Skip to comments.Local husband, dad to join Catholic priesthood
Posted on 06/11/2010 9:41:34 AM PDT by NYer
A former Anglican pastor will become the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg's first married priest when he's ordained Saturday in Springettsbury Township.
Paul Schenck, 51, of Manchester Township will be ordained by Bishop Victor Galeone of the Diocese of St. Augustine (Fla.) during a 10 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Galeone, a longtime friend of Schenck's, will perform the rite because the Diocese of Harrisburg has been without a bishop since Kevin C. Rhoades moved to an Indiana diocese in January.
Schenck, a father of eight children ages 9 to 31, began his journey to the priesthood six years ago when he converted to Catholicism after more than 20 years in evangelical and Anglican ministry.
Brought up in a Jewish home, a teenaged Schenck found Jesus in a Methodist chapel in western New York.
At 16, he was baptized in the Niagara River by a Salvation Army officer and later became a Protestant pastor. For 10 years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he and twin Rob helped lead the anti-abortion movement in Buffalo, N.Y. Later, Paul founded the National Pro-Life Action Center in Washington, D.C.
After several years serving an Anglican church in Maryland, Paul joined the Catholic Church in 2004, later expressing to Rhoades his interest in beginning the formation process to become a priest. He completed the required training and exams and learned last fall that the Vatican had approved his petition.
A 30-year-old church provision allows the ordination of married men on a case-by-case basis, although the situation is an exception.
"The norm continues to be a celibate priesthood and discernment through seminary, followed by ordination," Schenck said.
There's an estimated 100 married, former Protestant ministers in the Catholic priesthood -- many former Episcopalians and Lutherans.
"It's the first time it's happened here," said Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Harrisburg diocese.
With the special permission of Pope Benedict XVI, Schenck won't promise celibacy on Saturday. If he were to become a widower, he would be bound to celibacy like other priests and couldn't remarry.
Schenck isn't the first married pastor from York County to join the Catholic priesthood.
The Rev. Leonard Klein left Christ Lutheran Church in York in 2003 after 22 years, for Catholicism. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Wilmington (Del.) in 2006.
Name: Paul Schenck
Hometown: Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Lives in: Manchester Township
Family: Wife, Rebecca; and children Leah Crowne, Ari, Abraham, Jordan, Miriam, Marta, Isaac and Eva
Occupation: Director of the Office of Respect Life Activities for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg
Clerical assignment: Parochial vicar, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Harrisburg
A while back, I posted a thread from the national news coverage of this event. Here is a more local perspective. Quite a journey!
*8A former Anglican pastor will become the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg’s first married priest when he’s ordained Saturday in Springettsbury Township.**
More and more dioceses are gaining these Anglican priests. Wonderful trend. I know our archdiocese has two.
(What a minute. This guy's not a homosexual child molestor! Why are they letting him marry?)
For the record I support a celibate priesthood. But I also support proven ministers from other traditions (Anglican etc) who desire to serve in the Catholic church being allowed to become priests. (Of course, as a Penetcostal my opinion really doesn't matter a hill of beans :^) )
I guess it really doesn’t matter then, all that stuff about celibacy. This is what makes the church look ridiculous...and Catholics ambivalent about the ‘tradition”...
Cafeteria Catholics??? Its more like a Cafeteria Church.
I can see all the jokes about having a married Jewish priest...
Here we have a man who has proved over several decades that he is an excellent pastor and really possesses the character, skills and qualities necessary for the job. It is at once charitable and practical for this man to be ordained.
REH's "cafeteria" comments are pretty nonsensical. Every Eastern Rite parish priest is married - are Eastern Catholics "cafeteria Catholics"?
i read the title, then saw the menorah in the picture and said to myself, there is someone Jewish in that home....little did i know until i read the article. there is.
My comment on ‘cafeteria” Catholics & cafeteria Church is meant to point out the glaring chasm between the catholic church’s determined and rigid stance on NO MARRIED PRIESTS...( which I respect and have defended for years because I truly believe that is a full committment, with no others).
Now...what happened to the “a priest is MARRIED to the church...the church is his BRIDE” ?
“........and a discipline can be relaxed in exceptional cases.”
HEY, BRING ON THE WOMEN PRIESTS!....sure must be some exceptional cases!
Clarification, priests are not allowed to marry; however, married men may become priests. Big difference!
The Catholic Church has many married priests, the majority of them are in the Eastern Catholic Churches. Among the Eastern Churches, there are also many celibate priests. Freeper JohnO identified himself as a Pentecostal who, like you, understands and supports the celibate priesthood. To truly understand the quandary presented by a married priesthood, it is important to understand the role distinction between husband and priest. A husband's first priority is to his family, whereas that of a priest is towards his parishioners. A Catholic priest, like a doctor, must be available to his parishioners 24 hrs/day. As the number of priests has shrunk and the number of Catholics has grown, it is not uncommon for some priests to find themselves in parishes with 700+ families. The sacramental nature of the Catholic Church sets the priest's agenda. The majority of priests are required to offer up daily Mass. They are also supposed to visit the sick on a regular basis which includes responding to emergency phone calls to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to those who are in the emergency room. They witness marriages and lead the prayers at funeral parlors for the dead. They say Funeral Masses and accompany the deceased to the cemetery to lead another prayer service and bless the soil in which they will be buried.
