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:

Orthodox Bishops

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.

Tradition Friendly

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.

Liturgical Continuity

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 , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 219 Comments.

  1. If we are going to roots, permanent diaconoate of men and “women” was in place at the beginning of Christianity. I think women are being moved aside. This more clericalism than fidelity to roots, as men lead the route.

    • The diaconate for “women” (why the quotes?) was not ordained. It was used in a role as assisting the priest, for things like the Baptism of adult women. Or “women” if you prefer. Establishing a non-ordained diaconate for women would just emphasize the difference between men and women, which ppl like you would probably want to eschew anyways.
      And no, women aren’t being moved aside. I don’t see how anyone in modern society without some hefty blinders on can think that. Everyone bends over backwards to virtue signal how accommodating they are to the wamen.

  2. Deacon Steve McGlone

    It seems that the author thinks permanent deacons are a problem or less effective ministry than installed acolytes. I am wondering if this is correct and why.

    • I like comments like yours that make me want to research. As fa as I can tell from this article on the USCCB website , Although the ordination is different from that of a priest, the deacon IS ordained through the Sacrament of Holy Orders just as a priest is ordained through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. An instituted acolyte does not receive Holy Orders . I don’t know what the author thinks but I don’t see how the ministries of the deacon and acolyte can even be compared. A deacon receives Holy Orders . An acolyte is a lay person.
      ‘The acolyte is instituted for service at the altar and to assist the Priest and Deacon. It is his place principally to prepare the altar and the sacred vessels and, if necessary, to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful as an extraordinary minister.[83]’

  3. Deaconess in the early Church serve a very limited rolle They were chosen from widows and virgins. Remember St. Paul said no women could preach or teach.. The early Christians were baptized seperately as they wore no clothes.Deaconess assisted the women. They brought communion to ill women who lived alone as it would have been scandalous for a Deacon to do so.
    By the 4th century Deaconess no longer were used.

  4. Why was it necessary to say “homosexual” when speaking of the progressive bishop in Milwaukee? Do you point out that others are heterosexual?? Sex isn’t a part of the priesthood, whatever the previous leaning may have been.

    • Because Archbishop “Weakland was toppled in the church hierarchy in 2002 by a disclosure that he paid $450,000 in diocesan funds to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he was the archbishop’s lover.” See: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6494915-74/weakland-vincent-archabbey. In retirement, his own abbey did not want him back fearing his sexual lust and manipulation of the young, beautiful, healthy, virile, male novices and his need for decadent Novus Ordo liturgies.

      In any event, he was leading a double life as an unrepentant Pagan and Demonic Sodomite, like so many other Catholic clergy, and breaking his Benedictine vow of chastity.

    • In the Roman Catholic Church, a discussion over “the priesthood of the laity,” there usually is not talk of gender. When the topic is about “vocations to the priesthood,” morally acceptable men are at the center of the discussion. Especially after the past several decades.

    • #BChristLike

      Bonne, your response is of a progressive that participates in the persecution of Christ’s church. Speak truth here in the short term for eternity is more important. Have courage to swim against the tide, not with it.

  5. June Vendetti

    The Diocese of Lincoln has been blessed because it never wavered from the traditions of the Church. I received my First Holy Communion pre-Vatican II Council. The Liturgy always had a sense of the holy to it. In the late sixties and through the seventies, liturgical abuses were evident, making the Liturgy less holy. The Church has suffered greatly over the past fifty years because of it, and it breaks my heart to think that all the changes that took place, were allowed to prevail; they were not stopped! I applaud the Diocese of Lincoln, and I pray that the rest of the Dioceses throughout the country will follow Lincoln’s lead.

  6. Around what age does the Diocese of Lincoln offer the Sacrament of Confirmation?

  7. I think there are too many trying to bend the Church to their will by embracing mediocrity and minimalism. By evangelizing with charismatic protestant programs like Alpha.

    • I have experienced the beautiful communion services provided by Sisters in the unforeseen absence of a priest. These are Catholic women who have spent their lives, praying, teaching, and devoting their lives to the poor, sick, elderly, and homeless. Their homilies are inspiring to say the least. The fact that the Catholic Church frowns on the idea of ordaining women, only shows that women haven’t been given the chance to provide this service, so there is no basis for pre-judging how we would do. Women serve as insightful spiritual directors, capable administrators, and handle the discipline of celibacy, on the whole, more successfully than their male counterparts. I’ll bet the number of holy priests would more than triple with the ordination of devout women, thus lessening the burden of the overworked men.
      ps. One of the worst excuses for not changing something is “We’ve always done it this way.” History is littered with such examples of resistance, the horse and buggy, the drill hammer, and the computer.

      • And one of the best reasons for not changing is to stay faithful to Our Lord’s example.

      • Jesus would be absolutley shocked should he see the abominations of the mandated celibacy for clergy! After all, He chose married men e.g. Peter for His own apostles; they conquered the known world for the “ good news”; today we have the scandalous pedophilia scourge by mandatorycelibates!!!

  8. The Bishop encourages the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When I go home for Christmas, they are offering it before Daily Mass and throughout the day. They also have asked the faithful to pray for vocations at mealtimes. They also encourage adoration…

  9. Maurice Richard OFM Conv.

    Their “success” could also mean that more conservatively leaning men are going to this one diocese which has been ministered to by more conservatively leaning bishops . . . Or in other words, the “orthodox” vocations are not all necessarily coming from the diocese of Lincoln, but from all over the United States and landing in that conservative diocese. This should not presume a better or worse Catholic environment, but a unique community who do things in a conservative way. Two million Catholic youth attended the World Youth Day in Poland this summer and four million in Brazil a couple of years ago. Should we presume that the “novus ordo” liturgies celebrated there and youth leadership are the winning combination for the church of tomorrow? Numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I’m happy for the diocese of Lincoln and their success . . . I certainly don’t presume that their way is the best or only way to go.

