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March 31, 2005

Deny Reality, Live in Anger

by Thomas A. Droleskey


[Author's note: This article was published in the printed pages of Christ or Chaos in 2002. It is being published on this site at this time in light of the questions that a lot of good, earnest Catholics have been asking about why there has been such silence from Catholic bishops and priests concerning the death penalty, which its nearing its cruel completion, that was imposed upon Mrs. Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo by Florida Judge George Greer under the terms of an unjust law on the statute books in the State of Florida. The answer in large part is to be found in the very nature of the liturgical revolution that has devastated the vineyard of Our Lord's true Church and has thus produced bishops and chancery factotums who have sought to screen out men from the priesthood who might have an affinity for the Catholic "past" and thus resist the force of the revolutionaries' hatred for all that is authentically Catholic. My own experience in the pursuit of a priestly vocation complements the experiences recounted by Michael Rose in his 2002 book, Goodbye, Good Men. It is my hope that those who are new to this site as a result of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo tragedy will come to understand that the problems we face in the Church are not going away anytime soon. Men have been recruited for the priesthood to be actively hostile to Catholic Tradition and thus to the Deposit of Faith Our Lord has entrusted to His true Church. As I was so engrossed in my college studies and in the following of baseball in the late-1960s, I did not know the extent of what was happening in the Church until I started to pursue a priestly vocation. And what a revelation I experienced as I started that process in 1974. One will find a reading of this article to serve as a nice segue to a reading of the magnificent interview Father Paul Sretenovic gave to me, the first part of which is being published on this site at this time.]

Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men became a runaway best seller in Catholic circles in 2002. Mr. Rose’s book documented the nearly thirty-year long effort on the part of many vocations directors for dioceses and religious communities to systematically screen out candidates for the priesthood who are deemed to be orthodox. Although the book shocked many believing Catholics, Michael Rose did not break new ground with his book. The facts he documented so well have been known for a very long time, and many stories have run in The Wanderer and The Remnant over the years about the difficulties men noted for their orthodoxy have had when applying for studies leading to priestly ordination. Mr. Rose performed a valuable service for the Church by putting together the stories of various individuals in the context of the pattern of discrimination against orthodox candidates for priestly studies that has been known by anyone who has followed this situation closely.

Despite the fact that the information Rose amassed was really nothing new, he and his great book came under attack three years ago not only from the usual suspects (diocesan vocations directors, chancery apparatchiks, seminary rectors, et al.), but also from “conservative” Catholic outlets such as the National Catholic Register, published by the Legionaries of Christ, and Crisis. Goodbye, Good Men also came in from attack by Our Sunday Visitor, which should surprise no one; its circulation depends largely on distribution in diocesan parishes. What better way to curry favor with diocesan officials (and thus keep those checks flowing to OSV headquarters in Huntingdon, Indiana) than attempting to assert with a straight face that the problems Rose mentioned either do not exist at all or have been exaggerated out of all proper proportion.

A one-time close friend of mine told me in the Fall of 2000 that Michael Rose was seeking to interview men who had had “problem vocations.” This man told Mr. Rose to contact me, which he did while I was busy lecturing throughout the country that Fall. I wanted to write up my own experiences concerning the pursuit of a priestly vocation. Unfortunately, the travels, undertaken to fulfill the terms of a grant that had been extended to me, exhausted me too much and drained my health considerably. I just could not write up the story that follows and keep up with the production of Christ or Chaos, then a printed journal, while doing all of the travel and lecturing. For whatever it is worth, therefore, I offer below on this website a story, printed originally in Christ or Chaos in the Fall of 2002 and updated slightly for present purposes, that might have been included in Goodbye, Good Men had I done what I should I have done in the Fall of 2000. I had to experience the saga described below in order to see for myself crisis the Church in her human elements faced as a result of the doctrinal and liturgical revolutions of the past forty to fifty yerars--and to come to the realization that it is the abandonment of Tradition that is responsible for a rejection of the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood and of the nature of the Mass as a propiatory sacrifice for sins.

An Education in the Postconciliar Crisis

No man has a right to be ordained to the priesthood. The priesthood is bestowed upon a man at the moment of his priestly ordination as a result of an unmerited, gratuitous gift given him by God through Holy Mother Church. The right to call a man to orders belongs either to a diocesan bishop or to the head of a religious community. No man can be assured that his call to the priesthood is absolutely valid until such time as he receives the formal call for orders from his bishop or the head of his religious community (who assures the ordaining bishop of a candidate’s fitness for orders). Thus, even a transitional deacon may discover that he is not being called to orders only several days before he thought he was going to be ordained to the priesthood. Our Lord created a visible, hierarchical Church. Decisions concerning the ordination of men to the priesthood belong to those who are the Successors of the Apostles, namely, bishops.

Unfortunately, as many of us have demonstrated over the years, most of today's bishops are not of one mind and one heart with Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself through Holy Mother Church. Those who are deficient in one regard or another wind up inevitably appointing people or like (or worse) mind to chancery offices, including diocesan vocations offices (which are staffed in many instances by nuns who hate men and who want to destroy the sacerdotal priesthood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass). Those who are slothful in the exercise of their episcopal office appoint individuals to key positions on the basis of recommendations made by others, content to delegate to those individuals an almost carte blanche responsibility in matters of decision-making concerning the acceptance of men to study for the priesthood, to say nothing of the retention of men in seminary if they wind up being accepted. In God’s mysterious Providence, however, even these deficient and/or slothful bishops have the canonical authority to call or to reject men for priestly ordination. There is no recourse in civil courts.

