Why Aren’t Other Dioceses Looking to Lincoln?
(Photo from the 2015 Mass of Ordination in the Diocese of Lincoln, NE)
So often these days we read of the ongoing collapse of Catholicism in the west. In diocese after diocese we see parishes and schools closing or consolidating, a decline in priests as older clergy pass away at rates higher than new ordinations, and a widespread loss of the next generation to either the secular left or the evangelical right.
We also read of various plans to counter these trends. Everyone seems to have a program to promote, a new strategy to increase vocations, to increase weekly Mass attendance, to keep teens from fleeing the faith…
However, what’s not as widely known is that we already have a blueprint for success: the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. The problem is that few are talking about it. So let’s fix that.
First, a few facts you might not know about the Diocese of Lincoln:
According to the Official Catholic Directory and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Lincoln, NE is the only diocese in the United States to place in the Top 20 for the ratio of ordinands to population in every survey conducted from 1993-2012.
Despite having a Catholic population of only 97,000, the Lincoln diocese ordained 22 men from 2010-2012. Only seven diocese in the entire country ordained more. One of those, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (with a Catholic population over 4.2 million) ordained 34 men during those same three years. In other words, L.A. only ordained four more men per year on average despite having a population 44X greater than Lincoln.
Bishop James Conley recently noted that, with this year’s class, the diocese will have ordained 17 men to the priesthood in a 24 month span of time; unheard of in this day and age.
As of 2012 the diocese had a total of 150 priests serving 134 parishes.
There is no permanent diaconate program in Lincoln. There are, however, installed acolytes and lectors constituted of lay men.
There are also 33 Catholic schools, including 6 high schools. One of those high schools, St. Pius X, produced 18 of the 48 men enrolled at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in 2014.
It’s also interesting to note that 96 percent of students attending diocesan schools are Catholic.
Many of the schools are staffed by female religious, of which the Diocese of Lincoln boasts 141 sisters from 14 different orders. Many have priests teaching high school theology and often serving as principals as well.
Having established that Lincoln is a thriving community of Catholicism, seemingly impervious to many of the challenges encountered elsewhere, we now need to look at the secret of their success.
The Lincoln blueprint can be narrowed down to a few foundational elements:
Against all odds and the prevailing winds of the post-conciliar Church, Lincoln has avoided the craziness and irreverence that has afflicted so many other dioceses. This has largely been achieved through the stability and orthodoxy provided over the last fifty years by three men: Bishop Glennon Flavin (1967-1992), Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (1992-2012), and Bishop James Conley (2012-present). They succeeded despite the occasional scorn of their brother bishops, and by making the Church’s perennial priorities their own.
The National Catholic Reporter (known as the Fishwrap to Fr. Z readers) once bemoaned that it was as if the “reforms” so prevalent in the aftermath of Vatican II had missed Lincoln altogether. Exactly.
The Male Only Sanctuary
Several things immediately differentiate Lincoln from nearly every other diocese in the country when it comes to the sacred liturgy.
To a large extent, Lincoln has preserved a male only sanctuary. In this area the diocese has simply given more weight to tradition and common sense instead of “modern sensibilities” that are more secular minded.
The diocese remains the only one in the country to maintain an altar serving policy of boys only. As I have written about before, this is in direct recognition of what Rome itself acknowledged back in 1994:
The Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue.
Lincoln also utilizes installed acolytes and lectors for the Holy Mass. Since it is an instituted ministry, the role of an acolyte is only open to men. Both of these instituted ministries commenced during Bishop Flavin’s time during the 1970’s.
As an example, a parish with 1,200 or so families could have as many as 30-40 acolytes. They function mainly in a capacity to serve during Mass, often much like an altar boy or deacon: they turn the missal pages for the priest, carry the processional cross, distribute communion, handle the thurifer for incensing, and so on.
These acolytes are utilized on an as needed basis and are not viewed as simply another way to increase lay participation. An average Sunday mass with 800 people would typically have only 2 main acolytes and 3 more assist the extra priest to distribute Holy Communion. It’s also interesting to note that the faithful only receive under one species in Lincoln, foregoing the need to double the number of acolytes. This is of course in stark contrast to most dioceses that make ordinary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, to the point of abusing the intention set forth by Rome.
As stated previously, Lincoln also utilizes installed lectors for most Sunday Masses. Back in the early 1980’s Bishop Rembert Weakland (the progressive homosexual prelate of Milwaukee at the time) publicly chastised Bishop Flavin of Lincoln for not embracing the innovation of female readers for Mass. While Flavin’s successor Bishop Bruskewitz would eventually acquiesce and permit their use in the diocese, female readers are still more commonly utilized for daily masses and school masses, with lectors more prevalent for Sunday’s and holy days of obligation.
Those in Lincoln will speak of the lack of Catholic tribalism and the absence of the liturgical wars so prevalent in other dioceses. In large part this is due to the environment established by Lincoln’s bishops. Reverent Novus Ordo liturgies have served the faithful well, preventing the frustration that so many encounter in other dioceses.
However, Lincoln has also avoided the hostility toward tradition that so often defines the traditionalists experience elsewhere. Back in the 1990’s then Bishop Bruskewitz invited the newly established Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) to the diocese to establish a North American seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, NE. The Fraternity exclusively celebrates Mass in the Extraordinary Form and adheres to the liturgical books in use in 1962.
Presently there are about 7 or so diocesan priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass; however, more are learning it. The rector at the diocesan seminary (St. Gregory the Great) offers it to the seminarians once a month.
This is probably one of the more interesting sides of Lincoln. The Latin Mass community is not very large in Lincoln. Because the diocese has historically been so conservative there has never been a great battle cry from traditionalists for the exclusive return of the Latin Mass. Many within the community can even be seen at various Novus Ordo parishes participating fully within the liturgy .
The number of priests learning the old Mass is on the rise, though mainly among the younger priests (of which there are many). Most of the older priests will delegate it to the FSSP priests in the diocese at the seminary or to St. Francis’ parish. Bishops Bruskewitz, Conley and Robert Finn (formerly of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph) all offer it regularly in the diocese.
Lincoln’s diocesan priests and the FSSP priests have an excellent relationship, and it is only getting better. St. Gregory the Great diocesan seminarians have gone to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and vice versa, for evenings of prayer and fraternity and for vespers in both the old and new rites.
As stated previously, the Lincoln diocese has intentionally avoided the modern tendency to clericalize the laity by delegating liturgical roles to the faithful. Thanks to its use of acolytes and lectors, instead of the more common excessive use of readers and EMHC’s, the diocese has not blurred the lines between ministers and laity, or between sanctuary and nave. It’s obvious to see how this would reinforce the ministerial priesthood in Lincoln, as well as the continuity between both forms of the Roman Rite.
Proper liturgical orientation has been further reinforced through the manner in which many masses are offered in Lincoln: with the priest facing toward the liturgical east, or Ad Orientem.
As I have written about before, the last two years Bishop Conley has offered all Sunday masses Ad Orientem during Advent. Further, he has publicly encouraged the priests of his diocese to do the same. From what I have been told, about 40% of parishes chose to follow his lead. For many, however, this was not anything new, as most large diocesan masses are already being offered Ad Orientem.
