Nun Serves as Parish Priest in Two Parishes?!!

Chaucer fans might get the reference!
I was very concerned to read this post from Fr. Dwight Longnecker on Saturday. Fr. Dwight is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England.

He was brought up in an Evangelical home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight.

Realising that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. To read Fr Longenecker’s conversion story or to listen to the audio version connect to the archived articles section of his blog.

This is his post (with my emphasis) which I re-blog in full here because I think it is extremely important that we are all aware of how bad things are in some places, also I am concerned that his readership is largely in the USA and this might give the story a little more UK coverage:

When I lived in England I had a very illuminating conversation with one of the high ups in my diocese.

It happened to be vocations Sunday and I commented on the dearth of vocations to the priesthood.

He smiled and said in that smooth way the English have, “Well that depends how you look at it. Many of don’t believe we have a vocations crisis at all. If anything we have too many priests.”

I was shocked because my experience was that priests were aging and not being replaced and the parishes were failing and numbers attending Mass was dropping and part of this was due to the lack of priests.

The Monsignor went on to explain, “We are already too clericalised. If we had fewer priests the people would be able to run the parishes.” He went on to tell me how it was deliberate diocesan policy to cut back on the number of priests and to discourage vocations.

This certainly seemed to be true when we considered that some Catholic bishops refused to ordain any convert clergy from the Church of England and we were constantly frustrated and confused at the number of good young men who were turned down when they applied for the priesthood.

Then the monsignor explained another underlying reason for this policy: “You see, the Holy Spirit wants the church to have women priests. The Anglicans have seen this. Everyone else has seen this, but Rome won’t budge. If we have fewer priests, then the parishes can be administered by laypeople. They can do ninety five percent of what a priest does in the parish…”

I completed his train of thought, “…and if laypeople can do the job, then you can appoint women to run the parishes.”

He smiled, “Exactly.”

It comes as no surprise therefore that the progressive Catholic paper The Tablet reports here about Sr Yvonne Pilarski who has been appointed as administrator of a couple of parishes in England.

Sr. Pilarski, The Tablet interestingly call this jpeg "nunpriest"; says it all really!
No doubt Sister Pilarski does a good job administering the parish, visiting the sick and keeping the show on the road, and in theory I don’t actually have a problem with a woman administering the parish, but what is most interesting about the story is the subtext, and the knowledge that this has not happened by chance. It has all been deliberately engineered.

The Tablet editors have long been in favor of the whole liberal agenda in the church and their news article makes no bones about the fact that they perceive Sister Yvonne as the parish priest.

Fr Paul Hardy said Sr Yvonne Pilarski, whose official title is “pastoral administrator” of Christ the King Church in Milton Keynes, had been universally accepted by the people.

“I’ve seen the congregation treating her exactly as if she was their parish priest,” he said. “They’ve taken it very well – she is obviously their resident person and that’s how she’s treated. If she wants something to happen, it happens.”

Not content to refer to Sister as being treated “exactly as if she was their parish priest.” he goes on and says, “She is very much the boss…She’s a very good parish priest – she has that feminine quality that parish priests don’t have.”

One is not surprised that the liberal Catholic churchmen in England have continued down this premeditated and engineered (and devious) route, but that they openly call Sister “a parish priest” is absolutely jaw dropping. Not content to blur the distinctions by appointing her administrator they confuse matters even more by calling her “the parish priest”.

I do not criticize my fellow Catholic clergy by name, but I will say here and now that the ten years I spent as a Catholic layman in England–working close up with the Catholic hierarchy makes me not surprised or shocked at all by this behavior.

Clergy can be devious and manipulative and secretive at times, and often they have a good reason to play their cards close to their chest, but a few members of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales (those Damien Thompson calls “the magic circle”) are the most secretive, devious, duplicitous and schemingly oily inside operators I have ever come across.

This article is typical of their behavior.

In The Tablet article this Fr Hardy said he thought Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who appointed Sr Yvonne to her new role in the autumn, had been very courageous, adding: “We can’t replace priests who die or retire any more, and this is a way forward." Yes indeed, who would want to increase vocation or work on turning the concerning decline thereof around anyway? Following this logic, I wonder what will happen when the diocese run out of nuns? Can't be far away surely?

Sr Yvonne, who lives in the presbytery at Christ the King with fellow nun, Sr Eileen McElhone, was born in Glasgow to a Corsican mother and a Polish father. She became a teacher before entering the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and from 1991-2013 she worked at Cardinal Newman School in Luton, eventually becoming its chaplain and head of Religious Education.

I think what particularly sends a shiver down my spine is the familiarity of this attitude. It is the "ACTA" attitude, the attitude of managing decline belonging to a certain age group who's heretical aspirations were not fulfilled by Vatican II. This is an attitude which seems so out of place in a Catholic Church which is actually growing (it strikes me that initiatives like this from the Bishop of Shrewsbury are a more appropriate action plan). I have come across it myself, although not from clergy, thank God. I have even met a Catechist in one parish who told me that priests were irrelevant and there was no priesthood mentioned in the Bible. Don't worry, I got a Bible and showed him how wrong he actually was, but it is demonstrative of how incredibly ignorant people in key positions in parishes can be. Anyway, if this is meant to be some sort of solution, it is a short lived one as there are far less female vocations than male ones! It can only be a nefarious stepping stone toward pushing the necessity of female ordination? "We've got no men left so we have to ordain women"? Could this wacky logic really be driving some of our leaders? The mind truly boggles!


  1. Several years ago I was chatting to a priest whom I know very well. He told me that he had, then, recently visited New Zealand and he mentioned calling in at a place called Arrowtown which is a small village not far from the very popular holiday destination in the South Island, called Queenstown. I happened to mention that I had been at the last Mass which the Parish Priest said in Queenstown before he left there destined for Williamstown. There was no priest to replace him and this is absolutely one of the very top holiday destinations for New Zealanders. He had been responsible for saying Mass in various Chapels in the villages around and these would all cease. On the mention of Arrowtown, my priest friend mentioned that he had visited there and he had also found the Catholic Church there and so, with my experience of the place I asked him what was happening about Mass in those places since the only priest had been moved from there. He told me that he had come across a nun in Arrowtown church and had mentioned that, had he knwn of the situation, he could easily have said Mass there on the Sunday. The nun bristled at this suggestion and quite pointedly declared that she had it all in order and she conducted Liturgies of the Word there and he was not needed to say Mass there!!!!!


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