Saturday, September 10, 2011

Only one vocation from Catholic Central from the 1980s

I was speaking with a fellow parent who also has one of his children enrolled at Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Plymouth, MI. We were at an ice cream social kicking off the new year for the K-8 school run by the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist. He was a former graduate of Catholic Central High School in Metro Detroit (Novi), and we were talking about the history of the Catholic Church in Metro Detroit and how so many notorious dissident groups seem to have originated in the area, such as Call to Action, which began at a Detroit conference in 1976.

My fellow conversationalist noted that a period between the late 1970s and early 1990s seemed to strike the nadir, as far as these sorts of influences are concerned. In fact, he thought he remembered that there were absolutely no priestly vocations at Catholic Central during that period.

Later, he sent me a PDF file of an issue of the Aluminator (Fall 2011), which carries an article regarding vocations from the Catholic Central, observing that he was not fully correct: there was one vocation to the priesthood from Catholic Central during the 80's, the Rev. Thomas R. Carzon, O.M.V. ('86).

The issue of the magazine carries an interesting survey of vocations from the 1930s through the 1990s. Among other things, it features a good discussion by Bishop Michael J. Byrnes ('76), former Vice Rector at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, who relates the fascinating story of how he was inspired as a child by the example of Fr. Remigius McCoy, a Missionary to Africa and his grandfather's cousin, who was the first to bring the Catholic Faith to a region of Ghana inhabited by the Dagaaba people in West Africa.

The question at issue, to which I do not have an answer, is why the decade of the 1980s saw only a single vocation to the priesthood. It would be interesting to know the influences the predominated at CC during those years and how they might have impacted the thinking of young men considering the priesthood.

[Hat tip to D.M.]


Rachel said...

Hey, that's awesome that the one vocation joined the Oblates of the Virgin Mary! That's the religious order that staffs my parish near Los Angeles. Many of the priests at my parish joined the OMVs around the same time as Fr. Carzon. They had to go to Rome for formation and take their classes in Italian. One of my priests told me that when he decided to be a priest, he wrote to a bishop he knew to ask which seminary he should go to. The bishop replied that unfortunately he wasn't able to recommend *any* of the seminaries in America! So my priest joined the Oblates. Another one of our priests joined the Oblates after he was kicked out of a diocesan seminary-- for being orthodox. "Too rigid," they called it. So I think an investigation into the influences that predominated in those years would be depressing indeed. But on the bright side, the OMVs got a lot of men who knew how to persevere and fight for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Great story, Rachel. Actually the entire period of several decades following V-II were pretty bad, as chronicled by Michael Rose in Goodbye, Good Men. Thank God the major US seminaries have improved considerably since those days.

Nancy Reyes said...

you know, when Kavorkian was busy killing folks in Michigan, the bishops didn't do a lot to criticize him or a certain pro euthanasia ethicist who persuaded the medical society to be was the Christian medical society docs who finally got the medical society to condemn him.

and ironically, when the New England Journal was posting a bunch of pro euthanasia papers, and euthanasia was being taught as PC to the medical students at Harvard etc. three of us (two ethicists, one from Harvard, one from Tufts, and me, a lowgrade Tufts affiliated doc) wrote to Cardinal Law...and the result was a bland editorial in the local Catholic newspaper that didn't even address the problem clearly. My cynical non catholic associates figured Law never saw the letter, because he delegated all such things to his staff...

Later, when he got into trouble for not knowing about other problems, I figured he didn't know about that stuff either...nor was it just Law: a priest taught my 8th grade son's class (Catholic school in Boston) that masturbation was not a sin...

Unfaithfulness in one thing has a ripple effect when the bishop either goes along with such things or is silent for fear of being criticized.

Brian Carey said...

I don't know about the whole decade, but my class (1988) at Brother Rice HS had a grand total of zero priestly vocations. Back then, the school was filled - enrollment at about 1,100 boys, about 400 in the class of 1988.

Looking back, it's no surprise. Theology classes were taught by "ex" hippies focused on social justice issues. Several of the Brothers teaching at that school had social and emotional issues, and ended up leaving their vocation. The Faith was something to be ridiculed. My peers and I (unfortunately) thought there was something wrong with you if you took any of the Catholic teachings seriously. The only two orthodox-minded clergymen there were marginalized and ridiculed.

Brother Rice's enrollment is down to about 600 now. They still offer a great education and have an awesome sports program. However, this institution does not seem to have changed much in the area of faith formation. With the prevailing attitudes, even if Rice decided to embrace orthodoxy, they would have a serious uphill battle to change hearts and minds.

I thank God that in spite of this, I remain faithful to God and his Church. I send my kids to the local Catholic school, but we go to the Tridentine mass at St. Josaphat in Detroit every Sunday. I have learned more about my Faith in these last three years than in my 12 years at Catholic shcools.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Hello Brian,

What statistics! And yours is the story like that of salmon swimming upstream against the current. A great story so far, and one in the making, like all of ours. God bless, P.