A Catholic Education
While I have saved this for last, in many ways education is the primary ingredient to Lincoln’s recipe for success. Bishop Glennon Flavin’s vision for a diocese that allowed its children to go to Catholic school at an affordable cost and to be taught authentic Catholicism by religious sisters and priests is integral to the diocesan mission.
While Lincoln’s Catholic population is less than 100,000, they have provided the faithful with 27 elementary schools and 6 high schools to educate the next generation. More importantly, most diocesan schools have at least 1-2 habited sisters and all Catholic schools are staffed by at least one priest.
As noted earlier, high school theology classes are only taught by priests and religious sisters. For example, the Catholic high school in Lincoln, Pius X, has over 1200 students and is staffed by 4 religious sisters (in traditional religious habits) and 15 priests who always wear their clerics. Each newly ordained priest can expect to teach high school for at least 5 years. Priests who are assigned to parishes in smaller towns with a Catholic high school are still expected to teach as well.
Unlike other dioceses which require school masses only once a week, or in some cases once a month, each grade school in the Diocese of Lincoln is required to offer daily mass for the entire school each day.
However, there may be no better example of Lincoln’s commitment to the future than the fact that it’s diocesan schools have some of the lowest tuition costs in the entire country. As an example, St. Teresa’s Catholic School in town has an annual tuition cost of only $100 per student, and yet it is a thriving school with a habited sister as principal.
As one local explained, “These good, solid, Catholic schools are the roots of the diocese and continue to pump out religious vocations and plain good Catholics, thanks to the work of our clergy, diocesan staff, and laity.”
Why Aren’t Other Dioceses Looking to Lincoln?
Why more dioceses aren’t looking to incorporate the Lincoln model is a mystery. It is easy to see how some might dismiss it, however.
Lincoln is a rural diocese. It’s exceptionally high number of religious sisters help to reduce tuition costs for schools. The relatively small size of the Catholic population creates an insulated environment unlike that found in such diverse and populous areas as Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.
Of course there may be other reasons why the Lincoln blueprint is apparently being ignored.
No doubt many bishops, priests, and lay faithful would rather forgo a boom in vocations if it means having to reestablish clear divisions between the nave and the sanctuary, or ending such post-conciliar innovations as altar girls or Extraordinary Ministers. The secular push for egalitarianism has been enthusiastically embraced by most bishops these past few decades. It would seem that either pride, or fear, or an agenda that is not exclusively focused on saving souls, is keeping many from reversing course. Or maybe some dioceses simply don’t want orthodox Catholicism.
We can only hope and pray that more of those within the Church hierarchy humbly and attentively look to Lincoln for some answers. There is a blueprint for rebuilding a vibrant Church, an authentic and thriving Catholicism.
Look to Lincoln.
(I would like to thank Tanner Lockhorn of Lincoln, NE for his assistance and significant contribution to this post. Tanner is a life long resident of Lincoln and a graduate of St. Pius X High School).
Posted on April 30, 2016, in life, liturgy and tagged Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop Glennon Flavin, bishop james conley, Catholic Education, diocese of lincoln, priest vocations. Bookmark the permalink. 219 Comments.
I already knew they didn’t have permanent deacons. They cite having no need for them as they have enough priests, which doesn’t make sense to me. But in any case (if anyone can answer this), I’d be curious as to the formation process for a lector and/or acolyte. If I lived there, I’d be looking into that.
The modern use of Deacons tends to be an exalted and often largely untrained altar boy.
Historically the diaconate was about service, as the Greek word Diaconia suggests.
Service not primarily at the Altar, which none the less is important. Sadly most of the rubrics for the deacon are found in the Pontifical book, the Ceremonial of Bishops, a book most parishes don’t own, not the Roman Missal.
However the historical role of the deacon was to serve the Church by managing the financial and logistical dimensions of the Church’s life. The idea of the Deacon as the “married priest” as well as the politics of managing the material aspects of the Church WHILE not determining the pastoral direction of the Church–which was Traditionally the role of the overseer, Bishops, in union with the Elders, the Presbyters, aka the priests–is the reason why the deaconate was historically supressed and why some priests are unsure of the value of deacons. Personally I see great potential in the Diaconate, BUT as Karl Rahner myopically predicted, though the nature of the Diaconate was not the most controversial change of Vatican II, it is perhaps one of the most unimplemented legitmate reforms called for by the council.
Padre, I think there are a few possible misunderstandings about the diaconate in your response, though I’m sure you meant to describe it from a purely modern Western perspective. However, the diaconate from the earliest times, (and as it is still preserved in the East), has been understood as an ecclesiastical ministry that is both charitable and liturgical. Think of the greatest examples of early deacons: Stephen (martyred after preaching the second homily in Acts), Philip (who preached to and baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch), Lawrence (who was regarded as a leader in the Church of Rome), St. Francis of Assisi! (who founded a religious order and helped reform the Church). No, deacons are not exalted altar boys. They are rightly to be understood as clerics whose mission is distinct from, but connected to the ministry of priests.
Actually, the best modern scholarship now demonstrates that the earliest sources in the Roman/Western tradition concerning the diaconate all point to the primary function of the deacon as service at the altar. Fr. Hunwicke has done a good recent series on this, starting with:
Hi David, since I’m an installed acolyte in the diocese of Lincoln, I thought I’d reply regarding our formation. I will admit my training was about 5 years ago and I don’t know if it’s been changed since then. The other acolyte trainees and me met with our parish priest on a series of Sunday afternoons for a couple of hours each time. The training had some spiritual development (how to pray with the Mass, explanations of the postures of both the priest and servers, etc.), some catechisis & a good bit of practical training (where to find things in the sacristy, how to setup for Mass, navigating the Missal, etc.). I think it was 4 meetings, so the total training was about 8 hours. I believe the lector training is similar, though perhaps not as long, as the practical training for lectors would be far simpler.
The reason for there being no permanent diaconate is that traditionally there are no permanent deacons. There has been the general consensus that the permanent diaconate actually hinders the growth of the priesthood because it can be “the best of both worlds”. What I mean by that is one can be married and still be functionally ordained, though without the faculties of confecting the Eucharist.
To be an acolyte or lector one takes a couple months worth of classes usually held in the parish. Once a year the bishop will install all the acolytes and lectors, and sometimes permission is given to the local pastor to install them as well.
Actually, way back in the day, there were “permanent deacons” its just that there weren’t generally married guys that became deacons like we have at present.
Personally, I think we ought to restore the old Minor Orders, the Subdiaconate and continue with permanent deacons but not use them like glorified altar boys. Since one of their traditional roles from way back was the managing of funds, I could see the value of deacons (who are generally older anyway) who have been in the business world running parishes on the financial side of things leaving the pastor and other priests to give more attention to pastoral things. I know when I was in the seminary we never got much in the way of “practical” training but some of these parishes are, basically, small multimillion dollar corporations and the pastors of such places end up playing CEO!
There have always been “permanent” deacons in the Western church. St. Francis of Assisi, for one example.
It has never been verified that St. Francis was a deacon. It is just a guess that can not be proved. Those who push for deacons say he was.
I question the characterization of the permanent diaconate as “best of both worlds,” vis-a-vis the priesthood, but for the lack of the faculty to confect the Eucharist.
