Dateline Beverly: Blogger Issues Mea Culpa!

It’s sometimes your most clever posts that get you in trouble. First there was Popeye, which has had more comments than any post yet—including several justified complaints. (OK, Popeye isn’t really Catholic, and Bluto isn’t Protestant.) But now I‘m in trouble with my priest, Father Barnes! Sheeeesh. I’m not sure the offense is confessable. You be the judge.

In my most recent post, I asked a simple question: Let’s say you could be a priest. What order would you enlist in? I had some fun with the post: I mentioned a couple of orders I was once quite interested in (Franciscans, Carthusians) and gave what I thought were amusing, off-center reasons for joining them, or not. Then I said I saw myself as a Dominican because (pushing my tongue further into my cheek) I look good in white. I read the post to Katie at dinner. She smiled and, more tellingly, did not grimace.

Then before our CL School of Community last night, I told Father Barnes about the post and the poll alongside. He asked for the list of choices in the poll, and after I had reeled it off he asked, “What, no dicocesan priest?”

My heart sank, but my mind, which can prove any point, right or wrong, had a quick answer: “It’s not an order, Father!”

He shrugged, smiled slyly, and said, “I’m just saying . . . ”

And he’s right, of course. I should have given the option to vote diocesan, but then, it’s too late now. Which leaves me uttering a meek and mild mea culpa. I tried to pick a sheepish-looking photo, but I’m not sure I do sheepish well.

I suggest that those who want to express their solidarity with Father Barnes and make a certain blogger look even more foolish than he already does could check off “Other” in the poll.

  • Jan

    I know it's easy to say and hard to believe, but I had been thinking that myself when I read the post. What about a diocesan priest? Although it's a moot point as I'm not qualified to be one, (glad of that, actually!)I would probably serve my diocese.

  • cathyf

    Well, just to bust your chops some more, and I already gave Fred a hard time about it on the other thread, priesthood and religious order are really two separate questions. Religious orders are fundamentally communal expressions of lives of prayer and service. Members of religious orders come in all flavors — celibate nuns and brothers, lay "third order" members who may or may not be married, and, yes, deacons, priests and bishops, too. And, of course, deacons, priests and bishops are usually not members of religious orders, but rather are ordained for dioceses, and "belong" to the diocese and owe allegiance to the bishop.And, as I said over on the other thread, too, at least for Americans the vast majority of contact that people have with members of religious orders is with nuns, since they make up the vast majority of members of orders. I've met lots of people who think that the "church professional" consists of nuns and priests — diocesan priests — and they have no idea about the existence of ordained religious, religious brothers, or tertiaries.As an interesting tidbit, I think that virtually all religious-order bishops minister in a diocese, either as ordinary or an auxiliary, or work in some high Vatican position. I don't think that there are abbotts who are bishops whose responsibility is strictly to communities in their order. I live in the Diocese of Peoria, and our bishop is Holy Cross — best known as the order that runs Notre Dame (hey, they aren't on your survey, either!) Bishop Jenky does occasionally travel to various places outside Peoria to ordain Holy Cross men to the deaconate & priesthood, and to participate in episcopal ordinations, but that is completely separate from the men that he ordains for the Diocese of Peoria. The Peoria priests that Bishop Jenky ordains have no obligations to the Holy Cross order, and the Holy Cross priests have no obligations to Peoria.

  • Webster Bull

    See Cathy, converts are on fire with Jesus and his Church, but they can be awfully ill-informed too! LOL Thanks for the clarification(s). I thought my question in the original post made it clear I meant "order" priests: "Let’s say you were going to be a priest….Let’s say further that you were going to “enlist” in an order." But then the poll has no fine print and makes me look ignorant, even more so than I already looked. I'll let it all stand as a Lenten exercise in humility! ;-)

  • Anonymous

    You have missed out the Redemptorists also… quite a large priestly order!

  • Allison Salerno

    I love the Redemptorists!


