Monday, October 9, 2017


I was reading a story HERE about the so-called creative ways that one Irish diocese is trying to cope with the number of their priests being cut in half in coming years. And currently they don't have one single seminarian.

Like Ireland, some dioceses in the USA have the same problem. So the creative solution is to close parishes, put lay people with no seminary training in charge and hope for the best. Of course what is lost in all of this is Catholic identity, purpose and mission.

For example, there is another story HERE about the Brothers of Charity in Holland who run hospitals and hospices that provide euthanasia. Yes, you read that correctly, Catholic institutions providing euthanasia and we also know some "Catholic" institutions even in this country provide abortions.

When you read the story, you will note that in actuality the Brothers of Charity have handed over their institutions to lay boards of trustees. Who knows who is on these boards or how Catholic they are. Did any of them have seminary or theological graduate work and are they Church going, praying and believing Catholics? Look at so many once Catholic, now Catholic in name only, educational institutions in our country run by lay boards and how the loss of Catholic identity occurs. These instituons become businesses, only concerned about staying open and pleasing their consumers. In fact, many priests will tell you today, that our Catholic schools, once staffed by religious orders of nuns/brothers, now completely lay operated and controlled, no longer have the "best" church going Catholics using our Catholic schools. Many don't go the church anymore, no longer bring their children to Sunday Mass and aren't the most active Catholics in the parish as previous generations of Catholics who used parochial schools were. 

Catholics and non Catholics are simply looking for a good, safe education so their children will be sucessful in life. The salvation of their souls isn't even on the radar screen!

But let's look at the once strong culture of the diocesan priesthood and the perks that kept celibate clergy happy and focused on their ministry.

When I was first ordained and for the first 12 or 13 years of my priesthood I experienced this in rectory living:

1. Full time housekeeper(s) who cooked breakfast, lunch and supper.
2. They cleaned our rooms, made the beds each morning and did our laundry.
3. They did our grocery shopping.
4. Because of them, the priest did not worry about what he would prepare or eat each day and seldom went out to eat for fast food or fancy restaurants. I looked forward to meals even when I didn't know what was prepared and the aromas of the cook cooking wafting about the rectory was nice and appetizing!
5. Parishioners supported staff to assist priests living comfortably

Today, most priests do not have full time housekeepers who do the above things. We listened to lay people who didn't like priests living like kings with servants doing this, that and the other for them.

Many said these perks were a result of placing the priest on a pedestal and a deadly form of clericalism and put priests out of touch with ordinary laity who could never afford these kinds of luxuries.

Thus this is what rectory life is for many priests today and in rectories with more than one priest:

1. Most priests cook pre-packaged foods in the microwave or go out to eat, especially at fast food, junk food places. At home they eat empty calories like chips and such!  Their health and weight is suffering
2. Most rectories look like dumps with little or no cleanliness and priests living like they could care less about their surroundings.
3. Priests live like bachelors under the same roof, seldom having dinner together unless they go to a restaurant. Every priest is on his own for breakfast, lunch and dinner and eating at various times without other priests joining them.

Which dioceses are doing well with vocations not to mention men and women's religious orders? The ones which have maintained some of the perks and traditions that so many now associate with phobic  clericalism.

Why do we not do what is sucessful in other places rather than throw in the towel that leads to the loss of priests leaving the priesthood and no seminarians and hand things over to the laity with no other formation as Catholics other than the coloring book formation they received until they were confirmed?


Dialogue said...

I don't think there is anyone who would not benefit from a house full of servants, but I also think priests are perfectly capable of using a vacuum cleaner, microwave and mobile telephone without diminishing any aspect of pastoral work. The model for priests is Christ on the Cross, not a gentleman with a valet.

Dialogue said...

I will say that as families have abandoned the family meal, priests have lost the opportunity to dine with families, which was once a critical means of connecting the priest to his parishioners. This lost custom had the obvious secondary effect of keeping the priest fed.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But your Christ like plan is leading the Church to be handed over to lay leadership since there are no vocations. Shouldn't we say celibacy is the Cross not a bachelor 's life?

Anonymous said...

Oh and you forgot to mention that the majority of today’s priests are taking anti depression medications.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In my first assignment with a full time housekeeper and all three meals provided, there were 3 priests and I looked forward to common meals. We went out on weekends either to restaurants or parishioners.

My six years at the cathedral with the bishop and four to five priests in residence we had three foll time housekeepers. I felt like I was in the then TV show Dynasty! All meals prepared and supper formal Monday through Saturday! I think we priests were happier than the bachelor priests on their own for everything and on anti depressants or addictive behavior.

Gene said...

The idea that Priests "live like kings" is absurd. There is nothing wrong with parishioners cooking and cleaning for Priests...they are, after all, Christ's representatives on earth, and are deserving of some respect and care from their parishioners. Perhaps we should view those parishioners who wish to serve Priests in this manner as serving the Church...they have chosen this as an avocation in Christ's name. The fact that Priests "know how to use a vacuum cleaner, etc." is irrelevant. That is a cynical and tacky response. When all you folks that scoff at the notion of caring for Priests, and who belittle Priests who are cared for by their parishioners, stand before St. Peter alongside those who chose to serve the Church and her Priests in this way, I wonder which group will enter into Life first...Yep, I can hear those disciples now..."Hey, He can wash His own feet, He ain't helpless..."

Gene said...

PS Can I say, "dickheads" on this blog?

TJM said...


Well I can think of at least one priest who posts here from time to time who fits that definition!

Henry said...