Priestly ordination is neither a civil nor an ecclesiastical right. Men who believe they have been rejected unjustly must persevere in their pursuit of a priestly vocation until such time as they come to believe all reasonable avenues have been exhausted and that God is indeed leading them to a different state-in-life. Indeed, not every man who has encountered difficulties in pursuing a vocation to the priesthood in the past thirty years has been the victim of an ideological crusade against orthodox candidates by vocations directors for dioceses and religious communities. Although I encountered difficulties as a result of that ideological crusade, it is clear to me now that I possess traits that would not have made me an apt candidate for the reception of Holy Orders. My pursuit of a priestly vocation, however, did educate me about what was going on in the Church, and did acquaint me with a number of men who did get ordained to the priesthood and who were, prior to my embrace of Tradition without compromise, very receptive to my lecture programs over the years. All in God’s Holy Providence. All to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Although I was attracted to the priesthood as a young boy while attending Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, from 1956-62, it would not be until early 1974 that I came to believe that I might have a vocation to study for the priesthood. I had just commenced my doctoral studies in political science at the State University of New York at Albany, knowing that I would be situated there for at least two years or so before completing my degree. This gave me the opportunity, I thought at the time, to start the process of investigating whether or not I had a vocation to the priesthood. It was at that time that a man who had received his B.A. and M.A. in four years, but who was so very clueless about the state of the Church in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II, got a real education about the crisis in the postconciliar Church.

I could write an entire book about the vagaries of the pursuit of what I thought was a call from God to study for the priesthood. Obviously, God had different things in mind for me. It took me a while to discern His will and to respond to it, that process being made much more difficult as a result of my own willfulness, pride, and the cumulative effect of my sins on my soul. Nevertheless, I embarked upon my pursuit of a priestly vocation as an earnest seeker of God’s will, one who had, through no merits of his own, a good grasp of the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood and its role in the administration of the graces won for us by Our Lord on the wood of the Holy Cross to souls by means of the sacraments. Was I ever in for a shock when I embarked on this pursuit!

After discussing the matter of a priestly vocation in the Spring of 1974 with a wonderful Carmelite priest who was stationed at Saint Joseph’s Church in Troy, New York, a Father Mitchell NeJame (who died in February of 1980 just ten years after he was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 54), I decided to make inquiry in the local diocese where I found myself, the Diocese of Albany. What did I know about the Diocese of Albany except that I lived there? Sure, this was three years prior to the installation of Howard Hubbard as the destroyer of the Faith there. However, I just did not know how bad things were. I began to find out when I met the touchy-feely vocations director, who thought my concept of the priesthood as having been instituted by Our Lord for the administration of the sacraments was very preconciliar and outdated. “You have to update your theology, my friend,” he told me. This chap later left the priesthood to get married, winding up with a job selling used cars in Albany. As I told a group of seminarians during a lecture given in the Philippines in the summer of 1991, “Instead of saying, Hoc est enim Corpus Meum, this man now says, ‘Sold, for $2,000'.” “Maybe things will be better back home on Long Island,” I thought to myself, not knowing that things were far from perfect in the diocese where I learned the faith so well in grammar school.

Thus, I made an appointment to visit with Father John Martin, then the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He outlined the procedure I would have to follow, including a psychological evaluation done by the late Dr. Leonard Krinsky, who was Jewish, in order to complete an application for acceptance to the diocese. As I wanted to continue with the pursuit of the doctorate, I canceled the appointment I had made for such an evaluation in September of 1974, writing Father Martin to say that I would keep the lines of communication open as I worked on the doctorate.

Additionally, I kept fairly regular contact with Father Daniel Mulhauser, then the vocations director for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus. Although Father Edward Berbusse, a Jesuit who had taught for years at Fordham and fought the secularization process there, told me to be careful about the Society, I had a lot to learn about the problems in the Jesuits. Part of that was learned when I went on a weekend of recollection at the provincial novitiate located near LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, in the Fall of 1974. The attitude of many of the novices was shocking, especially as it related to the smoking of marijuana and an openness to “dating.” Indeed, Father Mulhauser told me in 1976 that I should consider “sowing some wild oats” before entering religious life, though he second-guessed himself almost immediately after saying that by telling me, “Well, I guess that would be sinful, huh?” “Oh, boy,” I thought to myself, “this is bad.”

The only voice of sanity (and sanctity) I encountered in 1974 was that of the then Monsignor Austin Vaughn, then the rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary for the Archdiocese of New York in Dunwoodie, Yonkers. Monsignor Vaughn’s kindness and solicitude were genuine. Things might have been a lot different had I applied at that point to Saint Joseph’s. Again, God wanted me to meet and marry Sharon Collins twenty-six and one-half years later and then become the father of Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey. I did not apply to the Archdiocese of New York for the same reason that I did not keep the appointment with Dr. Krinsky: having come so far so fast in my academic program at such a young age, I thought it would be better to complete the doctorate.

After passing my comprehensive examinations on May 9, 1975, I went down to visit my parents, who had relocated from Long Island to Texas in early 1973. I returned to the Northeast in June of that year, deciding to pay a courtesy call to Father John Martin at the Diocese of Rockville Centre. A curt and abrupt man even on the best of days, Father Martin just ripped into me for being a “coward,” as he saw it, for backing out of the psychological evaluation. He continued to rip into me until he could see tears well up in my eyes as a result of his attacks on a man he did not know at all. When he saw that he had accomplished his objective, he said, “Good. I wanted to see at what point you would break. We have to be careful about who we let into seminary. There are dioceses located within 200-300 miles of here that accept practicing homosexuals. The only way we have to evaluate our candidates is the psychological profile.” Although I thought it was good that he wanted to keep homosexuals out of the priesthood, I was more than a little taken aback by his approach.

Thunderstruck by the way in which he had conducted himself, I wrote Father Martin a four page typewritten letter, explaining to him that there were other ways for him to deal with candidates for the priesthood than to subject them to verbal abuse to see at what point they would “break.” I told him that his approach was not of Our Lord and that it was most prideful of him, contrasting his approach with the gentleness of the good Monsignor Vaughn. He wrote back to me saying that my letter was full of “sneering innuendoes.” I wrote back to him, saying that there were no innuendoes contained in my letter. I had spelled out in no uncertain terms that he was not fit to be a vocations director. I found out later that summer while doing research for my dissertation that other young men had been treated by Father Martin exactly as I had been treated.

