success stories

Posted May 19, 2003

Seven Top Recommendations Made by Priests to Insure the Future Health and Effectiveness of the Priesthood

This is the second of the seven recommendations that will be posted daily on our website. The recommendations come from the study: Evolving Visions of the Priesthood: Changes from Vatican II to the Turn of the New Century by Dr. Dean R. Hoge and Jacqueline E. Wenger. For further information please e-mail Dr. Dean Hoge at hoge@cua.edu.

Recommendation 2: Provide practical preparation for parish life

The men had some practical suggestions fr seminaries, especially in preparing graduates for parish life. Their suggestions ranged from more preparation in liturgy and homiletics to more help in addressing marriage and family issues from the Church's point of view.

A 33-year-old diocesan priest descried the difficulties of transition from the seminary to the parish:

"I think somehow there could be a little more preparation for what life would be like in the parish when you first got there. I think for myself and for a lot of guys there was a real shock. It was a whole lot different than we thought it would be when you make the transition from the structured life of the seminary to the much more necessarily flexible life in the parish work . . . .In the seminary, life was quite structured and you had the different things that you had to be there for: the classes, the times of prayer, and so forth. You come into the parish and as a diocesan priest, you really have to provide that structure for yourself . . . .That was a hard transition, becoming my own schedule maker as a priest.

A 32-year-old diocesan priest:

"Practically speaking, I would say definitely more on family life, marriage, on pastoral approaches to dealing with annulment, since it is such a big part of our life today. To really see the components of healing that can be found through the annulment process. How to deal better with co-habiting couples. A lot of this is post-ordination; you can't fit it all in the seminary. But I think that the light bulb has to go on in the seminary and tools need to be within arm's reach, in order for us, when we get out there, to best deal with these."

A 68-year-old priest:

"In seminary we felt the need to make sure that we were inserted in the reality of the world, where people were living and people were making their bread an people were raising questions. We were being ordained to serve these people. So first and foremost I would say they need to make sure there is a real insertion in the world. And not just a dabbling, but a thorough insertion in the world and contact with lay persons."

Better liturgical preparation was repeatedly mentioned. A 5–year-old religious priest:

"I would say good liturgical preparation. When you think about the fact that for most Catholics, their touchpoint to the church is through the liturgy, and so seminarians need to have good liturgical training, which really accents the best in our tradition while also being open to new forms. Preaching. I think homiletics is very important. Those are some of the things I would emphasize. And then also, you think of what Andrew Greeley has said, if people find that they are nourished through the preaching that they hear, then they tend to feel quite satisfied about their Catholic life."