Many rank-and-file Catholics may believe that married permanent deacons and their wives are permitted to avail themselves of marital privileges, thus having that “advantage” over unmarried permanent deacons and priests. I have not asked friends of mine who are deacons’ wives, as a matter of propriety, but discovered recently that this belief is not, strictly speaking, accurate.
Total physical continence was the proper state for the Levites while preparing for and serving their turns at the altar of sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem. As I understand it, this is an ancient biblical basis for the discipline of celibacy among Catholic priests, who daily “serve at the alrar of sacrifice.” I recently read that this is the expectation (assumption? requirement?) for married permanent deacons.
This is surely a matter of considerable discussion and discernment for prospective candidates for the permanent diaconate and their wives. Often, after giving life to and loving to adulthood a new generations of the Church, they sacrifice further in service to the whole Church. It has given me a better appreciation for their service to Jesus and to the Church.
The reason that there are no permanent deacons is that most priest are very prideful and arrogant and don’t want any “competition” in the sanctuary. Priests want to always have the spotlight on them so they don’t want anyone else stealing their stage time at the altar.
Even musicians, altar boys and others get tossed out of the sanctuary so that “Father” doesn’t feel up-staged by anyone else.
As most Catholic priests and bishops are homosexual weirdo’s, it should not surprise anyone that this group of devils is not interested in traditional Catholicism. Their primary objective is to promote the gay and lesbian / feminist agenda, i.e. Archbishop Weakland is not an exception, he is the norm for 99% of bishops and priests. The sexual assaults against teenage boys by Catholic priests was allowed to go on undetected since the 1960s because most priests and bishops are “go along to get along” homosexuals themselves.
It has always been the goals of the “New World Order” to destroy the Catholic Church from within by infiltration. The “New World Order” can be summarized as all the anti-God ideas of the “Enlightenment” in 17th – 18th century France which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the Catholic Church through the French Revolution (1789 – 1799), the Russian Revolution (1917) and finally the Vatican II Revolution (1962 – current) which has clearly “destroyed” the Catholic Church as it existed in 1962.
The theology of Vatican II is clearly the rehashed ideas of the Enlightenment, and the French and Russian Revolutions (the supremacy and perfectability of man, the inevitable march to human perfection, that man is the center of the universe, etc.).
The new god of the secular Catholic bishops is “Humanitarianism,” i.e. the endless solicitation of money for their pet homosexual cases under the guise of providing money for the poor which is a classic “bait and switch” con game played at a national and international level by the Catholic Church.
Nonsense. All of it–nonsense. Much of it seems to be a sin of calumny. Perhaps a good confession would go a long way toward your salvation.
Even with all the billions of dollars spent on thousands of sex abuse victims, some people still can not admit that the Catholic hierarchy and priesthood have been infiltrated by something demonic?
There is one thing Lincoln needs to do:Restore the Order of Christian Initiation.
Padre:if you can bother to read what I will say now,Kids need Confirmation in order to grow in virtue. You are not too young to be a Soldier. Besides,Confirmation prefectly seals the Baptismal Grace at an early age in order to make a Perfect and Holier First Communion.
I was a member of the class of 1967 at St. Bartholomew School in Buffalo, NY, from 1st to 8th grade. We received First Holy Communion in 1st grade and the Sacrament of Confirmation in 6th grade (1960 and 1965, respectively), and attended Mass daily. We 11- and 12-year-olds were given great sacramental preparation. Most of our dedicated teachers were religious sisters, most of whom lived in the (too!) small convent next to our school, and we were blessed with wonderful, faithful, holy priests who lived in the rectory next to the parish church. What
I can testify, all these years later, to the profound and lasting effect of our Catholic formation on me and several classmates with whom I still maintain close friendships. Perhaps that does not remain not true for everyone in our class, but we were truly blessed!
In my diocese today, in Charlotte, NC, the confirmands are 14 or 15 years old and in 9th grade. Many of them have always attended public schools. Parents have expressed to me the difficulties in motivating some of their children.
One father: “I told my son, ‘This is the last thing you have to do,then you’re done!” I’m sure that is the attitude of a good number of Catholic parents today. That dad (unfortunately divorced and living with his girlfriend at the time) attended the contemporaneous parents’ sessions that I led, and I was blessed to witness *his* increased understanding over a period of a few months.
I must say, I agree that — at the very least — Confirmation should not be delayed into high school. Given my experience, the Eastern Rite tradition of administering Baptism, Chrismation, and First Holy Communion to infants provides sacramental strength that might benefit our young people more.
There is nothing new here, people have been asking the same basic question for 50 years. ONE billion Catholics attend the novus ordo missae third revision, the Mass of POBAMA. They are not interested in the counter revolutionary Tridentine Mass.
“POBAMA”? Please translate.
Brony; what is Order of Christian Initiation? Glenn; the Tridentine Mass isn’t revolutionary. Its 450 years old (Council of Trent) and Benedict told the Bishops they weren’t to prevent any priest from celebrating it.
Baptism > Confirmation/Chrismation > Eucharist
You refer to the ancient order of receiving the Sacraments of Initiation, as maintained in the Eastern Catholic Churches.
Honest question as this has been a topic of conversation. This one sentence stood out, “a parish with 1,200 or so families could have as many as 30-40 acolyte.” Our parish has 8,000 registered families and only three priests; this is a common occurrence in the suburbs of Texas’ major cities. Houston is by no means a rural diocese, so I do not see it as Lincoln being ignored, but rather its approach may not be a feasible model due to numbers alone. I cannot see how our priests would be able to serve their flock sans permanent deacons who help with the Bapstisms, weddings, and funerals.
It seems to me that another model must be put forward, while retaining the ideas of Liturgical Continuity and tradition friendly. We do have small pockets in a few parishes, but the mega-parishes face a much different problem. Specifically, an ignorant population – we have many sacramentalized Catholics who have not been catechized. Our parish priests are doing their best to amend that problem offering classes, talks, online resources, powerful homilies, but they only go so far. Our of those 8,000 families, we may only have 40 people show up. It is not a simple solution.
What a contradiction! You extol that there are women religious teaching the children in school but brag about not allowing them in the sanctuary. Do you really think that boys consider becoming priests because they get to serve Mass once every other week and not because of the spirituality that they learn in their classroom five days a week?
Why can’t it be both?
The reality is that the discernment process for many young men considering the priesthood starts when they are altar servers. But the spirituality that they experience *seven* days a week (not just the 5 days they spend in school, but their entire world as children) also plays a crucial role.
I also think it tremendously benefits young girls to see women in positions of authority – you know, as educators, principals, leaders in the school. I think part of the rallying cry for women wanting to be priests is because they perceive that only priests have that kind of authority, and in a parish that has no habited Sisters they will not see that women very definitely have a place in the Church besides being wives and mothers. If men as priests is all they see, of course they’re going to think that there’s no place for women.
I have 3 daughters and a son.
Why can’t it be both – all the way around? I see no problem with women as lectors , Eucharistic ministers, or servers. Don’t you think that this has an impact on girls considering religious life? However, I don’t think that sisters need to be habited to have impact – not all religious founders wanted their followers habited, some wanted them to be dressed as the people they ministered to dressed. For some religious congregations habits were proscribed from the beginning, but not for others. What we sometimes take as religious garb is really a holdover of normal dress from an earlier time period.
