French bishop breathes new life into the priesthood
Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon believes 'new evangelisation' can help to ordain more priests
Stéphanie Le Bars
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 7 August 2012 14.07 BST
Higher calling ... Bishop Dominique Rey's 'new evangelism' seems to have boosted priest numbers in his diocese. Photograph: Kzenon/Alamy
Dominique Rey, 59, bishop of Fréjus-Toulon in the Var department of France since 2000, has been active in promoting "new evangelisation" by working with different religious communities, whether French or foreign, large or small. These may be charismatic, traditionalist or missionary, active in worship, prayer or explicit evangelisation – for instance by going door-to-door or being present on beaches and in nightclubs.
They include Heart's Home, the Points-Coeur Community, the John Paul II Missionary Fraternity and the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament. Not everyone agrees with the strategy but it has led to the ordination of large numbers of priests compared with most French dioceses, where ageing priests and a shortage of new ones are the norm. Bishop Rey's diocese has 210 priests with an average age of 54.
According to the French Bishops' Conference, only 96 diocesan priests will be ordained in 2012, compared with 106 in 2011. In June, the bishop of Fréjus-Toulon ordained 12 priests, seven of whom will work for his own diocese. The others will return to their communities or go abroad.
Along with Paris, your diocese is the only one to ordain so many priests. How do you explain that?
My predecessors sought out people with vocations elsewhere. Some people thought that a risky enterprise, but I went for it and built up the presence of these new communities to enrich our diocese. We now have about 50 such communities, 25 of which train priests.
Whatever their origin, the future priests receive the same fundamental training in the diocesan seminary, which takes in 80 seminarians including a dozen from our own diocese. We help to get them familiar with the diocese, which means more than just taking French lessons. Their specific identity and charisma are taken into account.
Today young people select a seminary in the way they would a business school, via the internet. That approach mirrors what is happening in civil society, where people go in for networking and global exchanges.
Some of your colleagues consider your choice is just about numbers and could be risky for your diocese. What is your assessment of that?
People are always suspicious of anything that upsets their habits and right-thinking ways. Time will tell, give us 20 or 30 years! There has been a sharp decline in religious vocations in Europe. If we want to create a new impetus we need new resources. Installing a new community in a parish can inject life into it, on condition that it's not perceived as something forced on people.
My diocese is quite dynamic and there has been less of a decline in religious practice and the number of children taking catechism than elsewhere, but we are aware that the more diversified the clergy, the more we have to work to avoid simply juxtaposing different chapels. Views may differ, but we share the same fundamentals.
You are promoting new evangelisation by increasing the Church's presence in Muslim neighbourhoods. How is that working out?
One component of new evangelisation has consisted of setting up a community of traditionalist priests in a city neighbourhood with a majority Muslim population. Some of the priests were trained in the Muslim culture. Evangelisation should not equate provocation; it can be carried out tactfully by meeting people. Such meetings can lead to a questioning and sometimes to a path that may lead to baptism, but our goal is not statistics. In a secularised society where the Christian presence has been all but wiped out, the important thing is to confer some visibility onChristianity again. Faith is not just something personal; it should also have a collective manifestation.
The church must be a sign to those outside of it. We need to put specific tools in place according to the public we are reaching out to, whether it's a first circle of Christians, or "seasonal Christians", or those furthest away from Catholicism.
This article originally appeared in Le Monde
Priestly ordinations from France for 2011
Perepiscopus reports that for this year (see this, this, and this) at least 113 new diocesan priests are expected to be ordained for France -- 107 for the dioceses in France and 6 for the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Two of the posts on Perepiscopus and elsewhere mention 109 new diocesan priests, but this number apparently includes one nonexistent "ordinand" (for Chartres) and excludes five ordinands -- two for Ajaccio and three for Nice.
The number for the dioceses in France includes
5 priests from the Emmanuel Community. This year's number is larger than those for previous years: 96 ordinations in 2010, 89 in 2009, 98 in 2008, 101 in 2007, 68 in 2006, 96 in 2001, 95 in 1996, 110 in 1991 and 81 in 1986. However, the same blog notes there will only be 77 new (diocesan) deacons for this year, and combined with the continued fall in the number of seminarians (732 this year -- 96 of them foreigners -- as compared to 756 last year), lower ordination figures can be expected in the coming years.
