Sunday, May 21, 2006

Seminarian News

This post, I'm afraid, isn't quite as gleeful as the last.

Last week, it was announced that the seminarian that has been with us for these past several months will be leaving at the beginning of June. It was said that there was a "mutual agreement" in which the seminarian and the Diocese of Richmond just said "good-bye" and then went off their separate ways. It was also mentioned that the seminarian, Bob Switalski (I did an interview with him here, check it out), was looking into transferring to a diocese in the upper midwest which is where Bob is originally from.

This announcement was made last Sunday which is also when I had just gotten a job. Naturally, I was distracted with thinking about other things. But at the back of my mind, the question was there which I posed to Bob today.

In his usual upbeat manner, he said "hi" and asked me how I was doing and if I had heard the news. I said I had, and he was saying that it's unfortunate that he was going but maybe it was just that God wanted him somewhere else. I was intent to sieze the moment and ask the question: "you were pushed, weren't you?" The answer came back in the affirmative.

My mind immediately went back to Michael Rose and his book Good-Bye, Good Men, and how while some of the assertions are questionable, an eerie amount of it went undenied. But anyway, it was pretty obvious that my friend had been Good-Bye, Good Men'd out of the seminary! Or, to be precise, out of this diocese.

"Who did this to you?", I asked. The bishop, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, and the vocations director, Fr. Michael Renninger. "There were complaints, weren't there?" Actually, no, he told me. It was that he had a routine evaluation and all the parishes he had had any association with told the diocese that he had a lot of energy and enthusiasm but had - get this - listening troubles. Yes, this diocese, which serves over half of Virginia (which is a big state) and which has only twelve seminarians (which is pathetic for a diocese this size), is ditching one of them on grounds of..."listening problems."

What in BLUE HELL does that mean!?!? No, don't bother telling me because I'm pretty sure I already know: it means he didn't tell enough people enough of what they wanted to hear. It meant that he didn't change his, *gasp*, Catholic principles even if someone did (hypothetically) cry at him and ask him to broaden his mind and be compassionate. ARRRGH!!! This is so frustrating!!

My confidence in the bishop of Richmond, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, has plummeted. And no, this isn't because he hasn't done everything I would want him to do (though he certainly hasn't) and therefore he's bad bad bad. No, rather it's because he has done away with and cast aside one of this huge diocese's precious few seminarians on such a ridiculous basis such as a "listening problem". He is my bishop and he has authority here. As such, he has my obedience and respect as a bishop, but my confidence in him has hit rock bottom. "Listening problems" indeed! Like dad said when I passed the word on to him, "well, you know, it's not as if we really need priests in this diocese anyway."

Yes, I'm angry and I shouldn't be, at least not like this. I'm not going to try and justify this with any "but's". I should take this time to note that if any official of the Diocese of Richmond has found this, know that Bob is bearing this ordeal, which I personally think is nothing short of mistreatment, like a saint. He told me not to hold it against either the bishop or the vocation's director, and is composing himself with dignity and patience. So don't make the mistake of thinking he's badmouthing the bishop or the diocese because of anything I've written here.

Anyway, Bob said that he's looking into a Benedictine monastery out in Illinois, the Diocese of Lexington, KY, and the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI, and a couple of other places. I don't know much of anything about Grand Rapids, but doesn't Lexington have a very fine bishop (Bishop Gainer) or am I thinking of some place else?

While voicing sorrow at this ordeal - calm, patient, not self-gratifying "poor-me" sorrow, for the information of the Richmond Diocese - he said that he'll be sad to leave Virginia because he's lived here for twenty plus years. I said "well then go talk to Arlington!" I think he's filed that as a possibility. Another place in the midwest would the Land of the Bruskewitz, the Diocese of Lincoln. I don't want to overwhelm him with suggestions especially not since next Sunday will probably be the last time I'll see him, but I'll write these down and give it to him along with my information because I'd very much like to keep in contact with him.

Pray for him so that he'll wind up some place that needs him and that will hopefully appreciate him.