    • Fr. Richard:

      In an interview this week, Bishop Conley indicated seven out of ten of their vocations have come from Diocese of Lincoln Catholic high schools. It’s possible these families had moved to Lincoln while these men were still children in some cases, which might make the men “imports” in a technical sense, but they’ve at least spent sufficient time in the diocese to arguably qualify as “home grown.” His Excellency does not clarify where the other three came from – whether they were from Lincoln in some other capacity, or from outside the diocese.

      I’m not sure how helpful a comparison to World Youth Day or similar events are. A commitment to attend a retreat abroad for a few days is not the same as the commitment to the priesthood for one’s entire life. Generating numbers for the latter is a far more formidable task. And few dioceses in the West are successful at it. Given how critical the need for priests is in most such places now, looking at the few places that actually succeed has some logic going for it. It may turn out that certain aspects of what they do in Lincoln may not translate without some modification to other dioceses. But it seems hard to argue with most of the basic elements Liturgy Guy highlights.

      To make the contrast more stark, in a 24 month period, Bp. Conley has ordained about one third as many priests (17) as all the dioceses in Germany (a country with 24 million nominal Catholics) put together this year. Whatever they are doing in Germany, it’s simply not working, at all. From what I have seen over there, most or all of these factors are lacking in most German dioceses.

  10. Theresa Adewuyi

    Lord help us and bless us with various initiative to continue to develop the church for our salvation and to draw souls closer to You O God

  11. Miranda Hutlet

    I was saddened that no mention was made of placing a priority on Adoration of the Holy Eucharist, unless I missed it. That is what I would have expected from an article in which it seems we have found a diocese where Catholics in North America have finally “done it right”.

    • I will humbly submit, even though this is after the fact in the conversation, and buried in the timeline, that the Lincoln Diocese is home to a group of cloistered sisters called “The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters” (affectionately aka “The Pink Sisters” because of the color of the vestments they wear) and are a huge player in the success of the Diocese of Lincoln. Their role, through Eucharistic Adoration and prayer, is to support the holy work of the diocese. Their chapel is open to the public for Eucharistic adoration from 6:00am to 8:30pm every day of the year and always, unless there is some unforeseen circumstance, has either a Pink Sister or lay member adoring the very person of Jesus in the Eucharist. I am almost brought to tears now thinking of all the blessings and graces their ministry has had on the Diocese, my family, me, and really the world. They were brought here by Bishop Flavin in 1973 (year of my birth!).

      In many, many, many of the parishes of the Lincoln Diocese, Eucharistic adoration is central to the parish with many having a commitment by its members to adoring 24 hours, 7 days a week with only the very most difficult hours needing to be covered but always looking for a complete 24/7 coverage.

      I would like to add just one more of the myriad of unifying facts of the Lincoln Diocese. The Southern Nebraska Register is a weekly newspaper that is published for it’s residents but really is a witness to the world. Pick any copy up from the last 14 years (before that I cannot attest since I didn’t read it before I was 30 much but assume the quality has been as such many many years before as well) and the content is truly a help and inspiration for the soul. Articles about the very words and preaching of the Holy Father, an article by the bishop, several from the priests, the vibrant activities of the diocese….it is a feast for the soul. I am weekly inspired and instructed by this publication and it is a must read before any secular paper.

      Because of my Diocese and the work that it does to help souls grow in their love of God, I will be eternally grateful.

  12. The story above about why Bishop Anthony Taylor removed Father James Melnick from his parish had nothing to do with the latter “occasionally saying a Tridentine Mass.” As this article from Arkansas Catholic makes clear, the bishop removed Father Melnick for serious sexual misconduct and abuse of the sacraments. http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/3997/Father-James-Melnick-suspended-from-ministry

  13. With respect for a thought provoking article; ‘handling the thurifer’ may result in criminal charges. Handling the thurible will not.

  14. A small thing to most people, but irritating to me…..Not just in this article, but in many I read across a wide range of authors, the word “Mass”, when referring to, obviously, Sunday Mass, the Holy Mass, etc., writers do not capitalize the word. It is the THE Holy Mass, not mass, like a mass of people in a crowd…..Always capitalize “Mass”, please, when referring to the Holy Mass.

    • Actually, it’s “The Holy Sacrifice of Jesus.” “Mass” is a lame synonym for His Holy Name. Why it has become “The” word instead of “Jesus,” and remains so, I guess is a liturgical fact of life.

  15. I recently found out that our diocese also has the largest, most active women’s group, Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.
    Another plus is the Catholic Church on the University of Nebraska campus and it’s activities for students.
    We have many incredible blessings! Praise God!

  16. How I wish my diocese (OnMission for the Church Alive!) would follow Lincol’s example

  17. In your op-ed you stated that Lincoln has 6 catholic high schools and that is incorrect. I am from Lincoln and went to school at Pius X and it is the only catholic high school available in Lincoln.

    • I believe the author meant the Lincoln *Diocese* has six Catholic high schools:
      Pius X (Lincoln), Sacred Heart (Falls City), Our Lady of Lourdes (Nebraska City), Aquinas (David City), St. Cecilia’s (Hastings) & Bishop Neumann (Wahoo)


  18. I am not a member of your diocese as I live in Illinois but frequently visit parishes in the Lincoln diocese. I find the church very unwelcoming and exclusive. Excluding the laity from participating fully in the Mass makes me feel like a child of the church rather than a full, adult, responsible member of the Catholic church. My home parish constantly reaches out for all members to participate in all aspects of the Mass including women as servers, lectors, and sacristans. It is appalling that the Lincoln diocese excludes women.

    • John D. Horton

      I wish the Vatican would establish “women only” parishes so they can parade around in front of each other to their hearts content. With only women in the audience, there won’t be any female participation due to lack of interest. Women want to parade around in the sactuary so they can be seen and be on display for men.