    It is ironic that you brought up this 'diocesan' issue. I was actually offended when Father Mario (see post on the Carmelites and your 4th grade class) made the comparison of a diocesan priest to a 'primary care physician.' He then added that orders like the Carmelites are like 'specialty doctors…' As a primary care physician myself, that paradigm was offensive — that somehow non-diocesan priests or specialty physicians are more prepared, more 'special' –Therefore work harder?? Quite the opposite! As a primary care physician I am in the trenches. I am the first line in the combat against disease. Daily I deal with the very difficult realities of domestic vioence, incest, teen pregnancy, immigration and the inherent medical/social problems that come with that. By the time I send my patient to the 'specialist', frankly the bulk of the intellectual and emotional work has been done: the facts gathered, the family notified of the diagnosis, the time-consuming referrals completed, the pre-authorizations done, the police or Child Protective Services notified, pages of documentation by me readied, the priest called for Last Rites (Diocesan, I might add), the funeral home contacted etc. etc. You get the idea. So while I understand how Father Mario may have been trying to describe the Carmelites and Franciscans in a 'super hero' paradigm, I did and do take pause with the above analogy. Webster, Father Barnes as a diocesan priest is on the front lines in those trenches. While I have had my issues with priests and their sometimes lack of availabiity, I feel deeply offended for Father Barnes — perhaps because I feel offended when the public takes my role as 'JUST a primary care doctor' so lightly. Mea Culpa needed to Father Barnes by you? Yes. Only because you are far more sophisticated that the average person. All that being said, YIMC's raison d'etre is BECAUSE of Father Barnes, and priests like him!! So looking at your blog, your intentions, your esprit EN TOTO Webster, I would simply say that this is a 'bump in the road' of your Catholic blogosphering life! When you see Father Barnes please let him know that some of your YIMC readers actually ENVY the magnificant influence he has had, and has, on you and the people of your parish. Enough said.

  • El Bolillo Tejano

    Also the Norbertines, the Passionists, and the Basilians. There is also the Salsians of St. John Bosco, which may be the largest order in the world. If they are not larger than the Society of Jesus, they are close…

  • cathyf

    And the reason that I was busting your chops is precisely that few of us are eligible to be order priests, but most of us (all of the Catholics, anyway!) could be a member of a religious order. Your question: If You Could Be a Priest [and you probably can't], What Order Would You Join [if you joined an order]?Better question: If you could join a religious order [and you probably can], what order would you join?Single Catholic men can ask themselves the question, "Should I become a priest?" But every Catholic — lay person, priest, seminarian — can ask themselves the question, "Should I join a religious order?" No hypothetical [and probably impossible] ordination required.

  • Webster Bull

    @cathy, Yeah, well, that's why I said women were welcome to chime in, which you've definitely done! :-)Thanks for all your comments here and elsewhere. Much appreciated.

  • Fred

    yes, and all Catholics (married, priest, single) can ask themselves what charisms help me grow.

  • James

    I'm a little surprised at the heat that you and Fr Mario are taking on this one ,Webster. Fr Mario is certainly not an elitist and would never impugn either the importance or the dignity of Diocesan priests. I'm sure he was trying to simply illustrate the difference between the two for a 4th grade level audience. I also didn't see the poll as a slight towards parish priests either although I can understand Fr. Barnes reaction. Hindsight is 20/20 and maybe you got a little egg on your face there. When considering my choice in the poll the Diocesan vocation crossed my mind but wasn't my choice because of the tremendous demands made of and special kind of person required for that vocation. I have great admiration for the Jesuits and have always been intrigued by the Maryknoll Priests but the Carmelites have always since my youth held the strongest attraction for me. God had other ideas about where I should end up though and that's a good thing for me and the Church. El Bolillo Tejano mentioned the Nobertines and that was an order I hadn't heard of until the recent decision made by a Major League ball player to enter the Seminary. He's joining that order so I did a little reading on them and was surprised to learn that they've been around for a millenium! How blessed is our Church to be comprised of so many dedicated priests, brothers and sisters in such a wealth of orders which includes ( in many instances, foremost) our Diocesan priests. I like to think of them as the infantry and as a former groundpounder they'll always have my respect.

  • Anonymous

    One of my buddies, a diocesan priest, says, "I belong to the only order that was actually founded by Christ." So there!

  • cathyf

    Well, as a baptized believer, I belong to the only order founded by Christ, too!

  • Webster Bull

    @James, Many thanks for coming to my defense, and you are certainly right about Fr. Mario. As for me, a little egg on the face is good for the spirit, don't you think? Or maybe the complexion. Father Barnes sent me a funny e-mail after he read this post. He said I had better be careful because on my deathbed, I'm probably going to be looking up at a diocesan priest, and I don't want to be blacklisted! LOL

  • Wine in the Water

    Mujerlatina,I think you just made a good argument for the analogy being correct! Diocesan priests *are* like primary care physicians.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Webster,If you get voted off the island by all the neglected diocesan priests, you're done for.And you can't ask your bishop for help, either; he's Capuchin (uh-oh, not on the list).You may want to ask for the Last Rites now, while you still can, just in case.