As expected, the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon has the highest number of ordinands, with 15 new priests to be ordained on June 26 by Bishop Dominique Rey. (Perepiscopus and Chretiente.Info hint that there will be additional priestly ordinations in the remainder of this year.) Eleven of the 15 belong to the various new communities that have found shelter in that diocese, away from the hostility of other French bishops. In contrast, the Archdiocese of Paris will have only 4 new priests (three of them foreign-born) this year (a historic low) while the Primatial See of the Gauls, the Archdiocese of Lyons, will only have two.
In addition to the 113 diocesans, the "Reform of the Reform" Community of St. Martin (see this and this) expects to have 8 new priests, the Community "Chemin Neuf" has 5 ordinands, while 8 Frenchmen are among the ordinands of the Community of St. John founded by the late Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe OP.
Among Traditionalists, four friars (one from Germany and three from France) of the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer(Traditionalist Dominicans, but not to be confused with the SSPX-affiliated Dominicans of Avrille) will be ordained to the priesthood on July 2 in Fontgombault. The Fraternity's previous priestly ordinations were in 2006 and 2008. Although it is open to candidates from other countries, the Fraternity currently works only within France.
The SSPX will have a total of 11 new priests from France this year, and 2 of the FSSP's 7 new priests for this year are from the same country. (Four of these seven have already been ordained.) We might add that three of the four ordinands of the Institute of Christ the King are Frenchmen. The website of the Institute of the Good Shepherd also mentions diaconal and sacerdotal ordinations in the St. Eloi church in Bordeaux tomorrow (June 25), by H.E. Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. However, the IBP doesn't mention how many new priests they will have. (In addition, 3 IBP seminarians were ordained subdeacons on April 9 of this year by Msgr. Raymond Seguy, bishop emeritus of Autun.)
Monday, 14 December 2009
A remarkable French Bishop
Bishop Dominique Rey of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is a remarkable man. Before entering the seminary himself, he obtained a doctorate in economics and worked at the French Ministry of Finance. As a priest in the diocese of Paris, he also worked with the Emmanuel Community. From 1986-1988, he was superior of the chaplains at Paray-le-Monial, then exercised a post of pastoral responsibility for the seminarians and priests of the Emmanuel Community. He was a parish priest in Paris for five years before being appointed to Fréjus-Toulon in 2000.
Pope John Paul II's promotion of the "new evangelisation" has always been a priority for him, something that is reflected in the fact that his diocese celebrates on its website the presence of 27 new communities in the diocese, such as the Community of St John, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, Shalom, and Points-Coeur.
He has written a book on the incompatibility between Catholic doctrine and freemasonry, and has resolutely spoken out in the public square on pro-life issues, especially demanding that donors to the French "telethon" should be able to specify that their donations do not go to charities supporting research on embryos. In 2008, he re-consecrated his diocese to Our Lady with 4-5000 people attending the ceremony.
It is not surprising to hear that his seminary is thriving: it is the second largest in France. During the past year, Bishop Rey ordained 14 priests and 11 deacons. Here is a video about the seminary (from the Diocesan website):
Significantly, as I mentioned a while back, he ordained a further two priests this year according to the usus antiquior: for service as priests of his diocese. The diocesan seminary welcomes candidates who are attached to the older form of the Roman Rite to train alongside the other seminarians and members of the various ecclesial movements.
Bishop Rey was also one of the French Bishops who signed the letter of support for Pope Benedict following the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops.
The "new movements" in the Church tend to share a number of characteristics: loyalty to the magisterium, sound support for the Church's teaching on moral issues, especially pro-life and pro-family, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Our Lady, and a missionary zeal for evangelisation. Sometimes (OK quite often) liturgical music and ceremonies are, shall we say, tip-toeing carefully, "areas for development".
Since Summorum Pontificum, I think that many of those involved in the new movements have begun to look seriously at the question of liturgy. Their loyalty to Pope Benedict and recognition of his sound judgement have led them to be genuinely open to what might initially seem a rather puzzling support for traditional liturgy. Those who have the opportunity to attend the older form of Mass and Benediction easily find an echo in their soul of many of the Catholic values that they hold dear.