Thus, I abandoned my pursuit of a vocation in the diocese where I had lived from its creation in 1957 to my going off to Notre Dame for my Master’s in January of 1973, concentrating on the doctorate and on considering various religious communities. A very orthodox Jesuit by the name of Father Thomas Egan, who was from Port Washington, New York, originally, became my spiritual director while I was completing my dissertation at SUNY Albany and also while I was teaching at Mohawk Valley Community College in 1976-77. He was stationed at the North American Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, New York. In fact, I believe he was the Shrine Director during the time I took spiritual direction from him. He gave me a real education about the state of the Church, believe me.

After considering and discounting the Jesuits and the Vincentians (the vocations director for the Eastern province gave me an article written by a Father Walter Burghardt, S.J., that contended that Protestant “churches” exist by the will of God precisely because they exist!), my old pastor from Saint Aloysius Church in Great Neck, New York, Monsignor Henry Reel, who died in 1987, told me that in March of 1979 that “things had changed” in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. A new bishop, John Raymond McGann, a protege of his, had appointed one of his former curates, a Father Brendan Riordan, to be the vocations director for the diocese. Father Martin had been shifted over to the permanent deacon program. Monsignor Reel told me to consult with him, which I did after moving from Illinois State University, where I taught between 1977 and 1979, to Allentown College of Saint Francis de Sales in May of 1979.

Father Riordan was very friendly, although he said my letter to Father Martin of five years earlier had caused a few waves. He said that it would most likely be the case that I would be ordained within two years once I entered the seminary if I was accepted for study. The then incoming rector, a Monsignor Denis Regan (who I found out later was a notorious supporter of the heresy of the fundamental option, which contends that one has to make a conscious, permanent decision to turn away from God in order to be culpable for one’s sins, vitiating the teaching that even venial sin of its nature is a turning away from God to please self), concurred with that assessment when I met with him briefly in Father Riordan’s office in May of 1979. The stage was thus set for the psychological evaluation with Dr. Krinsky that I had canceled five years before.

Dr. Krinsky was not the friendliest person one will ever meet. He can be described as cold, clinical, almost antiseptic in his approach towards his interviewees. He asked me why I wanted to be a priest. I told him that I wanted to be a priest to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to hear confessions, to administer the other sacraments, and to preach and teach the Faith to souls. That answer would come back to haunt me. Other questions were simply silly, such as, “Who do you love more, your father or your mother?” I responded, “I love them both equally.” He actually frowned at that one. I had to complete what is called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personnel Inventory (MMPI) after that wonderfully warm personal interview with Dr. Krinsky.

Well, I received the results on June 22, 1979, in Father Riordan’s office at 50 North Park Avenue in Rockville Centre, New York. Father Riordan read the report to me, but would not let me have a copy of it (one found its way to me in 1994). Dr. Krinsky wrote that my desire to be a priest to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments was “considered to be preconciliar and self- centered.” My desire to teach and to preach was also considered to be a sign of “self-centeredness.” My desire to live a life of priestly penance and mortification was termed “a source of possible masochism.” I was also said to have “little or no sense of humor.” Dr. Krinsky’s report concluded by saying that while I was “intelligent, creative, and had the capacity for rich, interpersonal relationships,” I “lacked the sufficient flexibility needed to adapt to the changing circumstances of a postconciliar vocation.”'

Father Riordan explained to me that the definitive call to priestly ordination comes when the “community” renders it applause following the imposition of hands by the bishop and the concelebrating priests. The priesthood is about community service just as much as it is about the sacraments, he told me. It was clear that I did not understand the meaning of the priesthood in the wake of Vatican II. He urged me not to proceed with the application to the board of reviewers so as to spare me a formal rejection. I thus withdrew the application at that point.

However, I was really thrown for a loop. Although I had been a daily communicant for a little over five years at that point, it has been only in the previous year that I had developed the routine of the spending time in prayer on a regular basis before the Blessed Sacrament. I accepted God’s will as He had manifested it to me with respect to the Diocese of Rockville Centre. However, I was truly shocked that candidates for the priesthood would have to be subjected to evaluation by a Jewish psychologist, a man who knew nothing about the Catholic priesthood other than the paradigm given him about the priesthood by priests who had revolutionary concepts about their own priesthood.

As I found out a few years later, a letter I sent to Wladyslaw Cardinal Rubin, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Rites and a boyhood friend of a former professor of mine from Saint John’s University, Dr. Tadeusz Cieplak, wound up in the hands of the Papal delegate to the United States. Bishop McGann and Father Riordan evidently had to answer inquiries from Rome about the matter. And a colleague of mine from Illinois State University wrote to Father Riordan to explain to him that Dr. Krinsky’s evaluation of me was unjust and that the concept of the priesthood he was working with was non-Catholic. My fate had been sealed, however, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

My own fitness or lack thereof for priestly ordination is really irrelevant. The Diocese of Rockville Centre had manifested a concept of the Catholic priesthood that was, as my colleague from ISU had noted, decidedly non-Catholic. Indeed, men noted for their orthodoxy had to walk a minefield while attending Immaculate Conception Seminary in Lloyd Harbor, New York. A man I met at Holy Apostles Seminary in 1983, Michael Scott, ordained for the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey in 1987, was thrown out of Immaculate Conception Seminary six months after my meeting with Father Riordan because he was caught consuming fragments of a consecrated loaf of bread that had fallen on the floor of the seminary chapel during the distribution of Holy Communion. Presuming the validity of the matter and understanding that each particle was the complete Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the then Mr. Scott wanted to consume those fragments so that further sacrilege would not be done. He was caught, accused of “Eucharistic scrupulosity” and thrown out of the seminary. Father Scott, who worked closely with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the South Bronx, was told by Mother herself that he would have to do the same thing again if he encountered a similar experience in the future.

