Orthodox Catholics produce more vocations

Opinion: Columns

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Virginia Seuffert

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Dear Fr. McNally,

You asked Joseph Wemhoff what he meant when he claimed the Catholic Church had "a contrived, artificial priest shortage" [How is priest shortage 'contrived'? Viewpoints, July 27]. Perhaps Mr. Wemhoff [Seeking fewer dissident Catholics, Viewpoints, July 6] was recalling Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtis who used those very words 15 years ago to describe the dwindling number of priests.

The archbishop added that there is "a determined effort" to stifle vocations, perpetrated by the same people who, "call for the ordination of married men and women to replace the vocations they have discouraged."

In contrast, several U.S. dioceses are rich with vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, and are happy to share the reasons for their success with us. Perhaps, Father, you can implement them in your own parish.

First, areas where vocations abound are characterized by their unwavering allegiance to the Pope and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. In addition to circulating petitions asking for female priests, your parish shows disrespect for the magisterium when it allows children to receive First Holy Communion two years before they receive the Sacrament of Penance. The prohibition against this was confirmed way back in 1973, but the practice persists at Ascension, thus instilling disobedience to Church authority in the very youngest of children. Stop this practice now.

Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, S.J., helped make the Diocese of Tyler, Texas a vocation powerhouse. He attributes this to, "awareness and love for the truths and beauty of our Catholic faith." Students and graduates of Ascension religion programs often lack an understanding of even the most basic Church teachings like the 10 Commandments and the seven sacraments. Strong doctrine leads to increased vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Institute solid religious formation at Ascension.

Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford has noted the extraordinary number of priestly vocations that come from families who pass on the Catholic faith in their homes. Of 30 Rockford boys who graduated from home schooling families between 2000 and 2005, 23 percent entered the seminary. Do you encourage parents to home school their children as a mean of increasing vocations? The Archdiocese of Chicago has some of the most restrictive guidelines regarding home education in the United States. Next time you chat with the Cardinal, you might ask him to ease up on home-schoolers.

Dioceses that enjoy an abundance of vocations cite strong devotional practices, most especially Eucharistic Adoration, as fundamental. Each day hundreds of commuters get off the Blue Line just a short walk from your church. (Much the same can be said for St. Edmund and the Green Line.) May I respectfully suggest that you open the church every day between 5 and 6 p.m.? Offer a daily opportunity for both adoration and confession, and experience tells us vocations will follow.

Fidelity to Church authority, solid religious formation, parents passing on the faith in their homes, as well as frequent prayer and reception of the sacraments are the proven paths to increased vocations. Until they are encouraged in our parishes, our priest shortage may indeed be described as both artificial and contrived.

Reader Comments

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Jim Bowman from Oak Park IL  

Posted: August 26th, 2011 5:17 AM

I'd quibble with the headline (editors write headlines). Home-schooling belongs there; devotional practices too. Her piece does not have "orthodox" in it. Editor had his own column to sell, hence the page-to-page juxtaposition?

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 11:15 AM

POMP, the Ascension website itself clearly states that Reconciliation preparation takes place in 4th grade. Take a look! There is some sort of peace ceremony in the 2nd grade that is NOT Confesssion. The website talks about the 4th graders receiving the 2nd form of the sacrament. There is no such thing! Clearly you do not understand this, but Fr. McNally does. At best, he is misleading parents, like yourself, by not telling them that Ascension's practice is in violation of Church teaching.

Proud of my parish  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 12:06 PM

CeCe, given that my oldest is now in 6th grade, and therefore had his First Communion well before "2 years ago", your timeline is not consistent with what took actually place. I would know, I was there when my oldest and many others had their First Confession PRIOR to the First Communion.


Posted: August 17th, 2011 11:22 AM

More than two years ago, Benedict XVI told Cardinal George to get his parishes in line with the Confession prior to Communion rule. Giles was in violation as well as Ascension, but Giles corrected the error long before Ascension did.

Proud of my parish  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 9:02 AM

I apologize. It would appear that I surpassed a character limit. My final sentence was meant to read: Lastly, being the Orthodox Catholic that you assert to be, you might consider reviewing the 8th Commandment when making inaccuate statements directed at Father Larry!