      You will notice that since women’s liberation hit the convents in the 1960s even the sisters are not interested in being around each other and have zero ability to attract new candidates. Vatican II and its communist, atheistic and secular propaganda of “tolerance,” “inclusiveness” and “diversity” have destroyed the Church which was the idea in the first place by those subversives who proposed the New Church.

      If you want women’s liberation and equality (communist and socialist concepts propagated by the Left to destroy the Catholic Church and Western society), go and start your own church. No one is stopping you.

      The Vatican II “changes” in the Church were propagated with the explicit intention of destroying the Church and they have been very successful.

      What is the recipe for destroying the thriving Catholic Church USA in the 1950s? Change everything about it so that in 2017 it is totally recognizable from what it was in the 1950s.

      • Deacon Jack Roscoe

        You are so far off base it seems almost a waste of time to begin listing the errors in your blog. You must not be serious and are only posting this sophomoric inane dribble to try to elicit a response

    • Participation at Mass doesn’t mean that everyone needs a job. The deepest participation is silent prayer and adoration during the Mass. This idea of having a job during Mass is immature worship similar to entertaining a toddler to keep them distracted and amused so they won’t stray.

      • All this regressive talk about minding your place at Mass reminds me that the Apostles at the last supper must have been very reluctant to participate in the meal as good Christians apparently must stay silent and know their place!

      • Paul, our place at Mass is to worship God, Period. Don’t know how that translates to “minding your place”. Reducing the Holy Sacrifice to just a meal is the problem with modern liturgy. The faithful have lost (or never had) the understanding of what is happening, supernaturally, right in front of them. If they did they wouldn’t want to be distracted with the modern sense of participation.

    • But Donna, what do you make of all the evidence that Lincoln’s traditional approach has produced a truly astonishing flowering of the faith? And the dismal collapse of Catholic belief and practice following the liberal reforms of the 1970s?
      I have recently ‘converted’ to the Extraordinary Form and am always amazed at the effect it has on me. It teaches me that the Mass is the work of Christ. As long as we think the Mass is about us, about what we do and say, we deny ourselves its sanctifying power.
      The community involvement you value is indeed essential to the life of the Church, but ultimately it is secondary to the death and Resurrection of Our Lord.

    • In my experience, Ms. Hall, those parishes which place emphasis on “participation” as you suggest end up excluding men. While portraying themselves as “inclusive”, such parishes suggest (potentially mortally sinfully) sexist motives for any dissent from the “modern-day” view. Often, they also summarily ignore other rubrics. Most men have no interest in fighting fruitless battles against such situation. Instead, they simply leave.
      Thus begins the vocations crisis.

      • @John Flaherty writes: “In my experience, Ms. Hall, those parishes which place emphasis on “participation” as you suggest end up excluding men. While portraying themselves as “inclusive”, such parishes suggest (potentially mortally sinfully) sexist motives for any dissent from the “modern-day” view. Often, they also summarily ignore other rubrics. Most men have no interest in fighting fruitless battles against such situation. Instead, they simply leave.
        Thus begins the vocations crisis.”
        The Catholic men who are so intimidated need to grow a spine, as do parents who permit boys to drop out of altar serving because “girls are doing it.” The proper attitude is to persevere, because the Church needs good men to step up to service, and boys should be told, “Get in the car, you are going to serve Mass this morning.”

      • “The Catholic men who are so intimidated need to grow a spine”

        I could start by observing that in more than a few of these parishes, pastors and (women-dominated) liturgical ministers actively discourage men/boys from participation in these roles. I’ve seen this happen. But that’s not even the key problem.

        And that problem is that the liturgy itself is a massive turnoff to most men (and, I might add, more than a few women) – therapeutic, chatty, spiritually unchallenging, with treacly, banal music.

        And the numbers speak for themselves. It’s not working. Even allowing for a secularization effect, the collapse in Mass attendance, especially among men and younger cohorts, is profound.

      • I’m sorry, but you are proving my point. I will add that when you say men find the liturgy in most parishes a “turn-off,” you are suggesting that these men are thinking of themselves and their own feelings. Attending Mass or not attending Mass is not supposed to be based on one’s feelings. And surely, even in less traditional parishes, there are multiple opportunities for me, or have women taken over the Knights of Columbus and the Holy Name Societies when I was not looking?

      • “Factchecker” seems to lack either facts or data. Richard Malcolm, as always, your comment is grounded in the real world and obvious to anyone who doesn’t have an agenda to feminize the Sanctuary. Men who are “turned off” by anthropocentric liturgies are actually offended or bored by the lack of focus on God, not because they are thinking of themselves. Very weak comment “Factchecker.”

      • I wrote for many years for two traditional Catholic publications, and have attended Mass at parishes in three different states over the course of many decades. Ii wrote on subjects such as the impossibility of “women priests.” I have a lot of facts and experience at my disposal. I now live in a very liberal part of the country (I myself am very conservative and anti-feminist), and every parish around here has an active male participation and thriving Knights of Columbus and Holy Names Societies. I am baffled by the insistence here that men have been driven out of all Catholic parishes. What states do you gentlemen inhabit? By the way, insulting me is not an effective form of argument.

      • I apologize for labeling your comment as “weak”, but your initial response to Mr. Flaherty was also lacking in charity and far too dismissive of the liturgical wasteland that has decimated entire dioceses for decades. Regardless of how many places you have lived, “suck it up” isn’t the solution to the crisis of vocations and attendance in places like Los Angeles, Seattle or Milwaukee. The spiritual malnutrition is as much a supernatural problem. Please don’t simply blame young families and young boys for the “achievements” of modernist priests, prelates, and boomer laity.

      • I did not blame young boys or young families for anything. I suggested that mature Catholic men need to ignore things that upset them (I hate crummy modern church music more than you do, trust me), and, as Don Corleone says to Johnny Fontane in “The Godfather,” “Be a man!” There is no lack of charity in a Catholic woman saying that she thinks Catholic men should quit complaining and do something to fix things in their parishes. St. Catherine of Siena said much tougher things to Pope Gregory XI, and got canonized for it. I don’t expect that, for a variety of reasons. But my stance is one of a Catholic woman being supportive of Catholic men by saying that complaining here won’t get us anywhere, but manly, assertive action on the parish level will.

