SPLIT: Priest shortage for the OF Mass?

Yes, but with the shortage of priests…

Unless you attend a parish that is a ministry of a religious order/congregation. Our college chapel is staffed by 4 (!) priests.

Apparently at the expense of those parishes who only have a communion service.


Many liturgies now have the option to have a baptism during mass, which I had never seen when I was growing up in the old rite. It really helps the congregation in many ways to appreciate their own baptism and renew their promises.

Saturday night, I was blessed to attend the baptism of my great grandson (that’s telling my age! :D) and the rite in the vernacular enabled not only the parents and godparents to appreciate the symbolism and clearly understand what was taking place, but it was an occasion for the noncatholic friends of the family to listen and ask questions afterwards. A great opportunity for evangelization! Our rite is so much richer than the altar call and immersion type that other faiths experience.

One noncatholic asked me why do we not have bibles in our pews. I was able to point out the beautiful uniformity - that whether we live in Alaska, Peru, Austrailia, or any corner of the world, all Catholics hear the same scriptures, and I showed him the readings in our worship aid. Whereas, protestants rely on the bible alone for their services, and the minister may select any reading that inspires him at the moment. We never have to worry that when we go out of state, we will be unable to follow the mass in a different Catholic church.
I also appreciate the communal gatherings for healing of the sick who are able to receive the sacrament. This was never done in my earlier years, other than as a last rite near death. Thereto, the vernacular as the anointing is administered, really adds to one’s understanding of the Church’s sacraments.

I hear you there. But for a religious order priest to go to another diocesan parish, he would need approval of his superior on top of the request of the diocesan bishop. Then once he’s assigned to a parish, it will again be difficult to move him again without his superior’s approval. Maybe many diocesan bishops shy away from this process because of too much steps and the lack of flexibility on their part to be moving priests around as needed.

Actually, this congregation (the Basilian Fathers) also staffs 2 other parishes in the city with 2 additional priests. As to the 4 at the college, 1 is the president of the college, another is the director of campus ministry, and the other 2 teach classes (they rotate daily and Sunday masses), so it’s not like they just have 4 priests sitting there. Their charism is also education, which is why they run the college.

Many communities of male religious, including monasteries, share their priests with parishes. Maybe not the Trappists who have strict enclosure, but certainly many “ordinary” Benedictines, etc. How the monks feel about having to do parish work when presumably they signed up for something else, I cannot say, but, you know, vow of obedience and all that. Bishop calls abbot, abbot orders monk… I have to imagine that the aesthetic difference between an all-over-the-place OF parish Mass and the relative good order of monastic worship all by itself would present a test of fortitude.

Two classmates of mine (as I was pursuing my masters in finance) were priests. I know many of them do work in areas other than normal parish life. I hope JReducation will notice this thread and provide some stats on his Franciscan order.

he will correct me if i am wrong, but i believe that he said that his ordained brother may only celebrate for the community, and their focus is working with Respect Life

From what I know, an ordained brother can say Mass for the public. But that doesn’t normally happen as its not their calling His primary function as a priest is to say Mass for the community. Although there may be instances that if they run a parish, he may also say Mass for the public.

it is the rule of the community that he is not allowed to do so

We have to be very careful here, because there are certain fine points that many lay people do not know and we don’t want to trigger resentment when there should be none.

Very few religious communities, either congregations or orders, were founded to do parish work. Therefore, they have no obligation to rescue parishes that are short.

Many religious orders and congregations were not founded to be communities of priests. They allow men to become priests for the good of their ministry. For example, a teaching order may allow men to be ordained to serve as chaplains to their schools. This is the case with the Society of Mary. They are a congregation of priests and brothers, but the first duty of their priests is to their schools and colleges.

Some of the ancient religiuos orders do not allow their ordained men to do any ministry that sets them apart from those who are not ordained. Therefore, parishes are out of the question. It’s impossible for them to preserve their charism and serve in a parish.

There are many secular priests who are not diocesan: Maryknoll, Missionhurst, FSSP, SSPX, Opus Dei, Vincentians, etc. They do not take on parishes unless the diocese can accommodate the charism of their society.

There are parishes that do not want priests from religious orders, because many religious orders agree to take on the parish with the condition that the parish adopt the spirituality of the order and support its way of life. For example, a monastic order may say that they will take on a parish, but the parishioners must accept that the monks can only hear confessions for one hour per week, because more than that interferes with their community obligations Outside of that one hour, they hear only emergency confessions. I know that my community only assigns friars (non cleric and cleric) to parishes that are poor. Once the neighborhood reaches the middle class, we leave the parish. It has to be taken over by someone else or closed. The Constitution is very clear that we may not serve in middle class neighborhoods. The middle class person can come to us, but we cannot be among them in their neighborhoods. We have so many parishes in the USA that are smack in the middle of middle class suburbia, that it makes it very difficult for some religious communities to serve them.

