Father Dwyer Lays It on the Line

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[1] I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: [2] Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. [3] For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: [4] And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. [5] But be thou vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober.

2 Timothy: 4: 1-5

 

 

May the Church have many more such priests as him:

 

The entire diocese of Saginaw saw a 7.3% drop in Mass attendance this past year. Since 2013 (five years ago), the diocese as a whole has seen a drop of 23.7% in Sunday Mass attendance. Since 2005 (13 years ago) the Sunday Mass attendance in the Diocese of Saginaw has dropped by nearly 45%. Roughly 22,700 fewer souls attend Mass in this diocese than did when I graduated from CMU. I’ll say that again: 22,700 fewer souls are being fed by the Word of God, and the Holy Eucharist on Sundays since 2005: a 45% decrease. The raw population has only dropped 10%. Would any business, or political party look at similar numbers and decide to continue with the status quo? I will not do so either. We must make changes.

So, how are we doing at Our Lady of Peace? Well, our numbers are better than the diocese as a whole, and we’re significantly better off than every other parish in Bay City percentage-wise. Nevertheless, we are down a bit over 5.3% from last year. While that may be better than our neighbors, it is still a decline, and it is my responsibility as your shepherd to replenish the pews, and do so with your help.

So how am I going to do that? Well, there will be many steps, and many efforts. I’m sure I will need to adjust along the way, and I have NO intention of playing the blame game: none at all. So let’s not get bogged down with that distraction, but rather let us take steps towards renewing the parish, and diocese.

The first step is to acknowledge where we are suffering the most in terms of demographics. So, look around the pews, and take note at the proportion of old and young. I’m 36 years old. How many folks do you see my age or younger? If we do not have folks my age or younger, who will have the children to be baptized and taught in the faith? Who will be the families at this parish in 15 years? Will we be able to stay open in 15 years without the young? Personally, I don’t see how we can. Again, no business or political party would see how they could.

I want to be clear. I will rejoice in any soul I help bring to Christ. I am in this job for the zeal of souls. So if a 98-year-old man wants to be baptized, I will rejoice just as I would if a college student asked for the same thing. I’m in this to save souls, but I wouldn’t mind if I could save a parish along the way. If we are going to keep this parish afloat into the next generation, the major focus must be on what emboldens younger Catholics, and what attracts younger non-Catholics to the Church.. . . . . So what works?

Believe it or not, tradition works. So-called “old ways” are quite popular among younger Catholics. Smells, bells, classic hymns, chant, prolonged silence, and, hold on for this one, LATIN are all largely embraced by the younger generations of the Church. Furthermore, when younger non-Catholics experience these traditions they are struck by how different they are from everything else they experience in a noisy, secular culture. These “old ways” are beautiful to them, and beauty is a great place to introduce young folks to Jesus Christ.

Thus, we are going to make Sunday beautiful at Our Lady of Peace. That’s not to say it isn’t now. I have nothing but respect for all who help with our worship, but we are going to make it more beautiful with tradition. We are going to look, and sound, and smell vastly different from the rest of the world on Sundays. It will be a religious experience that, at the very least, will be memorable to the young who encounter it. We’ve already taken a few steps with Communion distribution, and the altar server attire. I have not been here long, but folks tell me they’re noticing more young families, and crying babies. And if the church ain’t cryin’, the church is dyin’. My goal is to hear a chorus of crying babies before my time here ends. To do that, however, we need to embrace what works with the young. We need to more greatly embrace timeless traditions. We cannot keep the status quo.

If you want to see a bit of what I mean by tradition, come to the 6 pm Mass at SVSU (Saginaw Valley State University). I’ll happily give you directions. It’s not the pre-Vatican II Mass, but we have restored many lost traditions that Vatican II requires us to practice to the delight of the students.

Christ commands us to watch the signs of the times. The sobering numbers of our October count, and the response of the young to restored traditions are some of those signs. If we are going to be serious about keeping our parish alive for the next generation, and about instilling faith into the young, we must acknowledge that the status quo must change.

Hope is the desire of something with the expectation of attaining it. I have great hope in a healthy future for this parish. I desire it, and I expect to attain it. I have great hope that the young people I see in the shops, and pubs in Bay City will meet Jesus Christ. I desire it, and I expect to attain it. As your pastor, I have great hope that you will get behind me in these efforts. I desire it, and I expect to attain it. God desires every soul in Bay City and beyond to reign with him in heaven after earthly death. By his power and grace, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s get this done.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

Go here to read the rest.  One hundred percent pure undiluted Catholicism, it works every time its tried.

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16 Comments

  1. Much of what Fr. Dwyer would have in his parish is already present in the Anglican Usage (Ordinariate) parish, where I occasionally attend Mass and Evensong. And the number of young families there with many children is remarkable.
    Maybe Pope Benedict XVI gave a tool for the rebirth of the Church in English speaking countries when he established “Anglicanorum Coeitibus” in 2009.

  2. Numbers are down. Thank you contraception. Thank you (malformed) “conscience reigns supreme”. Thank you felt banners and crappy hymns. Thank you queer clergy and pantsuit nuns. Thank you lousy religious instruction. I think I’ll stop, but the list can grow much longer.

  3. HE works! He has been bringing in young families at our rural Holy Rosary Church. TLM and Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration = increase in vocations to the religious life as well as active participation in the lay organizations. One example is our youth Legion of Mary. 23 boys and girls who are singing, praying the rosary and getting to know our seniors in nursing home environments. They also share in rosary devotion on the street…in front of Worse than Murder Inc.

