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the monthly publication of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
The Shrinking Churck of Ireland
Shamrock Club of Rock County
Shamrock Club of Lafayette County
Milwaukee President's Message
18th Annual Special Mass to Honor St. Patrick
Comments from Concerned Members Regarding Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums
Why the Irish National Tartan Kilt
Saint Patrick's Gala
Of Note to Members
Celtic Women International
Admirals Hockey Shamrock Club Outing
3 Solo Champions! 15 Dancers Qualify for Worlds!
Set Dance Classes Start January 15
Nominations for Irish Honorees Needed
St. Patrick's Help Fund
Welcome New Members
Milwaukee Calendar of Events
Wisconsin Calendar of Events
The Shrinking Church in Ireland
Closure of Seminary at
"St Patrick's College in Thurles, which has educated priests and lay people since 1837, has decided to close the seminary side of its operations due to the fall in vocations. Over 1500 students of the college have been ordained to the priesthood since its foundation. Many have gone on to work throughout the world in particular in the United States."
With that announcement, the total number of seminaries on the island of Ireland has fallen to two, Maynooth in County Kildare, and St. Malachy's in Belfast. In addition, there is the Irish seminary in Rome. The Thurles seminary was the seventh to close in the Republic of Ireland since 1993. The rapid demise of the educational life for religious has been precipitous. This country, which has been so identified with Catholicism, is quickly discovering that it is no longer able to feed the world an almost endless supply of clergy. And it is in danger of not being able to provide for its own needs.
The problems facing the Catholic Church in Ireland are the same as those that are facing many other Western countries. Scandals concerning abuse by priests over the past several decades, a decline in church attendance in Ireland, a post secondary school educational system second to none in Europe, and a rise in the middle class have all pulled possible candidates for the clergy away. But, this is all territory that the Catholic Church has been in before in Ireland.
Most people might be unaware that many of the seminaries in Ireland are of the same age as their counterparts in the United States. The oldest Catholic seminary in Ireland is in Maynooth. Many of the current seminaries that are closing were established in the 1830's and 1840's, about the same date as Milwaukee's St. Francis Seminary. The establishment of the Irish colleges didn't occur until after the change in the anti-Catholic Penal Laws in the late 1700s.
The original decline in Catholic clergy education came about after the Protestant Reformation. A series of laws enacted in the British Parliament restricted, and eventually forbade, the education of men who were interested in the priesthood. After the Reformation, by about 1550, almost all existing Catholic Church property had been confiscated. Such Catholic Church property was taken over by the Church of Ireland. The rest were in ruins by the end of the century. Catholics were forced to celebrate Mass in thatched cabins, which they called chapels. The title "Church" was reserved for the Protestant building. The Protestants called the Catholic chapels "mass-houses" The persecution of Catholics under Cromwell seems to have been worse than during the later Penal laws.
The period from 1691 to 1761 was the age of the Penal Laws against Catholics in Ireland, when a determined effort was made to consolidate the Protestant ascendancy. After the Battle of the Boyne and the Treaty of Limerick, a whole new series of laws were passed against the Catholic clergy. The first of these was the Banishment Act in 1697, in which it was decreed that all Roman Catholic clergy should depart from Ireland before May 1, 1698. This law was politically motivated, in part because of overt support given to the Stuart family's claim to the English throne by the Irish clergy. The government thought that the best way to counter this and keep the Church away from political subversion, was to remove the regular clergy who had direct continental links, and indeed had been trained in European seminaries.
After the expulsion of priests, and the closing of Irish seminaries, men who were interested in the priesthood were educated at the many Irish colleges on Continental Europe. Most of these schools were in France or Spain, both traditional enemies of England. Still, the influx of priests continued, even though they were often in danger of arrest and possible execution. The grudging reality of the situation, that Ireland was still a Catholic country, and had a native clergy, was not lost on the British. The Registration Act of 1704 and the Abjuration Act of 1709 required priests to swear loyalty to the British crown.
In 1795, Grattan's Parliament passed an Act, one which created an academy "for the better education of persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion". The new College, under the influence of the Duke of Leinster was to be founded in Maynooth and in time it became not only Ireland's national seminary, but also the largest seminary in the world. The foundation of other seminaries would soon follow.
The appeal of the priesthood in the 1800s was often twofold. It gave young men a chance at education they might never have been offered, and it provided a religious life to those who had the calling. The best-educated men in a village were usually the parish priests, a place of status that many men sought as a way out of the cities and off the farms of Ireland. The classical education in Latin and Greek, as well as the liberal arts, schooling that was definitely beyond the means of most, was a path often to Rome, or at least to the cities of the United States. Until the 1960s, ambitious families sent their sons into seminaries in hopes of escaping an Ireland that produced few high-status jobs and many emigres.