I agree wholeheartedly! The religious sisters who led the religious AND secular education of us, as parish children, we considered “powers to be reckoned with,” not “lesser than” our parish priests.
Alas, the neighborhood parochial school that educated Catholics in the mid 20th century are rare and expensive.
The Catholic Church says they become priests and should be given the priority. So when you attack that fact you attack the Church.
The other reason to exclude women, is the natures of men vs. women. Men will fade to the background when women start to run things, and take over. Men tend to be more passive when women step in. Just look around at most parishes in country. Many Sunday’s it will be all women at the altar, and one man, the priest. Men and boys tend to step back when women become involved. It is in our DNA somehow. I don’t know why, but it is. We can argue all we want to, but nature is nature. God made men and women different for a reason. Yet modern man wishes to deny what is nature. It\s like denying there is gravity. You can’t see it, but if you deny it, you risk your own life.
There are some dark sides to Lincoln’s success as well. One thing that is conspicuously absent is the fact that the Lincoln diocese does not encourage male religious vocations- there are no orders in their diocese and young men are not encouraged to think of anything else except seminary, which is unhealthy for a diocese (and for the Church as a whole). There’s also the fact that back in the 70’s and 80’s, the vocations director, based at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, funneled all vocational discerners into the the Lincoln diocese rather than sending them back home to study for their home diocese. I have worked for the Grand Island Diocese of Nebraska and the anger and even hatred for the Lincoln Diocese is terrifyingly palpable among both priests and laity because of this “shepherd stealing.” As of today, Grand Island has only had one ordination in the last 5 years, one seminarian, and the vast majority of the priests in the diocese are nearing retirement. They are at a crisis. To add gall to their mix, it will likely be Lincoln who will be sending them priests. So no, the Lincoln Diocese isn’t a shining model. It’s encouraging, but their success is dearly bought by other dioceses and religious orders and there is much that could have been done better.
The “sheep stealing” was somewhat unfortunate, but that has been rectified and quite frankly, if I was thinking about the seminary in those days and I grew up in the Grand Island diocese, I’d have wanted to go to Lincoln even without that vocations director’s influence. That Grand Island doesn’t have many ordinands is its own fault-it was the Los-Angeles-under-Cardinal-Mahoney of Nebraska. Too bad Bishop Paschang wasn’t succeeded by someone more like him and Grand Island would probably have been in a better place today. I was in the seminary for the Archdiocese of Omaha, and quite frankly, the bad blood in Nebraska from Omaha and Grand Island is mostly sour grapes because neither one of them kept the Faith as well as Lincoln.
As to men’s religious orders, they do have the FSSP seminary in Denton-that’s a pretty big deal. I would bet if a sufficiently orthodox order wanted to set up shop in the Lincoln diocese, they’d be likewise welcome.
Look, I have lived in both dioceses. Yes, GI people hate Lincoln but it is because they are jealous of the success. Men from all over the country fled insane modernism to take refuge in the Lincoln diocese. That is not Lincoln’s fault. GI’so problem is that they think the church began on 1962. It has been run by disgruntled hippies for 50 years. It needs to catch up and realize that the church us actually ancient and that’s OK. It doesn’t need to be plastic or rainbow polyester to be acceptable. Also, the Lincoln diocese was smart enough to actually obey Summorum Pontificem which Grand Island stubbornly refuses to obey. Grand Island wants to be its own religion. When it reunites with the universal church, possibly it will gain some vocations. A good start would be to get a priest as a Chancellor and to get sister Mary pants suit out of position of authority. The priests out there are LAZY. they have meetings meetings meetings. .people have to set appointmentsomething to have confession so many places. The GI diocese is a complete train wreck except for a few priests like Fr. Novakowski and a couple of the younger priests who know that the church didn’t start in 1962.
We are one holy Catholic and apastolic church. There are so many other forces out there to divide the Catholic Church, why are we doing this to ourselves. Out of all the things that are going on in the world, why are we encouraging the divide between GI and Lincoln? Both have qualities we could look to and better each diocese. I lived in Lincoln until 2 years ago when we moved to GI diocese. I know 3 “younger” priests that came from the GI diocese. One choose to be a Jesuit at Creighton, (I know I’m going to spell it wrong) one is a seletian priest in Texas and the one we just got was because of the friendships he had made at UNL, mostly products of the Catholic School system in Lincoln. He wasn’t poached. Through those friendships he found something in them he had never felt before. He wanted that and decided to become a priest, and a great one. We should be encouraging all around. I pray for the divide to fall and we all work together for our Lord. I love that Lincoln and Omaha have the Collar vs. Collar series now. They are different, yet working together. Let’s work together, forgive those that have hurt us and work towards a stronger diocese and pray for more vocations. There have been a few seminarians that have worked on discerning on whether to help their neighbor. Being a priest is the toughest job in the world. Let’s not scare them out of it.
Actually the diocese is now home to the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, from Hanceville Alabama. They are relocating to Lincoln this year.
From Pius X high school there are at least 5 male religious Vocation’s from Benedictine to the CFRS in New York.
Those Vocation’s that came from other diocese came out of their own free will. Grand Island’s vocation office was virtually nonexistent for many years as well as Omaha’s. Things have changed in the last 10 years.
As for Grand Island one look at the Catholic school system is tall tell sign of the larger part of the story. They got rid of the grade school and kept the high school. They have no foundation for their kids. Only when they get to high school do they begin to receive some sort of Catholic education at school.
Regarding Shepherd stealing, men did flee to Lincoln from all over the country. Some of them are excellent priests but I hope that very good back ground checks were done on the others. Bishops many years ago nixed the National Councils of Diocesan Vocation Directors desire to create a database to track men kicked out of seminaries for truly bad reasons (and because they were “orthodox”) as well men who did not make it through screening with significant problems. Several of these men from my home diocese were picked up and sent to seminaries for “orthodox” dioceses. Bishops who want numbers can very easily get them. Many more are turned away then accepted. Again, many very good men came to Lincoln – I know some of them – excellent priests, but what about the others. Let the buyer beware.
Grand Island’s struggles to obtain priestly vocations cannot , alas, be laid all that much at the feet of the Diocese of Lincoln. Whatever Lincoln has or has not done, Grand Island under recent bishops has had its own intrinsic reasons why it has not been a vocations magnet, as you must know.
Indeed; we here in Kansas City received Bishop John J. Sullivan in 1977 from Grand Island and we are still suffering mightily from the malaise and worse in our priesthood brought with him, which has inevitably spread to our laity. It is a horrible stain to try and get out. We do have some hope with a great number of seminarians now (thanks to our previous bishop), and most especially with our seminarians who are attending St. Gregory the Great, but the “Sullivan Men” will need to move out -due to attrition- before we can truly begin to heal, I fear.
“The modern use of Deacons tends to be an exalted and often largely untrained altar boy.”
As a permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Rockford IL, I for one take exception to that.
I am proud to serve at the altar in the capacity that I have been given through Ordination. Neither Bishop Malloy nor any of the priests who trained or who work with me appear to be ashamed of me or of my ability to serve at the altar and in the various and sundry roles that I do around my parish.
I have a doctoral degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Psychology, and a Master’s in Theology. I am no genius, but I am well educated. I am a competent and actually sought-after instructor in various formation classes around the Diocese as well as in our Diaconal Formation Program. I seek no exaltation for any of this; my only desire has been and will be to continue serving Holy Church and, through her, our Lord and Savior, for as long as I have the ability to do so.
