Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Masses And A Question

My regular correspondent e-mailed me a week ago wondering if the close proximity of Advent IV and Christmas could prove a problem for some OCSP communities, and this turned out to be prophetic:
Fr Kennedy was too ill last Sunday/Monday to offer mass at St Timothy, Ft Worth, so services for Advent IV and Christmas were cancelled. According to the bulletin of SMV, Arlington TX Fr Kennedy is the only priest on staff there besides the Pastor, so things must have been stretched at SMV too. St Timothy's has been without an ordained parish administrator since Fr Stainbrook was reassigned to St John Vianney, Cleburne in July, 2016. The major news items posted on the St Timothy's FB page are the final illnesses/funerals of long-time parishioners. The parish website has remained untouched since April 2017. Manpower is of course an issue, but Our Lady of Hope, Kansas City, where Ed Wills was ordained as a transitional deacon this summer to assist Fr Sly, did not even bother to post Christmas mass times this year. The FB page looks up to date only because the most recent post is pictures from Christmas 2016. There will apparently be many ordinations in the OCSP in 2018, but if we see that the new clergy are deployed as leaders of tiny communities-in-formation they have put together in random small towns, while the first generation of incoming parish groups quietly folds, I think the whole future of the enterprise will look very precarious. As you have commented before, clergy with the entrepreneurial/pastoral skills to build up a thriving parish from a handful of initial members---clergy like Fr Phillips---will always be few and far between. The core strength will always come from competent men who can maintain and build on established communities. If even these cannot be found, things do not look good.
Well, if it had been important to hold Advent IV and Christmas masses at St Timothy, couldn't available OCSP priests have been found in Texas? The four-hour drive from Houston would be tough but doable on all but minimal notice, and overnight stays with a parish family seem like a reasonable possibility. This raises serious questions, among those we've already seen, about the stability of the OCSP.

Here's a question I've been pondering. Ex-Anglican (and Anglican is very flexibly defined) priests who want to be ordained Catholic in the US have two options, the Pastoral Provision and the OCSP. The usual assignment process for the OCSP is for the candidate to take over tiny groups-in-formation without a stipend. In fact, some must take diocesan, though often non-pastoral, jobs to pay the bills. Why are we multiplying entities? Cut out the little Potemkin village groups, take the candidates in via the Pastoral Provision, and give them diocesan jobs, which they'd probably need anyhow?

If you think about it, the ex-Anglicans would probably wind up better occupied, with less time on their hands for mischief, more closely supervised, and have better formation while working closely with diocesan clergy.