Proud of my parish  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 8:59 AM

Virginia, within the last 4 years, my 2 children received their First Communion at Ascension and both, of them had their First Confession prior to Communion (as did most if not all of their fellow First Communicants). Please indicate where you obtained the data to support the contention that the "norm" at Ascension is that children receive Confession two years after their First Communion? Lastly, being the Orthodox Catholic that you assert to be, you might consider reviewing the 8th Co

Doubting Tommy  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 10:27 PM

confession two years after communion? Outrageous! Blasphemer!

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 8:16 PM

Obviously my remarks about the Religious Ed program at Ascension were a personal assessment. I am familar with their program. I was licensed as a catechist for the Archdiocese of NY decades ago and have extensive teaching experience both there and here. Strong catechetics lead to robust vocations. St John Cantius in Chicago is an example of a parish that is unwavering in its faith formation, encourages pious practices, and is totally orthodox. They have their own order of young priests.

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 8:03 PM

It is difficult to respond to people who do not have the courage to place their names with their opinions.Thank you Ms Lipo and Ms Ford for standing behind your words. As far as my facts are concerned, Ascension did circulate a petition calling for women priests, and the norm in their parish is for children to receive confession two years after Communion -- a practice forbidden since the early '70's. These facts, as well as the opinions of the bishops I cited are easily verifiable online.


Posted: August 16th, 2011 7:44 PM

Maybe the Catholic Church should allow women and married men to become priests so that we can have a wonderfully diverse group of church leaders who are able to relate to their parishoners. Fr. Larry is a kind soul who is a great pastor, who truly lives the teachings of Christ and encourages the members of Ascension to do the same.

Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 7:11 PM

Dear Dan, Please thank Sister Anne for me for her decades of faithful service to the Church. Traditionally, Catholic women, while not priests,founded school systems, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the elderly. We need many more of them, which was the whole point of my piece.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: August 15th, 2011 9:08 AM

Dear Virginia, My sister Anne graduated from Ascension, a few years before your 1974 marker, and she became a nun. She's still at it, now runs St. Pat's, a nursing home in Naperville. She looks back on her Ascension years as wonderful and formative. She's a heck of a nun, a great sister and a lot of fun. Dan Haley

Oak Park parent from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2011 8:04 AM

No, Virginia, the real question is why you are still given a platform in the WJ when you just make up "facts" to suit your argument. Although your writing is considered "opinion" here, you still have an obligation to have your data correct. The WJ editors also have an obligation to check your facts before printing your editorials, and I think they dropped the ball. It's great that they allowed Fr. McNally to rebut, but really, your falsehood-filled editorial shouldn't have been printed at all.

Jesus Loves Hypocrites  

Posted: August 13th, 2011 3:40 AM

Virginia, I can guarantee that Ascension has created a higher percentage of priests than you have. Take the log out of your eye and stop projecting your religious failures onto everyone else.

Theresa Lipo from Oak Park  

Posted: August 12th, 2011 8:13 PM

How sad that you couldn't be bothered to get your FACTS straight before bashing one of our community's most well respected churches. I am not even an Ascension parishioner but as a member of St. Giles and a former member of its school board, I am proud of the faith education and commitment to service that my children received at St. Giles and I know children are receiving at Ascension School and religious education. How about your sources for all that lack of knowledge at Ascension?

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 12th, 2011 12:47 PM

I have 12 children, but not all were home schooled. Some are still young, but so far none have entered religious life. Several are active in lay apostolates. The real question is out of the tens of thousands of students in Ascension's school and RE programs since 1974, (the year I became a mother)how many have entered the priesthood or religious life?

Carol ford from Oak park il  

Posted: August 11th, 2011 3:47 PM

Ms. Sueffert, Can I please ask how many of your children are in the religious life of the Church? I believe you have an abundance of children who were all home schooled so I am assuming it is quite a few. As far as Ascension following "Church Rules" You will not find a priest, Principal or Director of Religious Education who more closely follow the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. Love one another as I have loved you". That is the ultimate rule.

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