The situation in Rockville Centre became so notorious in the 1980s that parish priests who had been through the process in the 1970s or knew how bad things had gotten advised any young man who sought their counsel to seek admission elsewhere, including the Archdiocese of New York. And though the Archdiocese was at first a little reluctant to slap a neighboring diocese in the face, it was the case under the late John Cardinal O’Connor that men from the Rockville Centre diocese were permitted to apply directly to the archdiocesan seminary. One married couple, Arnold and Marcia Pilsner, saw two of their sons leave Seaford, New York, on Long Island to become priests for the Archdiocese of New York (a third become a priest for a religious order). One man from Bellmore, New York, who had been thrown into the wilderness by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Timothy Hirten, just kept persevering in his vocation despite the advance of years and was ordained for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1993 when he was around the age of forty. There are more than a handful of such other stories, although it is also the case that in more recent years orthodox candidates have had less difficulty in the Diocese of Rockville Centre than they once had.

I should have accepted the will of God for me as manifested in the decision of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. College teaching is where I belonged, though I did not accept that as God's definitive will for me at the time. So, I continued to make inquiries, including one of the Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in the Spring of 1980, one Bishop Bernard F. Law. He actually telephoned me in June of that year to commend me for an article I had written about Catholic education, urging me to keep in contact with him through his vocations director, which I did. Ultimately, though, it was Bishop Law’s belief that my views were not “nuanced enough” to serve the needs of a largely rural diocese. I made no formal application. However, Bishop Law believed that I belonged in a “larger metropolitan area” where my views could be more effectively challenged. That’s one of the reasons he, as cardinal archbishop of Boston, did not find Father Paul Shanley’s involvement in the creation of the North American Man-Boy Love Association an insuperable problem. After all, nuance instructs us not to rush to judgments on these matters, right?

Another inquiry concerned the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. A priest, Father Arthur Meloche, who had conducted a parish mission in Normal, Illinois, in September of 1978 thought it might be a good idea for me to visit with Bishop Louis Gelineau, about whom I knew nothing. So, I drove from the Lehigh Valley area, where I taught at Allentown College of Saint Francis de Sales during the 1979-80 academic year, to Providence in June of 1980 to visit with Bishop Gelineau and his vocations director, a Father Halloran, who was nattily attired in a powder blue pinstriped jacket over his clerical shirt. I spoke to both Bishop Gelineau and Father Halloran very frankly about the way in which dissent prevailed at Allentown College, and expressed my hope that liturgical abuses would cease with the issuance of Dominicae Cenae by Pope John Paul II and Inaestimabile Donum by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship.(I did not realize at the time that the Novus Ordo Missae was the ultimate liturgical abuse!) I also discussed the influence of homosexuals in the Church, something that seemed to make Bishop Gelineau more than a little nervous. Not surprisingly, I received a letter back from Father Halloran shortly after my visit in which I was told that it was clear that I was “not living in the spirit of Vatican II.” Indeed.

Additionally, I dropped by Saint Joseph’s Seminary to visit with Monsignor William B. Smith, the noted moral theologian who was also a columnist in the National Catholic Register. He had just written a series of scathing articles concerning the push being made at that time by the Bishops’ Committee for the Liturgy (BCL) for Communion under both kinds. Entitled “Winegate,” the articles were dripping with sarcasm. Thus, I thought it would be good to talk with him frankly about my experiences with Rockville Centre and the influence of theological relativism at Allentown College of Saint Francis de Sales. He listened, but I learned later he formed a very negative opinion of me that has not changed to this very day. Indeed, he told people I know that my efforts to aid a pastor on Long Island in the Spring of 1983, which wound up saving that man’s pastorate, were “meddling” on my part in clerical matters. At the time, though, he said that I should talk to the new rector of the Saint Joseph’s, Monsignor Mescall, if I wanted to apply to the Archdiocese of New York.

I met with Monsignor Mescall in September of 1980, shortly after returning to my beloved Long Island to teach at Nassau Community College. It was not a good meeting. I was gushing with enthusiasm over the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Monsignor Mescall frowned, saying, “This Pope is only a bullet away from death, you know.” That was just a little shy of eight months before Mehmet Ali Agca put bullets in the abdomen and wrist of Pope John Paul II. The point he was making, obviously, was that popes come and go. Anyone, therefore, expecting the “conservatism” of John Paul II to be long lasting would be in for a surprise. (The truth is, of course, that the light of Tradition reveals the early expectations of Pope John Paul II by one time “conservatives” such as myself were entirely misplaced.) It was not a fruitful meeting.

It was about that time that my former pastor from Normal, Illinois, Father John King, reminded me of something he had told me shortly after I had been rejected in a de facto manner by the Diocese of Rockville Centre: that Bishop Edward O’Rourke of Peoria, Illinois, would most likely accept me in a heartbeat. I applied formally to the Diocese of Peoria in the Fall of 1980, speaking to and having correspondence with Father John Myers, the Chancellor and Vocations Director, now Archbishop John Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who became Bishop O’Rourke’s successor in 1988. Upon the advice of Father Meloche, the priest who had conducted a parish mission at Father King’s parish in Normal in September of 1978, I did not inform the Diocese of Peoria that I had applied to the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Father Meloche saidt said, perhaps Jesuitically, that a formal application involved an ultimate decision rendered in writing by the diocese. As I withdrew the application, I could say truthfully that I had never applied. I took his advice, and then stewed in doubt for about a year as to the validity of my acceptance by the Diocese of Peoria.

