A group of young men from the Gaylord Diocese interested in the priesthood recently went to visit a seminary (Pontical College Josephinum) with Bishop Walsh. Five men went with Bishop Walsh. Four of them were from one parish – Holy Rosary Church in Cedar.
This parish is unique in the Diocese and has been discussed on more than one post at Gaylord Diocesan Watch. Many things stand out with regard to this parish. Among them is the number of priests who have had their start, ie, have been parishioners, at Holy Rosary at some time before their ordinations: Fr. Peter Wigton, Fr. Scott Lawler, Fr. Brad Nursey, Fr. Chris Jarvis. If one looks at current seminarians, 40% of them are from Holy Rosary (Christopher “Jake” Belanger, David Witkowski).
So when it comes to vocations, Holy Rosary Church in Cedar is leading the way. But why? We’ve highlighted some of them in the past, but the recent field trip to the seminary calls for a serious reflection as to the reasons for this phenomenon. These are at least a few of them:
- Liturgy. The parish offers both Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass. Daily Mass is offered and includes Saturday morning Masses. Sermons are 100% Catholic and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is stringently adhered to at this parish. At appropriate feasts, outdoor processions are part of the liturgy. Confessions are offered multiple times during the week. There is a vibrant boy’s organization (Knights of the Altar) that promotes a male only server status. Serving at the Traditional Latin Mass takes knowledge and practice that surpasses the Novus Ordo. At least 6-12 servers are present at each Latin Mass.
- Strong emphasis on traditional Catholic teaching. Led by its Pastor Donald Libby, Holy Rosary has a significant emphasis on childhood and adult catechesis.
- Church activities. Food for the soul is plentiful at Holy Rosary. A 24 hour adoration chapel has been maintained by the parish; this is a notable feat for a parish this small. The parish has a music guild which promotes the learning of Gregorian chant and appropriate music for the Mass. The church’s pipe organ is well maintained by parishioners and professionals and competent organists are plentiful to play the instrument. Numerous organizations and devotionals are offered weekly. Organizations for girls, boys, men and women are active in the parish. The parish has a well-stocked gift and book store.
- Big families, many homeschooled, are a major part of Holy Rosary. They create a Catholic community that fosters devotions, fellowship, and a strong Catholic identity. From potlucks to new parishioner welcomes to the Lenten fish fry and the ice skating rink, there are numerous ways the parish opens up for its members.
- The parish church building is beautiful and has not been renovated (wreckovated) to meet a fraudulent demand for meeting the “Spirit of Vatican II”. It is well maintained both inside and out. It is rock solid – like the Catholic faith!
The credit for all of this, of course, goes to God. But we are often the portals he works through in order to complete His will. Fr. Donald Libby is a big part of the vocations interest at Holy Rosary. He is respected and his love of the priesthood is obviously contagious for many of the vocations from Holy Rosary.
These things are all great news until the realization sets in that this is not happening anywhere else in the Diocese. This raises an important question: Does Bishop Walsh and the priests of the Diocese understand the lopsided vocations statistics in the Diocese of Gaylord? Holy Rosary is a model on how to attract vocations to the priesthood. Are any other priests of the Diocese willing to emulate the Holy Rosary model? If not, why not? Does Bishop Walsh grasp the success of what Holy Rosary has brought to the Diocese with regard to vocations? Why are vocations not flowing from our Catholic school system which spends millions of donor dollars each year for what? Shouldn’t we expect this from Catholic education? We can only hope and pray that this trend will continue and expand to other parishes. Please pray for true and authentic vocations. May the graces flowing from Holy Rosary extend and be duplicated in other parishes.