A Catholic priest just posted a particularly insightful comment on my Facebook page in response to my earlier post about Dale Fushek, the founder of Life Teen. That post sparked a lively conversation there about the merits and demerits of Life Teen, especially its (in my view, deeply misguided) style of celebrating the Mass. I’d like to share the good Father’s observation with you.
Personally, I think he nails it, bang on the bull’s eye. What do you think?
“From my experience as a pastor, I can say with great confidence that what youth yearn for is not praise and worship, guitars and drums, but reverence, mystery, silence, and fidelity to the 2000 year tradition of the Church. When parishes start using incense, Latin, chant, more silence, the organ instead of guitars and drums, the young people start showing up more and more, and vocations blossom from within the community. Young people do not want a Mass the reflects the world, but a Mass that reflects heaven, which is other worldly and mysterious. Drums, guitars, clapping, etc., do not reflect heaven, they reflect a rock concert.”
Dale Fushek, a notorious former priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, has had a tumultuous life of late. Perhaps best known as the founder of Life Teen, his notoriety stems not only from his legal troubles over accusations of immoral behavior with young men, but also from the fact that, since his dismissal from the priesthood and subsequent laicization, followed in 2008 by his excommunication from the Catholic Church. That last episode in Mr. Fushek’s strange saga was prompted by the fact that the former priest started his own Church — the Praise and Worship Center — which he envisioned as a “non-judgmental community of faith.” Needless to say, he has been a source of many a migraine headache for his former bishop, Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, and for the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix.
As you might expect, Mr. Fushek wants to tell his side of the story and has done so in his new book, The Unexpected Life, which has just been released. Not having read the book, I can’t comment on its contents. But even so, just based on statements like the following, I can draw some pretty clear conclusions about what tack its author takes in trying to justify and exculpate himself.
P.S. Please note that I am not promoting this book. Far from it. But because this man has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, most notably for Bishop Olmsted, I want people to be aware of the latest chapter in Mr. Fushek’s strange post-Catholic career.