That doubt was most self-serving, as I was very torn between staying put at Nassau Community College and taking a leave of absence to study for the Diocese of Peoria at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I was very much of a divided mind, not a sign, obviously, of a man who has committed himself to pursue a priestly vocation. However, as noted earlier, I was meant to be at Mount Saint Mary’s in the Fall of 1981 in order to meet many men who would themselves become priests and invite me into their parishes to speak. Additionally, I learned the horror stories of men who had bounced about quite a bit in their search for a diocese to sponsor them for priestly ordination.

It was while at Mount Saint Mary’s from late-August to early-December of 1981 that I found out that there were more than a handful of bishops who were aware that men were being unjustly denied entrance to seminary study because of their orthodoxy. Bishop Thomas Welch of Arlington, Virginia, was most hospitable to men from other parts of the nation, as was Bishop Justin Driscoll of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota, and Bishop Glennon Flavin of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was also very receptive to what were termed “problem vocations.”

Mount Saint Mary’s was in a period of transition when I was there. Some of the professors, such as the late Father Thomas Byrd, were very angry that the freshman class entering in 1981 appeared to me “more conservative” than those in the past. “These are dark days for the Church,” he would say aloud as he walked through the halls watching seminarians finger their Rosary beads. Upperclassmen called those who spent time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer as DOTS (daughters of Trent) or “cookie worshipers.” There were more than a handful of effeminate, if not openly homosexual, men at the Mount in the Fall of 1981. It was not the “Pink Palace,” a moniker reserved for Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. However, at least one seminarian from that entering class in 1981, left the priesthood to live with his partner in perversity after ordination. And after I had made my decision to return to teaching late in the Fall 1981 Semester, many of my classmates inveighed me to go to the rector, Monsignor Richard McGuinness, to inform him that one of our fellows openly supported abortion. That supporter of abortion was ordained in 1985 for a southern diocese.

I was not ready to be in seminary in 1981. When push came to shove, however, the fact that I did not inform the Diocese of Peoria about my application to the Diocese of Rockville Centre just ate and ate and ate at me. Too, I was uncertain that I could make a permanent commitment to live as a priest in the Midwest, and I did not want to do what a number of seminarians at the Mount said at the time they were doing: using one diocese to get ordained as a means of biding their time until their own bishop died and they could go home once more. I had Father Riordan forward Dr. Krinksy’s psychological evaluation to the Diocese of Peoria. Father Myers wrote to me that while the report raised some questions about my ability to live as a priest, certainly in the Midwest, “it could not be read in a largely negative sense.” Ultimately, my doubts persisted to the point of believing it would be wrong to continue to accept the support of the Diocese of Peoria.

As it turned out, my mother was dying of stomach and esophogeal cancer by the time I was at the Mount. We didn’t know it at the time, but we knew that something was wrong with her. She was losing weight rapidly and having difficulty swallowing food. My returning to teaching, albeit at a Catholic high school in Queens until my year’s leave of absence had expired at Nassau Community college, was indeed Providential. I would have missed most of the Spring 1982 Semester if I had stayed at the Mount. Nevertheless, I would return on many occasions in the years afterward, regaling my classmates at the Pizza Hut in Emmitsburg (to the consternation of seminary officials, who made sure that eyes and ears were present several tables away to listen to our frolicking).

You would think that I would have sense to stop the pursuit of the vocation then and there God was not through humbling me into accepting His will once and for all. And He was not through introducing me to men, both priests and seminarians, who would play important parts in my life.

It was evident when I returned to Nassau Community College in the Fall of 1982 that my days there were numbered. The man who had been hired to replace me when I was away during the 1981- 82 academic year was able to stay on at NCC when I came back for the 1982-83 academic year because the other full-time political scientist had taken a year’s research leave. It became apparent that the members of the thoroughly left-leaning History and Political Science Department wanted to find some way to get me out of my tenure track position in order to have their fellow traveler placed in my budgetary line. As it turned out, the fellow who replaced me had a disturbed wife (who later wound up killing herself by stabbing herself over three hundred times) and a severely retarded daughter. He needed that budgetary line more than I did. Thus, I decided to relinquish my budgetary line effective at the end of the 1982-83 academic year. Although my decision placed me in temporal limbo, it did permit me the opportunity to catechize my students even more directly than I had been doing, much to the consternation of the leftists (who knew they could not do a thing to me; I had taken away the only carrot they had to use against me: retention). Indeed, I gave a valedictory address to all of my students on May 17, 1983, in which I gave an apologia for the Holy Faith. One student from a Jewish-Quaker background was received into the Faith by a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, New York, on June 20, 1986.

With no place to pitch my tent for the 1983-84 academic year, several priest friends urged me to continue my pursuit of a priestly vocation. I had met with Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in August of 1982, just a month before his sudden death. Bishop Sullivan had given a home to several men from outside of his diocese, knowing full well that qualified, sensible candidates for the priesthood were being discriminated against in one diocese against another as a result of their orthodoxy. His Chancellor and Vocations Director, Monsignor Robert Bergreen, was very supportive of my interest in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, and he encouraged me to apply to the diocese after Bishop Stanley Ott had been appointment to replace Bishop Sullivan. I met with Bishop Ott in February of 1983 (after being given an earful about the new bishop by Monsignor Cage Gordon, now deceased, who was then the Vicar General of the diocese). He was noncommittal, saying that he had his doubts as to whether a personal with a background in college education could fit in well in Louisiana pastoral life. “I’ll just have to see where the Holy Spirit is leading me as you get closer to ordination.” As I knew that Bishop Ott froze out a transitional deacon who was awaiting ordination to the priesthood at the time of Bishop Sullivan’s death, I was not inclined to accept a conditional acceptance and then be out in the cold with no funds and no place to live.

