New deacons, and a few priests, for northwestern Europe [Updated 9 May]

[Edit at bottom of text]

The past few weeks have again seen a number of ordinations of new deacons and priests in the dioceses of northwestern Europe. 24 of them, in 13 (arch)dioceses, to be exact. In total, the area in question (the countries of Germany, the Netherlands, the Flemish part of Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland) is covered by 46 dioceses or similar circumscriptions, which means that 33 of them had no deacons (permanent or transitional) or priests to ordain on or around Vocations Sunday.

Of the newly ordained, 6 are permanent deacons, 14 are transitional deacons and 4 are priests. At the time of writing, all but one ordination have already taking place: only Utrecht’s Deacon Ronald den Hartog’s ordination is yet to take place, on 21 May.

While most new deacons and priests are natives of the dioceses in question, several have come from abroad. Fr. Ettien N’Guessan, ordained on 30 April in Ypres, Diocese of Bruges, comes from Côte D’Ivoire and ended up in Belgium after deciding that there was a need for priests there. Originally, he had come to study the language for a year.

Deacon Emanuele Cimbaro is an Italian member of the Neocatechumenal Way, while Deacons Lukasz Puchala and Wojciech Gofryk are both Polish.

Wijding Mauricio f klDeacon Jesús Mauricio Meneses Santiago (pictured, fourth from the left) is Colombian. He came to the Archdiocese of Utrecht as one of four religious, wanting to do something in return for the Dutch missionaries who had come to Colombia in the past. His three fellow religious returned home over the years, but Deacon Meneses Santiago decided to stay. He says: “That was not an easy choice. But I wanted to remain true to my calling. And I am happy. The Netherlands have stolen my heart and I feel at home here. My vocation is God’s initiative, I am here for a reason. I will continue this mission that God has entrusted me with.”

The full list, per diocese, of the newly ordained:

Diocese of Augsburg, ordained by Bishop Konrad Zdarsa

  • Deacon (trans.) Simon Fleischmann
  • Deacon (trans.) André Harder
  • Deacon (trans.) Tobias Seyfried

Archdiocese of Berlin, ordained by Bishop Matthias Heinrich

  • Deacon (trans.) Emanuele Cimbaro

Diocese of Bruges, ordained by Bishop Lode Aerts

  • Father Ettien Léon N’Guessan

Diocese of Dresden-Meißen, ordained by Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers

  • Deacon Lukasz Puchala
  • Deacon Jens Bulisch

Priesterweihe2017-09_74842_590dcd9eccDiocese of Eichstätt, ordained by Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke

  • Father Thomas Attensberger
  • Father Kilian Schmidt
  • Father Robert Willmann

Diocese of Erfurt, ordained by Bishop Reinhard Hauke

  • Deacon (trans.) Philip Theuermann

Diocese of Essen, ordained by Bishop Wilhelm Zimmermann

  • Deacon (trans.) Fabian Lammers

Diocese of Fulda, ordained by Bishop Karlheinz Diez

  • Deacon (trans.) André Lemmer
  • Deacon Wojciech Gofryk
  • Deacon Stefan Ohnesorge
  • Deacon Ewald Vogel

Diocese of Görlitz, ordained by Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt

  • Deacon (trans.) Markus Schwitalla

Diocese of Mainz, ordained by Bishop Udo Bentz

  • Deacon (trans.) Simon Krost

diakone-5-webArchdiocese of Paderborn, ordained by Bishop Manfred Grothe

  • Deacon (trans.) Johannes Sanders
  • Deacon (trans.) Christian Schmidtke (at right with Bishop Grothe)
  • Deacon (trans.) Daniël Waschenbach

Diocese of Roermond, ordained by Bishop Everard de Jong

  • Deacon Ryan van Eijk

Archdiocese of Utrecht, ordained by Wim Cardinal Eijk

  • Deacon (trans.) Jesús Mauricio Meneses Santiago
  • Deacon (trans.) Ronald den Hartog

Edit: This post has drawn a lot of attention, which is fine. But it is perhaps good to remember that, while I do mention that a fair number of dioceses have had no ordinations in recent weeks, this does by no means mean that they will have none this year at all. Although the weeks around Vocations Sunday traditionally feature many ordinations, especially to the diaconate, there is no rule that these can’t take place at other moments in the year. The list I present here is therefore no complete list, and dioceses may announce ordinations to take place in the coming weeks and months.

With this blog post, I wanted to offer some reflection of the new priests and deacons being ordained, and although the priest shortage is real and a matter of concern, that is not what my blog post is about.

Also, the 14 transitional deacons in my list will be ordained to the priesthood later this year, joining the four priests already ordained, and those who will be ordained at other moments this year.

Photo credit: [1] Aartsbisdom Utrecht, [2], Bistum Eichstätt, [3] pdp/Thomas Throenle

25 years after the pope came to visit

Pope John Paul II with Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus

Twenty-five years ago today, Pope John Paul II set foot on Dutch soil, for the start of a papal visit that has gone down in history as rather disgraceful. Interest among Dutch Catholics was low and many of those who did pay attention to the visit, did so to protest against the Church. It was the start of the notorious 8 May movement of liberal ‘Catholics’ who thought (and still think) that the faith is something we all make for ourselves, that individualism is the holy grail (if you’ll pardon the pun) of personal fulfillment. The fruits of what’s mistakenly called the ‘fruits of Vatican II’ became painfully visible, and we are still recovering from that.

De Telegraaf has a short article that looks back on this visit. In it, Cardinal Simonis, at the time the archbishop of Utrecht and not yet a cardinal, says: “‘Interesting’. Those were the words of Pope John Paul II after his visit. I apologised for the cold reception. The Netherlands was the worst papal visit ever. He reacted very sportsmanlike.”

The cardinal says the reason for the failure was that everyone wanted to enter into discussion with the pope. “The elderly wanted to discuss getting old. The young wanted this, the gay people wanted that. But that’s what bishops are for. The pope is not a superbishop.”

The end of the four-day visit was a relief. “There had been death threats. Also to me. I spent ten days under police protection.”

“It was a failure. There was no enthusiasm but antipathy. And the unavoidable dose of Dutch antipapism.”

And how about a visit from the current pope?

“Oh no, please not. That would not be wise. The pope has other matters to attend to now.”

“Apart from a shepherd, this pope is an intellectual. He has better uses for his time. Besides, he is 83 years old. You shouldn’t do that to the man at that age. The Dutch are also rather stubborn and headstrong, so there is a great risk that Pope Benedict XVI will be received the same way.”

I don’t fully agree with the cardinal about that last part, but I do think a papal visit would be very unwise. There is very little to gain by it, no matter how much I would personally like it. To an extent, the antipapist trends that developed around the 1985 visit have died down. The 8 May movement no longer exists and its supporters are overwhelmingly elderly. But there is still a lot of antipathy, and society as a whole is not very pro-Catholic, let alone pro-pope. While protests won’t be as vocal from the Catholics, I fear they’ll be all the more vocal from the secular camp.

The state of the Church in the Netherlands is, as my bishop put it in a different context, fragile but hopeful. It does not yet warrant the pope coming here. Instead, for the foreseeable future, it is more proper if we (ideally represented by our bishops) go to him when needed.

So, when’s that ad limina visit? Scandinavia and England and Wales have recently been, Belgium is in Rome now, so I would not be surprised if it’s coming up soon.