Saturday, February 21, 2009

U.S. Catholic magazine's Mr. Jeff Parrott:

"Foreign ministry"

"Shortage of priests has made some places in the United States mission territory"

Adapted from the February 2009 issue.

"Father Paul Choorathottiyil, C.M., newly appointed associate pastor at Sacred Heart of Christ Catholic Church in Lakeville, Indiana, is attending his first meeting of the parish's Rosary Society.

"This group of middle - aged and older women has already seen him a couple of times in church, and they have read his brief biography in the Sunday bulletin."

Ummm .... that is one little thing we most likely are not ever going be permitted to read in our bulletin here at St. Mary Magdalene's Catholic Parish in Brackettville, Texas 78832.

Because even the briefest bio would have had some ????!!! components such as: "Hi, my name is Father _______ and I'm so glad to be with you all, at least for now, inasmuch as I've been in three (3) different locations in two (2) separate dioceses in less than one (1) year. Oh, yes, and some idiot here locally made the mistake of taking it for granted that I'd know beans about the important Vatican II documents. Boy, was he ever surprised! You see, I'm a member of that priestly organization called The Have Roman Collar, Will Travel International Priestly Fraternity. So, if Father Tony Vilano makes it clear he simply doesn't care about what I know, then why should I?" :)

Now, back to our story!

"But this is their first chance to learn about him... they are also eager to make him feel welcome.

"[A] woman asks him after he thanks the group for the cooking utensils they had given him, Are you a good cook?

"[H]e replies, I'm not, sparking laughter around the long conference table. I'll learn to cook. That's what I'm learning now. I'm really happy that people are there to help me.

"Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne -- South Bend, Indiana recruited Choorathottiyil from Kerala, India to pastor this small rural parish, which had been without a priest of its own for four months.

"Choorathottiyil, 41, had trained seminarians in India for the past five years and served 12 years altogether as a Vincentian religious priest."

We naturally wonder if he was all that crazy about coming to America; in short, not really!

"[H]e says, I wouldn't say I opted for it, but when I was asked I agreed. Basically our congregation is a missionary congregation. That means where we are asked to go, we are supposed to go. That is our lifestyle.

"Serving in the diocese under a 3 - year agreement, which could be extended if things go well, Choorathottiyil is not alone in taking on such a mission.

"As its priest shortage worsens, the U.S. Catholic Church is increasingly filling empty rectories with foreign - born priests..."

Professor James O'Toole weighs in on the issues

"James O'Toole, a Boston College professor of history, says: In the past, when foreign - born priests came, they were coming to serve people largely of their own nationality. Today foreign - born priests by and large are serving different cultural communities. Priests from India are serving third - and fourth - generation, fully Americanized populations. I think it sets up the possibility for tension between the foreign - born priests and their communities.

As does Mr. Jim O'Malley founder of an Accent Reduction Program

"O'Malley wrote the bishop [most likely of Dallas, Texas] I think for the most part senior citizens are irritated with the lack of language skills of our foreign - born priests but put up with it. Young people are entirely turned off and see no reason to put up with it. We don't want to lose our young people.

Researchers Hoge and Okure's joint recommendation

"Based on their survey of international priests, Hoge and Okure's 2006 study -- International Priests in America: Challenges and Opportunities -- found near consensus on two recommendations to the church: Dioceses should provide foreign - born priests with acculturation training, and they should postpone the coming of any men with weak English or extreme accents."

A pretty darn good read! :)


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