Father John A. Hardon, though, who helped to place many men who had been screened out of their home dioceses find a bishop to sponsor them, mentioned the President of the Blue Army, Bishop Jerome Hastrich of Gallup, New Mexico. Bishop Hastrich was a kind man. He understood that men were being persecuted because of their orthodoxy when applying for priestly studies. It was his policy to require any man he ordained to the priesthood to spend five years on an Indian “hogan” before giving him his freedom to seek incardination elsewhere, if he wanted to do so. I met with Bishop Hastrich in Detroit, Michigan, during a conference in July of 1983. He was very positive concerning my application, and not at all distressed by the fact that I had helped to save the pastorate of Father Robert Mason at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park by writing to Silvio Cardinal Oddi, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, to document the way in which Rockville Centre Bishop John R. McGann was persecuting priests devoted to the entire Deposit of Faith. However, the assistance I rendered to Father Mason ultimately played a pivotal role in blocking my acceptance by seminaries and dioceses in the years ahead.

Bishop Hastrich accepted me. It was his intention to send me to study at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. Monsignor Connors, who had succeeded Monsignor Mescall as the seminary’s rectory, sent me a letter indicating I had been accepted to study at St. Joseph’s, although I had filled out no formal application. Thus, I sold most of my belongings and made arrangements to vacate the apartment in East Norwich, Long Island, where I had lived from the time I left Mount Saint Mary’s in December of 1981 until that time, August of 1983. The roof caved in shortly after I received Monsignor Connors’s initial letter.

I received a second letter from Monsignor Connors, telling me that he did not realize that I “had applied to and been rejected” by Saint Joseph’s Seminary in the past. I could therefore not be accepted as a seminarian for the Fall 1983 Semester. Absolutely shocked, I telephoned Monsignor Smith, who I did not realize at the time was instrumental in denying me admission. He said that an application need not be made in writing to be considered formal, noting that I had spoken to him and to two of the rectors (Monsignors Mescall and Connors) in recent years. Bishop Hastrich believed at first that I had misled him, although I assured him that I had never even filled out any application form for Saint Joseph’s Seminary, something that Monsignor Connors himself ultimately acknowledged in a written response to an inquiry made by Bishop Hastrich. As I found out a few months later when a document was leaked to me, it was Monsignor Smith, who denounced me in the most scathing terms for “meddling in clerical matters,” who had convinced Monsignor Connors not to accept me. Cardinal Oddi thanked me for having helped Father Mason. Monsignor Smith, who never once spoke to me directly about his antipathy, condemned me.

Bishop Hastrich said that it would be best for me to try to go to Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, to establish myself there for a year before he could make a decision about my future in the Diocese of Gallup. Although I had learned about Holy Apostles when I was at Mount Saint Mary’s, I had never been to the seminary that specialized in “second career vocations” until August 8, 1983.

As a counterpoint to the many dioceses and religious communities that screened out candidates noted for their orthodoxy, Holy Apostles, in order to keep itself afloat financially, took in almost any man who applied. As the aforementioned Michael Scott told me a few months later after he had gotten to know me at Holy Apostles, “I said to myself when I met you, ‘If they accept this man, they’ll take anybody in here.’” There was almost no discrimination present in the acceptance process at Holy Apostles at the time. Indeed, there were more than a handful of men who spent an entire four years in the theologate without ever getting sponsorship from a bishop or a religious community. Desperate to keep their doors open, the seminary took in anybody who had money to pay the room, board and tuition (which was around $5,000) a year or who could sign their name to a student loan form to pay the freight.

Again, this story is not about my own fitness for orders. What I am trying to illustrate is my own pursuit of a priestly vocation in the context of the situation that developed following Vatican II. And while things were indeed terrible in one diocese after another, Holy Apostles actually exploited the situation of men who, for one reason or another, stood next to no chance of obtaining sponsorship from a diocese or a religious community. I perhaps fell into that category myself, given what I had done to help Father Mason earlier in 1983–and given my own personality weaknesses. However, Holy Apostles accepted a man in his seventies who had signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Another man was accepted even though he suffered from a bit of simple senility in his seventies, evidenced by his driving on the wrong side of an interstate highway for about a hundred miles before he realized something was amiss.

To be sure, Holy Apostles did afford some very qualified men the opportunity to get ordained for the priesthood. Father John Trigilio, whose own story is recounted somewhat in Goodbye, Good Men, was at Holy Apostles for a year before he was accepted for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, completing his seminary studies at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pennsylvania. Father David Taurasi, who had been rejected by his home archdiocese, the Archdiocese of Boston, earlier in 1983 (David told me at the time that only three men were accepted for priestly study by Boston in 1983 out of 303 applicants! Tell me, please, there was no screening out of orthodox men!), was ordained for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. Fathers Michael Scott and Anthony Mary Dandry were ordained for the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. Many other men, who would never have stood a chance for priestly ordination, were also ordained.

However, there were more than a few clunkers who got through Holy Apostles. One priest, who was ordained for a southern diocese, was a devotee of hard core pornography. Another priest believed in the heresy that the accidents of bread and wine in the Eucharist actually become the matter of flesh and blood. This fellow also went on the public record in favor of the shooting down of baby- killers. There was yet a third priest ordained after priestly study at Holy Apostles who was taken out of his rectory in the Midwest in a strait jacket shortly after ordination. It was incidents such as these that earned Holy Apostles such nicknames as “Holy Old Fossils Seminary,” “Chock Full of Nuts Seminary,” and “Dr. Moreau’s Island of Lost Vocations.”

