His Grace Archbishop Carlson has published an open letter making an offer of reconciliation to the members of the former parish of St. Stanislaus. The terms are generous and direct, so I will spare giving a summary here, though I may post commentary on the situation in general in the coming few days. The St. Louis Review has the goods:
Archbishop Carlson makes an offer to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Peace, and my greetings to each of you. You are, I am aware, in a time of discernment and are faced with a decision regarding the return of St. Stanislaus to again be a Roman Catholic parish.
Over the past year, since arriving in St. Louis, I have met with the members of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus to find a way in which the parish could be re-established while, at the same time, addressing the fears expressed by many of you over the last seven years that the parish would be closed and its property sold with the proceeds being used for other purposes within the archdiocese.
One of the concerns expressed again and again was that, even if an archbishop made a commitment to keep the parish operating so long as Roman Catholics of Polish heritage wanted to have a parish and were willing to support it, he could not bind his successors.
Working with the members of the St. Stanislaus Board, we have developed the concept of the present corporation continuing to own the parish property and the cash and securities that it holds and leasing, without charge, the parish church and rectory to a new parish corporation, founded on the model of other parish corporations in the archdiocese, of which the pastor would be the president. The Polish Heritage Center would not be leased to the parish corporation, but it would be available, without charge, for all parish functions. The pastor and the board of directors of the St. Stanislaus Corporation would collaborate on fundraising and in other matters relating to the parish and the parish property.
It is my intention that this arrangement continue in perpetuity and that St. Stanislaus always be there as a personal parish for Roman Catholics of Polish ethnicity or language. To the best of my ability, I will assure that there is always a priest available and will work to get a priest, either a diocesan priest or a priest from a religious order, who speaks both Polish and English. If the parish were ever closed in the future by an archbishop, the parish property would continue to be owned by the St. Stanislaus Corporation and used for Polish Roman Catholic religious and charitable purposes.
In order to help get the parish re-established, I have committed that the archdiocese would provide the pastor for the first year of the re-established parish without cost to the parish and would contribute up to $10,000 to pay the cost of the consultant for a fund drive to secure the finances of the parish corporation and the St. Stanislaus Corporation for the future.
This proposal has my full support and I will do everything in my power to make St. Stanislaus succeed as a personal parish for Catholics of Polish heritage.
I ask that you please join me in praying that reconciliation can be brought about and, with the help of God, healing will take place.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis
It’s nice to see the Archdiocese out in front of the public relations situation on this. Like I said above, it is a very generous offer to those in the former parish as well as those on the Board. Let us all pray that this offer meets with acceptance.
St. Louis, pray for us.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.
St. Stanislaus Kostka, pray for us.
Photo by Stephanie Cordle of the P-D
There is a report in today’s Post-Dispatch about the current struggles of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. This phenomenon is common to most Archdioceses, and the causes are many. In other words, I don’t want to single out this Archdiocese, nor do I want to oversimplify the problems.
But, though the title of the article is “Catholic Schools Struggle in Economy”, I can’t help taking note of the above photo, which accompanied the P-D story. It depicts a young girl in a classroom at Central Catholic School, which is located downtown. Perhaps the picture gives a micro-window into one reason why Catholic schools are in some difficulties.
The cross on the wall is devoid of the Corpus of Our Lord. Surely the cross is a Christian symbol, but not a uniquely Catholic one. The Crucifix is (though used by some non-Catholic groups) a clear marker of Catholic identity, and moreover is not a mere sign, but a sacramental.
And the girl pictured in the photo, while not immodestly dressed according to what passes for modesty today, is not exactly wearing what would have traditionally been expected in a Catholic classroom–even apart from any uniform requirement. Before I get hate mail, I understand it is summertime, and I also do not fault the girl for the outfit, as I don’t know the circumstances of her family’s finances, background, knowledge base, etc. In short, I am not focusing on the girl here but on the dress code of a Catholic school.
But these are mere externals, yes? Externals, yes, but some externals are not “merely” so.
There have been hard economic times in the past. Though our current difficulties may exceed the hardships of the great depression, they don’t yet. But the rise of the Catholic school movement in this country–an organic push to offset the protestantism of the compulsory government schools– occurred among people who were by and large not well off, and at times when hardship and sacrifice were common. Among other reasons, they were founded to ensure the Catholic identity of our children and to assist in the passing down of our faith.
The disappearance of the low-cost, well-educated religious order teachers is a major factor. But while most focus on the loss of the low-cost angle, I most lament the loss of the well-educated–or should I say, theologically well-formed– angle. Our Catholic teachers, mostly sisters and brothers, were theologically qualified and dedicated to imparting the Catholic faith. Today’s Catholic teachers, well-meaning and dedicated as they are, are co-victims of the Catechetical disaster in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and are passing along the same faith they received. Which is to say not enough, Catholic-wise. The sad fact is that Catholic schools, by and large, teach “tolerance” instead of the Catholic faith; they practice “spirituality” instead of the Catholic religion.
