Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hierarchical Happenings

It can be a difficult trap to avoid falling into: politicizing the Church. Indeed, the Church being both a Divine and human institution, there's bound to be some "politics" (chatter, participation in, and conduction of the organizing of whichever "body," group, or entity about which one wants to speak). But if this becomes the main focus of one's considerations on the Church, there is something flawed, for the Church is ever more importantly Divine than it is human. That being said, in case you didn't notice, three significant events have occurred within this last week which affect the Church in the state of Minnesota and the nation at large. In chronological order:

On Tuesday, April 29th, Fr. James P. Steffes - rector of my Alma Mater, Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, in my home Diocese of Winona - was named the Executive Director for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A simple visit to the USCCB's website will evidence this; the lengthier article and notification can be found here. I remember fondly the days at IHM with Fr. Steffes as our rector and, more importantly, our spiritual father. While there are many things to be remembered, I suppose that it is natural to remember most vividly the quirks. For example, he had a particular way of saying, "Paul, all, hall, wall." He sort of drug out the "a" and made it a long, drawlish "aw...". Ah, memories.

Resulting from Fr. Steffes' new appointment, on Thursday, May 1st, Bishop Bernard Harrington, of Winona, announced the appointment of the current Dean of Formation (in essence, the Vice Rector) of IHM as the successor of Fr. Steffes and 10th (?) rector of IHM. Father Andrew Beerman, ordained an approximate 10 years ago, will assume responsibilities after Fr. Steffes departs. Fr. Beerman is a moral theologian who obtained his Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) under Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych, currently the Theologian for the Papal Household. Fr. Beerman also directs the summer catechetical program Totus Tuus in the Diocese of Winona. As well, he takes a fairly active role as a spiritual director for Pathways TEC (Teens/Together Encountering Christ) Retreats in the Diocese of Winona.

Most recently, today Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis turned 75, and therefore reached the age of mandatory resignation. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation, which means the Most Rev. John C. Nienstedt (Archbishop Flynn's coadjutor for the last year or so) succeeds Abp. Flynn as the 10th (?) bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Abp. Nienstedt has been a bishop for almost 12 years now, first ordained an auxiliary bishop for his home diocese of Detroit, followed by an appointment to the Diocese of New Ulm.

As is often the case, these changes will precipitate other changes. For instance, a new Vice Rector will be appointed for IHM in Winona. Likewise, as is mandated by Canon Law (Can. 481, n. 1), with the appointment of a new bishop, Archbishop Nienstedt will appoint a Vicar General (basically the #2 man in a diocese) to help him in his pastoral care of the diocese, even if this is the same man who held the position previously.

Like I said above, the Church is both divine and human. While it is easy to give ourselves over to speculation about these "political" affairs, seemingly very human machinations, the more important focus and truth is the fact that the Church is the meeting place of God and Man. In this most apt place of encounter, with Christ as her head, she ultimately remains the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever (Hebrews 13:8). The one who finds himself overly concerned with the "political" happenings in the Church "is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind" (James 1:6). A new executive director, a new rector, a new bishop: yet another week in the life of the Church; yet the carrying on of the Church's pilgrimage through history until the consummation of all things in Christ.


Clayton said...

When will the new vicar general and vicar for clergy be announced?

Anonymous said...

You can find the announcement here.

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