Los Angeles paving the way to the brave new future of the Church

Los Angeles paving the way to the brave new future of the Church

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles appears to be well on its way to preparing for the ordination of women and for simultaneously degrading the uniqueness of the priesthood.

In a laudatory piece in the diocesan newspaper The Tidings, we read of the appointment of a religious sister as “Parish Life Director.” Oh sure, she’s not given the actual title of “pastor”, but that’s what is intended. After all, listen to the auxiliary bishop who installed her.

Following the song, Our Lady of the Angels Region Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark, told Sister Collier in front of the congregation, “The salvation of the souls of all these people is in your hands.” And then he looked at the people and said, “Her salvation is in your hands.”

According to canon law (#519), it is to the pastor that pastoral care of a parish is entrusted. Yes, there is provision made for the appointment of others in the case of a dearth of priests (#517, art. 2) to participate in the pastoral care of a parish, but a priest is still to be endowed with the powers and faculties of a pastor.

But not in the case of Sr. Collier and St. Agatha parish. In this case, the priest is just the “sacramental minister.”

She will work closely with a collaborative leadership team that includes Father Bill Axe, priest minister; Deacon Ricardo Recinos; Tere Amezcua, director of the Spanish Apostolate; and Sal Trujillo, business administrator. ... But the final authority is Sister Collier. “She is the central leader of the parish, the one that makes the day-to-day decisions and empowers other people to use their gifts in the mission of the church,” says St. Joseph of Carondelet Sister Sister Carol Quinlivan, director of the archdiocesan Office of Parish Life, which administers the Parish Life Director (PLD) program.

Priests don’t wish to be pastors

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  • Sherry,

    You misunderstand me. I’m well aware of the phenomenon of laypeople being appointed to administer parishes. I wasn’t making general statements about all parishes.

    This has to do specifically with Los Angeles taking advantage of the program to advance an agenda. By their own admission they have the priests to be pastors. And no matter what, only priests can be pastors.

    This is not some rural diocese with 30 priests for 200 parishes. This is an urban diocese with plenty of priests.

  • Sherry: Canon law says every parish must have a pastor. The pastor must be a priest. An administrator can be appointed to take some of the duties, but the responsibility for pastoral care is the pastor’s and no one else’s.

    If a priest is assigned to the parish, then he must be pastor. No one else can be pastor.

    If you read the story I linked, the priest is not supervising the PLD. She is his boss.

    And referring to a priest as the sacramental minister reduces him to his function and undermines the reality that the priesthood is more than just dispensing sacraments.

  • Okay, I’m sorry Sherry, but you’re not getting it. No offense, but the situation at your parish is irrelevant.

    We’re not talking about a mission diocese. We’re talking about the largest archdiocese in the US. My precise point is that they are using a loophole in canon law and taking advantage of a program suited to mission dioceses to do what they don’t need to do.

    The priest is on staff, but he’s not the pastor. Why, if not to advance an ideological agenda?

  • Sherry

    I live in a rural diocese in Australia so I am well aware of the situation you describe. However, I think you are being disingenuous in claiming that this has nothing to do with an agenda. Check the following link


    You will note first that the PLD is listed above the “Spiritual Minister”. Secondly if you go to the History page you will see that the last two entries in the lsit of Pastorsare both Sisters even though Fr Swain is listed as Pastor from 1998 through to the present. The implication is that Sr Johanne is in charge of the church and Fr Swain is merely a minister, just like an acolyte, server etc.

    I think a great part of this so-called crisis arises from the culture of entitlement within Western society exploited by those whose agenda is to abolish the heirarchical structure of the church. By the Culture of entitlement i mean the belief that as Catholics we are entitled to have communion provided for us every Sunday. As a child we had Mass once a month. Father would arrive early in the morning so we could go to confession and then we would have Mass. If mum felt in need of communion she would persuade dad to drive us the 50km to the parish centre (it was a fair distance in those old cars). Weekly reception of communion is not a necessity although desirable. During the 1960’s there was a priest explosion here and many small villages that had previously been missions suddenly became parishes. Now they are missions again but people expect to still receive the same servie as when they had a priest. What makes this even more ridiculous is that today’s cars make travelling 50km a simple 30 minute drive. We expect to be served in this day and age rather than make the effort to get to God’s house. This is often coupled with priests who prefer to “9-5” it and so discourage missions and the requisiste travel. So between priests disinclined to travel and parishioners demanding communion as mandatory when they go to church a priest “shortage” has been created which those who have an agenda to move towards a lay run church and/or married and female priests have been able to exploit. I might add that both the above agendas are essentially protestant. This is the Reformation by stealth not by open protest.

  • Stacey

    Thank you for answering Tim for me. I agree about the confusion. Many of today’s Catholics see Communion as the requirement not attendance at Mass. Also even though the Mass obligation is dispensed if you cannot get to a church I have come across Catholics who have reversed the obligation to claim that the Church must provide communion to the faithful. I have known some who refuse to make a 10 minute journey to a neighbouring church to attend Mass. There is a great need for a renewed catachesis of the faithful.


    Although you say you will leave this discussion I think it is worth pointing out that several Australian dioceses and bishops have been quite open in their reasoning behind PLD’s. One bishop in Queensland notoriously rejected the option of overseas priests and claimed that the priest shortage was a blessing as it would lead to a more lay lead Church. You are beginning to sound like those who plead complexity of issues to avoid having their simplistic agenda exposed. I note also that you seem to have a personla commitment to PLD’s which at the very least calls into question your neutrality.