Catholic families aren’t living Catholic lifestyles (and in particular are contracepting at nearly the same rate as their non-Catholic neighbors), and their faith is not being improved by what they get at most parishes. In short, if the three pillars of 19th and 20th Century Catholic life in America were faith-filled homes, faithful parishes, and high-quality Catholic schools, then I would say that all three pillars have crumbled. There is still life in all three, but on various forms of life support.
So, back to the article: yes, times are tough. Schools are feeling budgetary pressures. But I submit that for a Catholic school to compete and succeed in these times the ONLY thing that will justify the expense and hardship is that it BE Catholic. I don’t care if a purportedly Catholic school has a nifty computer room, or shiny new textbooks, or the latest pedagogical fad imported from the NEA. I do care if it teaches the Catholic faith.
Simple math– Which is a better value? Having a public school impart secular values contrary to my wishes for $0, or having a supposedly Catholic school impart secular values contrary to my wishes for (at least) $4,000?
From the full article at STLToday:
Catholic Schools Struggle in Economy
by Sara Sonne Lenz
[The article begins by cataloging some specific examples of tough times at some area Catholic schools]
…These difficulties are not isolated.
Catholic schools around the nation are shrinking in number, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. While 24 schools opened nationwide last year, 174 closed or consolidated. Over the last decade, enrollment rates have decreased 20 percent, said Karen Ristau, president of the association.
One bright spot has been the city of St. Louis, where after 40 years of steady decline, Catholic school enrollment saw a slight increase in 2008 and maintained that gain last year.
Overall, however, Catholic school enrollment in the 11 counties under the Archdiocese of St. Louis has dropped by 11,000 in the past 10 years. Enrollment in the Belleville Diocese has dropped by 10,000.
Most parish schools must survive on their own through tuition, Sunday collections and fundraising, said Al Winklemann, associate superintendent at the archdiocese for elementary school administration. He said the archdiocese steps up when parents or the parish can’t afford to keep some schools open. Last year, the archdiocese gave $1.8 million in aid and this year that will grow to $2 million.
“It’s always been a challenge to maintain Catholic schools,” Winklemann said, adding that the cost of education has continued to rise as the economy has become more challenging. “I think all schools have felt that impact.”
MORE THAN ECONOMICS
But the economy is only part of the issue, said Thomas Posnanski, director of education for the Belleville Diocese.
Shrinking family sizes have caused a large enrollment drop in Catholic schools. Posnanski said he comes from a family of 12. He subsequently had five children, and his children have three kids each.
“The number of families having a smaller number of kids has had a direct impact on the number of kids enrolling,” he said. More than 60 percent of the families enrolled in schools in the Belleville Diocese have just one child, he said.
Catholics also are choosing parish schools less frequently, Ristau said.
“Catholics are not as strongly attached to the church as much as they might have been in the past,” she said. “They don’t go to Mass as much as they did 30 years ago.”
Indeed, Catholic researchers at Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate report that while 24 percent of Catholics born from 1943 to 1960 attend Mass at least once a week, 17 percent of those born after 1981 attend weekly Mass.
The Rev. Bill Vatterott, pastor of St. Cecilia, said 78 of the school’s 109 families receive some type of financial aid.
“The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation has really brought life not just to the school but to the neighborhood,” Vatterott said. “It has allowed parents to provide their kids with a good, solid foundation that will change their lives and the lives of their kids and grandkids.”
One consequence of the foundation’s shift in mission is that Catholic schools in the city are serving fewer Catholic students. St. Cecilia’s student body is 70 percent Catholic; the national average is 85.5 percent. The Belleville Diocese’s average is 95 percent.
Sharon Gerken, executive director of the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, said a few parish schools in north St. Louis have no Catholic pupils.
“We still teach religion and prayer,” Winklemann said. “The fact that we have large numbers of non-Catholics in our schools does not change the program in any way, shape or form.”
I don’t know that there is anything new here, but I wanted to post this for the record. Channel 4’s report points to a “non-binding” vote on August 8 on the fate of Mr. Bozek’s Wild Ride ™.
Bowing to pressure from the media, Oliver Stone has apologized for making comments to the effect that one cannot make certain comments without being pressured by the media, thus proving that his comments could not possibly have been true.
Some recent items of varying degrees of interest to post today.
1. I was contacted by a representative of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis about the recent Review article and SLC Post about the Catholic students who went on a field trip with the “Cultural Leadership” organization, whose honorary board members included Susan Talve and William Danforth. You will recall that the
deprogramming, er, debriefing session about the glories of this trip was held at the Central Reform Congregation, which the Archdiocese had declared was off limits to ecumenical/interreligious functions due to its involvement in the would-be priestess scandal.
