The Real Legacy of Vatican II :
the Renewal that Became a Requiem and the Death of Two
The Death of Two Monasteries in
... and a
"Renewal" that became a Requiem
LEGACY OF VATICAN II
Pictorial History ... and a Sober Reminder
Franciscan Seraphic Seminary and the
Poor Clare Monastery
each other on one single street in Andover, Massachusetts
click on any image to expand it
repair My house
which, as you can see, has fallen into ruin."
From the Statue of St. Francis at the entrance to
the Franciscan Seraphic Seminary in Andover
Massachusetts (donated by St. Leonard's Church in
Boston – which itself has been closed as part of the
"Reconfiguration" of the Churches in the Archdiocese
magnificent Franciscan Seraphic Seminary and Monastery, and
the Poor Clare Monastery, face each other across a quiet
street in Andover, Massachusetts.
Franciscan Seminary was built around 1940, the Poor Clare
Monastery in 1959 — the year that Pope John XXIII (on January
25, 1959) called for a general council of the Church, in what
has subsequently been called an "Aggiornamento" for "updating"
the Church in light of its contemporary cultural and social
following brief pictorial history of two erstwhile thriving
institutions filled with vocations is a silent testimony that
needs little comment.
enormous Seraphic Seminary is now a "Retreat and Conference
Center" for a variety of programs, non-religious,
inter-denominational, social and, as the name implies, retreats.
A handful of people, mostly lay, staff the largely empty
building. Not one Franciscan habit is seen by a visitor.
street, the expansive and once lovely Poor Clare Monastery built
in 1959 is in a state of complete abandonment and ruin. It is
unoccupied. Not one Nun. A private investor has acquired the
property for a commercial enterprise.
It is a
deeply disturbing pictorial, for in the plaque on the statue in
the picture above, one sees a list of names, benefactors, who
had ultimately made a very poor investment in the very best of
faith. We cannot avoid seeing a reflection of our own faith and
a catastrophic failure to authentically understand – and respond
to it. These sacred places were built, and thrived, on "the
faith of our fathers" – and fell into ruin and emptiness through
an attempt to articulate that faith on the terms of the world,
in the mistaken belief that if we become like the world, the
world will become lIt calls us to question many things,
troubling things, from a vision of "renewal" to the reality of
vacancy; of the tremendous hemorrhage of vocations, and
renounced vocations following a terrible miscalculation, an
astonishing misunderstanding, in the breathless pursuit of
contemporaneity, of accommodating the Church to the world, and
finding, in the end, that not only the have the seminaries and
monasteries been emptied, but the pews as well.
pictures speak for themselves.
only stand back in astonishment and ask, "Who will rebuild
the Church that St. Francis rebuilt ... and which we have let
fall once again into ruin?"
If we do
not, no one will.
for the Boston Catholic Journal
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abandoned, disused, Poor Clare Monastery,
Fallen into ruins ... Its hours of Glory Passed.
It walls and halls wrapped in silence.
The death of a Community.
And yet for the time appointed
it carried on the light of Christ.
To Faith, all things are possible,
all things have their purpose if we do but believe.
Behold, the universal mystical body of Christ,
In many lands, new communities are being planted
It is their hour of Annunciation.
In yet other areas young women enter the House of the Lord
and are espoused to Christ,
Jesus is born anew.
To some is given the witness of Christ's mission.
And to so many, in war torn countries,
in areas scourged with aids, and even communities,
struggling with internal conflicts,
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
is being lived and prayed through daily.
And to some at this moment of time,
by their very silence
speak of the dead Christ,
Laid in the arms of Mary,
Mother of the Church
This is Christ's Pascal Mystery
being enacted in the Universal Church.
Rejoice, for many Sisterhoods have risen out of the ashes of
They proclaim the Risen Life of Christ!
A Poor Clare
" ... to
some at this moment of time, by their very silence [they] speak
of the dead Christ ..."
Eloquently. Poignantly ... they speak of a Christ Who is no
longer alive in our midst, in our lives, in our vocations, in
our homes, in our societies, in our governments — yes, a Christ
Who is dead to us ... and Who no longer has a place, a purpose,
in our lives.
speak of a Gospel, an evangel, that has become so distorted, so
detached from its Kerygma, that it has evolved into
something largely "social"; a call, not to conversion and God,
but to "social consciousness" and the world;
look soberly, objectively, at the aftermath of this
Devastated seminariesome so distorted, so detached from its
Kerygma, that it has evolved into something largely
"social"; a call, not to conversion and God, but to "social
consciousness" and the world;
look soberly, objectively, at the aftermath of this
Devastated Religious Orders
Dead Religious Orders
Absence of vocations
Rampant homosexuality in the clergy and seminaries
Bishops in defiance of the Holy See
Priests in defiance of Bishops
Laity in defiance of Priests
Empty confessionals despite being re-anointed
Habits and Clerical Collars as artifacts
Dissident theologians in contempt of the Church that
pays them to teach contra Fide (against the Faith)
Catechists who know little more than the catechumens.
Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament evicted from
the Altar and relegated as an embarrassment to obscure
niches in remote corners of the Church
The sterilization of the Church through the removal of
sacred statuary and art in favor of unadorned walls,
fake organ pipes, and insipid banners.
