Letter to John Fehl from Fr. Ray Cole

March 9

Hi John,

How sad to hear about John’s health. The guys are not being prepared for priesthood in this epoch of our Church. God bless them. We will, in order to prepare laity to take on pastoral responsibilities for our people or they will have no one to turn to but the nice -or not-parish secretary or a minister at another Church or a guru, or an idol of some kind.

I co-authored a study entitled Priest-less Parishes. There was no response from our bishops when we sent it. If we don’t act now we will find ourselves staring into space trying to fill the gap. We say, “We are all right now”. I doubt it. Look at the guys, usually younger men who are stepping away from pastoring. Some are ill with one thing or another. More and more falls on those who already have responsibilities. And our people cannot understand our kindly, helpful foreign priests when they preach. That is a finger in the dike too. Add to that that these poor guys don’t know our culture. And the flock keeps decreasing. Generally our preaching is awful, and more and more priests are moving away from the Vatican II Liturgy and personalizing Mass. I’ve experienced things done to the Liturgy in my travels for 50 years by left and right-wing priests and those with no wings that are not contributing to the growth or return to the Church of Christ. Thank God that we here are doing a fine job with the Synodality gatherings. I saw a list yesterday of Dioceses where nothing or little is being done, including the Archdiocese of the President of the USCCB, and others where once there was life.

This is just a brief summary of my concerns. I don’t have all the answers. at least now many of us are asking¬†the questions with our Pope. If the Church wants to keep those we have, and grow active Catholics, the Church had better honestly respond to and act on what the Synodal results give us under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Thank God Bishop Checchio is acting on what Francis is seeing and asking. Together, gathered in the Spirit, and not fearing change there’s Holy Hope. In hope the time will come when all will realize that all will have to listen. I think then we will act on our call, not just to maintain or keep the pews full, but to create parishes that practice “…full, active, conscious participation” in every aspect of Christian life.

I hope you and I will live long enough to see the seeds we’ve planted grow to their fullness.


Ray Cole

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