On this date, 25 years ago, an embarrassing incident in local Catholic history occurred. To wit, the old “joke” “What did the Archbishop pick up when he ran into the store?”
Our former Archbishop’s struggles are fully known, now, only to God. May he rest in peace.
Why even bring this up? Sometimes, we need to remember and learn our history so that we don’t repeat it.
I was thinking in recent months how far I’ve come in Faith and how far I have yet to go. Far, WAY far to go.
Along with my self-examination I was thinking how FAR the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has come in the last, oh, 10-15 years.
Those of you too young to remember how hard it was to admit publicly that you were a Catholic in this town; give thanks to God that you don’t remember.
It’s true I often had no excuse because I was mired in dissent. I was a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) for a long time. However, I still dealt with, and bristled under, the mockery of folks who learned I was a Catholic. To them, there was no distinction made between practicing and non-practicing. Catholic was THEM, the hypocrites, the flock of the scandalous.
The actions of some of our leadership and some of our priests, a few decades back, did not make it any easier to stand up and admit you were a Catholic of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
It was a dark time, Catholic schools were closing or merging, the Gauthe case was unfolding in Louisiana, and there were a lot of rumors, dark rumors in the air. Some of these rumors turned out to be true. Dissenting priests had iron grips on large swaths of town. The seminaries were a tasteless joke. I think of the visual of the dark cloud of Mordor in Lord of the Rings
moving towards Gondor. That is what it felt like around here.
When Blessed John Paul II ascended to the Chair of Peter in 1979, nearly 20 years of distortions did not sweep away overnight. It took a while for the gradual changes the Holy Father implemented to trickle down. They are still trickling down.
I’m thinking how far our local seminaries have come. I know they’ve come a long way because I used to hear about the appalling behaviors that went on there. If I repeated any of what I’d heard..well, I never will. I heard about it from non-Catholics who partied with the seminarians. Yes-partied. Partying did not make the seminarians “cool”, it gave anti-Catholics yet another reason to despite us all.
The solid Catholic men who made it through the Seminary paid a price. They had to lie about who they were in order to get thru it so they could be ordained. Some men did not make it, not because they weren’t solid, because they WERE solid and they couldn’t pretend otherwise.
Apparently, prayer was not something local seminarians were encouraged much to do back then. You know it’s bad when the late Monsignor Richard Schuler, was running what was, essentially, a parallel seminary out of St. Agnes.
It’s between Monsignor and God to debate the propriety of his actions. However, I, as laywoman of this Archdiocese, can only give thanks for what Monsignor did because the men he trained are, in many ways, the backbone of the Archdiocese today.
Things may not be perfect today but we’ve come a LONG way, baby. Some parishes are still in “recovery” even years after their dissenting leadership was retired or moved. Some are still struggling. But, real change has occurred.
The next time you drive down Summit Avenue past the Seminaries, give thanks to God that they are, not only, still open, but thriving and solid. There was a time when it looked, very much, like they would not make it. It wasn’t all that long ago.
There was a time when it looked like this Archdiocese may not make it, but we are still here.
There was a time when it looked like I may not make it..remains to be seen, I guess.
The Administration in Washington can claim after one year in office that they have brought “change”. Bunk. The real change is here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. We have changed and brought change. Thanks Be to God.