    Who is HE?

    You know him.
    I hope.

  4. Numbers are down. Thank you contraception. Thank you (malformed) “conscience reigns supreme”. Thank you felt banners and crappy hymns. Thank you queer clergy and pantsuit nuns. Thank you lousy religious instruction. I think I’ll stop, but the list can grow much longer.

    All of that was present in 2005. The humiliations which ensued when the bishops had to offer summaries of their personnel files antedated 2005 as well. It looks like some mix of general disaffection, cohort effects, Frankenchurch, and net outmigration from that section of Michigan.

    I’d be quite pleased if the young (or anyone) showed an interest in traditional worship. I’ve seen more dwindling ministries than vibrant ones of that stripe.

  5. More power to Fr. Dwyer to make a success of his mission to re-Catholicise his parish. Hope his Bishop supports him as surely the Liberal element will complain.
    Ultimately, in my opinion, Vatican II must be recognized tor the catastrophe it was and be abrogated in it’s entirety.

  6. Perhaps, when it comes to public worship, it is time to get back to basics.

    According to the NT:
    Prayers are offered up (1 Cor 14: 15-16)
    Scriptures read (Col 4:16, 1 Tim 4:13)
    Psalms and hymns were sung (Matt 26:30, Eph 5:19-20, Col 3:16)
    A collection is taken (1 Cor 16: 1-2)
    The Word is preached (Acts 20:7, 2 Tim 4:2)
    The Breaking of Bread (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:23-29)
    All things to be done decently and in order (1Cor 14:40)

  7. Forgiveness does not mean that we do not face the consequences of our decisions and actions. Until guilty Bishops, Cardinals, and Catholics who bring scandal to the church are justly punished, and excommunicated publicly , hypocrisy will be the neon sign of the Catholic Church for all to see.

  8. Another factor in the exodus of money ordinarily Sunday going Catholics has got to be the incessant drumbeat of polit-speech that has replaced the Scriptures as guide.

    There are only so many times that you can hear over and over how mass invasion/immigration, our social duty to suffer higher taxes to redistribute wealth, and that anthropogenic global warming is/are the message of the Gospel today and the New Catholic’s duty, until you finally shut off, tune out, and drop out.

    Oh, and save the whales ( seriously, that, and gun-control the principal messages of so-called sermons over the last few months and years).

    Can’t take it any more.

  9. If you say so, Steve. I haven’t heard a political spiel from a pulpit since about 1990. The perpetrator was a divinity school professor who was born in 1921 and was still alive last spring. Lots of other things for which I’d find fault with clergymen, but not that. That’s the sort of thing you read about in the papers, and more 30 years ago than today.

  10. So-called “old ways” are quite popular among younger Catholics. Smells, bells, classic hymns, chant, prolonged silence, and, hold on for this one, LATIN are all largely embraced by the younger generations of the Church.

    Well, DUH. It makes a ‘holy place,’ something we feel the lack of harshly.

    ********

    Art, it really depends on where you’re at. The last time I went to my mom’s home parish was the Sunday before Christmas. The priest turned the pulpit over to his father to demand more money for the illegal aliens in the county. (East-side Washington state.)
    Colorado Springs, Colorado– so explicitly religious in multiple parishes that the social squish author I know in the area can’t manage to drag her family there, and they’re sympathetic to a lot of the social issue junk.
    My own parish here in El Paso– since the younger, Vietnamese priest was transfered, not a single week goes by without ‘you should enable the illegals’ being at least suggested, although the newly minted priest has a much more nuanced view of the matter. (he recognizes there are bad people who are illegal; the older, head priest is still recovering from the shock that there are bad people who “support” illegals)

    There was a minor spat in my homeschool group because one of the moms tried to draft the group to work in a bishop-lead ministry to actively encourage the illegals and support them in their goal of staying here. (No, I’m not the one who smacked it down, that took the overworked mom who is even closer to the border than I am, who also gets suspiciously quiet when folks bring up gun control things.)

  11. One can always count on the inevitable curmudgeon-response of Indecorous Art to, for whatever bitterly unhappy reason, to try to cancel out the perfectly valid experiences of others.

    At any rate, the decline is real and it has a lot to do with what comes down from Pope and pulpit.

  12. Art, it really depends on where you’re at.

    I certainly hope so. I’ve attended parishes with meticulously conducted liturgy one of which was passably attended but still had far too much empty space and another of which had nearly died. One was Byzantine-rite and the other Melkite. That Melkite priest gave you a glimpse of the sublime just in banal conversation. He didn’t have many congregants left. He died in 2011.

    The Bishop of Rochester assigned the indult mass to a handsome Polish-Lithuanian congregation on the far north side, which had a regular quartet of officiants. The Bishop of Syracuse assigned the one indult Mass available in Onondaga County to a little wooden Church on Geddes St. Two of the three officiants I can recall were foreign priests in the country temporarily for reasons obscure. Neither spoke comprehensible English. They had a modest corps of parishioners.

  13. My own parish here in El Paso– since the younger, Vietnamese priest was transfered, not a single week goes by without ‘you should enable the illegals’ being at least suggested, although the newly minted priest has a much more nuanced view of the matter.

    Sorry to hear that. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that Mexico and Central America aren’t loci of persecution (bar in Nicaragua) and that the problematic features of these places call for on-site ministry, not resettling their populations in Texas.

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