Thursday, October 11, 2007

If I were to be a Bishop...

...I would be like this, no wet liberal me...

...I wonder why I haven't been chosen, ...yet.

Thanks to Roman Catholic Vocations

who also has this video, which is an interview with Bishop Burbridge, the Bishops in the States who has the most seminarians in the States, I wish Bishops and Vocation Directors in the UK would check out what he does.

Have a look at the site, it has another video of JP II speaking about his own vocation and new statistics for vocations throughout the world.

If you are thinking about vocations this is a splendid site, full of hope and vision.

I had a visit from a couple of splendid young men yesterday.Say a prayer for Michael who is about to begin "a year of discernment" at one of our English monasteries and Gerrard who is one of our diocesan seminarians who is doing a years "pastoral placement". I was very impressed when I asked one of them "What do you want", and got the answer, "I want Christ, nothing less."

Just a thought on pastoral placements by seminarians: why is it some seminaries send people for a whole year, others for a term, and others like the English College for a couple of weeks at the end of summer holiday? To me it seems a bit strange, especially as most seminarians are closely involved in their parishes before going to the seminary and during their time there. Spending a whole year in a parish when one is not a priest but with all one's heart wants to be, I think would be quite frustrating. Vocations are fragile, being in the wrong parish could be soul destroying. I haven't got the statistics but lots of young men seem to leave during such a year.


Anonymous said...

I could understand the English College sending people home for a whole year, but if one is studying in the English ethos, it does seem strange.

There was a student in the next door parish, the parish priest who was quite solitary by nature found it a terrible strain, as did the poor young lad. He left the parish and the seminary about halfway through.
I felt if he had been in another parish things would have been diffrerent.

Anonymous said...

The Python video is ghastly and daft.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Fr Ray for your warm hospitality yesterday and the kind words on your blog.

It was also a great privilege for us to listen to you and your wisdom as priest and man of prayer. The Faith is so percious and yet in sharing in it and lsitening to others who feel the same way about prayer and its effects on building a firm footing into the person of Jesus, this is very exciting. Then all things follow the pastoral side and the a ture spirit of Liturgy and helping people to pray.
Gerard Hatton

Fr Ray Blake said...

How kind of you, I hope we will meet again soon.

Anonymous said...

Father ~ excellent comments about the pastoral year. It doesn't make any sense to me and the practice should be ceased with immediate effect.

There is clearly a breakdown in support being offered to our young men and the Church seems to leave it to the young man's family to provide what is missing. This is cruel and also discriminatory - what if the student doesn't have a family sympathetic to what he is doing? Or even no family at all?

There are no easy answers but it is a good service to highlight the problem.

gemoftheocean said...

What size buskins, my lord?
[If it were up to me, the church could use a few more bishops who've been doing good work "in the trenches." FWIW, I had some insomnia the other night and read through some of your archives. Your Dec. 15th post alone convinces me you should be bishop material.]

Anonymous said...

Father Blake, The video of Bishop Burbridge was very good. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry - one last point! There was a time when I might have found Monty Python funny but both it and I are beginning to show our age.

I am now astounded that I ever found such stupidity amusing.

JARay said...

Monty Python is very dated. One does get tired of childish slapstick.
The practice here (in Australia) is to send the seminarian into a parish after receiving the Deaconate. It is for six months, not for a year.I'm not sure that this is a good idea. If the seminarian does not fit in, then what?
I do not know of any who have left, I must admit. My own parish was a regular choice for these seminarians but this has not happened for a couple of years now and I would not think that it would be a suitable choice at the moment either. I won't go into the why's and wherefore's either.


Fr Ray Blake said...

All English seminaries send students out for between 6-12 months during the diaconate, prior to priestly ordination, except the English College, who do three or four weeks, but some send them out for a year halfway through the course.

Rebecca Frech said...

Fr Ray,
We'll pray that you be named a bishop. What a hoot that would be! It is great to see a priest with a sense of humor, even if it does run to Monty Python.

the Mom

Anonymous said...

