Friday, January 16, 2009

"Kentucky Catholic diocese recruits international priests"

"Many parishes in US operating shorthanded"

By Ms. Laurie Goodstein, New York Times News / December 28, 2008.

Adapted from Boston Globe online version:


Folks, this all kinda reminds me of the old Have Roman Collar -- Will Travel era among the conservative, alienated, dismayed and concerned Catholics of the seventies!

So, here we go, 32 years from that January of 1977 when yours truly became directly involved in Catholic activism, albeit on a grass roots nickel and dime level and in three states.

Have things really changed?? :)

Albeit a "base salary of 1,350 a month" is about what I used to gross pushing a lawn mower around in the San Antonio area during the boom years of the early to mid 1980s!

Anyway, here we go!

"OWENSBORO, Ky. -- Sixteen of the Rev. Darrell Venter's fellow priests are running themselves ragged, each serving three parishes simultaneously.

"One priest admits that he stood at an altar and forgot exactly which church he was in.

"So Venters, lean and leathery as the Marlboro man -- a cigarette in one hand and a cellphone with a ring tone like a church bell in the other -- spends most of his days recruiting priests form overseas to serve in the small towns, rolling hills, and farmland that make up the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro.

"He sorts through e - mail and letters from foreign priests soliciting jobs in America, many written in formal, stilted English.

"He is looking, he said, for something that shouts: This priest is just meant for Kentucky!

"[H]e said If we didn't get international priests, some of our guys would have had five parishes. If one of our guys were to leave,or, God forbid, have a heart attack and die, we [wouldn't] have anyone to fill.

"His experiences offer a close look at the church's drive to import foreign priests to compensate for a dearth of Americans, and the ways in which this trend is reshaping the Roman Catholic experience in America.

"One of six diocesan priests now serving in the United States came from abroad, according to International Priests in America, a study published in 2006.

"About 300 international priests arrive to work here each year.

"Even in American seminaries, about one in three of those studying for the priesthood are foreign born.

"Venters has seen lows.

"Some foreign priests had to be sent home [Like Father Pedro Molina, of Sabinal? According to Fr. Anton Quang Dinh Van's freely offered frank and unbiased version of the events, Archbishop José H. Gomez simply availed himself of a useful technicality in Canon Law involving incardination issues.].

"One became romantically entangled with a female [thank goodness! :)] co - worker.

"One isolated himself in the rectory [make that two for St. Mary Magdalene's Catholic Parish of Brackettville, Texas, 78832!].

"Still another would not learn to drive.

"A priest from the Philippines left after two weeks because he could not stand the cold.

"A Peruvian was hostile toward Hispanics who were not from Peru [And perhaps therefore would not have been impressed by Peruvian Marxist Liberation Theology bravo sierra, likely as not!].

"Venters said one day over a lunch of potato soup with American cheese and a glass of sweet tea, the international priests are easier to work with than the local priests [except in Brackettville!]. If they mess up, you just say, See you. You withdraw your permission for them to stay [as did Archbishop Gomez with Fr. Molina?].

"There have been victories as well, when Kentucky Catholics who once did not know Nigeria from Uganda opened their eyes to the conditions in the countries their foreign priests came form -- even raising $6,000 to install wells in the home village of a Nigerian priest serving in Owensboro.

""The foreign priests in Owensboro earn the same as their American counterparts: a base salary of $1,350 a month, plus $60 for each year since ordination..."

A good read!


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