians than some dioceses.

“That these men are willing to put all aside is reassuring,” he said. “It gives us hope that there are young men willing to answer the call. I think there are more out there. We should want to learn why Christ the King is such a fertile ground for vocations.”

Being a non-territorial parish has been an advantage to Christ the King, according to Father Mike Byrnes, vice-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary, and former member of the parish. He said that many faith-filled families came to Christ the King from all over because of the charismatic renewal; and through the ages, the seedbed of vocations has been faith-filled families and communities. Many vocations these days are coming out of renewal movements.”"


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