Second evening in St. Louis

I had a very interesting second evening in St. Louis.  The woman with whom I was staying, who has a long association with the Womens Ordination Conference, invited some people in to meet me.

We ended up with a fascinating group.  There were three Oblate priests, from their novitiate, twp diocesan priests, two Roman Catholic Women Priests, an Episcopalian minister, and a few others. It developed into a really interesting discussion on staying with the institution or breaking away, and on how to manage a new group, like the Catholic Women Priests, and keep them to some degree with a shared vision and strategy.  And is it best to work for reform from within, or to move outside the system?  What made it so interesting was the diversity of views and positions, and at the same time the willingness of people to listen to, and respect, each other.  It would be hard in Ireland to get such a group of people together. This also is the place where Raymond Burke reigned as archbishop before he went to Rome.

At one point we were discussing the tendency of younger priests to be very traditional, which is more marked here than in Ireland. I asked how the group would interpret that development, and one of the Oblates answered “They were Burked!”  Burke made big changes in the local seminary when he was here, and the ‘fruit’ of that is apparently very evident in the dioceese.

One of the Oblate novitiate team had spent a year in an ashram in India, and was wearing a large yellow shawl over his shoulder.  He was really interesting; the year in India had broadened his notion of God and spirituality enormously, and I thought it was to the great credit of the Oblates that they would have such a man training their students. What a contrast:  in the same city having two such contrasting ways of nurturing vocations!

Interesting times, indeed.