I think that’s why they qualified that statement with “tends”. I’ve seen some places where they train the permanent deacons better than others. Some places they really do tend to be glorified altar boys, which is very unfortunate.
Yes, I did read that, and I understand what you’re saying. Nevertheless, such qualifications are no more than generalities that allow the reader to decide for themselves how prevalent the problem is. For example, I’m quite sure that there are places that train priests better than others, and can imagine that many priests would (and for excellent reason) take issue with my saying, for example, that priests tend to be poorly trained.
As Mother Angelica said, “It not important how many letters are behind your name, just the two letters that can have at the front of your name, St.”
The same for our permanent deacons in Charlotte, NC! Their character and orthodoxy is a tribute to the very strong program of formation under Bishop Peter Jugis. The diocese also has a new minor seminary at Belmont Abbey College, across the Catawba River in Belmont, NC.
Unfortunately, a Catholic parochial and high school education here costs tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t know how parents manage that, plus college. Truly a heroic effort!
I live in Lincoln Diocese where only altar BOYS (no altar GIRLS) have ever served at the altar. I am convinced that this has contributed significantly to the number of vocations to the priesthood in this diocese. .
You’re a moron. There is to be no distinction made since in the Body of Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for all are one in Christ as Paul states in Gal 3:28 and Romans and 1 Corinthians. When you disqualify someone based on ethnicity, social status or gender you are promoting a false gospel and are accursed as Peter did in Galatians 2 which Paul referenced to demonstrate what he meant by preaching a different gospel in Gal 1:8-9.
“You’re a moron”. Well, there’s a charitable rejoinder. QED
“in the Body of Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female”, thereby proving what, that the Catholic Church ordains women? Clearly the verse does not bear the interpretation you are giving it.
The service of acolytes and altar servers is an extension of the priest’s ministry in worship. As long as only boys served in that function, it was natural that many of them would consider that they too might have a call to the ordained life. I know that to be the case for me and my brothers, and many other men I’ve spoken with through the years. Bring girls into the mix and they either crowd out the boys, or start to think that they too can be priests (which is impossible), so the service is no longer participating in the priestly role. Most boys in the earlier years of altar service do not want to participate in girls’ activities, which service on the altar becomes, and they are much less able than girls at that age to maintain a reverent demeanor for a whole hour, the more so when there are also girls present.
Iconically, the sanctuary represents Heaven in the heavenly liturgy, the realm of the Father, and the presence of males only in the sanctuary enhances that imagery which enhances everyone’s comprehension of it.
Uhmm…. I think God created gender for a purpose. He even said so. When you try to make gender insignificant, you attack Gods intended purposes.
I believe that is called “ad hominem” and is usually used when the attacker has no real argument. Your use of scripture, or I should say, ABUSE, is so typical of the PC crowd. What Paul said is inapplicable to the priesthood, and therefore the sanctuary.
“You’re a moron.”
Come on. Show some respect.
Great post. Thank you. You mentioned almost everything that assists in making this Diocese flourish except, well, I’d add Eucharistic Adoration. Most (all?) parishes in Lincoln have 24/7 Adoration. One Church (St. Joseph’s) has a separate Adoration Chapel for worship 24/7 of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance. We are also very blessed to have the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters and their Eucharistic Adoration Chapel that allows lay adorers during the hours it is open to the public each day. Vocations are indeed a blessing for our Diocese- these sisters pray for vocations- as part of their vocation! Thank you again.
Laughing so hard at the claim in this that one of the reasons the Lincoln diocese has so many ordinations and is doing better than other dioceses in the USA is because of some “gyno-free altar area zone” in its churches. As if. HAHAHAHAHAHA
You could have ONLY girls serving as altar servers and it would have zero impact on things.
What do you think could be contributing to the higher number of ordinations per capita then?
Totally speculative on your part. Nevermind the psychology of teenage and preteen boys.
If that’s the case, you ought to be able to point to some parishes which have (and have had for an extended period of time) only females serving at the altar which have produced priestly vocations.
I am saddened as always when I read in puts as there are above. When people make all kinds of excusses and comments on the Catholic Church revolving around the liturgy. While the Holy Mass is Christ’s wonderful gift to the Church, I remind you all that he himself only ate once with his disciples when instituting the Eucharist. On the other hand he spent three years of his ministry, teaching, serving, loving and showing us the way to the Father. This is what we ought to be doing instead of getting bogged down with who says Mass in the way that suites ME the best. The Church has the power of the Holy Spirit with it, it will always prevail, so copy Christ, love your God and each other as Christ told us to do, the rest will take care of itsself.
Fr., the Catholic Church _does_ revolve around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and it’s not about what form suits me, but what does God want. If the New Mass is not from God but is a perversion, it won’t last. And after watching what has gone on during the last 50 years I’m inclined to think that it’s not going to.
Fr. Clarke did not get the memo front Pope Francis: The new Catholic religion is all about beggar worship, especially Moslem beggar worship (let’s all get on our hands and knees and kiss those Moslem feet).
Your comment really struck me. It reflects a lot of the frustration being experienced by the faithful these days. As I think back 60 years to my First Holy Communion, it seemed then that the Church was such a safe haven, but actually several popes and Our Lady had already been warning of wickedness that had quietly entered into the Church. The popes wrote encyclicals and Mary told us through apparitions what was happening and what to do. Well we didn’t take them seriously and look where we are. Most of my family have left the Church and I myself have a lot of penance to do. Thank God for dioceses like Lincoln and its priests and bishops. The situation with respect to Lincoln would seem to represent a deeper problem while at the same time it is a sign of revival that is already happening. It appears that Joseph Ratzinger was prophetic about the faithful becoming a small group like the early Christians, and Lincoln may well be an enclave protecting the Faith while the rest of the Church struggles to find its way back to the Truth. We must strive to be holy as the Church urges us, and pray and do penance for priests and bishops who encounter resistance as they struggle against dissent. Think of those who are alone in maintaining orthodoxy, and for those who are confused. When you feel anger and frustration, don’t let it overcome you, but use that energy to pray for the priests in those situations that they will be the yeast and the salt–small but effective, and that they won’t lose heart. They are Our Lady’s heroes. It must be so difficult.
Speaking of persecution: A few years ago, the bishop of Little Rock AR (Anthony Taylor) had a newly ordained priest (James Melnick) sent to the “Catholic Priest’s Insane Asylum” (i.e. St. Luke’s Institute, St. Louis MO). Fr. Melnick’s “crime”? He had occasionally offered the Tridentine Mass.
I didn’t know that. Brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I just want to lay down and cry. Thank you for letting me know. I will keep that priest in my prayers. He’s one of our heroes.
Fr. Clarke did not get the memo from Pope Francis: The new Catholic religion is all about beggar worship, especially Moslem beggar worship (let’s all get on our hands and knees and kiss those Moslem feet).
And how has the Catholic population as a whole been developing over the past 30 years?
“No doubt many bishops, priests, and lay faithful would rather forgo a boom in vocations if it means having to reestablish clear divisions between the nave and the sanctuary, or ending such post-conciliar innovations as altar girls or Extraordinary Ministers. The secular push for egalitarianism has been enthusiastically embraced by most bishops these past few decades. It would seem that either pride, or fear, or an agenda that is not exclusively focused on saving souls, is keeping many from reversing course. Or maybe some dioceses simply don’t want orthodox Catholicism.”
