22 April 2010

Archbishop Carlson Names Father Michael Witt Interim Head of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary; Plans National Search for New President-Rector

His Grace Archbishop Robert J. Carlson today announced that Fr. Michael J. Witt, Ph.D., will replace Monsignor Ted Wojcicki as President-Rector of the Archdiocesan seminary on an interim basis. Readers may recognize Fr. Witt from his longstanding radio program on Church history on Covenant Network. The Archbishop plans to conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

I suggest this is a worthy intention to keep in our prayers, as this position is of vital importance to the proper formation of our future priests.

Below is the letter from His Grace announcing the move to priests in the Archdiocese:

April 22, 2010

Msgr. Ted L.
Wojcicki has served as President-Rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary since 2002. During the years of his leadership, there has been significant progress in many areas of our Seminary’s service to the Church. We continue to implement faithfully the Program of Priestly Formation developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in accordance with norms established by the Holy See; our enrollment is growing; a Master Plan for the renovation and expansion of Seminary facilities has been developed; and a highly successful capital campaign has been completed at a time when many wondered whether the time was right for such an ambitious undertaking.

Wojcicki would be the first to say that these, and numerous other accomplishments, have involved the collaborative leadership and generous stewardship of many people. Still, it’s appropriate to offer special thanks to Msgr. Wojcicki, as the Seminary’s President-Rector, for his important role in guiding all of these initiatives during the past eight years.

With gratitude for all the ways that he has shared his gifts and talents with
Kenrick-Glennon Seminary during the past eight years, I have asked Msgr. Wojcicki to return to parish ministry, and he has readily agreed. I believe this is the right time to make this transition in leadership because of the firm foundation that Msgr. Wojcicki—the 38th Rector of our major seminary—has helped to establish during his significant contribution to the 192 year history of priestly formation in Saint Louis.

During the coming year, I plan to lead a national search for a new President-Rector who will provide leadership for the mission of
Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and for the renovation and expansion of its facilities. In the meantime, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Father Michael J. Witt, Ph.D. as interim President-Rector beginning this summer and continuing until the national search is completed. Father Witt is currently the Director of the Permanent Diaconate, Professor of Church History at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and Director of St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Discernment. I have every confidence that Father Witt will provide strong leadership to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary during this time of transition.

Please join me in expressing sincere thanks to Msgr.
Wojcicki for his years of service to our Seminary, and to Father Witt for his willingness to assume this important responsibility on an interim basis. May the intercession of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, guide us as we continue to build a faith-filled future for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis


Anonymous said...

Do you read any underlying meaning into this? Is there any particular reason that Fr. Witt is being sent to parish duty? Was there some flaw in his work? Does he not get on with the new Abp? Or does Fr want to go back to parish duty?

Why put in another interim pres-rector when the archbishop wants to find an ideal pres-rector from a nationwide search? Does the abp. plan to put in some one he likes who happens not to be local? I ask all this as I don't know much about Abp. Carlson and his sympathies or whether he's cool with the improvements at Kenrick Glennon.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should read too much into this. Eight years is a long time for a rector to be at a seminary, a long time for the rector being out of the parish life, and a long time for one man to be in charge of formation. As for the appointment of Fr. Witt, its a safe choice, he's not very political, he's a humble holy man. In fact, I wouldn't mind if he stayed rector, but I don't think he would want the job for long. I would suspect whoever is put in charge will not be local, the local priests that have to skills are either needed where they are now, at least in my understanding.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything concerning your comments Peggy, but I do know that both Msgr. Wojcicki and Fr. Witt are holy and respected Priests. I have met both Priests and I am confident that the Archdiocese was very blessed to have Msgr. Wojicicki at the seminary and that he will be missed. Likewise, I am confident that Fr. Witt's leadership will also be a great blessing for the seminary and the Archdiocese. Both men will certainly be in my prayers! The whole "national search" thing does seem a little interesting - I do hope that one of the Archdiocese's own will be at the helm, but then again, Kenrick does educate and form many men from dioceses across the Midwest. God bless the Seminary, the Archbishop, and the Oratory!

athanasius_magnus said...

In response to Peggy:

There is always a reason and a time for new appointments within the structure of the Church. The appointment of an interim is good practice, often because there is a great deal of uncertainty involved as to how long it will take to find a good rector to replace Wojcicki. For instance, in the replacement of a bishop in a diocese, an interim will be appointed in order to "fill the gap." Between Rigali and Burke, as you may remember, this time was quite long.

I can say from my experience that both Wojcicki and Witt are great priests, and I also know that Wojcicki enjoyed parish life, as do many priests who are called to use their talents elsewhere in the diocese. For the past few years there has been a major focus on improving the direction of the seminary. Through this time, there have been several re-appointments, some major (such as this one) and some minor (such as giving existing faculty different jobs within the seminary). Overall the focus of this transformation is to make sure that Kenrick-Glennon is providing the best possible formation for the priests of tomorrow, not only in our diocese but in many others as well. Sure, some of this can be considered simple marketing in order to attract more seminarians from other dioceses. But the real goal of this kind of change is to more closely align the priestly formation to what the Holy See is requiring. There are constant, minor changes being made to what the Church requires, and most recently Summorum Pontificum has made a major change in the foreseen goal of the Church in her seminaries.

Basically what I'm saying is that the current formation staff may not necessarily have any major problems, but new changes in formational guidelines often require a regular changing of staff. Many bishops have said that the seminary is the heart of the diocese. In a way, you could say that the priests there are the "special forces" of the diocesan body of priests, because their role is so very important. Every now and then, this elite group needs to be reconfigured.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the responses. I get it--that there's always a time for change in the Church. I didn't mean to suggest that Fr. Witt was problematic, as I am aware that he had Abp. Burke's approval. I wondered whether Abp. Carlson's plans would undo any good work of Abp Burke's.


pfinley said...

I wouldnt be surprised...and this is speculation on my part, if there is something in the works at St Stanislaus. Yeah, I went and said It.

I know the Monsignor is well respected in the Polish Community, in fact I know he did quite a few weddings there, one of which I attended (pre excommunications of course).

I'll read into it, I think St. Stan's is about to come back to the flock

Bubbye mr Bozek!

Good Men Only, Please said...

I only hope that the archbishop choses a good, holy rector who will continue to educate good men to be ordained as holy priests. I remember the seminary before Rigali began the process of cleaning it up and then Burke made it the great place it is today.

Anonymous said...

Whereas I don't imagine they'll get involved with the administration of Kenrick-Glennon, the inclusion of Dominican Fathers on the seminary faculty in recent years has been a real blessing. They seem usually to be able to afford the manpower to have two there at a time (good idea for Religious Order men). One has been there for a good few years now, another has gone on to teach in Rome and a third new man has just arrived this year. (Others sometimes give a lecture or even a course on an adjunct basis.) All three men have been very fine additions to Kenrick and all three have been very appreciated by the seminarians. I don't know about this for sure, but I wonder if having two "Doms" at Kenrick at a time was another of the accomplishments of Archbishop Burke.