Bishop Aaron Churchman
Diocese of Cityville
9:36 AM, July 18, 2094
Dear brother clergy,
As you know, we have struggled to attract vocations to the Diocese of Cityville in recent years. My predecessor, Bishop Anacletus O’Tooligan, was able to raise the numbers substantially, but ever since I have arrived things have been bleak. I don’t want to think about why he had success and I have not – since he was so traddy, whatever he did must have been wrong, and his success must have been in spite of that. Imagine how much better numbers could have been with some more active participation in diocesan liturgies from boys in the youth groups. Well, I know he would have them serve mass, but he clericalized them by having them wear cassock and surplice, YUCK! That just filled their heads with the idea that maybe they would be ministering TO the People rather than AMONG and WITH the People. Ugh, what a catastrophic error.
I know some of you were ordained by O’Tooligan and were even brought in under his Vocation Director, Fr. Angus Beartooth. I do not mean to denigrate them – at least not much – but I do want to call attention to new possibilities that we have as a team.
I have appointed a new Vocation Director of the Diocese, Fr. Pat Pfleifferzip (he prefers to just be called “Patty,” especially when “on scene”). He is hard at work preaching in the parishes about the winds of a new springtime in the Church and all the neat perks of being a priest. I have also appointed an Associate Vocation Director, Ms. Jacqueline Blandsmith. Jacquie will be giving reflections in place of homilies in some parishes throughout the next few months, to make us aware of a woman’s perspective on priestly vocations in the Church – it is so important, as I am sure you will agree, Fathers.
I think above all it is necessary for us to meet young men where they are at, and then not challenge them to anything higher. That way, they will feel more comfortable with the idea of a priestly vocation. We don’t want to scare them away with the idea of difficulty, struggle, maturity, perseverance, or real masculinity.
As for those young men who are serious about the possibility of entering formation, I don’t really want to meet with any of them myself to encourage them, as it is not really that interesting to me. (To be honest, I’m hoping the vocation numbers crunch here will force the Vatican’s hand on ordaining “viri probati” and maybe even women priests. Don’t tell anyone. This is part of why I don’t make vocations as much of a priority. I do have a friend or two in Rome, you know.) So, Patty and Jacquie can do all that. I’ll condescend to meet once in a while with the men who are actually in the seminary, but I don’t really feel the need to get to know them, I’m just too busy to be bothered. And if they write to me on their own, well, let’s just say it’s a formation issue. Why don’t they know how the chancery culture is here, or how I perceive myself? Don’t they know that I am up here and they are down there? Sheesh.
We have tried to make our big diocesan liturgies more interactive and youth friendly. I see there are many high school boys who attend with their parish youth group, but they never seem to come back after college. Maybe they have already entered contemplative communities? Missionary societies? I am not sure what is going on. They are never at church.
We have also been hosting a boys’ summer vocation camp, at the same time and in the same place as the girls’ vocation camp in order to save some money. But the boys never seem to be inspired by it, I can’t really figure out why. We’ve invested enough money in the rock bands for the masses, I can’t spare any more. Are they distracted by the girls? I guess we don’t want such vocations anyway, if I am honest… a priest who likes women might make a mistake one day, and that could mean a lot of money in a lawsuit.
Whatever the case, I am open to ideas, Fathers, as long as they match my own preconceived ideas. Together, we will make a program with a good vision statement and a four-year plan. That will work, right?
God bless you,