Today's (1/2/09) announcement area of the Advance's religious section was something of an improvement over last week's. There was a grand total of one Catholic announcement, which I guess would be a 100% increase.
The item announced that the Rev. Clement Machado, who is apparently some sort of Catholic celebrity on EWTN (I don't watch too much TV), is leading a "Weekend Recollection" (never heard that term before) at the former St. Charles Seminary in Dongan Hills (now called the St. Charles Mission Center). The theme of the retreat will be "The Conversion of St. Paul" and will cost $75 per person for breakfast and- I assume- lodging over 2 and a half days.
Now, all things being equal, $75 for weekend lodging, breakfast and a speaker is not a totally unreasonable price in a secular context, but we're dealing with the Word of God here. I realize that a "workman is entitled to his wages" (MT 10:10) and that "they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (1 Cor 9:14). However, for someone to be forced to pay such a prohibitive price to hear a priest talk at a church-owned institution is more than little distasteful. Are not the poor entitled to hear Rev. Machado's edifying wisdom as well? The announcement said nothing about $75 being a suggested donation or that those who couldn't afford were still welcome to attend, although that may very well be the case. If Rev. Machado's travel expenses and honorarium really cost that much, then perhaps our local priests should stop importing out of town celebrities and put on some retreats of their own.
By the way, this isn't only a Catholic issue. The Advance recently had an article about evangelical celebrity Greg Laurie, who came to New York City and charged people to hear him preach. I don't think he even gave them breakfast.