I think this is it. “Or maybe some dioceses…” Read some BISHOPS. It’s so obvious that the agendas of many bishops cater to the “me” ideas of inclusiveness, egalitarianism and watered-down Catholicism. Everything centers on feeling good about yourself.
An interesting post. A number of the comments about the diaconate have mentioned “service” as the central point of that ministry. It is, but historically it was service at the altar, to the bishop in particular, which marked out a deacon, not philanthropy. There is an excellent series of posts, citing easily verifiable sources, at the blog of Fr. John Hunewicke, the first of which I link to here:
I do agree with many commenters that diaconal formation leaves a lot to be desired in many places, including my own here in England. Perhaps Lincoln is best off out of the whole business, until something solid can be tried and tested.
Apologies that I repeated your point above before I saw this. Thank you.
“The diocese remains the only one in the country to maintain an altar serving policy of boys only.”
I realize this article is speaking solely to Latin Catholic Dioceses, however, I must offer a correction. The Lincoln diocese is one of a few in this country to maintain an all-male altar server policy. As a Byzantine Catholic, I can attest to the fact that all of our eparchies (dioceses) continue to require only males in the sanctuary, and only with permission from the priest.
We have much to learn from each other, both east and west. Christ is Risen!
I once attended a most moving Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine Catholic Church in Cary, NC. The building and congregation are small. There are folding chairs for the faithful, who were wonderfully welcoming and helpful to me. The iconostasis is very beautiful, and the priest, deacons, and acolytes were clad in gold vestments finer than any I’d ever seen, even at the Easter Vigil. I was truly *awed* by the bejeweled books of Scripture and the sacred vessels.
I think that every Latin Rite Catholic — especially those who have only attend the Novus Ordo Missae — should attend an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy and a Pontificate High Mass in Latin. The experiences gave me a new understanding of liturgy.
Indeed He is risen!
To the slave of the Immaculate: I have been to the Grand Island diocese and it is a disgrace. I’ve been to mass in Kearny and Ravenna in a little town I don’t remember the name of. My cousins are no longer there so I have not been the last two years. But the abuses at the masses that I attended where upsetting. I wrote to the bishop. The faithful in that diocese deserve better. So there is jealousy because of the success of the Lincoln diocese. Some may not want to admit that what they do is successful. And that the Catholic faith is strong and vibrant there. The modernist nuns (make that “nuns”) do not inspire anyone. That is why all the young women I know that are looking at religious life are choosing orders that are habited to show that they are brides of Christ and a sign of contradiction in this immoral world and they are not ashamed to be witnesses of Christ.
Thank you very much for this post–you make many valid points.
I have been an admirer of Bishop Bruskewitz (his predecessor and successor also) for a long time. My family and I belonged to a small parish in the Cincinnati Archdiocese for almost 31 years until 2009 when we left because of many problems (ie., I taught juniors and seniors in our CCD program for 7 years and was canned for teaching what the Church teaches concerning contraception) but primarily sacreligious handling of the Blessed Sacrament. I was one of the sacristans and routinely found pieces and particles of host on and around the corporal and sometimes on the floor (the corporal was never folded and removed from the alter after communion). As gently as I could I mentioned it to the pastor, who rebuked me and changed nothing. I could not live with that situation, so I wrote the pastor a letter containing my protest, included a copy of that with a letter to the new co-adjutor archbishop. Then we joined a parish in a neigboring diocese.
We have lived in the same area for nearly 43 years and our experiences with most parishes in our half of the Cincinnati archdiocese and also in some other dioceses we have visited or know people–affirms the points you make.
God bless you.
Also I might mention that while Denver does not do all the things that Lincoln does, it is a vibrant and thriving Catholic archdiocese. And men move to Denver from poorer dioceses
….poor in the faith that is, just so they can go to the seminary in Denver.
Here’s a link to a 2008 article that shows when and why Denver first broke into the Top 10. The whole article is enlightening. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/223/priestly_vocations_in_america_recent_trends.aspx
This article filled me with hope. I have read the comments questioning whether an all-male sanctuary, Mass ad orientem, and strong (in doctrine and practice) Catholic schools really account for this situation. My question is, if not, how would you explain it? Something in the water?
The truth is that the mystical nature of the Church is more fully revealed in these circumstances, and the life that flows through her veins is more accessible. How many kids in an average diocese go to daily Mass? Isn’t that fact alone revealing?
Look to Wichita, where Connelly is from. With just a slightly higher population, our vocations are also booming. We’ve been a stewardship diocese for more than 30 years with 33 elementary schools and four high schools.
I would love to see a widespread return to the Extraordinary Form Mass and in the Ordinary Form, an abandonment of the use of Eucharistic Ministers. That said, I thought vocations came from the Holy Spirit. It has never made sense to say that female altar servers (or any other changes to custom) are in part responsible for a drop in vocations. There are men who are raised as non-Catholic Christians (or without any religion) who enter the Church and become priests. I have a hard time believing a guy would not know he has a vocation to the priesthood, regardless of how he was raised or whether he was an altar server, etc.
As far as Catholic education, it is great as long as it’s orthodox. The Catholic schools in my area seem to churn out catechetical semi-literates.
Service at the altar helps develop boys and young men into potential priests in ways that cannot be done to as great effect through other means. Depriving boys of unimpeded access to this development deprives them of opportunities for spiritual growth. A vocation not nurtured may be lost.
If having young women serving at Mass is enough to destroy a young man’s vocation, it couldn’t have been much of a vocation.
A vocation not nurtured is lost, and if the girls are up there, the boys won’t be. Enough of the PC nonsense. Lincoln has priests because God blessed them for loving obedience. An all-male sanctuary encourages vocations; altar girls does not.
They also encourage frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I believe they offer it daily during Advent. (I no longer live in Nebraska)
We have a Deacon at our parish that is around 80 years old. He shared with me that things changed when girls were allowed to be altar servers. Boys then saw it as a girls thing, did not want to volunteer, were distracted, and fewer of them thought about becoming a priest, than before when it was just boys in that service. God made us male and female, there are differences and different callings and ministries.
I enjoy a few aspects with this article but have severe concerns with some points raised and the mentality with which this was written, let’s address a few:
I really don’t believe that allowing female alter servers would have the dramatic effect on the number of priests as you think it would. The Archdiocese of Omaha has boys and girls serve and I’ve never felt that the Mass was less reverent because I see young girls serve. Perhaps we should teach our young boys to see their female counterparts as their equals at an earlier age. I grew up in Lincoln, served at St. Joe’s, and loved it. But, it’s something that the Parish forced boys to do weekly. If girls were also included in the list it should not change how boys or girls view the Mass. Fostering a mentality of establishing a “Boy’s Club” within the Church (and no, I don’t believe there should be women priests).
Furthermore, I’m not a fan of how alter serving is viewed as a “First Seminary”. We can’t expect all who serve Mass to become priests and should not treat alter serving as a sort of “marketing opportunity” to promote the Priesthood. While I do love the idea of exposing children to the Mass at an early age along with proper Catholic education, I dispute the claim that other dioceses are failing if they do not copy Lincoln’s Model.