The total abandonment of 2000 years of Sacred Music and
Chant in favor of irksome and distracting pop music,
guitars, pianos, drums, trap sets, flutes, and fiercely
no longer recognize sin ... only "faults and failings"
pertains to God, "faults and failures" to social and
Our children no longer know the most basic tenets of the
Neither do our adults.
litany is endless and in the end pointless. If what we have
arrived at after 2000 years is a "dead Christ" in our midst
– even if He is alive in other continents less affluent and
"enlightened", and even
thrives there — here, in
this place, in this
time, our own faith is a smoldering wick ... because we did
not have the conviction to pass on the torch – and those who
passed it to us, first snuffed out the flame.
Letters to the Editor:
Praised be Jesus Christ! I was stunned by the photographs on
the site of the Franciscan Seminary and Poor Clare Monastery
in Andover. It is not that I am unaware of these sad
happenings: however, your pictures and captions paint a
poignant scene of too many of our once vibrant religious
communities ... the departures, the demise and the
inevitable disrepair of the properties.
What can we do, for as you say, who will affect a reversal
of the present conditions and the rebuilding, renovating of
these holy grounds leading to a renewal in Religious life
and the Priesthood, if we don't!
When I entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1962,
there were 102 postulants, 78 went on to the novitiate and
the entire Motherhouse was home to over 500 women. I
recently saw pictures of some of the changes that have been
made to the Motherhouse; the chapel, once so grand,
reflecting the glory of God, had been completely redone, no
pews, comfy chairs and no kneelers. And I do realize that
most of the sisters at the Motherhouse are elderly,
nevertheless, it was a shock to me!
What can we do? Bring our dear little sisters from Ty Mam
Duw to Massachusetts to begin a new foundation? Wouldn't
that be lovely for us? These now deserted or converted
buildings are so large that to begin again would require an
enormous amount of money to fix and maintain even if there
were nuns, priests or brothers to inhabit them. But nothing
is impossible with God, I read recently that five of Mother
Angelica's Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration are
establishing a foundation in Arizona!
In reality, I think we must continue to pray, fast,
sacrifice for the renewal of religious life. I have great
hopes for our Holy Mother Church with Benedict Xvi at the
helm. I truly feel that his papacy (and, please God, let it
be a long one with good health for our Holy Father) will be
a springtime for the Church.
Do you think that we can ever go back to those days of
certainty? Clocks don't run backwards, but I think we can
take the good, solid foundation of Truth and one brick at a
time ... like St. Francis, rebuild. I would be interested in
more of your thoughts on this matter.
I want to again compliment you and our sisters in Wales on a
magnificent website. There is a wealth of information there
,and I sense a growth the context of the articles. The world
is hungry for the truth whether they are aware of it now or
not, but I have great hopes that the time will come when
they will be eagerly, if not frantically, searching ... and
the site in there! ... all for Jesus and souls!
Thank you and may God reward you for your work for the
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Thank you for your letter. I grieve with you also ...
But I also have hope! I was in Rome when Our Holy Father
Pope John Paul II died. I sat in the square praying with,
among, hundreds of thousands. ... and of the many
around me, what struck me most were the Religious that I
saw, both men and women: Roman cassocks, full Priestly
attire, full habits — and all on
young, young, men and women. All!
And so, so many! It was stunning! The bright, young,
cheerful, eager faces, of those young women and men, filled
my heart with joy and great, great hope. The men were manly
and of all races and nations. The women were lovely and
chaste. It was medicine to my heart.
It also caused me to deeply question America, the Catholic
Church in America – which is effete and anemic. There
were American priests and nuns in St. Peter's
Square – but I would not have known them, for most do not
wear Clerical suits or Religious Habits. It is so sad. So
very sad. They seem to have lost their vocation, or to hide
it in shame — the shame of association with Christ and His
Church. BUT —
only the Americans. Not the Europeans, the
Asians, the Africans, the Indians — all were Christ's
Priests or Brides — CLEARLY.
Immediately I was struck by the fact that the spiritual
is a deeply lived reality to them. They appear to understand
that their mission is spiritual, to bring Christ to
the world .... not to bring social justice, equal rights,
women's rights, animal rights, rent-control, etc, to the
world. That is for laymen and laywomen. America — and
increasingly, Europe — is, in a word, ashamed of Jesus
Christ, and therefore of His Church. They are not ...
"correct" ... to the world, and do not pander to the
"sensitivities" of every depravity possible. They want
heaven on earth — and each to be a god unto themselves and,
as gods, to make the world accord with their own desires,
and a reflection — a perverse image, if you will — of
A renewal is at hand. A
renewal. Not the largely superficial "renewal" following
Vatican II ... a mere rearranging of furniture, a wholesale
trashing of Church art, liturgy, and teaching, a large-scale
burning of Habits and Clerical Collars. The Church in
America did not change its heart, only its clothes. It did
not renew its zeal for Christ but translated it into zeal
for the world. It did not "renew" God's image in man, but
largely erased it.
I truly believe this is changing. I think that Catholics
have grown spiritually sick and realize that the medicine
they have been offered will not heal them. They are looking
for depth — they are beginning to look beyond the
contemporary furniture and a changing of clothes that had
nothing to do with a changing of hearts. They are
spiritually starving ... and a new generation is finding its
way to the true Christ, the true Church, the real Gospel. We
are sick of the world. The world has made us sick. Why
attempt to make the Church in its image? These young people
appear to see this, to know this — they go beyond the
superficialities (and there are so many) ... unlike their
parents. Perhaps they have simply looked around and
saw what has resulted in the world, in their parent's lives,
in schools, and in governments as a result of such a
tremendous defection from Christ and His True Church.
May our children bring us
where we have been unable to bring them.
God keep you.
Boston Catholic Journal
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