      • You’re welcome to keep dismissing the disappearance of men – especially young men – as narcissism or egoism. And I hope you have a plan for parish consolidation when the time comes.

        Let me make it concrete: The plural of anecdote is not data (though the data are grim enough), but I know well what I see in my area (suburban Maryland, both DC and Baltimore). Even in many of the “healthier” parishes, the demographics skew old, and female. Let me take one example of a suburban parish in Silver Spring I was at for a holy day of obligation: Perhaps 150 in attendance. There were all of five men under 50 – me, three African exchange students, and one thirty-ish hispanic man. There were three children. All of the lectors and servers were female; all but one of the EMHC’s were women, too. The average age had to be about 65 – which is actually not as bad as some parishes I’ve been to.

        A Church which cannot attract men – or young people – is not going to last long as anything but a boutique remnant. We can berate them for not showing up, or not “participating” when they do, or we can ask some hard questions about why we rapidly lost our ability to attract them in the second half of the 20th century.

      • Paul Ackerman

        Thanks be to God I don’t live in the Lincoln Diocese; I would have been excommunicated for Call to Action membership, I receive Our Lord in my hand as did the Apostles at their Last Meal and all Christians participate in our Church in the round; Black, White and brown; young old and ancient ( me @ 85); greeters and Lector sand Eucharistic Ministers not male and female God created us… good enough for me!

      • ^and your generation largely failed to pass on the tradition entrusted to you. Empty pews, parish consolidations, and empty seminaries are your sterile legacy. No thank you. This generation rejects what you *built* (destroyed actually) and has rediscovered authenticity.

      • “I would have been excommunicated for Call to Action membership”

        No offense, Paul, but – as you should be, if you don’t renounce your membership. Call to Action openly dissents from a broad range of Church teachings. Repent now, for the good of your soul.

      • By the way: If you really want to delve more deeply into this question, it might be worthwhile to start from Leon Podles’ “The Church Impotent: The Feminization
        of Christianity” – it’s actually available online: http://www.podles.org/church-impotent.htm

        “Men still run most churches, but in the pews women outnumber men in all countries of Western civilization, in Europe, in the Americas, in Australia… But men do not show this same aversion to all churches and religions. The Orthodox seem to have a balance, and Islam and Judaism have a predominantly male membership. Something is creating a barrier between Western Christianity and men, and that something is the subject of this book.”

      • John Flaherty

        I think your comments have been well-intentioned, Factchecker, but I think your fact-checking needs some work. Though writing for traditional publications is laudable, such may have removed your opportunity to witness what all occurs in the average parish. I both laugh and groan over that assertion from you that essentially amounts to “butch up, Sam!”, about getting over feelings or attending or serving Mass. Such may have worked back in the 40s or 50s; such may STILL work in some traditional parishes or those rare “modern” parishes which remember something about human nature and tradition. The original article seems to suggest this state of being for much of the Lincoln diocese. Society did, at one time, expect men to be men.

        Sadly, such is not the case now. If anything, men are expected to be men only when doing so will not interfere with one “modern” idea or another. Mostly, men are expected to be spineless, wet noodles. We’re supposed to celebrate the accomplishments of women, not point out how men might’ve handled matters differently. Such a view has also largely invaded the Church. Your comment about men having hurt feelings is very ironic. … and about 30 years late. From when I began serving Mass in 1984 to graduating high school in 1993, one could see distinct changes in Mass. Girls began serving (per Ordinary approval) about my 7th grade year, gender neutral language requirements altered prayer and song lyrics a few years later, music changed to be less complex, Mass grew less “ceremonial”, more “personal”. In other words, Mass changed quite a little because women’s feelings were hurt, they felt relegated to “second-class citizenship” if not mentioned explicitly. By the time I reached my second tour of duty in the Air Force, I ceased singing in choir; there simply was no point.

        Mass was arguably a bit intimidating for a 10-year-old boy in 1984; such could’ve been well-handled by a Church which recognized differences between sexes. Instead, when our natural inclinations hinted that something wasn’t quite right, we had the insinuation that we ought to consider such inclinations (sinfully) sexist, something to be renounced, not explored more fully and understood in depth. We focused far less on reverence, rubrics, and WHY we did what we did, we focused far more on “rights” and “roles” of people.

        Telling anyone to “suck it up and deal” in this kind of environment will not persuade young men to come back to Church, never mind pursue the priesthood. Mind you, that idea is verbatim what I heard from a Catholic mother who had a 12-year-old son only 3 years ago. She wasn’t happy that anyone objected to her 15-year-old daughter serving at Mass. Her son, notably, had not a whit of interest that I could see.

        We don’t have a problem with men having hurt feelings. We have a problem with a Church whose average parish requires a near civil war to attempt even the most basic of changes to remember our traditions. We have a problem mostly with a Church which has become tone-deaf to remembering the differences between men and women. In this kind of environment, young men rarely remain. They simply leave.

      • “We have a problem with a Church whose average parish requires a near civil war to attempt even the most basic of changes to remember our traditions.”

        Boy, is THAT ever true.

        As a matter of fact, I help organize a diocesan Sunday TLM. At first , we struggled on attendance. But then, last winter, out numbers exploded – quadrupled, actually. A little quiet investigation revealed what had happened. A neighboring parish has a lot of young intentional Catholic families. Many of them had managed, over time, to persuade a somewhat sympathetic pastor to “trad up” one of the five Sunday Masses a little bit – chant bits of the ordinary in Latin/Greek (Sanctus, Kyrie, etc.) modestly more traditional hymnody, use of the Roman Canon – nothing too aggressive, mind you. They did the Factchecker thing, got their boys in to help serve.

