July 2016: The Apostolate behind the Apostolate
Often, we ask for donations for a specific project or fundraising effort. This month, Fr. Wegner asks the faithful to look from afar...
One of my great joys as District Superior is speaking with the faithful across the country. It is always inspiring to visit with parishioners from different backgrounds and learn what led them to the traditional Catholic Faith and the Latin Mass. These conversations often include questions about when a new church will be built, or bought, or a school enlarged. I hear these pleas for new chapels or better schools and wish I could do these things and more. The need for such improvements is pressing, but limited resources make for hard decisions. In reality, I must give preference to one project over another or delay urgent projects until another day.
As I listen to the concerns of these faithful, I notice an almost universal misconception of how the US District operates on an organizational and financial level. Many people imagine the US District as a sort of national priory with authority over the other priories, living easily off contributions coming in from around the country. This image is far from the truth. The district office in Kansas City is more like a central command center. Its clerical and lay staff work in a variety of departments to serve priories, schools, clergy, and the faithful, providing the behind-the-scenes support that allows priests to spend more time ministering to spiritual needs and gives them abilities beyond their years in the practical realm.
Consider some of our newly ordained priests. Although blessed with zeal and youthful energy, many of these young men are still in their twenties, without experience handling the complex financial, organizational, and legal challenges which will come their way in their apostolates. Running a chapel or a school is much like running a small business—duties such as managing personnel, purchasing equipment and real estate, and dealing with payroll are a normal part of the life of an SSPX priest. Imagine juggling all of that when you are just out of school, have no experience, and when all these challenges are outside the area that you have studied! By providing these young priests with support and guidance on various business issues—such as accounting, travel, construction, zoning, insurance, government regulations, fundraising, human resources, and legal matters—the priests are enabled to focus their energies on their supernatural priestly duties: the praise of God and the care of souls.
It is easy to see how a truly functional district office can facilitate the priestly apostolate and how much confusion and inefficiency would ensue if we were not helping to organize, advise, and direct the myriad projects of the over 100 chapels, priories, and schools around the US!
Based at the Regina Coeli House, just north of Kansas City, this central nerve center makes the building and the growth of chapels and schools possible, but not by funding the projects directly. Contrary to what you might think, the district office operates on a spartan budget to help chapels do well what they would be unable to do on their own.
Each month my letter includes a photo of a small boy with a telescope, indicating the glimpse I hope to share with you of some important project in the US—projects that through the generosity of so many are doing much for the good of souls and the glory of God.
- In Michigan, new buildings for St. Joseph’s Church and Academy will allow for growth and a solid future.
- Our Lady of Sorrows in Phoenix now stands as a monument to the glory of God and what dedicated, faithful Catholics can accomplish.
- St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary will open in Virginia this fall for a larger-than-ever group of young men pursuing priestly vocations.
- The SSPX schools in Ridgefield, CT and Nicholville, NY have both been able to make needed repairs and have invested in improvements to both curricula and teachers to solidify the educational future of Catholics on the East Coast.
These individual undertakings are success stories that we can all thank God for, but they are not isolated efforts. Each is an important part of our apostolate in this country and the district office is the often-forgotten “parent” of these inspiring endeavors.
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The Big Picture
This month, I want to hand you the telescope and have you “zoom out” in order to share a view of the district from my perspective. Instead of highlighting another project, I hope to take a step back and look at the big picture. As traditional Catholics, we have a treasure that our confused modern world desperately needs. Souls are hungry for the truth and we must solidify our position, practically speaking, so we can reach out to them. We have come far in the past year but there are still pressing needs everywhere. The crisis in the Church shows no sign of ending anytime soon. At the same time, the SSPX continues to flourish and exercise a growing influence on the Church.
The Role of the Regina Coeli House
As we brace ourselves for a long-term fight, the role of the Regina Coeli House becomes even more crucial. Our chapels, priories, and schools, scattered all too sparsely across the nation, must band together to maximize their impact for the good of souls. The team of priests and lay professionals in Kansas City perform essential roles to allow for this efficient functioning. They keep our individual apostolates focused on the mission of our founder, Archbishop Lefebvre: to form holy priests and sanctify them. The urgency the Archbishop felt to preserve the Catholic priesthood and the traditional Latin Mass is lived out in a practical way in the myriad details handled by the district office. Organization and efficiency were qualities Archbishop Lefebvre expected of those who worked with him: “Why should we use less intelligence than worldly people to organize our ministry…?” The staff at the Regina Coeli House do their best each day to live up to his standards.
You have responded generously to the individual projects I have introduced to you throughout the past year, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Now I ask you to see yourself and your fellow Catholics as important parts making up the sum of SSPX-run parishes throughout the country, no matter how small or large.
Look at the Society in the US as a whole and join with the thousands of first-time benefactors who have caught the vision over the past 12 months. The challenges that face us in the future are formidable, but in my travels I have seen a growing momentum that gives me profound hope. Please show your confidence in the work of the Society of Saint Pius X by a gift of $100, $250, or whatever you can afford to help us to continue assisting our priests, chapels, and schools in 2016.
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With trust in your continued generosity I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Jürgen Wegner
United States District Superior
PS: Please consider a generous gift to help our priests. Or, join our Partnership with Priests program for a convenient way to support us with an automatic monthly gift. Either way, your donation will play an important part in supporting our young priests and promoting the traditional Catholic Faith across the US!