View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Father Callan back to the fold???

The good-looking one came home the other day with a strange story.

She said she had been talking with a man who attends Our Lady of Victory Church in Rochester. That's a fairly traditional church in downtown Rochester, not far from the schismatic Spiritus Christi Church.

The man claimed that Father James Callan, who with others broke from the Catholic Church to form Spiritus Christi, had been occasionally spotted entering Our Lady of Victory, sitting in the back pews during Mass, then leaving quietly without receiving Communion.

I know, it sounds like one of those urban legends - a person says that another person said ....

I am highly skeptical - but I do believe in miracles. So it wouldn't surprise me if some day Father Jim does wander back to the fold. (It also wouldn't surprise me if he never does.)

But it got me to thinking: What would happen if he did?

Would Spiritus collapse, as his charisma played a major role in drawing people to the old Corpus Christi Church, and in the willingness of a couple of thousand of them to follow him out of the Church? Would it continue as a group built around its women priests and issues like gay marriage? Would his return lead to some of the people who followed him drifting back to the Catholic Church? Would some people feel betrayed and stop going to church altogether?

When the break took place full of claims and dreams that the Church would follow them or that Spirtus would spread, I said what's more likely is that the church would go on, maybe with a few small satellites, but would gradually fade away when Father Jim and Mary Ramerman, the personalities at the center of it, retired or died, or that it would remain as a small church - like so many of the splinter Protestants churches that dot the religious landscape.

But reconciliation? In an era when Rome and the St. Pius folks seem to be able to, who knows?

I've already heard of people drifting away from Spiritus, some back to the Catholic Church, so why not Father Jim.

I'm not holding my breath, but I am praying.

As I said, I do believe in miracles.


Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

If it was any church other than OLV, I would believe it. I'm sure he's updated on what is going on in the diocese.

He's expanded Spiritus Christi into Buffalo so I don't believe that you'll see a return any time soon.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Well, it is near Spiritus - he could just sneak in and out quickly!

I thought the Buffalo thing had been going on for a while, and it was only just finally noticed, but I could be wrong. It certainly does not seem to be thriving there.

I tend to doubt the story of him sneaking in to OLV.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

I should clarify myself.

He has expanded the ministry in Buffalo. You are right, Spiritus has been in Buffalo for a while.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

Spiritus Christi Buffalo is led by a (they say) married priest, John Radice. Let's just say they don't pack them in.

One Saturday mass at 5:00.

Jim Callan shows up once a month for mass during the week.

Time to come back to the fold.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attend OLV weekly, including the Saturday evening and Sunday morning Mass, and have never, ever, seen Jim Callan in the church. The guy is unmistakable anywhere he goes. I also sit usually in the second to last set of pews, so unless the man is one row behind me (which I likely would have noticed during the Sign of Peace if he hasn't ditched by then), he isn't showing up.

I just can't even imagine him showing his face in the most traditional parish in our diocese, unless he's doing research to trash us in his weekly homily (should he actually give one and not pass it off to some parishioner as he was frequently accustomed to doing). Fr. Antinarelli has, in more than a few occasions, made some references to Jim Callan during a homily, another reason it's unlikely the man would show his face there. Even though the two were in the same ordination class, I highly doubt they get along, so that would eliminate the possibility that he's visiting his "friend" even though he can't receive Communion for being excommunicated.

However, were Jim Callan to actually show up, he'd notice a wonderful community of traditional Catholics, singing beautiful music to the Lord, and worshiping him with reverence and adoration. And, depending on the Mass, with a packed house, or close to it.

If Jim Callan were to show his face in a Catholic church, it would likely be at the Cathedral.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

Fr. Ron and (Fr.) Jim in the same ordination class? Sounds like the priestly version of "The Odd Couple." (lol)

6:42 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I was in the college seminary in those days, and the two guys that I most often heard about spoken of in either less than flattering terms or outright awe were Fathers Ron - "he's an arch arch conservative" - and Father Jim - "he's a radical and a wild card."

I didn't know either one of them at the time, but it seemed interesting that there were two such extremes among the young priests.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:16 PM  
Blogger RailRider said...

I dunno, Lee. I guess that it could happen, but it was such a cult of personality. Even long before Jim and his minions broke away, he couldn't/ wouldn't hear anything other than what he and his inner circle thought. it's been so long....I guess habits so long standing can be broken, but it's a long shot.

2:55 PM  
Blogger RailRider said...

How many times can you use the word "long" in one sentence, eh?

2:56 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous with dig at Fr. Antinarelli - I don't permit such comments in this blog. Disagree with what the man does, fine, but don't call him names.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously have not gone to one of his sermons where he dennagrades women on a regular basis and says that women wanting ordination are evil and doing the devil's work. Many a women will gasp at some of the things he says about women. Were you there for the W.C. Fields homily??? "Madam I may not be drunk in the morning but you will still be ugly." He reaps what he sows...

9:20 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

No, I have not heard him say such things - but I don't attend OLV (except for pro-life events). I go to a church in Gates. So I can't comment on that.

I have heard Father Jim preach. I was active in Corpus for many years (until it went too far). I was even on the committee that helped interview the Ramermans when they were hired. I have heard Father Jim say (and saw him do) a few things that were wrong.

I pray for his return to the Church, and for helaing of the rift.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He reaps what he sows..." says Mr. Anonymous.

As do you, "married priest from Rochester New York."

9:55 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Married priest???? You lost me with that one.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Jim did not start Spiritus Christi, the parishioners did. Jim followed them, not the other way around.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

He led them there. I was there to see what was happening.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

I find this all rather sad. You obviously hold Jim Callan in disdain, which I find disappointing. I suspect that with your "true Church" philosophy you also believe that those who have followed Jesus all their lives but are not Catholics are "outside" God's will. Instead of praying for Jim to return to the RCC, how about praying that people come to know God and be healed and that God use whatever means possible. These posts don't even feel Christian to me. Again, it saddens me. BTW, I have never heard Jim trash anyone.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Disdain for Father Jim? Not at all. I admired him for many years, and considered him a friend. I was an active part of the old Corpus. As such, I witnessed some of the politics going on there, and the "trashing" of a number of people who did not agree with some of the decisions and polices in the parish. Many people were forced out. There's a lot of hurt former parishioners and staff members who had run ins with the staff.

I still admire many things about Father Jim and his gifts, but I think he got lost along the way. I still pray that he will return to the fold.

By the way, I do believe that salvation is possible outside the Catholic Church - that's Church teachings.

5:58 AM  

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