One problem I have seen from the inside of Lincoln is the pressure put on seminarians. They are paraded around and held to a model of holiness that no human can perfectly fulfill. Moreover, I know more than a few seminarians who, after leaving the seminary, were accused of such ridiculous claims as: ” having left the Church”.
There is an arrogance that is fostered in the Diocese of Lincoln that has produced articles such as this. Parishioners have fallen in love with the bubble of Catholicism that Lincoln produces and see outside Dioceses (besides Rome) as failing and somehow “less Catholic”. This claim is ridiculous. The mentality behind this article breeds Phariseeism and spiritual pride.
Lincoln is a successful Diocese, and I love the priests, parishioners, and friends I have there. But, if we continue to view the outside Catholic world as lesser than us than we will have fallen into the sin which Christ himself condemns more than ever: PRIDE. Spiritual Pride that leads to the blackest of Spiritual Death. I love you Lincoln, but articles like this are the exact reason you are viewed so poorly by Catholics in the United States. The worst part is that the good that you do in Lincoln is lost when we lose ourselves in pride.
“([A]nd no, I don’t believe there should be women priests)”
Just out of curiosity: Why not?
richardmalcolm1564 – I do believe that the Priesthood was established by Christ at the Last Supper and Holy Orders was conferred by Christ on the Apostles. The priest acts “in persona Christe” during his participation in the Sacraments. Now, this isn’t to say that a woman cannot reflect the face of Christ, not at all. But, Christ conferred the Sacraments and the Magisterium of His Church on men.
However, alter serving is entirely different. There is not a sacrament that confers the right to alter serve on a young boy or young girl. Both sexes can certainly benefit from serving at the Mass and I would encourage all parishes to do so.
The problem with female altar servers is not that they cannot do the “job”, its that they are not the proper replacement for clerics in minor orders! That’s what altar boys are deputized to do, fill in when clerics in minor orders are not available. Now that the minor orders are basically unused, altar servers fill in for Instituted Acolytes-which also must be male. Rome says women can serve, OK, but its contradictory to our traditions and its contradictory to the sign value of what someone serving at the altar was supposed to be or standing in for.
I really don’t think its a “first seminary” either, but boys do need “boys things” to do. When I first started serving, it was a “boy’s job” and it was a nice “boy’s club” with activities especially during the summer and no shortage of boys in the group. Once girls started, all that quickly died out.
Now, that speaks to two problems. First, I do think the Minor Orders should be reestablished and extended to men who have no intention of getting ordained priests. Secondly, I think most altar servers should be adult men (in Minor Orders in fantasy land at least). Making serving at the altar a little boy’s thing made it a cutesy-poo activity and trivialized the role. Even before the Council there was an over abundance of frippery and nonsense of dressing little boys up like mini Cardinals or Canons to serve or putting big bows and fringed capes on them and other such nonsense. So, it was not a problem that magically started with Vatican II.
I was in the seminary for the Archdiocese of Omaha and I got questions like that when I left. I left on perfectly good terms, just wasn’t my calling. Many people are lamentably ignorance about vocation discernment, so I think its fine for them to ask silly questions so that they can learn. No one leaves the Church just because they left the Seminary, but sometimes folks just don’t get it. No matter which diocese you study for, leaving the Seminary can be awkward, but that’s not the diocese fault-its just one of those things.
Lastly, I’d be real careful about accusing anyone, let alone a whole diocese, of “spiritual pride” unless you are Padre Pio or some such who can read souls. It can also be a “thou dost protest too much” thing too. Listen, Lincoln is doing, basically, at least the bare minimum of what all dioceses should be doing. They aren’t actually so extraordinarily wonderful, there is plenty that can be improved-and any of their bishops or priests would gladly admit that. The main reason they stand out is because the rest of us are doing so poorly. The Church is really just doing badly, and saying Lincoln is guilty of “spiritual pride” because they have just happened to be able to hang on is ridiculous.
If Lincoln is viewed “poorly” by the “rest” of the Catholics of the United States, maybe they should reflect on their own backyard.
Good post. I didn’t know that little boys as altar servers was an innovation in itself. One thing that I think should get more attention is that the altar girl situation began with a singular act of disobedience, did it not? Obedience is so very important to the Church that religious take a vow of obedience. Saints who understood the importance of obedience, were willing to endure Much injustice for the sake of being obedient. Didn’t St. Pio endure years of unjust restriction of his ministry because of authorities who misunderstood him? I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that disobedience would threaten the oneness of the Church and we need to submit to the Church in obedience for the same reason. Just my observation.
Sort of funny to watch these things play out. Progressives can’t allow places like Lincoln to exist. Look how the liberal Bishop Weakland attacked it. Do you ever hear the bishops of Lincoln going after the other dioceses? Or some of the comments above. They can not allow an all male Sanctuary to exist. Yet places like Lincoln do not attack the mostly women dominated dioceses or sanctuaries. An error can never permit Truth to exist. The Feminist movement, which is an error, must attack all things male. It can not exist with the Truth. Feminism prompts one to believe in a superiority of one sex over the other, or that both are equal.. This is the error. There really is no competition. It is a matter of the God created natures of male and female, of complimentarity of the sexes. Yet we allow ourselves to be drawn into a false argument. And ultimately, it is an argument against God and his creation, Go back to the Gospels. He created them male and female Jesus said. He did not say he created them unisex. As far as vocations, Jesus offered the rich young man a vocation. And he went away sad, Because he gave up his vocation. Jesus was offering to him what he offered the other Apostles, “Come follow me.” So, yes a vocation can be lost. And we can never say it must not have been much of a vocation. This is like saying God does not know what he is doing when he calls a man to a vocation to the priesthood, or religious life, or a women to religious life.
Our Diocese is doing a Strategic Planning right now. I hope it is OK if I can use your article to bring up your points. We are looking at successful Dioceses and many of the points you brought up I have heard.
To give you some background on my perspective:
I grew up in the Archdiocese of Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska, where I was active at the Newman Center. I attended the seminary for Lincoln but discerned that I was not being called to the priesthood. I have lived in Lincoln for 30+ years.
I thank God every day that we have been blessed with a wonderful number of vocations. I know that there are dioceses that have not been as fortunate. However, I think that the primary reason that we have been blessed with so many vocations is not the male-only altar server situation, nor Mass celebrated ad orientam, nor Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.
The primary reason is strong episcopal leadership.
Bishop Flavin (1967-1992) made no bones about it: His two top priorities as Bishop were vocations and Catholic schools. He followed those priorities and made them the diocese’s priorities throughout his reign. Monsignor Kalin at the Newman Center was certainly a catalyst of that (I am an example of the vocational promotion/discernment that took place there) and yes, there were men from other dioceses that ended up studying for Lincoln (again, I’m an example of that).
Bishop Bruskewitz (1992-2014) continued that emphasis on vocations and schools. He opened St. Gregory the Great Seminary in the late 1990s, which changed the makeup of our seminarians quite a bit. Prior to then, we had fewer young men in college seminary and more in Pre-Theology and Theology, having discerned a call to the seminary while at the University of Nebraska. Having a college seminary in the diocese has changed that balance, and more and more young men are going to St. Gregory immediately following their graduation from diocesan high schools.
