The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Empty altars: Baltimore may cut masses

posted by jmcgee

basilica-altar-front-high-2.jpgAmerica’s first diocese may soon begin reducing masses as a result of the priest shortage.

From the Baltimore Sun:

With Father Patrick Carrion away, a nun led a morning service last week at St. Mary Star of the Sea, directing the gathering of 15 worshippers in Catholic hymns and prayers, and distributing the Communion that the priest had consecrated before leaving.

The pastor could not find another priest to fill in for him while he left his South Baltimore congregation to take a brief vacation. He returned in time to say four weekend Masses, but in the meantime left condensed daily worship services to Sister Victoria Staub.

This circumstance at one parish underscores the critical shortage of priests across the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In response, church leaders are asking its 153 parishes to evaluate Mass schedules and consider cutting back, particularly if similar services are offered nearby. In Baltimore alone, there are 50 parishes. Several within blocks of each other have identical Mass schedules and many services are lightly attended.

“If three parishes in the same area … all have 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday that are one-third full, why not schedule one Mass?” said Sean Caine, spokesman for the archdiocese, which includes more than 500,000 Catholics.

Nearly half of the archdiocese’s 153 active priests will reach the retirement age of 70 within the next 15 years, and 17 are already eligible to retire, church officials said. If the trend continues, there may be fewer than 100 priests by 2025.

Carrion’s congregation has already experienced the problem to a greater degree than many other churches. He is the pastor and lone priest serving the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, a grouping of three parishes — St. Mary’s, Holy Cross and Good Counsel — with about 1,200 members in all. The churches became one community two years ago in response to the scarcity of priests and their own declining congregations.

While the number of American Catholics has remained fairly constant at about 22 percent of the population, the number of priests continues to decline, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

“When the number of priests comes close to the number of parishes, the problem is approaching critical,” said Mark Gray, senior research associate. “Unless there is a significant increase in ordinations, the shortage will only get worse.”

Read more.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(19)
post a comment
Paul

posted October 26, 2010 at 7:51 am


The pastor could not find another priest to fill in for him while he left his South Baltimore congregation to take a brief vacation.
Gasp! Clergy take time off for personal and “mental health” reasons? Inconceivable!



report abuse
 

Sensus Fidei

posted October 26, 2010 at 8:05 am


No punch or judy and now this? It’s truly a sin what the Church does and inflicts upon its faithful servants. Another telling example of “justice” in this company that preaches it elsewhere.



report abuse
 

dymphna

posted October 26, 2010 at 9:07 am


I met Father a few years ago. His schedule is incredible. He has three parishes. After Mass at the first one he walks very quickly to get to his next parish. To save time his vestments weren’t in the sacristy but in the back of the church. He has barely enough time to take a breath. Later he hot foots it to his next parish.



report abuse
 

Rudy

posted October 26, 2010 at 9:47 am


“While the number of American Catholics has remained fairly constant at about 22 percent”. The reason it has stayed at 22% is the influx of Hispanic Catholics that replace the hemorrhaging of white Catholics who have left the Church.
The crisis of vocations in the U.S. is undeniable, but why? Countries like the Philippines or Nigeria produce an abundance of priests.



report abuse
 

Gerard Nadal

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:08 am


Rudy, there is no vocation crisis, as some independent entity. We have a crisis of faith among the laity. Good. solid marriages lived as both sacrament and vocation produce an abundance of children and an abundance of vocations to marriage, priesthood, deaconate and religious life.
At Mass we always hear in the prayer of the faithful the prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life (never a mention of the deaconate). We never hear the prayer for an increase in the number of couples willing to live their marriages as sacraments and vocations. Why?
Our prayers reflect our priorities.



report abuse
 

Sensus Fidei

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:17 am


Isn’t that the truth, Gerald… pro-life of unborn, pro-life of unborn is our prayer. Apparently everything else flows from this paramount issue and all problems will be fixed once pro-life of the unborn is.



report abuse
 

Guillermo

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:22 am


Perhaps a pass for permanent Deacons to become Priests may help.



report abuse
 

RomCath

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:26 am


“Apparently everything else flows from this paramount issue and all problems will be fixed once pro-life of the unborn is.”
Finally a sensible statement. If the pews are emptying and there are few vocations could it be because thousands have been aborted and married couples are just having fewer children?