        Well, a new, more liberal pastor came in and – wooosh! – years of hard work went down the drain. He simply wasn’t interested in keeping any of these tiny concessions to tradition. So now there’s a folk Mass, and four N.O. Masses that are pretty indistinguishable from each other. It didn’t matter how active they were in the parish or how much they tithed. So, before long, they started migrating en masse to our sung Sunday TLM, even though it’s a little further away. They were tired of fighting for dribs and drabs, with dribs and drabs able to be yanked away at any moment.

      • John Flaherty

        Incidentally, Factchecker, I laugh and groan about your example of Fontane to “Be a man!”. As I recall, Johnny has cheated on his wife with a youthful lady movie star, after which the Godfather’s right-hand-man (Hagen) directs the murder of the movie tycoon’s prize horse. As the story goes along, the Godfather’s son becomes family head, proceeds to murder a drug dealer and a police captain himself, also directing the murders of other drug lords, his own brother-in-law, his own brother, a fellow investor, and the blackmail of a US Senator. The Godfather also basically tells his daughter, Connie (Constanza), to make her husband (Carlo) happy, though we would otherwise say the marriage is abusive. …and we learn that Carlo is cheating on his wife anyway.

        On the whole, “Be a Man!” in this context seems to suggest a need to glorify murder, abusive relationships, and a general contempt for law. I know, you didn’t intent quite that idea, but that IS the notion that most young men will derive from such an example.

      • It was…a joke. In my world, people make Godfather allusions frequently. Maybe it’s an age thing. I get the impression you haven’t seen the movie, and you don’t seem to get what the line meant in the context of the movie, but no, I’m not suggesting either Don Corleone or Johnny Fontane as a role model for young men, Catholic or otherwise. Please.

      • John Flaherty

        Um, Factchecker, I have a copy of the trilogy, and the book. I have watched the movie many times as a result. I understood very well what the comment meant in the context of the movie. Strictly speaking, the Godfather demands that Fontane be bothered to handle his own problems. Trouble is, the course of the movie demonstrates a distinct approach to solving problems. They involve murder, blackmail, and general lawlessness. …At times, I wonder if the Church may have taken a few hints from that mentality in how we address DACA kids and other illegal immigrants these days. None of these strike me as healthy.

      • John Flaherty

        Unfortunately, Mr. Ackerman, you make my point quite vividly, if accidentally. Briefly reviewing the CTA website, I find matters regarding LGBT justice, racial justice, women’s and girls equality, and lay engagement. In short, I find a short list of the usual progressive priorities that typically shred Catholic parishes, the matters that seek to turn Catholic faith inside out and upside down. People focus on these matters excessively, failing to contemplate the faith’s teaching and tradition much at all. In these cases, one must have darn near an explicit, direct order, written in plain, black and white terms, from the appropriate office of the Vatican dictating in no uncertain terms what may/must be done. Even that order will be perused thoroughly by someone looking for any excuse or loophole that will allow such order to be simply ignored or rejected. In short, these are the matters of near civil war that I mentioned earlier. These are the ways that the average parish dies out.

      • I’m glad you have seen The Godfather. Yes, the movie shows people solving problems through murder, blackmail, and general lawlessness. It’s a movie about the Mafia, after all. I stand by my original, more serious comments about how mature Catholic men should behave in their parishes, no matter what annoyances they face. I’ll refrain from drawing jokes from popular culture in any future posts, lest I be misunderstood as advocating organized crime as a model.

      • John Flaherty

        Amusingly enough, your comments wind up being accidentally illuminating almost as much as Mr. Ackerman’s. Remember, even if he can’t explain why, a 12-year-old can know something is wrong with his parish. At the same time, he can also tell that something isn’t right about movie characters’ behavior. MAYBE he’ll see worthy movies like “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” or “The Sound of Music” wherein characters behave virtuously. MAYBE his pastor will be holy, thus he’ll see the need for worthily offered Mass. MAYBE he’ll see a FSSP or ICK parish. MAYBE he’ll have cause to view the Church and the priesthood as an intellectually challenging, genuinely holy, virtuous, and manly vocation that would merit that kind of lifelong sacrifice.
        MAYBE he will.
        We have in the Church today a serious lack of good and worthy example. Most men, hearing your message, will hear “Butch up, Sam! …But only when we want!”. No young man with any sense will pursue a Church which, though intending outreach, acts patronizing and intellectually deceived. Instead, he will seek opportunities in life where he, the young man, believes he will be taken seriously.

  19. How can you equate Deacons the same as altar servers this show a deep lack of understanding of ordination in the Catholic Church

    • John D. Horton

      For the 1 millionth time, for those who are lacking in history or the willingness to look things up:
      — Pre-Vatican II Mass Server, Acolyte, Altar Boy, etc. was one of the “Minor Orders” on the road to ordination to the priesthood.

      What are the “Minor Orders” (see wikipedia) listed in order lowest to highest :
      — 1. Porter,
      — 2. Lector,
      — 3. Exorcist,
      — 4. Acolyte, otherwise known as Mass Server, Altar Boy, etc.

      What are the “Major Orders”:
      — 1. Sub-Deacon,
      — 2. Deacon,
      — 3. Priest,
      — 4. Bishop.

      So, as is evident in the above to list, there is a clear progression of ministries that begins with Porter and ends with Bishop and that Acolyte or Mass Server are the ministry just before receiving Sub-Diaconate.

      Even in the Vatican II rite, you have to receive the “Instituted Ministry” of Acolyte prior to ordination to the permanent or transitional Diaconate.