For a Bishop actively and consciously to promote such convergence in his diocese is a most welcome phenomenon which holds out much hope for the future.
Friday, 4 February 2011
Eucharistic Adoration Conference in Rome this June
Rt Rev Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, France, has announced a major International Conference on Eucharistic Adoration to take place in Rome from 20-24 June 2011. the Conference will be organised by the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, one of the many new communities that Bishop Rey has allowed to flourish in his diocese. He is also generous in welcoming those attached to the traditional liturgy, accepting seminarians for the diocese who wish to celebrate the Liturgy in the usus antiquior.
Adoratio 2011 will include fourteen conferences, Mass in both newer and older forms, all night adoration and the divine office. It will conclude with participants joining Pope Benedict in the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran and the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major. For further details, see Adoratio 2011.
The line-up of speakers is impressive. The list includes:
Cardinal Francis Arinze, Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship
Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace
Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole, Auxiliary Bishop of L’Aquila, Italy
Bishop D. José Ignacio Munilla - Bishop of San Sebastian, Spain
Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan
Msgr Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, Vatican City,
Fr Nicolas Buttet, Founder of the Eucharistein Community, St-Maurice, Switzerland
Fr Mark Kirby, Prior of the Diocesan Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Fr Florian Racine, Founder of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, Sanary, France
Mother Adela Galindo, Foundress of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, USA
Sr. Joseph, Missionaries of Charity, Calcutta, India
TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2012
One Third of Seminarians in France are Connected toTradition
In comparison the number of seminarians since the end of World War II till the end of the Council, were as much as six times as high. In 1966, the year in which the Pastoral Council ended, France had 4536 seminarians. After the outbreak of the 68 Revolution it was not more than 1297. In 2005, the year of the election of Pope Benedict XVI., it was 785. "The decline has stopped , yet so long as there is a spirit in the parish communities unfavorable to vocations with little benevolence for the priesthood, it prevents discovery", says Liturgique Pax.
Lowest Number of Seminarians Since the French Revolution
Of the 710 Diocesan seminarians, there are number 65 foreign students, who are studying in France, the majority of these are studying for their home Diocese. In the representation, the 60 seminarians from the Community of St. Martin aren't counted, who are all preparing for the ministry in French Diocese. In sum, the number of 710 seminarians is a snap shot of the current situation and corresponds to the lowest number since the French Revolution. Just to stopping there though only shows half of the truth. Within the French seminary, a fundamental upheaval taking place.
Development of the Priestly Ordination in the Diocese
96 priests were ordained in 2010 (excepting religious orders). Initially the Commission report of the Bishops' Conference also allowed for the traditional Ecclesia Dei communities. A further sign for the normalization and gradual recognition of the communities of Tradition as a secure part of the Church. The next step will be a more explicit naming and not only a silent submissiveness.
In 2011 there were in France 111 Diocesan priests ordained (2010 was 96, 2009 was 89) . This is careful to include the Society of St. Martin's increase of 15 ordinations over the previous year, or an increase of 15.6 percent. In any case, it can't be read as a general trend. In 2011 there were merely 77 Deacons ordained, who are to be ordained priests in the year 2012.
The Soil from Which Vocations Flower is Damaged -- Yet Improvement is in View
Comparing the newly ordained to the retired clergy, will put the scale of a "damaged landscape" (Paix Liturgie) in stark view. There are about 100 newly ordained for the loss of 800 priests in death. The Community of St. Martin is placed under "new communities" of Tradition next. The Community celebrates the Liturgy in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite but in Latin, it uses the Gregorian choral, Thomism and promotes among its seminarians a healthy disposition to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass [Immemorial Rite]. They have experienced an extraordinary blooming. The Society numbers today 60 seminarians in comparison to the 43 of last year and are receiving ever more pastoral assignments from the Bishops. There are often requests for priests from the Diocese, even the "progressive" Diocese. The times of caution, as with the Bishop of Bayeux with a categorical "St. Martin in my Diocese, never!", is past for this Society.