John, your parish in Australia sounds very much like mine. Seminarians who used to be sent regularly to my parish for their placement used to go on to Rome for further studies. We haven't had a seminarian for a few years now and I am glad of it for reasons I won't go into.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thanks for the post, Father.

I recognised John Cleese and one or two other faces in "The Bishop".
I was wondering if it was an early Python sketch , but the other commenters seem to know far more about it than I.

The sound track on Bishop Burbridge's video was partially obscured : I'll have to try it again.

Father Ray's interesting remarks about pastoral placement brought to mind the following memory :

Many years ago, I met some English seminarians (somewhere in France, I forget exactly where). It was during the long vac. I think it was late June.

We sat outside a small bar and chatted over a glass of wine.

Apparently, they were studying in Rome.
They were in their second or third year of studies, I think.
They seemed like any other university students on holiday.

I asked them for how long they were on holiday.
They explained their vacation lasted until the new academic year in October.

When I asked if they were going to work in their parishes in England during the summer, they replied, well, perhaps, for a week or so, later on.

As far as I could make out, they were left to their own devices for the rest of the time.

They told me their studies lasted for five years, after which they would be ordained to the diaconate.

I wondered what sort of spiritual formation they were receiving, if their studies were interrupted for two to three months every year, but I didn't like to ask too many questions. I was only very young myself.

Those young lads from all those years ago must be middle aged men now.
I wonder what sort of priests (or bishops, for all I know) they turned into.

Thanks for the link.
I'd not seen it before.
Sorry to hear you get insomnia.
So do I.

gemoftheocean said...

Dr. Wright, if you see this comment, I do hope you would consider having a blog too. I've always found your comments interesting! (The insomnia runs in cycles...)

Anonymous said...

be careful what you wish for,Fr.

Anonymous said...

Dr Wright - it is an interesting to start a debate as to whether a seminarian is or is not just like "any other student"?

What should they be doing in their spare time? My concern for the students that I have met is that many do not cultivate healthy leisure activities and alcohol - "the pub" - often dominates their social lives.

Much will depend on the individual but I would have thought some interesting pastoral projects (abroad?) might be a good idea. It would surely appeal to the younger mind and solidify the break they have made with their families to enter the service of the Church. I would have thought it unhealthy to maintain too much contact with one's family at the start of studies.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gladys, I think you are thinkinbg of seminarians in your day a Westminster or even Liverpool. Most have made a descisive break with family when they went to university, most nowadays are in their thrities (at least late 20s) many much older, consequently many of course have serious responsibilites to aging parents.

As for going abroad for pastoral projects, you have to remember that they have chosen to be priests in England and Wales rather than missionaries. Even in this country most parishes quieten down in the summer vacation.
I am not sure what the situation is now but certainly when I student for the priesthood the church was so mean I had to work during the summer in order to be able to live as a seminarian.
A couple of months in an abatoir was quite a good experience for a future priest.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Gladys :

I just happened to see your comment.

Should seminarians seem just like any other student ?

It's an interesting question.

I suppose it depends what sort of spirituality you are trying to inculcate in future priests.

A young postulant or novice in, say, the Benedictine order, will from the moment he enters the abbey obviously lead a very different life from the average university student.

But then the life of a monk is somewhat different from the life of a diocesan priest.

Is it a help or a hindrance for a seminarian in, say, the English College, Rome, to have the same sort of long summer vacation as an undergraduate at, say, Oxford or Cambridge ?

I suppose it depends on how they use all that time away from the seminary and away from their studies, and not under the scrutiny of their canonical superiors.

It would depend on their age, and their emotional and spiritual maturity.

An 18 year old is going to think and act very differently from a 28 year old.

The seminarians I happened to meet all those years ago, in the early 1970s, were 19 or 20 years old.
Today, they would be 56 or 57 years old.

I wonder if they found their long summer vacations conducive to their spiritual formation.

I really don't know.

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