      More Wikipedia: “Minor Orders”:

      By Pope Paul VI’s motu proprio Ministeria quaedam of 15 August 1972, the term “minor orders” has been replaced by that of “ministries”.[15] Two of what were called minor orders, those of reader and acolyte, are kept throughout the Latin Church, and national episcopal conferences are free to use the term “subdeacon” in place of that of “acolyte”.[16] The motu proprio specified the functions of each of these two ministries,[17] A prescribed interval, as decided by the Holy See and the national episcopal conference, is to be observed between receiving them.[18] Candidates for diaconate and for priesthood must receive both ministries and exercise them for some time before receiving holy orders.[19]

      Conferral of the minor orders or ministries is by the ordinary: either a diocesan bishop or someone who is equivalent in law to a diocesan bishop or, in the case of clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life, a major superior.[20] The two ministries that are in use throughout the Latin Church could be conferred even on men[21] who are not candidates for holy orders.[22]

      Commentary from forums.catholic.com:

      (Men only in the sanctury): It is mostly because it is proper that only men serve in the sanctuary. All allowances for women in any liturgical role does not negate the ideal. There are many threads on the issue of only men in the sanctuary so I will not go into the whys at the moment.

      Fr. Gabriel Thomas Mosher, OP

      The 1972 Motu Proprio Ministeria Quaedam has: “7. In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men.”

      So, in conclusion, todays Acolyte, Mass Server, or Altar Boy is a very important ministry, role, activity or position in the Mass or other liturgies because it is the immediate precursor ministry, role, activity or position to the ordained ministry and order of Deacon.

  20. “Why more dioceses aren’t looking to incorporate the Lincoln model is a mystery.”

    I don’t think there is any mystery about it.

    All a person needs to do is look at who the majority of bishops in the U.S. are, as well as a good swath of the clergy, and he/she will understand why more dioceses don’t incorporate the Lincoln model.

    A huge section of the clergy comes under the heading of “hireling.” For many, the salvation of souls doesn’t even seem to be on their radar.

  21. I wonder how the RCIA program is faring in the Diocese? There was no mention of it in this article…would the author clarify its status, please?

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  23. Here in Diocese of Pittsburgh Diocese is closing 180 Parishes to 57..? Many Parishes saw EWTN as opposed to thier agenda. Don’t leave EWTN fliers. There is in some Parishes a very apparent liberalism…and Nuns? Almost never found anywhere….or maybe there? But no Habit to identify. Schools..? Only the wealthy afford Catholic education primary or secondary…and the education…not aware again of Nuns? Or awareness of students having a good understanding of Faith? I’ve heard some graduates posit? What’s the difference btwn….Our and other Faiths….God loves us all?

    To fix Catholic Faith in Pgh…there is an emergency to prepare and obtain St John Vianney Priests , St Theresa of Lisieux Nuns,(living Saints), return to observance of traditional.time tested Practices….Confession offered before Mass allowing for awareness of importance of preparedness and reality of Sin…and it’s separation from Community and God through evil…return to advocating what is truly Sacred and uncommon-Christ present in the Eucharist-meaning Church’s ought not be sheds painted to appear holy, w cheap efficient materials complimented by quick disinterested homilies, rote ritual as substitute of REAL awareness of PRESENCE and PLACE. I witness greater concern of making apparent antiviral hand cleaner passed w exaggerated application btwn Eucharistic miniSTERs within Sanctuary than I do for making sure there are Alter servers Simons of Cyrene ,w Patten to keep Christ from falling? The alter servers sit and relax during Communion less someone claim labor rights abuse or interference to laeitys insistence on being priest-and all
    There are SERIOUS what should be very apparent certainly to Religious- errors…in last forty years of Mass…OUR FAITH. I witness deacons giving Homilies while Priest sits? If il ok…but I recall Padre Pio…w bleeding hands beat and tormented by the Devil fatigued…listening to Confessions whole days…sleeping if at all and providing Mass…reverent Mass…w VERY APPARENT awareness of WHO his hands where holding up, Parishoners children see little distinction of Sacred from the Common?
    Very sad to see Confession times stated w no Priest present or Priests who ask what is your name in the Confessional and you have to remind you are not there for Exorcism.

    Or worse in this recent era of Satan’s appearance in Priest abuse…we in pittsburgh have a Catholic radio station w a need for review..let’s simply ask…what’s the best we can present…not anywhere near what should be goal of evangelization. Does the Rosary or other episodes put forth what should be best presentationnof our Faith? If not listen to or view EWTN…for what truly works…or better scratch the ineffective station why keep something that doesn’t work and why not replace w EWTN which is curiously not present on FM dial- why not use Our CHUrch funds to place EWTN station in place of one that doesn’t work…not so common common sense right?
    There must be from the Vatican a better review of OUR Catholic Universities and Seminaries…to determine are we instructing educating…if not strip of Catholic identity this extends to those in public eye …who publically advocate anti Catholic practices or policy…need to stand up like St Bernard or Benedict and denounce even yes excommunicate…
    I return to the sheep need good shepherds…..essential…how for a shepherd to know it’s sheep if not in the Confessional? If not in sharing a meal in a field or home w the sheep, if not through genuine concern for the flock leading Mass w , I confess to Almighty God, to pause to allow time for recollection of sins, to pause allow time after Communion to be guess what IN COMMUNION W CHRIST, to make sure thhe music doesn’t sound like hop along Cassidy w guitar and drums, but w Organ, violin and at times horn. What about incense, Candles, Eucharistic adoration every day certainly once a week…not once a month…what about Eucharistic procession through town…what about protesting Abortion not only in D.C…but what about in Diocese…why not March for Life in Pittsburgh? Why not here about this at all the Parishes? Why nit insist our schools be affordable…that politicians provide tax credits for school choice….too much to name….?
    We have become lameishly sheepish…so much so That sheep would avoid our company as we attract wolves…in sheep’s clothing. This is the essence of OUR FAILURE in past forty years.. wolves in our flock and howles from beyond have made us more timid than sheep….more blind than unshorn sheep we .haven’t noticed wolf from sheep from shepherd-True Shepherd.