Irish seminaries would provide priests to the world, especially to the U.S. At one point, over seventy percent of the Catholic clergy in the United States were Irish. This, in turn, led to the establishment of the Irish hierarchy in the American Church. The flow of Irish priests to the States still continues to this day.
So, is the future of Catholicism doomed in Ireland, and possibly the rest of the world? The decline in the number of Irishmen who entered the seminary has been a problem for at least a decade. In fact, the popular television show, Ballykissangel, touched on the fact that Ireland had to import priests from England.
The loss of men for the priesthood has developed discussions similar to those in the United States. The idea of ordaining married men, and possibly even women, heretical thoughts just a few decades back, are gaining more credence. Still, these are just in the argument stage, and have had no real and credible hearing in the Church. But, with an aging clergy, and a declining Mass attendance, large problems loom in the near future.
One approach has been developed by the Archdiocese of Tuam, which covers the whole of the west of Ireland. The Archbishop, Michael Neary, calls the vocation of the priesthood a "risky affair" and an "adventure," comparing priests to sailors and mountaineers. They set up a website for young men who might have an inkling about joining the religious.
Neary compares the priesthood to a soccer match. "This is a site for risk-takers, impossible-goal-scorers, gamblers, if you like. We are Catholic Priests, followers of Jesus Christ. ... If you're already an active Catholic and you don't feel you're making enough trouble yet, maybe you should be leading operations, directing the break-out? We need leaders. That's what a priest does, in various ways: he leads. Out. 'Towards The Goal.'"
- Brian Witt
• JANUARY 21 - General Membership Meeting; 7 p.m.; Janesville Senior Center
• FEBRUARY 18 - Chili Mix (6 p.m.) followed by General Membership Meeting; 7 p.m.; Janesville Senior Center
At our January meeting Fred McCann will present a program on Ireland.
In February we will have our annual Chili Mix so plan to bring some of your favorite chili and we will put it all together for a very tasty meal.
Last month, I wrote in the Emerald Reflections, that after 11 years we were going to discontinue our Adopt-A-Highway program. I have to retract that statement because Marge Reed has stepped forward and said she will be the chairperson and she has several grandchildren who will help us clean up the highway. Our club is one of the few organizations that have been in this program since it was begun.
Keep in mind, we have election of officers coming up soon. If you would be interested in running for an office or know of someone that would be a good candidate, let one of the present officers know.
This year our Shamrock Club is not responsible for setting up the St. Patrick's Day parade in Beloit but we would like to have a good showing of our members in the parade so get out all of your Green and join the rest of our club in the parade.
- Tom Kennedy
The Shamrock Club of Lafayette County membership went Christmas caroling at the Lafayette Manor and Sienna Crest Nursing homes. After their 3 p.m. December meeting, they enjoyed a Christmas buffet dinner at Rodham Hall, crowned Jim Curran the new Irishman and Donna Douglas Irish Rose for 2003, and then danced and sang to the music of "The Stump Fiddle Band". The club's "Irish Dancers"performed for all the members. The club also participated in the Holiday Parade in December with their "Irish" float entries.
- Sara Lange
Milwaukee President's Message
Ladies and Gentlemen, Irish All;
Athbhlian faoi mhaise duit. Happy New Year to You All! What a wondrous year it has been ... the Celtic tiger seems to have reached across to the United States and all things Celtic are now very much in vogue. The Shamrock Club has expanded our membership and our horizons.
Changes have brought about a larger presence in the community by bringing the Shamrock Club's St. Patrick's Day Parade (one of the largest parades in Wisconsin) to downtown Milwaukee. Our Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums continue to represent our organization across the state and during their magnificent performances at Irish Fest and elsewhere. Our annual Golf Outing brings an Irish flavor to an old Scottish game enjoyed by all. The Picnic was a marvelous success, with more entertainment, more food and some great Milwaukee Hurling Club games. Our continuing role at Milwaukee's International Folk Fair introduces our Shamrock Club to thousands of school children and their parents.
The last year was fantastic, all due to the complete unselfishness of our volunteer members and this year will be even better.
A special thanks to Jim Dickmann. Jim resigned in November from his position as Director of the Color Guard Pipes and Drums. This last season, your Color Guard Pipes and Drums have marched in more parades, performed at more concerts, in front of more people, and have made more money for the Shamrock Club than in any other year. Jim continues to be our Sergeant at Arms. Thanks too to Deb Dickmann.
Don't forget the upcoming January highlights - take a look at the calendar's offerings. The Nash's Reunion is not to be missed. Those who knew Kit and Jose will surely lift a parting glass in toast.
- Joe Hughes
Comments From Concerned Members
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