By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 19, 2007

Writing in the NCR on the hardships of full-time ministry for a Catholic woman, Karen O'Brien fears her gifts may be wasted on the typical slob-in-the-pew:

Yet I can attest to the fact that not having much support from the home office, or a supportive group of peers in ministry with whom to meet, share and collaborate on a regular basis can slowly kill you, and that a well-educated woman with a master of divinity degree can often feel lonely, isolated and misunderstood when working in areas where the majority of her parishioners do not share her level of education or her theological views.
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  • Posted by: Aussie - Jan. 22, 2007 10:44 PM ET USA

    "where the majority of her parishioners do not share her level of education or her theological views." If an engineer designs bridges that keep on colapsing he can't blame car drivers for not valuing his education or his views on structural integrity. In stead of complaining perhaps she should see it as a growth opportunity and re-assess her "theological views"

  • Posted by: Italiana - Jan. 21, 2007 7:18 PM ET USA

    Right. We all have HIGHER education levels than she and therefore share our orthodox theological views with each other on our own levels.

  • Posted by: Lisieux - Jan. 20, 2007 4:13 PM ET USA

    Balt's point about the ministry being (unconsciously) sought as therapy for the minister is, I think, true: but possibly more applicable to women than men (only a few years Catholic, but for nearly 30 years in evangelical churches with women in full-time ministry. My one-time best friend (we're still friendly) is now an Anglican 'priest', and vicar of a church in England; I love her dearly, but she has many emotional and marital problems which the ministry helps her to come to terms with.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 20, 2007 9:40 AM ET USA

    Dear Karen -- It's lonely at the top.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 20, 2007 8:49 AM ET USA

    To Deacon Bart: Keep up the good work; the health of the church depends on sacrifices those like you make. Remember Paul Johnson's observation, too: marriage is the hardest unpaid job on Earth.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 10:34 PM ET USA

    Did anyone actually read the story in the NCR? Why link to a premium content web page that requires a paid subscription? I for one am not about to help NCR by purchasing a subscription!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 8:42 PM ET USA

    Patriarch, with all due respect, I wouldn't let Mzzzz. O'Brien within 10 miles of any poor child.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 7:05 PM ET USA

    It sounds like she got her "Masters" from a CPE course. I would like to ask her if she made her Holy Hour, attended daily Mass and went to Confession once a month before we delve into her deep distress.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 5:13 PM ET USA

    Ratzinger, I didn't think your Holiness would have a few minutes to spare to deliver this minister from her moribund state. I'm sure she would prefer to engage in a conversation on a higher level but your bluntness this time around serves the purpose. Besides it'd be uncharitable to run circles around her theological wisdom.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 4:40 PM ET USA

    Meanwhile, quietly falling through the cracks are millions of Catholic children who could be/should be getting a good inexpensive Catholic education at the hands of dedicated women religious. Now only children of the well-to-do or extraordinarliy dedicated, mostly college educated parents are going to be well-formed in the faith. The children of the blue collar worker, the illegal immigrant, the poor grow up with nothing, because too many women neglect their God-given vocation in the Church.

  • Posted by: Deacon Bart - Jan. 19, 2007 4:30 PM ET USA

    I work really hard to be a good husband and deacon.It isn't about "ministry" filling my needs, its about serving my family and Church unto death in the model of Jesus to the best of my ability with God's grace.I refused a Masters from San Fran. during my formation;my advanced degree is in Physics.I have often been grateful for that fact.That kind of learning can kill the soul.God deliver us from those who use the Church to feed their pride and become an occasion of sin to the Lord's flock.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 3:59 PM ET USA

    Ahhhh yes. The elitism of liberalism.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 3:50 PM ET USA

    What is it about positions in "ministry" that turns ordinary (and I do mean ordinary) people into totally condesending buffoons?

  • Posted by: Meg Q - Jan. 19, 2007 3:49 PM ET USA

    Well, see, this is why you hire your mom as housekeeper, have a good whiskey on the rocks every other night or so, go golfing, get the local Ford dealer (a parishioner) to give you a deal on a new model maybe every 4 years, and if all goes well in 20 years or so become the protagonist of a J. F. Powers novel . . . . . .oh, guess not. Well, maybe you can just be thankful that you can be an "occasion of penance" for others. The breviary might help, too.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 3:48 PM ET USA

    Excuse me for failing to be impressed with a master's degree. I have one, most of my friends have them. My sister-in-law has a PHD. The Devil has an master's degree in Theology. ( I think he teaches at Notre Dame). Pardon me If I'm not impressed. Master's degrees grow on trees. Therese of Lisieux had no degree but I dare Ms. O'Brien to compare her scribblings to the prose of the Little Flower. If she wants to find simlar views try the Unitarians.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 3:37 PM ET USA

    How arrogant! Her degree must have been from one of the modern Jesuit emporiums of perversity since she can't relate to the poor, simple folks who show up every day raising families and doing the Lord's work.

  • Posted by: Balt - Jan. 19, 2007 2:38 PM ET USA

    Sorry to sound off again but: The real sin here is that it is the modern Church herself which has actually encouraged her in her "ministry" in the name of Lay Empowerment, thus discouraging her from actually doing the Lord's work by--dare I say it?--for example, marrying and rearing children in the faith. The human author of the Book of Revelations is correct: the devil comes as an angel of light, in this case making the actual apostolate of the Church impotent in the name of the Church herself.

  • Posted by: sparch - Jan. 19, 2007 2:12 PM ET USA

    That is exactly why ministries are valuable. Putting people in a position to share their strengths with those who are in need of assistance. If you are looking down on those you help, I'll bet you fell over and you should think about picking yourself up.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 2:12 PM ET USA

    Hey, I feel for her. St. Francis Xavier had a similar problem. But his faith and humility, his courage and tenacity brought him the splendor of grace. As soon as Karen (is it?) puts away her wet hanky, perhaps she might follow the call of the missions. There must still be a lonely, isolated island off the coast of China where she could spend her remaining days in meditation on the (and her) sin of pride.

  • Posted by: Balt - Jan. 19, 2007 1:58 PM ET USA

    Another example of how "ministry" is primarily for the minister. Maybe someone will write a book one day on why vulnerable people gravitate to church related careers, and how it results in "ministers" whose primary focus is healing their own wounds, and whose "ministry" is mostly to themselves. In the mean time, I'm reminded of what a very sensible nun in the parish I was assigned to once said to me in exasperation: "Where are all the normal people at?"

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 1:20 PM ET USA

    Perhaps she should consider becoming Episcopalian. According to (no longer) my Presiding Bishopette, responding to why the Episcopal Church was declining so rapidly, Episcopalians have fewer children because they are better educated than all those other benighted Christians. Ms. O'Brien's new congregation would share her level of education and, presumably, her theological views (if any). And every year, there would be fewer of them for her to have to deal with.

  • Posted by: ladybird - Jan. 19, 2007 1:10 PM ET USA

    Couldn't resist this one! Poor pet! She's never going to find a "...supportive group of peers in ministry..." precisely because the "...majority of her (huh?) parishioners do not share her (presumably lofty) level of education or her theological views." What a vain, petulant, boor!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2007 12:42 PM ET USA

    Ministering "where the girls are" -- she should check out the Diocese of Phoenix, which has some femmes recently "honorably retired" from the priesthood, all of whom undoubtedly share her theological views, shaped as they are by her superior education, which must have taken at least a whole year or two to acquire after she graduated from college. Of course, Ms. O'Brien would have felt lonely and isolated from the unlearned men Christ gathered around him, too. No support group in Judea for her.