For placing the priest properly on a pedestal, more important than cooks and housekeepers (though these are fine) is the recognition of his unique role as mediator between God and man, ordained to forgive the sins of men and to offer sacrifice for their propitiation.

rcg said...

Our priest is part of our family. We cook and clean and mow for each other. Him, too.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a fear of clericalism, it is an attack on the priesthood by feminists. Any young boy sitting in the pews during the 1960's and 1970's heard that loudly. Priests seem to blame Vatican two for the Church collapse, they should give credit to "Ms." magazine instead

Mark Thomas said...

The link at the beginning of the article is to the "Pastoral Letter by Bishop Francis Duffy: ‘Sustaining our Faith Community in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’ "

Bishop Duffy said that "...from this year on, as our priests retire or are transferred, there will not be priests to replace them and so an increasing number of parishes will not have resident clergy.

"In the very near future your parish may not have a resident priest, or if you have, then your priest may be called on to provide pastoral care in a neighbouring parish that is without a resident priest.

"A time of decline in one area can be an opportunity for growth in other areas. I firmly believe the Lord is with us in change and will provide opportunities for the local church communities to continue to flourish in new ways."

Why would the Lord "provide opportunities for the local church communities to continue to flourish in new ways" with the exception of providing vocations to the priesthood?

That is, if the Lord will prepare ways for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois to "flourish," then wouldn't the Lord provide the diocese with priests?

I take it from the following that Bishop Duffy is not opposed to the TLM:

At any rate, why doesn't Bishop Duffy turn over soon-to-be-closed parishes to TLM communities? The holy success enjoyed by TLM communities would suggest that the TLM would enable parishes in Bishop Duffy to thrive in holy fashion.

Perhaps Bishop Duffy will encourage the priests of his diocese to learn, then offer regularly the TLM.


Mark Thomas

Dialogue said...

It seems to me that a decline in vocations today is linked more to a lack of clarity among priests than to a lack of housekeepers in rectories. If priests do not agree among themselves about the mission of Christ and His Church, or about the necessity of Confession and the nature of the Mass, then it is hardly surprising that young men have lost interest in the priesthood.

ByzRC said...

I won't become a priest if there isn't a housekeeper to make my bed and meals? I won't become a priest because I'm not disciplined enough to avoid a regular diet of fast food and maintain standards where I live? That's not the strongest argument and while I don't doubt that some have approached their vocation in this way, I doubt that formerly, this was the motivation of the majority.

Like Dialogue said, if the clergy aren't in agreement as to mission and approach, they shouldn't expect that young men will find that to be appealing.

Anonymous said...

I have been a priest for 25 years. In my first few assignments I lived with three or four other priests in large and busy parishes. If I did not have the services of a housekeeper and good cooked meals which I shared with the other priests, I would not have had the time to keep up with my responsibilities. In my last pastorate I was the sole priest in a very large rectory which I simply could not have kept clean and do all of my work in a 1500 household parish. In that pastorate I had a dinner cook for three nights a week. It was the least amount of service that I had and on the nights she wasn't there I was ordering fast food etc. because I didn't have the time or talent to cook wholesome meals.

There is much to be said for the way rectories were once conducted. I, for one, miss that life and the fraternity that resulted from it.

Joseph Johnson said...

The one remnant of this practice in my parish is that when Valdosta-Brunswick deanery meetings are conducted at the spacious rectory of St. Joseph, Waycross, the priest will be well-fed with a home-cooked meal. My mother helps prepare these along with her cousin. This time it will be home-made beef stew and biscuits. I'm sure most of the priests will appreciate this. The only problem is our pastor is (mostly--with very rare exception) a vegetarian. They will have to prepare something different for him.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One should keep in mind that parents can encourage or hinder their sons when it comes to a priestly vocation. The fact their son won't marry, have children/family is a concern. This concern is exacerbated if they think their son is going to live like a bachelor living in squalor, eating unhealthy and detached from a community life where certain perks are allowed to make up for what is lost.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

In my old fashioned was I always understood the need for a cook/housekeeper/laundress in a rectory was the result of the traditional division of labor into male and female roles. Women knew men would not cook or clean or take care of the domestic side of life, and were solicitous of priests and how these men needed someone to take care of these tasks to free them to do the work of their vocation.

Much to the contrary of what feminists say, I recall many if not most women I knew who were born before 1960 enjoyed the domestic tasks assigned to females, even if tired out by them, and felt a great sense of satisfaction and even fulfillment in having provided for the fundamental needs of the men (and children) they served. It was my experience of my elder matriarchs they felt essential to the workings of daily life, and gained a great sense of self esteem in how they cared for their family and home. In a like manner, having the domestic chores of the rectory handled by a housekeeper/cook allowed the priest the comforts of a motherly figure in the house, which I'm sure was a great benefit to many of them who had great respect and regard for the female role.

It's only our feminist culture that criticizes such a role in a rectory, and we have consciously or unconsciously let the cultural values creep in, accepting the falsehood that a man should do his own housework/cooking in all cases and that to have only females do that work is degrading to them. It's a shame. Even a priest living a celibate life should not have to live in isolation, burdened with tasks much better handled by someone whose job it is to complete them.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

When the "role in the rectory" or "providing for the fundamental needs of men and children they SERVED" was one of the few roles to which women were allowed to aspire, then feminists were right to criticize.

Yes, women were relegated to these roles. And that wasn't because they weren't entirely capable of being doctors or lawyers, engineers or CEOs, prime ministers or Supreme Court Justices.

You see, "they enjoyed" these roles, they found doing "domestic chores" fulfilling.

Well, that's what the people who said women couldn't do other things said... We now know better, thanks be to God.