    • Where would I start???? There is so much in this email that it is impossible to even begin to correct the pre Vatican 2 mentality… All I will add is that Vatican 2 was an ecumenical Council called by the Bishop of Rome to bring the Church back to the Faith! If many since then have not seen fit to follow the Holy Spirit who wants the Church to get back to the teachings of Jesus (not middle ages accretions like altar servers which the writer castigated so severely; wonder if Jesus and the Apostles had altar boys?) that is the lack of Faith of the Bishops following Vatican 2…

    • What exactly is the cause for the hostility to EWTN in these parishes?

  24. AFter my reply (above), I went back and reread the thread of comments! WOW…again, where would I start to try to reverse the pessimistic portrayal of Faith in 2018…in our Diocese of Jackson, Ms, we are growing and going…all with a Vatican 2 Bishop (new) and clergy. For example: our parish of 450 families just paid off our new larger church building ($1,000,000) which was built to handle the shortage of capacity in this tiny town of 25,000; we are doubling our Catholic School ($3,000,000) and our RCIA classes are full of men and women, even high school and college age persons; our servers are both male and female; our Eucharistic ministers are male and female, Black/white/Latino/Oriental…ditto for ushers; what is wrong with Lincoln????
    I don’t for the life of me understand what this thread is moaning about except that it isn’t that way in our Diocese, parish. Come and see!

    • Yes, Jackson Mississippi a bastion of all things Catholic with a whopping 2.1% of the population….not really. In 1966 (one year after the Council) there had been almost 4%. Then too, your faithful to priest ratio is also about half as good as it was in 1966. I would be very careful about bragging on your diocese with those numbers.

      By contrast, the FSSP has grown by leaps and bounds and was only founded in 1988. In 1988 they had 12 priests and now in 2018 (30 years later) they have almost 500 priests and seminarians world wide. Their priest to faithful ratio is 2.5 times better than the 1950’s numbers.

      It matters not one iota how much one of your parishes (or even your whole diocese) raised to expand buildings. That is happening on a much bigger level and all over the country where the traditional Latin Mass orders are concerned.

      I’m doing a study on Novus Ordo Catholics vs. Traditional Latin Mass Catholics. Novus Ordo Catholics give, on average, 1.2% of their income (2013 catholicphilly.com). Traditional Latin Mass Catholics give 5.7% (2018 St. Mary’s Norwalk National Survey). Almost 5 times as much even though they have twice the children!!

      Novus Ordo Catholics go to weekly Mass at a clip of 23% (CARA 2017). Traditional Catholic’s weekly attendance is 98% (2018 St. Mary’s Norwalk National Survey). That even beats the pre-Vatican II generally agreed upon number of 80%.

      Novus Ordo Catholics have 2.3 children per woman (2015 Pew Research). Traditional Latin Mass Catholic women have 4.2 (2018 St. Mary’s Norwalk National Survey)

      About 1% of Catholic families have 5 or more children, yet those families give us 36% of the vocations to the priesthood and religious life (CARA 2014). Those large families are almost all Traditional Latin Mass Catholic families. The Mass of the Ages is fruitful, always has been because it evangelized every continent.

      Real fruit, not isolated examples.

      • The data confirm Mr. Ackerman’s anecdotal observations — the Church is indeed growing in southern states like his own. Please see links that follow. On a different topic, Mr. Zapatka’s idea of making Catholic schools more affordable through tuition tax credits is a very dangerous one. Want to see all the crucifixes taken down from the walls? Then introduce government funding of Catholic schools. As it is here in my state, the Catholic schools do get funding for text books including “social studies,” and the materials are uniformly secular, and often contrary to Catholic teaching (e.g., advocating for population control). Links re: Church in South: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/07/04/catholic-dioceses-in-southern-united-states-report-record-growth/, https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/Article/TabId/535/ArtMID/13567/ArticleID/19853/Four-Corners-%7C-South-The-numbers-keep-growing.aspx,

      • @Kasia

        The data only confirms that there has been a small improvement after a large falloff. If you visit the bishop’s annuarium you will see that the Diocese of Jackson is not doing better than it was prior to the Council.

        The 2018 study of Latin Mass sacrament only parishes is showing that the Traditional Latin Mass is producing greater fruit than even before the Council.

        For once, we have a metric to disprove the fallacy that society is at fault for the moral and sacramental falloffs. That is patently not true. All of us live in the same society, yet some Catholics go to Mass at a 98% clip and others at a 23% clip. One group of Catholics donates 5.7% & the other 1.2%. One group of Catholics is 99% against gay marriage and the other is 33% against it. One group of Catholics is 97% against contraception and the other is only 13% against contraception. Those are not small differences! It is like night and day.

    • Come up to Baltimore, Paul. Or Pittsburgh. Or Detroit.

      In the Sunbelt, immigration (from abroad and from the Rustbelt) can cover a multitude of failings.

      But up north, demographic winds are not so powerfully at our backs.

  25. Please remove me from this site.

    • You don’t need to be removed. If you stop visiting the site, you remove yourself. I would hope that wouldn’t happen because open honest discussions are always better than “picking up your jacks” and going home.

      • The pejorative comments by Fr. Kloster I don’t need! I was merely trying to show that not all places are “dying” e.g. our parish IN the Diocese of Jackson…give us credit, please, even tho we don’t fit your “model”…I found the comments of Fr. Kloster very unproductive so much so that I won’t be adding anything further in the future!

      • Mr. Ackerman, the word pejorative has a definition. It is never pejorative to state facts and figures. It is never pejorative to use older non vulgar expressions.

        I am a very much a man who says things in an up front manner. I did not insult you, I did not try to demean you. You simply don’t like what I wrote and then you wrote that you wanted to be removed from the site even though you commented again. I wrote that I hoped you would not leave, but you are free to do as you wish.

        Mr. Brian Williams has been very clear in the past. This site is for those who want to sit at the adult table.

        Open and frank discussions are welcomed here. Then too, one needs to back up his opinions with good arguments and even better proofs.