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:32 am


That’s right, pro-life for unborn, pro-life for unborn will save and redeem our Church! Keep the faith, RomCath!



report abuse
 

Mike R

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:37 am


“Finally a sensible statement. If the pews are emptying and there are few vocations could it be because thousands have been aborted and married couples are just having fewer children?”
does anyone have credible statistics that would point to smaller Catholic families due in part to Catholic women having abortions?
[Mike...on a hunch, I'd say the issue in Catholic families is less about abortion and more about contraception. The days of Catholics having five or six kids are long gone. Along with that has come less fidelity to Catholic teaching in other areas, and a more lax attitude toward the faith -- which doesn't really instill in kids a curiosity about vocations. It's a vicious circle.
However, I seem to remember reading that statistics have shown that Catholic women abort at about the same rate as others. Maybe someone else knows for sure?? Dcn. G.]



report abuse
 

Deacon Juan E. Rodriguez

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:45 am


There is an old saying that if a drop of water keeps falling on a rock, in due time it will make a hole. Well, the unfaithful leaders of the Church along with some of those who use the Catholic Faith to promote themselves in public office/elected office has brought this situation in Baltimore and this trend will bring more closing of churches throughout the whole country. It is not just abortion but how we turn away from the “Real teaching of Christ” to our religion where we have replaced God with the idolatry of “Self”.



report abuse
 

plavo

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:52 am


well, that certainly sends a signal; less priests, less priestly ministry, less visibility, less presence, must not be that important….so why become one?….of course, they could ordain permament deacons and get some years of service from them, but….



report abuse
 

Fiergenholt

posted October 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm


“The crisis of vocations in the U.S. is undeniable, but why? Countries like the Philippines or Nigeria produce an abundance of priests.”
First off, the “crisis” of vocations is more territorial than you might first think. There are a number of dioceses — I agree — that have not had a priestly ordination in years. There are others where regular ordinations classes occur and average a dozen men each year.
Secondly, the “crisis” of vocations is more priestly than diaconal. In my diocese, all I have to do is go back twenty years and I find that ordinations of men (all married) to the permanent diaconate outnumber ordinations of men (all celibate) to the priesthood by three to one. That will also be the ratio for the next cycle — three celibate men as priests and nine married men as permanently ordained deacons are scheduled for ordination in 2011.
Finally. I am convinced that the key to celibate priestly vocations is the support of commitment of the mothers of those young men. If the mothers approve that “call” and support their sons in that quest, the sons will make excellent priests. I know lots of “mother/son” examples of this to convince me that this is true.
The question, then, becomes why have the American Catholic mothers abandoned the priesthood as an option for their own sons?
Something to ponder — American Catholic mothers really controlling the number and quality of priests in our church



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted October 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm


“The question, then,becomes why have the American Catholic mothers abandoned the priesthood as an option for their own sons?” Fiergenhold
Perhaps they would rather have their sons marry and give them grandchildren. Since priests aren’t allowed to marry, no grandchildren will be produced (at least not that anyone would know about). This would be especially true if there is only one child, and that one child is a boy.



report abuse
 

Fiergenholt

posted October 26, 2010 at 10:58 pm


Actually, Pagansister, that was the answer given by the wife of a deacon I know. Most women who were successful moms also want to be successful grandmothers!
Another lady I know came back rather sharply to my question on this topic: “I do not ever want any son of mine categorized as either a pedophile or an active homosexual.”
Now, yes, I know — and so do you — that only a very small number of celibate priests are actual sexual abusers of children and another small number (not at all congruent with the first) are active sexually in any other way. But public perception can paint a wide brush here damning a lot of innocent men.
Seriously, I think a a small and genuinely humble group of bishops needs to listen to the XXI Century American Catholic mothers on this topic.



report abuse
 

Rudy

posted October 27, 2010 at 10:40 am


One thing I can agree is that the ordination of married men to the priesthood would change the face of Catholicism world-wide, not just in America. For better? Perhaps, but both our Lord and the apostle Paul favored celibacy as a superior calling, even if to our American sensibilities calling something “superior” may offend our egalitarian spirit. Recall our Lord’s statement on “eunuchs for the Kingdom of God” and Paul’s “I rather you would remain lime me” that is unmarried.



report abuse
 

Michele

posted October 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm


Two things…First, I’m a Catholic mother of two sons. My husband and I actively nurtured vocations to the priesthood for both of our sons-but neither HAD THE VOCATION. God called them to married life.
Second, if there is a priest shortage, why doesn’t the Bishop make an agreement with an African Diocese and bring needed priests from an area where there are an abundance of priests? The Diocese I belong to has over 75% of our priests from African countries such as Nigeria and Tanzania and we have priests assigned to even small rural mission Churches. I live in Baker Diocese in Oregon. The people in our Diocese have fully embraced the African priests.



report abuse
 

Sensus Fidei

posted October 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm


We’ve been blessed by wonderful foreign priests. However, language has been a barrier and that’s a concerning detriment if faithful can not hear yet alone understand the Gospel and Homily. Just imagine how this scenario will work with the confusing new missal.



report abuse
 

TenPage

posted October 30, 2010 at 8:50 am


I live in the Archdiocese of Baltimore now, but I went to college in a rural part of the Diocese of Wilmington, and the priest shortage problem is far worse in rural areas. Each parish is anywhere from 25–40 minutes away from the next parish, and most only have one priest. Communion services are a fact of our life, and when the pastor is away, we regularly have to call on priests from a variety of places (as far as an hour away) to do weekend Masses, funerals, and anointings. Praise God for the faithful priests who are willing to go where they are needed, but we must be steadfast in prayer for more vocations.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.