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Priests on Loan

posted by awelborn

From the Washington Times, an article about priests from other countries filling the gaps

But church officials say they do not actively recruit priests from other countries.
“They are looking to come here,” said Anne Edwards, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Richmond.
Priests from other countries come to the United States because the standard of living is higher here than in other parts of the world, said Dean Hoge, sociology professor at Catholic University. He said the prospect for a priest in Kenya or Nigeria being assigned to a parish in the United States is desirable.
“It is ironic,” Mr. Hoge said, adding that traditionally men join the priesthood out of selfless desires and are eager to abandon worldly possessions. “This is a little embarrassing, but some motives are different.”



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Michael Tinkler

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:26 am


Ever heard of the Foreign Born Irish? Lordy. You’d think America had been generating its enormously inflated clergy (by world standards) out of local vocations all this time….



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Cheryl

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:38 am


Our parish has been without an “official” parochial vicar for some time. For the past several years a Nigerian priest (Benedictan monk, actually), Fr. Pachomius, has lived at the parish and basically filled that role by saying Mass, hearing confessions, teaching, etc. while completing a Ph.D. at a local university. When he recently took an extended trip back to Nigeria (where he wants to eventually return and establish a monastery), his little brother, also a priest, came to our parish fill in for him. Both are the nephews of a recently appointed cardinal in Nigeria (Okogie).
Fr. Pachomius been a real gift to our parish, I must say. He is very devout, very orthodox, and very much a product of his culture. For example, quite often during his homilies, he will break into song! He has a beautiful voice (although he speaks English very well, his accent can make his homilies difficult to follow at times). Our parish has a high population of senior citizens and they sometimes don’t seem to know what to make of him.
I sometimes wonder, given some of the horrors he has probably seen in Africa, what he thinks about American Catholics. I wouldn’t be surprised if often sees a bunch of spoiled people who take much of what God has given them for granted.



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Fr. Vierling

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:52 am


In years past, our parish offered hospitality to priests from India. I must say, I found the Indian priests to be extremely hard workers, very devout, and devoted totally to fostering the spiritual life of the parishioners. The sole ‘knock’ was one of linguistics: they were, at times, very hard to understand during the homily. However, the spiritual good they brought to the parish far outweighed this defict. To this day, parishioners remain in contact with these priests (long since returned to their native land) via email.



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cs

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:58 am


A neighboring parish has an assistant from Nigeria, who orginally came here to for graduate studies. He became a citizen. He is beloved by all but the busibodies, and during his homilies (one must pay attention!) he sometimes tells everyone what the busibodies ratted out on him this week.



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amy

posted January 28, 2004 at 11:47 am


Cranky Prof:
To be more precise, the two kinds of priests in the US are:
FBI: Foreign Born Irish
and
CIA: Conceived in America



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Dick Rood

posted January 28, 2004 at 12:19 pm


Here is a sweet story about this subject.
http://www.cbna.info/shepherd/jan01/jan01.html



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David B

posted January 28, 2004 at 12:45 pm


America: The new mission field.



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Patrick Sweeney

posted January 28, 2004 at 1:00 pm


I’ve spoken to some of the foreign-born priests about this. It’s unfortunate for the countries that produce the vocations of these great young men that they lose them to the United States. I have a hunch that we are getting the best of them as well, not the mediocre ones.



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Bill Logan

posted January 28, 2004 at 1:01 pm


Actually, America always has been a mission field to some extent. Check out the webpage of the Catholic Extension Society. It just seems that now the vocations crisis is affecting the formerly fortunate urban centers.



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Michael Tinkler

posted January 28, 2004 at 1:50 pm


Hmm – Patrick, given what we know about some of the folks who have come to America over the years, one has to wonder. I think we’re getting exactly the same mixed bag we produce locally.
For instance, don’t you think that certain Future Renegade Priests think they can do better in, say, the Diocese of Rochester than the Diocese of Lagos?
Diocese-to-diocese transfer of priests inside America has always been a similar thing (I’m thinking of some of the priests recruited for Atlanta in the 60s and early 70s when Atlanta had a ‘give me your tired, your poor’ reputation).



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peggy

posted January 28, 2004 at 2:47 pm


Talk about “talent on loan from God!” ;-)



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c matt

posted January 28, 2004 at 4:38 pm


We’ve currently got one from Nigeria – Fr. Romanus (great name!!) who I love to hear, although its difficult to understand at times. America – the last missionary frontier!!



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c matt

posted January 28, 2004 at 4:40 pm


Its gotta be the standard of living. It couldn’t be that they see the USofA as the modern day equivalent of the pagan Roman Empire.



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Tom Kelty

posted January 28, 2004 at 4:53 pm


Please be aware that the city of Rome is mission territory based on low Mass attendance and very little financial support. Their priests are on the state payroll. It makes things confusing. I was a priest in Rio in the early 60s. One year there was only one ordination for the diocese of Rio which served several million “very catholic” souls. Some asked why I came there as a missionary. Reflecting now on the events over the years, I am happy that I chose not to argue with them. Not one brazilian has written to thank me for leaving Brazil so they would not have to listen to my tortured Portugese.



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Larry

posted January 28, 2004 at 6:02 pm


Many of the priest from Africa have large families back at their native land . The one I know sends most of his money back home to mother and about seven brother and sisters



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Fr. Shawn O'Neal

posted January 28, 2004 at 9:37 pm


Priests and seminarians come up quite often from various Hispanic nations and they are a real blessing in helping out with Hispanic ministry, but this type of movement causes its own problems:
1) The priests and seminarians who leave their homes are accused of selling out for the sake of the dollar. This really comes out in the way that American priests receive salaries rather than depending on stipends as priests in many Hispanic areas do.
2) Just because priests know the language of their congregation does not mean that the relationship will be harmonious. For example, name a Colombian, especially from one of the large cities, as pastor over a parish filled with Mexicans from Oaxaca and Chiapas. Many Americans do not realize that such a parochial situation is rife with potential discontent and misunderstanding on both sides.