Finally, there are charisms. You may have four priests at a campus ministry, but their charism is education. This can be the individual’s charism or if he belongs to a community, it may be the charism of the community. You cannot pull a Salesian out of a college to put him a parish. St. John Bosco would roll over in his grave. Or you can’t pull a Franciscan of the Renewal out of the street to put him in a parish. St. Francis would not allow it. Christ gives individuals and communities a focus.

The great difficulty here is that no one ever dreamed that suburbia would explode the way that it has, much less that Catholics would leave the inner city. Most Catholics came here as very poor immigrants that lived and worked in our cities. The priests (secular and religious), who came from Europe, were usually their compatriots. They came to serve very specific ethnic groups. The bishops and religious superiors never foresaw the Americanization of the Catholic. Had they seen what was going to happen, they may have made different plans for the future. It’s very hard to foresee how communities of people will evolve.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I don’t know if Bro. JR will answer this directly, but from his post above he mentioned that they can operate parishes in poor communities only. So if the simple question is if they can or cannot, the answer is they can. There are conditions though, like I mentioned. Its not ordinary for an ordained brother to say public Mass, but it does happen. I would know, I grew up and went to school in a Franciscan run parish and school.

When speaking of an ordained brother, you must specify what order or congregation. In the Franciscan tradition, every one is a brother. You don’t cease being a brother, because you are ordained. You just happen to be an ordained brother or a brother who is a deacon or a priest.

Brotherhoods (communities of brothers) normally ordain their men for the benefit of their religious houses. There are brotherhoods who run schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions. They ordain some men to serve the sacramental needs of these institutions.

There are brotherhoods, such as the Franciscans, that have no specific apostolate. The founder did not say to them “Go teach,” or “Go to the missions” or “Go preach” and so forth. They were founded for the sole purpose of living the Gospel, which they do in brotherhood. As far as ministry is concerned, the individuals do different kinds of apostolic work.

Among the Franciscans there is a simple rule. You can do almost any kind of apostolic work, but it must be among the poor and it must be under obedience to the successor of St. Francis. You can be a rocket scientist or a priest. It makes no difference to St. Francis. But do it among the poor. Therefore, you will find Franciscans in parishes.

Often, they will go to a parish that is poor–usually in the city or out in the sticks. What has often happened is that the local people evolve. After a number of years, they are no longer poor. Now they are middle class. Then the friars pull out.

Religious are not out to hurt people. Superiors try to make the transition as painless as possible. You may find Franciscans in a middle class parish until the bishop can find priests to take over. The Franciscan family is not about making people suffer. While the family does not take on middle and upper parishes, it does not simple lock the door and walk away when the parish becomes more affluent. There have been times when there are agreements between the bishop and the superior. The bishop is notified that the friars will be leaving in two years (example). In two years, they leave. It’s not their fault that the diocese chose to close the parish after they left.

Another thing, about the mass itself, whether it’s at a parish or other, no friar can celebrate mass without permission from his superior. Superiors will usually grant what I call a blanket permission to an ordained brother. The fact that he’s a priest does not give him the right to celebrate the sacraments without supervision. Lay people seem not to understand this. The rules that apply to secular priests who are diocesan are not the same as those that apply to priests who are also religious or secular priests who belong to a priestly society.

When the pope comes out and says that priests will walk on their hands, he may be speaking to diocesan clergy alone. You have no way of knowing this, because on the lay side of the equation, you just see the papal letter. Superiors and bishops, on the other hand, get separate letters with explanations.

For example, when Summorum Pontificum was issued, there were concerns expressed by bishops and religious superiors. There was a letter sent out to them. This is the famous letter that most people have now seen, because someone decided that it would be good to share it with the faithful. Usually, unless something causes a big stink, the letter that follows to the bishops and religious superiors never makes it to the general public.

The big question in Summorum Pontificum was about the authority of the bishop and the authority of the major superior. The Holy Father clarified that secular priests in a diocese could celebrate the EF, while meeting certain conditions and without the permission of the bishop. However, he inserted a clause about regular priests. He says it very gently, so as not to offend bishops. He said that the regular priest must act according to the major superior and common law, I believe was the actual wording. Even the pope respects and loves the bishops. It would be rude to say that bishops cannot do X but religious superiors can, so there!

We’re about being Catholic, not about being rude to each other.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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