Bishop Conley (2014-present) has continued these nearly 50-year policies and has had the good fortune to ordain so many men in the past few years that he has been able to release some of his priests for service in the military, in college ministry outside the diocese, and for parish service in other dioceses.
I would submit that things like male-only altar servers, Masses celebrated ad orientam or in Latin are not the causes of our good fortune in vocations but rather characteristics of “conservative” policies pursued since the 1960s by our bishops. Lincoln had a good number of seminarians prior to Bishop Flavin’s policy of male-only lectors and acolytes took effect in 1984. We did not see a spike the number of seminarians when that policy went into effect. And celebration of the Mass ad orientam or in Latin was virtually unheard of in this diocese until the late years of Bishop Bruskewitz. We did not see a spike in vocations once those appeared on the scene. What we have had is a steady number of seminarians since the early 1970s, praise God.
For those dioceses seeking to increase their number of vocations, please do not assume that there is a silver bullet – no one single thing is going to magically make seminarians appear. It will take clear episcopal leadership over a long period of time – remember, we’ve had a serious diocesan priority on vocations for close to half a century. It will take having priests and nuns in the schools to give kids interactions with them. It will take parents discussing vocations with their kids. It will take prayers, then more prayer, and then even more prayer. And after that, you’ll have to really start praying hard. (Bishop Flavin was able to get the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (the “Pink Sisters”) to open a convent in Lincoln in 1973. Their charge is to pray for sanctification of priests in the diocese and for vocations. Getting these Special Forces of Prayer on the job was a key event.)
“Do what she tells you” -the perfect example of Jesus putting His Mother, a female, high upon the pedestal she so richly deserves. In the end, those Wedding guests enjoyed some very fine wine.
As a mother, I have stayed awake nights rocking a child with a 104 temp, while thinking of Mary at the foot of the cross, and in moments like those, my understanding of sacrificial love comes into being. Would Mary have asked to be an Alter Server or a Priest? She wanted only one thing- to follow the unique path God had chosen for her in life. Why, as women, would we desire anything other than the exact intimate calling God has chosen for us? If we are ALL truly living out our faith, then this equality debate would hold no merit in the life of a Catholic. As Catholics, we are all called to “know, love and serve Him in this life, so that we might be happy with Him in the next life” (yes, I grew up in Lincoln with Baltimore Catechism:) Serving Him with sacrificial love. It’s as simple, and as complex as that, wether we are single, married or Religious.
I don’t normally post comments on articles, but tomorrow is May Crowning. Looking back on my childhood here in Lincoln, I remember learning about the different Sisters by their habits- the pink Sisters the gray Marian’s, the blue School Sisters of Christ the King and the black & white Dominicans, who taught me to play sports, to use my prepositions, to attend Daily Mass, and to bring flowers for Mary on May Crowning Day. Our Church is alive with Scripture and Tradition. My hope is for this rich Tradition to continue. It’s O.K. If my son becomes an Alter Boy and my daughters don’t…as long as they ALL understand that they are created in the Image and Likeness of God.
Yep. The largest/wealthiest diocese in the World (Los Angeles) can only field a handful of priests every year. And yep, almost all of them are from: Asia, Latin America, Africa.
The Church just ain’t hiring!
What would happen if a bishop with different views was appointed to the diocese?
Seems to be telling that it hasn’t.
#01 – When Paul says that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” he says this within the context of Baptism, as distinct from Circumcision. Entrance by males into the Abrahamic covenant was by means of Circumcision. Entrance by females into that same covenant was by virtue of relationship to a circumcised male. Contrast this with the rite of Baptism, which is conferred upon male and female without distinction. Paul is not saying that sexual differentiation is irrelevant for those in the Christian covenant.
#02 – You would do well to refrain from calling people “morons”.
Can anyone point me to a parish in the Lincoln diocese where I can find a Sunday Mass where Holy Communion is administered under both species? My wife and I are coming back for a reunion and want to be able to attend a parish fully in step with Vatican II. We will be ther next month.
Not only in line with the Second Vatican Council, but also in line with the Revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2003):
# 85 “It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”
# 283 “Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds.”
The Second Vatican Council document that covers this subject, Sacrosanctum Concilium, states:
55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, communion under both kinds ***may be granted when the bishops think fit***, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
Communion under both kinds is not a right, nor a REQUIREMENT of Vatican II. Much of what people claim as requirements of Vat II are actually counter to the official record of decisions made in the counsel and enacted in official documents.
Note how the document lists extraordinary events, and not “any Sunday” Mass.
None of them do to my best knowledge and they are all very much “fully in step with Vatican II”. There is absolutely no where, and you will look in vain to prove me wrong, that commands that communion be done under both species.
This really seems like a silly thing to get in a tizzy about. Who cares if you can’t receive from the chalice? The likelihood of profanation (unintentional, certainly) is so much higher passing a chalice back and forth as to be ridiculous.
Furthermore, as Mr. Kaiser correctly pointed out, Vatican II itself never really envisioned reception under both kinds willy-nilly any old day. Even the GIRM only talks about “sign” value, none of which is obligatory in the slightest.
actually I think its campus ministry people … they have a great program and Newman Center…. if we’re honest about the break down of the family and the cultural challenges we face campus ministry is our last best chance at forming Catholic leaders ….. we loose 83% of our young adults as Catholics during the college experience and often campus ministry is only a marginal effort when it should be given our best effort
If Lincoln was any bigger, Rome would have installed a fixer by now.
JMJ someone please tell me why everyone is standing at the consecration? I hope this isn’t a con celebration?
The people you see standing are concelebrants (and the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard in the aisles in the background). Everyone else is kneeling.
A friend sent me a copy of the article about Lincoln and the number of new priests is very impressive. The Bishops push for good schools is to be praised, but I would like to know how many of those attending those schools remain firm practicing Catholics following their graduation, and for how many years they remain firmly grounded in their faith.
As a 40 something year old female graduate of Pius X in Lincoln, I cannot tell you a percentage of us who remain faithful. My closest friends have for the most part remained practicing Catholics. It is of course easier to do if you remain in the diocese.
Those who have mentioned the education system, the adoration program and the policy of only boys as altar servers are absolutely correct. As someone who grew up in Lincoln, but is now in parish leadership in a large diocese in a different state, I have seen the destruction wrought by the misinterpretations of Vatican II. I pray that Lincoln will continue to be blessed with orthodox leadership for decades to come. They are producing some of the finest priests and bishops in the U.S.. It is only through orthodox leadership and fruitful vocations that we will be able to survive and flourish.
Why is it okay for girls to dress up as altar boys (little priests) but it is not okay for boys to dress up as nuns while serving at the altar? I will start supporting altar girls as soon as boys get their “equal rights” like girls and can start dressing up as nuns including the veil and wimple and the floor-length, pre-Vatican II habit and the Catholic Church starts ending its bias against boys dressing up as nuns while serving at the altar.
Why is the cross dressing of girls into boys (i.e. clerical attire) okay but it is not okay for the cross dressing of boys into girls (i.e. nuns attire)?
Equal rights warriors, to be logically consistent, must support the cross dressing of boys into girls attire.
Be careful what you wish for. Given the collective madness afflicting the western world, we could soon see the mob picketing enclosed communities of nuns, demanding admission for men who claim to be women.
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