Recently the Kansas City Star ran as story about married Catholic priests, perhaps not remembering they ran a similar story about six years ago. http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1160841.html
The nice thing about this year’s version of the story is that they avoided repeating the erroneous claim that ordaining married men would prevent child abuse. I tried to steer the editor in a more worthwhile direction, but had no success. Here is what I suggested would actually be newsworthy as well as the full answers to questions that were submitted to me.
“I would like to suggest that the really interesting story that has not been written would be about the number of protestant clergy who are converting to the Catholic Church. Many times it means great sacrifice, the loss of income, shunning by former colleagues and family members, a loss of status. For many if not most, especially those who do not come from an Episcopal background who receive special consideration, the Catholic Church does not have procedures that are able to evaluate their talents and experience and then deploy them for ministry, whether as lay ministers or ordained deacons or priests. Even if convert clergy are willing to return to seminary and even though the
In answer to your questions:
1) Preliminaries: I understand that you were an Episcopal priest. For how long? When did you convert? I was an Episcopal Priest for a little over 15 years. I was “Canon Missioner” at St. Michael’s in
2) How long was the process from Episcopal priest to Catholic priest? The process from conversion to ordination was about four years. The Pastoral Provision process evaluated my seminary education and accepted most of my previous preparation. I had to prepare for examinations for competency in all the areas that a Catholic seminarian is required to be competent, even areas that I had not studied. Diocesan priests and faculty members at Conception Seminary assisted me.
3) How accepted are you, not only in your parish, but from other Catholics? Since there are 53 married clergy in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, even though I am the only priest, there has been very little problem in being accepted. Sometimes people have questions, and sometimes I am a lightning rod for people who think that priests who took a vow of celibacy ought to be able to get married and remain active in priestly ministry. Others need assurance that I am not dishonoring the gifted ministry of priests and seminarians who are true to the celibate way of life. But those conversations occur only very occasionally. I am a priest, and only very rarely does being married ever come up in conversation. In most situations and most of the time it is a non-issue. I am almost universally accepted. If I am not, people are too polite to say so.
4) Any special advantages to being a married priest, and is there a downside? I think being a married priest is like being a married entrepreneur, restaurant or business owner, or medical doctor. This is not a 40 hour a week job. Without some balance it could kill a marriage. I was married before I was ordained in the Episcopal Church. Valerie went to seminary with me and has been part of this ministry directly or indirectly since the beginning. My family keeps me balanced and rooted. Sometimes they are my biggest challengers. I love being a husband and father. I do not know what is like to be a priest and be celibate. I can certainly see some advantages for the celibate priest, especially when I am telling Valerie that I am headed out for the fourth evening meeting in week.
5) Why is your title "pastoral administrator" and not "pastor"? I am in parish work as Pastoral Administrator because Bishop Finn recognized that St. Therese needed a priest and thought that I had the ability. It is a true honor and privilege to be assigned to parish work and I am grateful to him for the opportunity to serve St. Therese Parish this way. When Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger set up the process in the early 1980s the church had very little experience with married priests and even though they were courageous in granting permission for married convert clergy to be ordained, they were unsure of how we would be received and wanted to make sure that we did not cause a scandal. So they originally envisioned that we would be assigned as teachers and in other support jobs and not as pastors. Being Pastoral Administrator can be considered as one of those support jobs. Having the title Pastoral Administrator has the additional advantage of salary and benefits that are appropriate for someone with a family.