My Home Town

A friend writes:

Today I walked into the Catholic Campus Ministry Office (they don’t call it a Newman Center) at Seattle University and had this little exchange:

Me: Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me about the confession schedule on campus.

Front desk: HUH? Confession schedule?

Me: Yes, do you know when the priests hear confessions during the week here?

Front desk: What’s that?

Another lady in campus ministry comes running over to intervene, wearing a fair trade eco-shawl.

Campus ministry lady: Can I help you?

Me: Do the priests hear confessions here?

Campus ministry lady: We do have a reconciliation service during Lent!!

Me: What about during the week?  Isn’t there a time the priests hear confessions…like on a Saturday afternoon?

Campus ministry lady: Oh no, we don’t have that. There aren’t enough students who would come to something like that.

Me: Oh. I guess the priests must do it by appointment.

Campus Ministry lady: Here’s Father’s card. Give him a call! I’m sure he would love to meet you!

Me: I bet.

Our local Jesuit University, last seen hiring a female Episcopalian Muslim to teach New Testament Studies.  The Jezzies saw no problem, but the Episcopalians excommunicated her.  Gotta love it when the Episcopalians are the rigidly orthodox ones.  I’m still waiting for the Church to open inter-religious dialogue with the Jesuits.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Yea! And the Pope being a Jesuit, it should not be too long before it happens!

  • Steve

    I’d rather my kid go to a virulently anti-Catholic Bible College than to a Jesuit university. The Bible College will at least admit that it is seeking to undermine and attack the Catholic faith, but the Jesuits do the same while flying our banner.

  • John Barnes

    Reminds me of the old saying that goes something like “the only things that don’t change in a Jesuit Mass are the bread and wine.”

  • TMLutas

    Seize on the statement of fact because that can be objectively determined. In a university, the population radically shifts every year as freshmen enter the system and graduates leave. Unless they’re asking/evaluating every year, they could easily miss a shift in the population sufficient to justify opening up a weekly time for confession.

    Find out what the standard would be justifying having weekly confession time and ask around in a dignified and rigorous way. The old generation never understands the young. The only proper way to handle things is to ask. From what I can tell, nobody’s asking and that’s a problem.

  • jcb

    I guess I’m not complaining on my end, but it probably shouldn’t be easier to find a priest to hear your confession at my Baptist school than it is at a Jesuit one.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I have also heard once a priest from a small town around Boston comment that it is sometimes easier for patients to get to see a Catholic priest in a Jewish hospital…

  • michelangelo3

    Mark, that last line is pretty ironic, considering that the Pope is a Jesuit. :-)

    • chezami

      And was treated like crap by the Jezzies, from what I hear.

  • Roki

    Just for the record, Newman Centers are specifically ministries to non-Catholic (usually public) universities that don’t have a campus ministry integrated into the school structure. So it makes sense that SU wouldn’t have a “Newman Center”.

    • Friar Dismas Sayre, OP

      Seconding what Roki said. Newman Centers were historically created for non-Catholic university settings, to give Catholic students there a home away from home.

    • Mitchell

      Or perhaps given what we know about SU maybe they should have one…

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Unfortunately, this scenario does not surprise me in the least. Since becoming Catholic I’ve been a member of 2 parishes, one on the West Coast an one on the East Coast. At both parishes, confession is almost treated as an afterthought. It’s scheduled once a week, right before the Saturday mass.
    And it isn’t due to lack of interest. Very often, there will be a line outside the confessional. The priest will run in, hear as many as he can, then turn people away so that he can go prepare Mass. He’s very nice and offers to hear their confession after Mass, but still it makes me wonder:
    If the Church isn’t going to treat confession as a priority, why should we?
    What happened to the days of priests hearing confessions before EVERY Mass? Is that just a Hollywood myth I’ve seen on TV but never existed?
    Why is this happening?
    Speaking of which, another thing that bothers me: Parochial schools used to be havens of even in the poorest neighborhoods. You not only got a great education, but a solid grounding in the faith. But again, in both parishes I’ve been a member of, the schools are only for the rich. The tuition is so high that only the wealthiest members can afford it. Tuition assistance is offered, but it’s very, very limited, causing many to not be able to attend. And sometimes (I won’t quite say “often”), those kids who are attending on assistance are treated as second class citizens at school. What happened???