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Rex

posted January 28, 2004 at 9:55 pm


They are some bishops in US that don’t accept foreign priests. They close their parishes, or hire lay people, but destroy foreign priests in good standing. That’s discrimination and prejudice. They judge by a cover. Do they know, how many liberal priests they have at parishes? All liberal American priests should be removed from parishes!!!!!!!!!!



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Jeanne Schmelzer

posted January 28, 2004 at 10:35 pm


We had a priest from Uganda in a neighboring parish and everyone loved him. When an opening came up within the diocese, he went to a black inner city neighborhood. Matched perfectly. I had a difficult time with his accent, though, in his homily. I asked him on a VERY hot day if he could take the heat better than us. He said he came from the high altitudes in Uganda where it was cooler. So he was more like us although he didn’t look like it (black). On the anniversary of his mother’s birthday, he sang a song at the foot of the altar before mass that made the hair on ones neck stand up it was so beautiful, although it was a native song and we had no clue as to what he was saying.



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Jimmy Mac

posted January 29, 2004 at 1:36 pm


“That’s discrimination and prejudice. They judge by a cover. ….. All liberal American priests should be removed from parishes!!!!!!!!!!”
Rex, your ignorance is showing in public. Didn’t your mother fetch you up better than that?



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Tom Kelty

posted January 29, 2004 at 2:03 pm


Do we agree that the faithful have a right and a need for ministers (presiders at Eucharist, confessors, preachers, Baptizers, and others to marry and bury us). In the USA currently and in many other nations for a very long time, The Catholic Church has not been able to recruit these essential people. Why? Is the faith less true in these places? Or is there a failure of Vision on the part of our leaders who continue to push a mode of governance based on absolute power and roman legalisms which have long ago served their purpose. It is possible to have a system which identifies and prepares those called to serve in the various ministries. It is not possible to base this system on the downgrading of sex in marriage linked to a life of devout service to others. A married clergy served for the first thousand years. It is more than time to review our thinking.



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Tom Kelty

posted January 29, 2004 at 2:04 pm


Do we agree that the faithful have a right and a need for ministers (presiders at Eucharist, confessors, preachers, Baptizers, and others to marry and bury us). In the USA currently and in many other nations for a very long time, The Catholic Church has not been able to recruit these essential people. Why? Is the faith less true in these places? Or is there a failure of Vision on the part of our leaders who continue to push a mode of governance based on absolute power and roman legalisms which have long ago served their purpose. It is possible to have a system which identifies and prepares those called to serve in the various ministries. It is not possible to base this system on the downgrading of sex in marriage linked to a life of devout service to others. A married clergy served for the first thousand years. It is more than time to review our thinking.



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Susan

posted January 29, 2004 at 2:47 pm


Perhaps Americans have difficulty with Indian and African accents because we’re not quite used to them yet. One of the reasons national parishes got started in the U.S. was the difficulty that Irish/Italian immigrants had in understanding the accents of the German and French priests who had arrived here before them. I suspect that in 20 or 30 years, we’ll be griping about the accents of priests from some other location.



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Tom Kelty

posted January 29, 2004 at 4:39 pm


For some profoundly moving thoughts on Missiology, as it used to be called, read again Willa Cathers “Death Comes to the Archbishop”. It will give you a sense of the differences from place to place and era to era as God realizes His plan of Redemption for mankind.It is also very helpful on the Hispanic influences in the West. Does it make sense to continue using the only methods available in Apostolic times, in this age of globalization and instant communication. Do we make enough effort to adapt (re-imagine our theology) in modern terms.and open to everyone? Or are we so in love with the old fashioned knuckle-dragging apologetics we were raised on? Do we enjoy the defensiveness and the argumentative postures we learned? Many seem certain that if God did it over again, He would evangelize according to their image and likeness. Truly spreading the Gospel message will always cause some pain. As Christ said, “I did not come to bring Peace, but a sword.”



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michigancatholic

posted January 29, 2004 at 7:32 pm


We need missionaries anymore, after the 40 years of lousy catechesis we have endured.
Tom Kelty, you *were* a priest? I saw that in a post up there somewhere….Expound please. Your *opinions* are at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church.



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michigancatholic

posted January 29, 2004 at 8:11 pm


BTW, we have some excellent foreign priests here.
We used to have a “screening” program here with the usual goals–i.e. screening OUT the real vocations so we could posture for lay involvement, married priests, twinkies, etc. Old gray nun-led program called “Ministry Formation”–you know the drill. I’m very glad to say that’s a thing of the past here. We have a decent bishop and he, along with some other interesting circumstances and an awakening laity, have done away with that situation.
And the tactic of the far left backfired here, at least in that regard. We didn’t get so many priests native to this diocese, so we started importing them. The imported ones aren’t tainted with our lousy bad catechesis, and they actually know the Faith. We love it.



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted January 30, 2004 at 7:52 am


Entirely anecdotal: my experience has been that foreign born priests come in all qualities. I’ve know really good ones and really bad ones. I do ask the question: what bishop in his right mind would allow his best priests to leave the diocese to minister elsewhere, carte blanche? And those who come to the US to study, and then change their minds and end up in protracted communication and negotiation with their bishops — does not portray a positive view of priestly ministry.
The other issue that has been very problematic, but is being addressed by the new charter from the USCCB, is the lack of any background check on priests coming from overseas. In this diocese of Kalamazoo, foreign priests were allowed in without any kind of substantial check, and believe me, there were several serious problems because of this lack of due discretion on the part of the chancery.



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