The Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, Bishop Emeritus of Erie, PA, presiding at Mass during the 2013 Assembly in Seattle
Who We Are
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests was founded by twenty-seven priests hailing from 15 (arch)diocese(s) and 11 states at St. Mary’s Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois in 2011. Together, they founded AUSCP because they saw a crucial need for a national forum for the nation’s priests. The association is based on individual membership where every priest has a vote.
The Second Vatican Council, which encouraged all members of the church to participate more fully in its life and mission, renewed and reformed the church to become an important voice in the world. The fathers of that great Council encouraged all to embrace the world and see it not as an enemy, but as God’s work and the vineyard of Jesus Christ.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of priests while the catholic population has risen sharply, creating a crisis with a shortage of priests. In 1978 there were over 58-thousand priests and about 50-million Catholics. In 2004, there were about 43-thousand priests and over 64-million Catholics. In every other Christian religious denomination, including those in which membership has declined, the number of clergy hasincreased.
The escalating number of laypeople per priest, the declining number of priests per parish, and the increasing number of “priestless parishes” is, at its core, why the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests was brought into existence.
As a result of Vatican Council II, bishops around the world became organized into National Conferences. Pertinent issues, the work of committees and subcommittees, and matters of national or pastoral concern are presented and debated during their national bishop meetings. The bishops are united with one another and able to speak with one voice. But, there is no single organization that brings priests together simply because they are priests. There is none that seeks to promote ministerial priesthood or that enables priests to join in dialogue about issues pertaining to their unique ministry and service to God’s People.
Until now. The Association of US Catholic Priests is an association of priests, by priests and for priests, that enables them to speak with one voice. Many live in isolation; weeks or months passing before interacting with another priest. AUSCP seeks to open and promote dialogue designed to benefit and serve the life that is demanded of priests today.
AUSCP assures that no priest stands alone. Together, we bring forward a forum for all priests to engage together in prayerful and healing dialogue.