    • Matthew

      Mark S:
      Regarding school costs once the good sister decided that the boardroom was more important and prestigious than the classroom. When you actually need to pay a lay faculty, which takes no vow of poverty, a living wage, your costs to run a school escalate rapidly.

    • Roki

      I have only anecdotal evidence to offer, but confession seems to be making a come-back in many parishes. Many parishes offer confession at least once during the week as well as Saturday afternoons. There are a few parishes who offer daily confession and/or confession before all Sunday masses. So, signs of hope.

      Regarding Catholic schools, this is largely an economic issue. When America was flush with huge numbers of sisters in orders devoted to the teaching apostolate and vowed to evangelical poverty, running a Catholic school was relatively cheap: the staff required only minimal room and board. These days, with the vast majority of Catholic schools using secular laypeople – often married, with children – for faculty and staff, they have to pay their employees a good deal more than they ever had to pay the sisters. That money had to come from somewhere, and since Catholic schools had reputations for good educations, the wealthy were willing to pay higher tuition to send kids there. Market forces took over and priced the schools out of the range of the poor, especially as technology advanced and schools needed to upgrade their facilities.

      I’m not sure what the solution to the schools problem is. Whatever the solution, it will demand a more widespread sense of stewardship among all Catholics, to provide the economic support a school needs.

      • Marthe Lépine

        WE are lucky in some parts of Canada, where the right to Catholic education has been enshrined in the Constitution, probably because of the historic fact that Canada had been colonized first by French-speaking Catholics, who were then conquered by the English, but fought very hard for their language, their culture and their religious rights. However, opposition if obviously mounting to get the provincial governments to eliminate that distinction. We need to pray for that situation.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Explanation: Because the right to a Catholic education is part of our Constitution, Catholic schools are entitled to government financing, and for example when people fill out forms for their municipal taxation, they are asked to indicate whether they support public schools or Catholic schools.

    • Raymond

      Most parochial schools don’t have nuns that they can pay slave wages to to keep tuition down. And, they can’t use the tithe to pay into tuition, so there has to be a separate plan to pay tuition and another for the weekly tithe. In the parochial school that I sent my children to, it was not yet the case that only wealthy kids got to go, but it WAS that way for the high school I had gone to.

    • hotboogers

      This is the situation re confession at all the parishes I have been to also … with one exception … in which they moved the schedule time slot from Saturday pm before the vigil mass to 9 am … and kapow! did the participation in that parish skyrocket. Sometimes it’s just that simple, but they don’t think of it, I guess.

    • Nan

      My parish has confession before Mass m-f for an hour. On Friday there are 2 priests; on Sat. confession is an hour and a half and usually at least 2 priests. The college seminary has last chance Mass at 9pm, followed by confession, frequently with 2 priests.

  • Bob Sullivan

    Seattle University has a philosopher professor (Dombrowski) who claims to be Catholic but teaches that (among other inaccuracies) you can be pro-abortion and still be Catholic. I tried to discuss this with him but his only response was that I should buy his book. No thanks pal. Imagine that, a philosophy professor who can’t even discuss the Church with a regular old guy? He wasn’t afraid of being outsmarted, he was afraid of blowing his cover. With “Catholics” like him teaching our kids in our “Catholic” universities, there is no wonder the students see no need to consider confession. They are all taught that you just have to avoid murder and rape and you will get to heaven. People like this professor are wolves in sheep’s clothing and places like Seattle U may just be the wolf’s den.

  • Patrick

    Veiled attack on our Jesuit pope?? What reactionary traditionalist tripe. Always looking for a way to attack Francis.

  • Kevin

    From the University of Notre Dame’s website (they have not forgotten the sacraments!):

    2013 Fall Reconciliation Schedule

    Oct. 28 – Dec. 21

    Basilica: Monday – Friday

    11 – 11:30 a.m.

    4:45 – 5:15 p.m.

    7 p.m. (Monday – Thursday)

    NOTE: On Thursday, Nov. 28, there will be no Reconciliation, and on
    Friday, Nov. 29, Reconciliation will be offered only from 11 – 11:30

    Sacred Heart Crypt: Saturday

    10 – 11 a.m.

    NOTE: Reconciliation will not be offered in the Sacred Heart Crypt on Football Saturdays.

    • Marthe Lépine

      That explains it! The person being asked about “confession” did not know the answer because the question was worded in old-fashioned language! The PC word currently approved is “reconciliation”!LOL

  • Pavel Chichikov

    The Holy Father is a Jesuit. Don’t go overboard.