Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Puzzle Of Fr Vaughn Treco

As I've posted here before, one of my favorite scenes in all cinema (you can find it here) is in Double Indemnity, where Keyes, the claims manager played by Edward G Robinson, talks about his "little man" who pesters him about phonies. Although "phony" is too strong a word for this particular situation, it's nevertheless a puzzle. I would post this puzzlement as a comment to this post at Ordinariate News, but I find that Mr Murphy becomes increasingly testy at comments from visitors whose views don't conform to his happy-face interpretation of Ordinariate events, so I'll post it here.

Fr Treco was ordained in May to considerable fanfare as a priest in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, and by the timeline given, this was on a definite fast track. According to that timeline, the process began only in June 2014, when Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis discussed ordaining Fr Treco with Msgr Steenson. However, in Fr Treco's autobiographical thumbnail, he says, "[F]rom September 2005 to May 2008, I did further graduate theological study in preparation for ordination as a Catholic priest." In his LinkedIn profile, he says it was "[a}t the direction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", in the Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas.

This statement and other biographical information indicate that he was received into the Catholic Church in 2000 and worked in various lay ministries in Catholic parishes after that time. However, his LinkedIn profile and remarks elsewhere suggest that throughout this time, up to now, he has had a day job as a field technician for various high-tech companies.

Since Fr Treco was, and continues to be, married, the only available route for Catholic ordination of married men in the US prior to the erection of the US-Canadian Ordinariate in 2012 was the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision of Pope St John Paul II, which provides a process for married former Episcopal clergymen in the United States to petition for ordination as diocesan Catholic priests. However, although the Pastoral Provision was expanded to priests in "continuing" denominations in 2007, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, in which Fr Treco had previously been ordained, was specifically excluded. In addition, the Archdiocese of Nassau is not in the US, and the Pastoral Provision applies only to US priests. (Exactly under what auspices Fr Treco conducted the seminary studies he references is not clear, since I'm told that the Archdiocese of Nassau does not have a seminary.)

From 2006 to 2010, he maintained a blog called Priest-2-Be whose title clearly indicates that he expected to be ordained a Catholic priest, although this was in part before Anglicanorum coetibus and entirely before 2012. Since he wasn't eligible for the Pastoral Provision, it's not clear how he expected to be ordained as a married man during this period -- although he appears to have undertaken seminary studies with some type of assurance that this would happen. It's a puzzle.

There is a long-standing relationship between the Archdiocese of Nassau and the Benedictine Monks of St. John’s Abbey, Minnesota, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Br John-Bede Pauley, a Benedictine monk at St John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN, has been the administrator of the Society of St Bede the Venerable Ordinariate group in St Louis Park, MN. All I can conclude is that Bishop Cozzens initiated the process of Fr Treco's fast-track ordination based on this relationship.

In addition, the timeline suggests that Fr Treco has numerous diocesan duties, while as chaplain of the Society of St Bede the Venerable, he says the Ordinariate mass only on one Sunday a month. In other words, his ordination as an Ordinariate priest appears to have been part of a back-channel deal that allowed the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to get around the restrictions of the Pastoral Provision and use Fr Treco primarily as a diocesan priest. I'm told that the Society of St Bede the Venerable has about five members.

Overall, the process of ordination for candidates in the Ordinariates seems to be much slower, and many larger groups continue without priests. It's a puzzle.