For me, though, the one year I spent at Holy Apostles gave me the opportunity to meet Father John Joseph Sullivan, the subject of the “Jackie Boy” piece I included in the late-November/mid- December 2000 issue of Christ or Chaos (and to re-published on this site soon). Father Sullivan was a masterful teaching of dogmatic theology, having been trained at Saint Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, New York, in the late-1930s prior to his ordination to the priesthood on May 22, 1941. A giant of a man who knew the Faith intellectually and defended it with both his brains and his fists, Father Sullivan became a dear friend, a man who would help so many of my former students in the ensuing years. I brought him down to give retreats and talks on Long Island as late as 1992 before his health began to deteriorate and he could no longer travel as much as he had in the past. Father Sullivan alone was worth the price of admission. I also had the opportunity to get to know Father Vincent Miceli better than I had. What a tremendous intellect and fighter for the Faith–and for our living liturgical tradition.

However, there were priests who belonged to the Missionary Society of the Holy Apostles, which ran the seminary at the time, who were a bit contemptuous of Catholic doctrine and tradition.

One of these, Father Patrick Boyhan, tried to discourage the practice of exposing the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance for adoration by the seminary community on Thursday evenings. He wrote an intellectually dishonest monograph, which he sent to every seminarian, to attempt to “prove” that Eucharistic piety was no longer the mind of the Church. He changed two paragraphs found in Inaestimable Donum, took them entirely out of context, and then attributed them to the Holy Father. As I was, for better or for worse, familiar with the conciliar and postconciliar documents (believing at the time that all we needed was enforcement of the “proper” Vatican II intent), I went to town on Father Boyhan’s intellectual dishonesty, writing a seven page treatise that destroyed his every premise. Father Boyhan admitted he had done what I had charged him with, though he vowed to exact revenge quite publicly when he met with students to discuss the matter early that Fall 1983 Semester (which revenge was made manifest in the Spring of 1984).

My decision to go to Holy Apostles meant that I, again, had no place to live when the seminary was not in session, as had been the case when I left Oyster Bay in the summer of 1981 to go to Mount Saint Mary’s. Unlike my earlier experience, however, I had no safety net to fall back on in case things came a cropper at Holy Apostles. Although I was adjuncting at Saint John’s University in Queens on Saturdays in the graduate program of the Department of Government and Politics (making $88 twice a month), I was at the mercy of friends for places to stay on the weekends and during the semester breaks. However, my decision to go to Holy Apostles resulted in a series of financial catastrophes that would snowball and not be fully resolved until July of 2001. No job, no home, no means to support myself. I simply trusted that I would get sponsorship and that the student loan I had taken out would be, as Father Frank Fajella, then the vocations director for the seminary, told me, paid by the diocese of religious community “that picked me up.”

Well, although I did very well in my studies and was able to complete all of my moral theology courses by means of challenge examinations (examinations designed to prove my knowledge of the subject matter independent of actual course work), I was too much of a marked man by the time I was at Holy Apostles. Rejected by Corpus Christi, I was conditionally accepted by the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina. I found the conditions, though, to be less than propitious. And, not surprisingly, I was voted out of Holy Apostles by the faculty in May of 1984 as a direct result of what had happened during the Fall of 1983 concerning Eucharistic adoration. An effort spear-headed by the rector, Father Leo Ovian, and Father William Heidt (aided by Fathers Miceli and Sullivan) resulted in a compromise: I would be allowed to return in the Fall of 1984 I agreed to receive psychological counseling as to why I had acted the way I did during the Fall of 1983. Those who were in my corner said that they had done the best they could have under the circumstances.

I did not discount the possibility of returning. However, I had determined in the Spring of 1984 that I would only return if had secured sponsorship for my continued studies at Holy Apostles. I did not want to be $10,000 in debt after two years of study and without sponsorship. My return to Holy Apostles all depended on whether the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, would accept me. Things looked positive. The psychological report for the Diocese was positive. My interviews with the lay members of the “vocations discernment process” went fairly well. Alas, I shot myself in the foot when my loud, sonorous voice was booming out the news of my pending acceptance by Metuchen in early July (or thereabouts) of 1984 after attending Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa Park, New York, on a Sunday. To paraphrase Ralph Kramden, ‘I HAVE A BIIIIIIG MOUTH!” I was overheard by parishioners who were most unsympathetic to Father Mason–and very angry at me for helping to save his pastorate. (A copy of the letter I wrote to Cardinal Oddi was stolen from the purse of the woman was the high school religious education director at OLL while she was attending Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week in 1983, just days after Cardinal Oddi had intervened to help Father Mason. The two priests who had been sent into the parish in June of 1982 to foment trouble against Father Mason confronted him with the letter moments after it had disappeared from Marion Harrington’s purse. The purloined letter later wound up on Bishop McGann’s desl. I kid you not, I am not making any of this up.) They wrote, as I found out from Michael Scott, an “anonymous” letter to Bishop Theodore McCarrick to urge my rejection by the Diocese of Metuchen. And that letter did me in, although the vocations director, Monsignor Anthony Gambino, who revealed this tidbit to Scott, also said of me, “He’s crazier than a bedbug.”

Well, that was it. I decided that it would imprudent to return to Holy Apostles. Instead, I tried to eke out a living by adjuncting three courses in political science in the Fall 1984 and Spring 1985 Semesters at Saint John’s University, making the grand sum of $254 twice a month. A quite lengthy period of homelessness lasted between December of 1984 and August of 1985. There were more than a few nights when I had to sleep in my car and shower in the gymnasium facilities at Saint John’s University.

There were a few efforts after Holy Apostles to pursue a vocation to the priesthood. I made inquiries of Monsignor John McCarthy, the founder of the Oblates of Wisdom, in 1984 and 1985. However, all efforts to raise funds for my incidental expenses and travel proved fruitless (and I made lots and lots of inquiries). And the aforementioned Father Sullivan urged me in December of 1990 to consider being ordained by a Filipino bishop who wanted to establish chapels of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration around the world. I did look into it in August of 1991, but concluded that Bishop Felix Zafra of Tagbiliran City was exercising poor judgment by laying his hands on the heads of men who he did not know and had no jurisdiction over for priestly orders. Indeed, several of the Americans he ordained proved to be monumentally disastrous. When he failed to heed the warning of the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines to stop his unauthorized ordinations, the Holy Father removed Bishop Zafra in November of 1991, several months after he ordained three American men to the priesthood he had met some six weeks before. Part of this story was written up in The Remnant in August of 2004.