The representative wanted to point out that this policy is still in effect, and that while it may not be possible to prevent this or that high school student from deciding to involve himself with that group, it should not have been covered in any positive way in the Review. The coverage was an oversight and not any type of declaration of support by the paper. I am glad to hear this, and am happy to post that confirmation here.
I suppose it would be too much for the principals of these non-Archdiocesan schools to discourage participation in such groups. But one step at a time.
2. My home computer is finally fixed and will be up and running in situ tonight. Hopefully, I can get to more regular blogging now. Thanks to JG for his help.
3. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka has issued a wonderful letter to his priests about the importance of liturgy– especially in following the rubrics, eliminating abuses and reintroducing Latin (generally) and the traditional Mass (specifically) in the Archdiocese. Apart from one weird sentence about “eco-spirituality” it is an unbelievably awesome instruction letter that could be reproduced worldwide. The text of that letter is here.
Today is the feast of the Patron of Spain, where he is known as Santiago Matamoros (St. James Moorslayer); he and his brother St. John were called the “Sons of Thunder”. And he is patron saint of my youngest son, too.
Today’s feast is a special one, as it occurs to crown this holy year of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
There is a very edifying entry in Dom Prosper Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year for St. James relevant to this title, an excerpt of which is below:
… And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity?
This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings… With regard to James, too, then, eternal Wisdom could not have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the most High upon the men of His choice. The life of the saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God Himself being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a victim of a holocaust, He hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever. How literally was this divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our saint!
Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the north of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the apostle’s body. During that time the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! St. James! St. James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilean fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet. Henceforth James shall be to Christian Spain the firebrand which the prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem.
And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his well-filled nets, from west and east and south, from new worlds, renewing Peter’s astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, for by the grace of God, I have laboured more abundantly than all they.
“But love must not be wrought in our imagination but must be proved by works…. Oh Jesus, what will a soul inflamed with Your love not do? Those who really love You, love all good, seek all good, help forward all good, praise all good, and invariably join forces with good men and help and defend them. They love only truth and things worthy of love. It is not possible that one who really and truly loves You can love the vanities of earth; his only desire is to please You. He is dying with longing for You to love him, and so would give his life to learn how he may please You better.
“O Lord, be pleased to grant me this love before You take me from this life. It will be a great comfort at the hour of death to realize that I shall be judged by You whom I have loved above all things. Then I shall be able to go to meet You with confidence, even though burdened with my debts, for I shall not be going into a foreign land but into my own country, into the kingdom of Him whom I have loved so much and who likewise has so much loved me.”
–Saint Teresa of Avila
By Patrick B. Craine
Regarding West’s sabbatical, she expressed her “sincere and prayerful hope that he will use this valuable time, of ‘personal and professional renewal,’ to consider the many concerns that have been raised about his work – and thereby ‘renew’ his approach as well.”
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand’s essay is entitled ‘Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex’. It can be found here.
Bittersweet news from the Oratory today, as Canon Jason Apple is being called to return to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest’s motherhouse in Gricigliano, Italy to oversee the formation of the many American seminarians there. His place in St. Louis will be filled by Canon Aaron Huberfeld, another American priest newly-ordained three weeks ago by Archbishop Burke in Florence.
There will be a farewell reception for Canon Apple on August 8 at the Oratory.
I know readers of this blog, especially those who have benefited directly from his faithful priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, will join me in thanking Canon Jason Apple for all of his wonderful service in St. Louis, wishing him the best as he returns to Gricigliano and offering him our prayers. He is truly a holy priest.
I can only hope that being stationed in Tuscany will somehow soften the blow. 🙂
We also look forward to welcoming Canon Huberfeld back home to the U.S., and assure him of our prayers.
Canon Michael Wiener, Rector of the Oratory, has all the details in the latest email newsletter:
Dear Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,
With joy and sadness, the Oratory will bid farewell to Canon Jason Apple soon. To ensure the best possible training of our future priests, our Prior General, recently decided to call Canon Apple back to our motherhouse in Gricigliano and to entrust to him the vocations coming from the United States. Canon Apple’s excellent embodiment of the specific Salesian spirituality of our community will be a great benefit in the priestly formation in Gricigliano. However, his presence in St. Louis for the last two years, as a confrere and as the Vicar, will be missed very much. On August 8, please come to a farewell reception after the 10am Mass, when we will have a chance to express our gratitude and good wishes to Canon Apple.
As Canon Apple assumes his new duties at our Motherhouse, we will welcome the service of our new Vicar, Canon Aaron Huberfeld, who was recently ordained by Archbishop Burke in Florence. Many of you already know Canon Huberfeld as a seminarian when he was assigned to the Oratory during the summer of 2008. Please join us in greeting him warmly as he returns to St. Louis as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory
Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
Telephone: (314) 771-3100
FAX: (314) 771-3295