    • In Word Press, you can opt out of receiving updates about new posts on a blog – I think that is what you are looking for.

  26. Paul Ackerman


    • Jesus would do an obedience check and ask Call to Action members to be faithful to the Catholic Church. Jesus would do a reiteration of why contraception had always been opposed by all Christian sects until the 1930’s and why it is still against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Jesus would do a teaching on why He called only males into the Levitical Priesthood and then only males into the New Covenant Priesthood. It is indisputable that he chose 12 men to be his apostles. The only place women priests were found in the time of Jesus were in the pagan Temples. So, He knew of women pagan Temple priests (everyone did) and he still chose 12 men.

      Jesus calls us to be sheep. Sheep naturally follow their Shepherd. Sheep naturally join other flocks. It is the goats that separate themselves and often roam alone. Sheep don’t separate themselves! The Creed says there is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. To be excommunicated from that Church (publicly or latae sententiae) is indeed being a goat.

      • Paul Ackerman

        For what it is worth: I see myself as a “lovable old goat” who today will spend his day feeding the hungry at our local soup kitchen, then making a Vincent de Paul Society visit with a member partner to a needy family to restore their power which has been cut off. Do you perhaps think that that will just possibly, maybe, give me even an outside chance with Jesus as a “lovable old goat” who practices Matthew 25:25 or am I still lost for belonging to that dastardly Call to Action? Quid pro quo…

      • Mr. Ackerman, you may well be a “lovable old goat.” That’s really not the question. There is the objective moral law and there are objectively defined doctrines.

        We can do lots of charitable acts, but that doesn’t touch on the overall state of our soul.

        I have been around charities my whole life. The people I’ve met in my charitable works were heavily weighted to the traditional side of the Church. Whether it was the largest service organization at the University of Texas, feeding the homeless outside the St. Vincent de Paul store in Austin, TX, organizing a concert with Willie Nelson to benefit the elderly and the homeless, volunteering at a soup kitchen in San Antonio, TX, going to abortion clinics in 5 different USA states, or serving as a pastor in one of the poorest parishes in the world for 7 years of my priesthood. All of the above afforded me the opportunity to meet many orthodox Catholics. There were very few Catholics (a huge minority) working with me that believed what you believe.

        That being said, even if most of those people agreed with you theologically, it wouldn’t matter one whit. Almost all of the bishops in the 4th & 5th centuries were Arians and they were wrong not to believe in the Divinity of Christ. Call to Action is wrong on many theological fronts just as the Arians of old. “If ye be children of Christ, be ye children of Rome.” St. Patrick +461

        We must be faithful to Holy Mother Church because we must be faithful to the Once and Future Faith handed down to us by the Apostles themselves.

  27. Paul Ackerman

    Friends: This is my last comment; I have canceled my email address on the “liturgyguy” site; frankly, I haven’t appreciated being talked down to/lectured the way I was by Fr Kloster every time I wrote as if I was a heretic; I hadn’t realized that an Oath against Modernism was required to be a contributor…

    • Sorry to read that you are leaving the website yet again. This is not the first time someone has said they were leaving and then continued to comment. I reiterate that I hope you don’t leave. Grown ups can and do discuss polar opposite positions.

      This website is for honest and open discussions. I’ve not witnessed anyone get lectured in this comment box, unless of course one mistakes a statement of verifiable Church teachings for a lecture. I’ve not personally been to a lecture since I was at the University of Texas, but perhaps I should not apply linguistic definitions to typed prose.

      There have been many comments here that would not pass an Oath against Modernism test and they were allowed to stand.

      The “talking down to” talking point is an often employed technique to deflect the argument at hand via an ad hominem volley. That charge is very emotional and would be very hard to verify given that there is no inflection of one’s voice possible and no facial expression seen in cyber space.

      Once again, grown ups are able to discuss things frankly and charitably. Those not possessing the mettle required, should back away from the discussion table.

  28. I had left this same comment earlier in the year, but it was buried in the timeline so I am just copying and pasting it here again in the hopes it may be helpful in some way:

    I will humbly submit, that the Lincoln Diocese is home to a group of cloistered sisters called “The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters” (affectionately aka “The Pink Sisters” because of the color of the vestments they wear) and are a huge player in the success of the Diocese of Lincoln. Their role, through Eucharistic Adoration and prayer, is to support the holy work of the diocese. Their chapel is open to the public for Eucharistic adoration from 6:00am to 8:30pm every day of the year and always, unless there is some unforeseen circumstance, has either a Pink Sister or lay member adoring the very person of Jesus in the Eucharist. I am almost brought to tears now thinking of all the blessings and graces their ministry has had on the Diocese, my family, me, and really the world. They were brought here by Bishop Flavin in 1973 (year of my birth!).

    In many, many, many of the parishes of the Lincoln Diocese, Eucharistic adoration is central to the parish with many having a commitment by its members to adoring 24 hours, 7 days a week with only the very most difficult hours needing to be covered but always looking for a complete 24/7 coverage.

    I would like to add just one more of the myriad of unifying facts of the Lincoln Diocese. The Southern Nebraska Register is a weekly newspaper that is published for it’s residents but really is a witness to the world. Pick any copy up from the last 14 years (before that I cannot attest since I didn’t read it before I was 30 much but assume the quality has been as such many many years before as well) and the content is truly a help and inspiration for the soul. Articles about the very words and preaching of the Holy Father, an article by the bishop, several from the priests, the vibrant activities of the diocese….it is a feast for the soul. I am weekly inspired and instructed by this publication and it is a must read before any secular paper.

    Because of my Diocese and the work that it does to help souls grow in their love of God, I will be eternally grateful.

  29. I have vocation i am looking help , i estudied the phylosophy with a congregation after prayer and guidance of my espiritual adviser in my discernment, i realize that my vocation is diocesanan …i am 28 old.

  30. Learn from Lincoln

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