Finally, acting upon the recommendation of Bishop James Sullivan of Fargo, North Dakota, who I served physically in Fargo in 1988-89–and continued to serve in a writing capacity until 1998, I applied to the Diocese of Pensacola, Florida, in the Fall of 1992 while I was teaching at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Alas, the Bishop McGann-Cardinal Oddi-Father Mason incident was a determining factor there, along with other factors.

Everything happens in God’s Providence. He writes straight with crooked lines, and there are few lines more crooked than those found within this writer. I got quite an education during the process of my pursuit of what I thought might be a priestly vocation. As I was to find out in April of 2001, however, I was called to the married state. I was meant to be the father of Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey (and however many other children God sees fit to send us) for all eternity, and to be the husband of the former Sharon Collins until death does us part. This is my state-in-life. It took me until nearly the age of fifty to discern God’s will for me. Admittedly, as I noted at the beginning, my own pride and willfulness and the cumulative effect of my sins made this process of discernment infinitely more difficult. However, God meant to humble me into submission. And God knew that I would come to embrace our living liturgical tradition, something that would have caused me a great many problems had I found myself ordained for the diocesan priesthood.

What I did learn along the way, however, was that there has been and continues to be a crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States (and elsewhere) concerning the screening out of candidates for the priesthood who are orthodox and the screening in of those who are “malleable” (that is, open to “diverse” theological “opinions”) and of those who are subtly effeminate, if not outright homosexuals. My quest for a priestly vocation did help me in very large measure to find my way, although admittedly in a very round about manner, to the Immemorial Mass of Tradition.

If Michael Rose’s great work in Goodbye, Good Men does not reflect the truth, then a number of good priests and bishops who have helped men rejected in their own home dioceses all had to be wrong over the years. In addition to the bishops I mentioned earlier in this article, Bishops Charles Chaput (when he was Bishop of Rapid City), James Sullivan of Fargo, Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, Paul Dudley of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Rene H. Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas, Walter Curtis of Bridgeport, Connecticut, each would have had to have been living in a fantasy world if the problems documented by Mr. Rose did not prompt them to accept men for priestly study who had been persecuted time and again because of their orthodoxy. Indeed, even Bishop Myers, when he was Bishop of Peoria was willing to accept men being spirited to him for priestly study from a neighboring diocese until the bishop of that neighboring diocese complained about the matter. This has not deterred, however, a priest committed to fostering vocations from taking men from that diocese elsewhere, including to traditional communities.

As I came to learn much too late in my life, the postconciliar vocations crisis is entirely the direct result of the doctrinal and liturgical revolutions against the Holy Faith. Many ordained priests who have come to recognize this themselves are now seeking out the fullness of Tradition. The Society of Saint Pius X has received over 400 requests for an instructional video on the Traditional Latin Mass from priests who have come to realize that they must reject the Novus Ordo Missae and all of the attendant errors and novelties engendered by conciliarism. I have used several articles in The Remnant to plead with priests to abandon the new Mass and to offer the faithful what is their absolute due, the Traditional Latin Mass, which does not depend upon an “indult” from any bishop, including the Pope, for its offering by a validly ordained priest. The time to flee from the horror of the Novus Ordo Missae is now. Not later. Now. I am gratified to learn that a few priests are making inquiries of Fathers Patrick Perez and Father Lawrence Smith of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California, and Father Stephen P. Zigrang at Queen of Angels Church in Dickinson, Texas.

If one denies reality, one will live in angry denial. This is evidently what has happened with the critics of Goodbye, Good Men. It is those critics that were wrong, not Michael Rose and his Goodbye, Good Men. Perhaps some other author will write the necessary follow-up book, Goodbye, New Mass. There must be a total rejection of the new Mass and the synthetic, syncretist faith it enshrines and propagates.

The Church is divinely founded. She will last until the end of time. The jaws of Hell will never prevail against her. We are living at exactly the moment God has known from all eternity that we would be alive. His grace is sufficient for us to deal with the aftermath of the liturgical and doctrinal revolutions that have devastated His vineyard that is Holy Mother Church. By relying upon Our Lady–and making sacrifices so that some Pope might actually honor her Fatima requests and actually consecrate Russia to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart–and being totally consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, we know that our efforts to restore Tradition will bear fruit in an abundance of priestly vocations for men to offer Mass that begins with a priest addressing God at the foot of the altar and ends with the Gospel of the Incarnation.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.

A Short Bibliography for Recommended Reading About the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae

As Father Patrick Perez noted in his interview with me, published on this site on March 4, 2005, and in the March issue of Catholic Family News, the following works are most helpful to learn more about the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae: Michael Davies' 3-volume work The Liturgical Revolution, The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, The Great Façade, We Resist You to the Face, The Problems with the New Mass, The Problems with the Orations of the New Mass, and Iota Unum. I would also add Michael Davies' pamphlets on Dignitatis Humanae (The Declaration on Religious Liberty) and Mass Facing the People, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani's Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae, Michael Davies' Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II, Father Paul Kramer, ed., The Devil's Final Battle, Attila Guimarae's In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, and my own G.I.R.M. Warfare, which is about to enter its second edition. Also instructive are: Michael Davies' three volume Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Tissier's biography of Archbishop Lefebvre (each of which is available from Angelus Press, Kansas City, Missouri). The Society of Saint Pius X has marvelous apologetics materials to explain the State of Emergency that justifies the late Archbishop Lefebvre's episcopal consecrations of June, 1988. These can be examined at: www.sspx.org. Finally, there are a number of articles on this site that deal with the crisis we face in the Church.


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