The Little Diocese of Frejus-Toulon and the large Archdiocese of Paris Lead in the Number of Seminarians
Among all French Diocesan Seminaries, two Diocese and a inter-Diocesan seminary stand in the front rank. If one were to give them a rank, then you'd have to give three first places. It involves the seminary of the Diocese of Toulon-Frejus and the Archdiocese of Paris. In both there are more than 70 seminarians preparing themselves. When one considers that Frejus-Toulon, it is one of the smallest Diocese in France and that the Archdiocese of Paris is so many times larger, makes the extraordinary flowering of the Diocese from the south of France clear. It is noticeable that the "sensibility" of the Bishops of both Diocese is very different from most seminarians. The Bishop of Frejus-Toulon is explicitly close to tradition. The number of Parsian seminarians sank under Archbishop Francois Cardinal Marty (1968-1981) to a minimum of 50, experienced under Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger (1981-2005) a spike with almost a doubling, which under the reigning Archbishop André Armand Kardinal Vingt-Trois in 2007 back down to 54 and then rose to over 70 seminarians. In the meantime the priest shortage has become appreciable in Paris, while in the surrounding areas it is positively dramatic.
The Communities of Tradition and Their Development
How does the situation look for Traditional communities? It will only consider those societies whose status is comparable to that of Diocesan priests. As with the Diocesan seminaries the Propaedeuticum doesn't get any consideration and only the French are counted in the statistical survey, but not foreign seminarians, who study in France. Initially it is to be established that these two groups will be classified: on the one side the official Ecclesia Dei Communities, which are known to be in union with Rome, on the other side is the Society of St. Pius X, whose present status in the Catholic Church is still not clarified.
The Ecclesia Dei Communities have 91 seminarians in France as of 2011, preparing for the priesthood. Their number is largely stable. It is a considerable number if one considers how slowly the number of parishes and pastoral assignments entrusted to them by the Bishops were offered and thus hindered their development.
The Society numbers 49 French seminarians in 2011. Their portion has held consistently for years at aabout a third of all the seminarians (15) who are in the Society founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
280 of 710 Seminarians are Connected to Tradition
All together, the communities of Tradition have 140 French seminarians, who are preparing for the priesthood. That includes exactly the number of seminarians, who are connected to Tradition in the Diocesan seminaries preparing to be priests.
In 2011 the traditional societies had ordained 18 priests all together, seven for the Ecclesia Dei Communities and eleven for the Society of St. Pius X. In 2010 there were 16 new priests in total, of which 8 were for the Ecclesia Dei Communities and 8 for the Society of St. Pius.
The communities of Tradition in the strict sense consist of a sixth of all French seminarians. Then if one counts the communities of Tradition with the seminarians connected to tradition, then every third seminarian in France is connected to Tradition.
The total number of Traditionally connected seminarians demonstrate a double positive trend. They show indeed a slow but steady rate of growth up (2005: 120, 2007:130, 2009: 140, 2010 yet 144) The tempo corresponds to their increasingly unrestricted use in the Diocese. What the Community of St. Martin has already itself experienced , have the other societies yet to experience. They will be ignored by the Diocesan Bishops and they are refused entrance in Parishes. Although in these Communities of young ordained and educated priests are ready for pastoral care, they don't get into action. This continuous ostracism in turn brakes their own growth. The more the Tradition connected priests are assigned to parishes, the more priestly vocations they are going to get, said Paix Liturgique about the publication of the statistics.
France -- Germany: Same Repurcussions, Same Reasons
In comparison to facts, that a third of the Seminarians in the westerly neighbors who are bound to tradition know, and who also prepare for the celebration of the Old Rite of the Catholic Church, the situation is almost like a wasteland. The reason, which impedes the development of Tradition in France, is just as valid, only much stronger in the German Lands. The Society of St. Peter, an Ecclesia Dei Community and thus a officially traditional within the Church, is followed by young, faithful and well educated priests, who are not accepted by the Bishops either in Germany, Austria or Switzerland for pastoral service in parishes. The entrusting of Father Peter Ramm of the Society of St. Peter by the Bishop of Chur, Msgr Vitus Huonder, with the responsibility for one of the two personal parishes erected by the Bishop of Chur for the purpose of the Old Rite, is a first step to tear down this wall of ostracism.