Nov 7, 2005

Paulists to withdraw from St. Mark's University Parish


THE PAULIST FATHERS, the once truly great and uniquely American congregation of missionary priests founded by convert, Father Isaac Hecker, have announced that they will no longer staff St. Mark's University Parish in Goleta (Santa Barbara).

Since their founding in 1858, the Paulists have always been a comparatively small congregation of priests. But in recent years the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (official name) has suffered a virtual implosion with few new vocations and the inevitable loss of members due to death and defection.

At their recent "extraordinary general council" the Paulist leadership had to make hard decisions with respect to abandoning certain foundations (e.g., Newman Centers, parishes) which had been staffed by Paulists in some cases for decades. Among those that got the ax, so to speak, was St. Mark's.

This is a good thing. In Santa Barbara, as elsewhere (e.g., HERE, HERE, and HERE), the Paulists are doing more harm than good. This is because the Paulists as a society of priests has gone the way of the Jesuits and countless other great religious orders and congregations by its open dissent from the Magisterium of the Church.

In a letter published in St. Mark's bulletin, Paulist president, Father John Duffy, CSP, wrote:

"Last week, in an extraordinary painful decision, our General Council determined that to continue to utilize effectively our limited Paulist resources to accomplish our ongoing objectives, the Paulist Fathers will be required to reduce some commitments and withdraw from others. With great regret, the Paulist ministries at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Saint Mark's are among those from which we must withdraw ...

The Paulists who minister at Saint Mark's and I will do all that we can to ensure a smooth transition. Under the direction of Cardinal Mahony and his Regional Vicar, Bishop Thomas Curry, new pastoral leadership for this congregation will be found at some point between now and June 30th of 2006."

Sounds like the perfect job for a clone of the dynamic duo, Sister Susie and Father 'Lacky.'

My only concern is: who's going to help Clay celebrate his birthday?


Blogger Quo Vadis said...

When I was an undergrad back in the late seventies the Paulist were pretty orthodox and did a great job ministering to the college students. I went back to the old parish last year and it was pretty obvious they had flown the coop. What a diffference I thought at the time but now I realize that 25 years is not that long in the big scheme of things. 25 years ago they could be relied upon to keep students like me from being swallowed up by the big university where the atheist and hedonist reigned supreme. That mission, I am sure, is still needed today. Newman centers have been built at many universities that did not used to have any Caatholic student program but it is sad that the Paulist fathers have fallen into modernism. For many univresities, the Paulist were the only student oriented Catholic ministry. Now students there often have little recourse other than what is offered at Paulist institutions.

3:51 PM  
Blogger hilary said...

I always thought of the Paulists as the low-rent Jesuits. If you didn't have the intellectual firepower to make it with them, the good ol' boy Paulists would take you in. And they were never great. Hecker was always under suspicion for various heretical views.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...


Pope Leo XIII mentions Father Hecker by name in his letter to Cardinal Gibbons entitled, Testem Benevolentiae. Concerns were stirred largely by a French translation of a biography of Hecker.

Leo set out to denounce the notion that, as he wrote, "... in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions."

As to whether this was the opinion of Hecker himself, I have my doubts, although, to be sure, there were those in Hecker's day who did hold to this view. I do not believe Hecker was one of them, however.

Do many Paulists today hold the opinions condemned by Testem Benevolentiae? It would appear so and I would argue to that extent they have profoundly misunderstood their founder who died a faithful son of the Church.

Isaac Hecker was convinced that America had a "Catholic soul" and was ripe to receive the full measure of Catholic truth.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Quo Vadis said...

The Paulist did not run universities like the Jesuits. Their early days were more centered on evangelizing and conversion of souls. They sent missions to San Francisco, Kentucky etc... They got involved with publishing and the early years of radio and TV. They set up mission houses to train diocesian priest in the art of preaching. They were known for having motor trailers with generators for lights and speakers starting in the mid 30s which they used in rural areas. It was not until after WWII that they began focusing on missions at universites when they saw a need for that at public univresities.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. St. Mark's has been lucky to have the Paulists instead of whoever you'd propose. And vocations are not down in the Paulists at all. In fact they have had two of their bigger novice classes of late in the past two years. One of the reasons that they are leaving St Mark's is that they are moving to a regional approach, as they are a small order in general and never have they had more than 200 priests at any one time.

As far as intellectual abilities go...I don't know any Paulist who has not written a book, play, article, or done some kind of significant intellectual activity. Many of the Paulists attended Harvard and have written several documents for the US Bishops. They are the leaders in evangeization in the country and young adult ministry as well.

Perhaps you should just go an bury your head in the sand and then simply quote from the catechism to explain why. It seems that's the only intellectual activity anyone here likes to do. Meanwhile they can't even explain why the catechism was written and what any of the quotes they cite were responding to.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

My dear Anon 6:03 a.m.

When a religious order starts pulling out of places, this is never a sign of robust spiritual health. It's a sign of decline.

My post mentions that the Paulists have always been small, but the point is that they are shrinking fast. Father Duffy himself alludes to the "limited Paulist resources." He's talking about personnel, not money or real estate.

Finally, what's your problem with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Maybe the Paulists wouldn't be in such a screwed up messed if the likes of Father Dick Sparks would read it and take heed instead of teaching heresy.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am worried about poor Clay. He's been standing there waiting for a long time.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous barronista said...

Here's what I love: I begged our bishop in the Diocese of Knoxville(who is on the USCCB committee for Pro-Life activities) to take Immaculate Conception Parish in Knoxville away from the Paulists after they decided to send the priest famous for giving John Kerry communion here. And wouldn't you know it? Knoxville is one of the places they are committed to staying!

12:21 PM  
Blogger John Hearn said...

Has anyone else noticed that when someone like our trusty anon here wants to defend some screwed up order or parish, almost the first thing he does is attack the CCC?

Thank you John Paul Magnus for that wonderful resource!

2:48 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I worry about the Paulists' presence in Texas. They've had their cold fingers on the University of Texas (and Baylor, I believe) for a long time and they put their recruitment posters at my alma mater, Texas A&M, at the Catholic student center.

At UT's catholic center, the Paulists even have a permanent sign inside saying that the establishment is a ministry of the Paulists. I remember that it looked like it would damage the wall if the letters were removed.

The Bishop of Austin is a decent guy. I don't understand why he has such iffy priests working right across the street from him.

And I pray to God that they are never sent to Texas A&M.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Ed,

Do you know anything specifically about the Paulists in Texas? I wouldn't want to condemn them sight unseen, of course. Although, yes, as we know, there have been many sad stories about Paulists who have been less than orthodox.

9:12 PM  

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