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Revisiting Fisher More September 24, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, It's all about the $$$, Latin Mass, pr stunts, priests, self-serving, Society, Tradition, Virtue.

I hesitate to jump back into this fracas again, with all the unbelievably powerful emotions it seems to attract, but I feel compelled to do so due to various comments I’ve seen here and on other blogs.  I want to reset the record with Fisher More, a tiny college of not particularly great quality that ceased to exist last year.

I accidentally fell into the Fisher More College (FMC) imbroglio when I wrote a post trying to assert the notion that Bishop Olson’s barring of the TLM was not necessarily due to a modernist’s hatred of all things traditional and a desire to see an outwardly traditional Catholic university close, but was due to myriad other factors, many of them quite valid. While I thought the action taken unfortunate and bound to cause great excitement (which it certainly did), I saw no evidence that Bishop Olson was motivated by an animus against the TLM, and he quickly reached out to those devoted to the TLM in Fort Worth to assure them of that fact.  I think subsequent events have clearly borne this out.  Fort Worth now has a 7 day a week TLM parish with two permanently assigned priests.

Very closely allied with this issue of Bishop Olson’s actions is the dissolution of FMC and why that occurred.  I have seen comments in various places that have tried to insinuate that a handful of people sort of conspired to insure FMC’s demise, because……well, that’s always been a bit vague. The insinuation was that they are sort of secret modernists who just couldn’t stand to see a “real” traditional Catholic college survive.  There have been dark insinuations about a priest formerly associated with FMC being involved.  I cannot tell you how completely, totally the opposite of the truth that all is.

It’s important to note that in the demise of FMC, there was of course a lot of finger pointing and recriminations as to who was to blame. In the main, there were basically two competing explanations.  One was put forth by the college’s former administration plus a few allies, and then there was a radically different explanation accepted by pretty much everyone else.  I don’t want to get back into all the gory details, which are as endless as they are boring, but basically a whoooole lot of people came to hold a pretty dim view of the administration.  The vast majority of these folks felt an admittedly bad situation had been made irrecoverably worse by perhaps unrealistic expectations and grandiose dreams on the part of that administration.

Who am I to comment on this?  Why should you listen to me?  For a number of reasons, and not by any deliberate intent on my part, I probably became about as well formed a commentator on the FMC debacle as one could find.  Over the course of late 2013 and into 2014, I spoke with about 30 people closely associated with FMC, from faculty and staff to students (former and current) and parents. I got a great deal of background information from people who worked at the college.  I can tell you that every single one of these individuals generally believed the administration primarily at fault for FMC’s problems, both financial and in terms of ecclesiastical direction/outlook.  There were variations, of course, but at least about 25 of those 30 odd people held a very critical view of the administration, and furthermore, felt the college was dead once they moved into the fancy digs (of course, it went on to implode in May 2014 in very ugly fashion just as many insiders predicted to me that it would).

But I want to make something clear.  I was never “buddies” or otherwise close to any of these folks who contacted me.  I knew a few casually before.  I have gotten to know some of them much better since and have no reason to doubt their veracity or their dedication to a whole manner of good works, including their tenure at FMC.  I have spoken to Taylor Marshall twice in my life for a total of approximately 45 seconds.  We’ve never spoken of FMC.  The priest(s) whom some have tried to insinuate somehow conspired to “bring FMC down” similarly have never addressed the matter with me.  All my info came from other sources, most of whom approached me trying to get the truth out after the PR attack against Bishop Olson in 2014 (who, again, I think did the wrong thing, but it was well within his purview and not motivated by a particular animus against the TLM or tradition generally).

I had no dog in this fight.  But when I hear 30 odd good, devoted people giving me one very consistent appreciation of events, and then 4 or 5 others (who had a very substantial self-interest) not only holding the opposite view, but lashing out at the majority, saying some really ugly things about people…….I tend to go with the 30.  I especially tend to do so when I receive the same basic story again and again from totally unrelated angles.   Even more, the explanations of the majority seemed eminently more sensical to me than the countervailing viewpoint.

I am hesitant to bring this up again.  I don’t want to inflame passions that have mostly died down.  But I have now seen a number of comments here and at other places (though I think they come from only a handful of people) asserting that the “real story” has not been told, that there was some kind of nexus of influence through a priest or someone who somehow poisoned a whole bunch of people’s minds against FMC and helped bring it down.  That is all hogwash.  It needs to stop.  If you want the “real” story, read my blog coverage on the matter. There are too many posts to list, but you can search Fisher More and find them.  I don’t think anyone has posted as much on FMC since 2014 as I have.

Fisher More died due to excessive debt and lack of income.  Period, full stop.  It had nothing to do with a priest, or the TLM, or anything else.  The administration inherited a financial mess, had an opportunity to maybe fix things, but it didn’t work out.  End of story.  The TLM matter was really just a convenient target to divert attention from the pending financial collapse, which many insiders feel was assured from mid-2013 on.  Sure there was a lot of concern at the very end over the direction the administration seemed to be taking the college in an ecclesiastical sense but that’s all really just window dressing for the main issue of finances.  They needed 6 and 7 figure donors to keep that place alive and that was always going to take a whole series of miracles. I think the fact the miracles didn’t happen is probably a lot more revealing than some would like to admit.

If you can’t accept that, it’s on you.  Some people have to see “conspiracy” where there is simply difference of opinion.  Being more radically trad does not make one invariably right.  Being more radically trad does not always make one necessarily in the right on a particular matter.

Finis.  I will be watching comments carefully.



1. Woody - September 24, 2015

They would have done better if they had a football team.

2. Dennis Hogan - September 24, 2015

Olson has other baggage in the way he runs his diocese. He’s not the person most thought he’d be. Another reason to beware of the miter! It drastically changes some clerics.

DM - September 24, 2015

I have to agree with Dennis. Bishop Olson has not turned out as expected, other than his invitation to the FSSP to come into the diocese. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Olson’s craven response to the Supreme Court decision on marriage. It was nearly as bad as Cupich’s, with him seemingly caring more about how ‘good’ homosexuals are and the rights they deserve.
Kind of disappointing considering that at his age, he will be in charge for 26 more years. So much for the “biological solution”.

Dennis Hogan - September 26, 2015

I think the expression “Janus-faced” might apply to Olson.
His bishopric, along with those who have bankrupted dioceses morally and financially, have made me distrustful of bishops. They have too much power.
I am glad in a way that one rarely meets bishops in life. A future archbishop officiated at our wedding. He is probably one of the few I trust.

3. Brian E. Breslin - September 25, 2015

Tantum, it was your coverage of this situation that got me reading your blog. I had never heard of Fisher More College but am a fan of the namesakes and was fascinated by the passions on both sides of the issue. I had had no clue of the many subsets of conservative Catholics who, I have since found, seem to spend more time warring among themselves than against Satan who it would seem inspires this incivility. In any case, I am glad I stumbled onto your site because I have enjoyed your logic, your intensity, and your deep love for the Faith. Your writing is usually excellent, although your occasional misuse of apostrophes can drive me “nut’s”!!

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