Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vocational Crisis?

Shortly after we got here last month, we went to Mass at the Cathedral (no, there is no TLM here in Cheyenne, and the closest one is 40 miles away in Ft. Collins) and during the intercessory prayers, a plea to "end the draught of vocations in our diocese."

The smartalek in me wanted to say "This is Wyoming. Get more people and we can get more priests."

This isn't totally untrue. According to the Factfinder on the United States Census Bureau website, there were 522,830 people living in Wyoming in 2007. Compare that with 793,010 people in Indianapolis, Indiana alone. In other words, there are 270,180 more people living in Indianapolis than there are in the entire state of Wyoming. Do we honestly have enough priests in Wyoming with such a small population?

Considering that Wyoming is also over two and half times the size of Indiana from a geographical standpoint, the answer, of course, is no.

As you all already know, I came from the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. In 2004, there were over 98,000 Catholics living in that diocese, with 95 diocesan priests and 19 religious priests for a total of 114 priests over an area of 9,832 square miles. In the same year, the Diocese of Cheyenne had 50 diocesan priests and 10 religious priests for a total of 60 priests over an area of 97,548 square miles for 47,800 Catholics. Comparing the two dioceses, Cheyenne had roughly half the priests that Lafayette-in-Indiana had to cover roughly ten times the area.

That ain't easy.

So how is this fixed? Obviously the Diocese of Cheyenne needs more priests. What I noted in Indiana about vocations was simply this: The parishes where there's Eucharistic Adoration on a regular if not perpetual basis are the ones that have the most amount of vocations coming from them. A mere eight years ago, when the priest who was saying our TLM for our deanery was entering the seminary, there were only about two seminarians before him. Now eight years later, there are 27 in formation for the diocese. Those parishes with perpetual adoration, like Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carmel, Indiana have quite a few seminarians in formation for that diocese right now. In Lafayette, they have one place for perpetual Eucharistic Adoration - at the St. Elizabeth Hospital Chapel, and as a result, there are quite a few vocations coming from St. Boniface. They not only have quite a few diocesan seminarians but also recently had a priest for the FSSP ordained from there within the last year.

The bottom line is this:

  • Promote perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Those seem to be the parishes where the most vocations come from.
  • Stick to orthodoxy. If the parish has too many dissidents attending it, it's likely that most of the people there are going to try to "fix" the problem by promoting heterodox solutions. These solutions never seem to work. The young potential seminarians are not interested by and large in the "solutions" from 1976. They want to stick to the teachings of the Church and following the Pontiff's lead.
  • Select orthodox seminaries to send young men. Just like I aluded to above, if you send seminarians to orthodox seminaries, and other candidates know about it, they'll be more attracted to the priesthood. There's an excellent seminary in our area down in the Archdiocese of Denver that Archbishop Chaput opened a few years ago that's fantastic. They have a different kind of vocations problem: Too many seminiarians and not enough space to put them all.
I think this would be the best start for the Diocese of Cheyenne. If they can get this far, establishing a minor seminary at Wyoming Catholic College would not only be feasible but likely necessary into and of itself.

But first things first.

1 comment:

Clairvaux said...

Have you seen this blog?

Just thought you might enjoy it.

Since I am home all the time, or someone is, I wish I could have Perpetual Adoration right here. What a joy that would be!