Diogenes asks how anyone can be so tone-deaf as to believe that a priest who does clown ministry should be your literal poster boy for priestly vocations as the Milwaukee diocese has done.
Putting aside the fact that many people are creeped out by clowns, it’s hard to see the point of foregrounding this kind of story as part of vocation promotion. Vocational instability is a huge problem today—not exclusively in the priesthood, true, but notoriously so therein. Why lead with an image that is not only equivocal as to adulthood, but suggests vocational straddling? Why not feature a man who finds the spiritual satisfactions of his priestly life—not in social work or dance or twisting balloons into animal shapes—but in sacramental ministry? After all, do we want to entice into the priesthood the kind of 22-year-old male that would be attracted by Stripes?
Plus it’s all just so … Seventies!
This reminds me of a classic Bettnet post from 2003: The “Vile” File. It consisted of newspaper clippings of clown Masses and priests of the early post-Vatican II days (including one from Milwaukee!)
Things must be getting better in the Church if only because this kind of wackiness—while not gone altogether—is much rarer than it once was.