When a priest is married, these activities can run into direct conflict with their family life. As I noted above, priests may not marry but married men may become priests (only after a lengthy process that scrutinizes their marriage. There is no room in the church for divorced priests!) As a Roman Catholic, practicing my faith in one of the Eastern Catholic Churches, I have had this discussion on several occasions with our pastor, who is celibate. Perhaps the best view of how this plays out comes from Mar Nasrallah Cardinal Pierre Sfeir, who is Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic (Eastern) Church. The following article is from Catholic News Agency.
Oct 15, 2005
Speaking to the 11th General Synod Fathers, gathered for their eighth meeting this morning at the Vatican, Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, who is Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon--a Catholic rite which allows for married priests--addressed the issue, which has been brought up by many, particularly in light of the U.S. sex abuse scandal, of commonly permitting married priests in the Roman rite.
Vatican City, Oct. 07, 2005 (CNA) - The Cardinal defended the practice of the celibate priesthood and discussed the beauty of the tradition, calling it the "most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church."
While pointing out that "the Maronite Church admits married priests" and that "half of our diocesan priests are married", the Cardinal Patriarch said that "it must be recognized that if admitting married men resolves one problem, it creates others just as serious."
"A married priest", he said, "has the duty to look after his wife and family, ensuring his children receive a good education and overseeing their entry into society. ... Another difficulty facing a married priest arises if he does not enjoy a good relationship with his parishioners; his bishop cannot transfer him because of the difficulty of transferring his whole family.
He noted that "married priests have perpetuated the faith among people whose difficult lives they shared, and without them this faith would no longer exist."
"On the other hand," he said, "celibacy is the most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church,"
Lamenting a culture which is all but outright opposed to purity, the Cardinal asked: "How can [celibacy] be conserved in an atmosphere laden with eroticism? Newspapers, Internet, billboards, shows, everything appears shameless and constantly offends the virtue of chastity."
Suggesting that there are no easy solutions to the problem of priest shortages in the Church--an oft brought up point during the Synod--he noted that, "Of course a priest, once ordained, can no longer get married. Sending priests to countries where they are lacking, taking them from a country that has many, is not the ideal solution if one bears in mind the question of tradition, customs and mentality. The problem remains."
There was a time when marriage was viewed by society as a once in a lifetime commitment. Today, that is no longer the case. More than 1/2 of all marriages end in divorce. The Catholic Church cannot support divorced priests.
Wow..what a thoughtful and generous effort in responding to my rant.Thank you.
The other reason I am upset about ‘married ‘priests in the Roman Catholic church is...it really reinforces the idea that “as long as it’s a man, well, he can be a deacon or a married priest.,.just so long its not a woman.” That plays right into the “the church is unfair to women”.
which is supposed to mean what?
Let me know if you require further edification.
Nothing happened to it.
The fact is that most Latin Rite priests for over a millenium were cradle Catholics ordained between the ages of twenty and twenty-five.
It is impossible to discern at that age whether a man will be able to responsibly balance a pastorate and a married life. Therefore, the discipline of making his pastorate the center of his personal life.
In a circumstance when we have a man of 51 who is a happily married husband and father who has also been a successful non-Catholic pastor for decades, a discernment can be made.
Such cases should be rare, because in real life such felicitous combinations of circumstances truly are rare.
HEY, BRING ON THE WOMEN PRIESTS!....sure must be some exceptional cases!
If you really cannot tell the difference between a married man and a woman, you should probably refrain from thinking too hard about these matters.
For anyone else reading this post, I remind them that priestly celibacy is a discipline exercised by the Church solely in the Latin Rite, while the exclusively male priesthood is a matter of doctrine for the universal Church and therefore cannot be modified.
Ordination of married men, from Saint Peter down to Paul Schenck, has always been possible and has been practiced with discernment through every age of the Church. Ordination of women is impossible and has never been practiced at any time by the Church.
There can be, depending upon the Rite, marriage before ordination.
There cannot be, regardless of Rite, marriage after ordination.
This obtains not just in every Rite of the Catholic Church but also in all the Orthodox churches and Oriental Orthodox churches.
I appreciate your informed post, but don’t appreciate the sarcsam.
I have reviewed your post carefully.
You know it's coming, I know it's coming. The FR contingent is vested in viewing their church through the lense of a traditionalism that no longer exists, if it ever did. Anglicans are just a little less encumbered by bureaucracy. Hey, they've both already got practicing homosexual priests. The one is upfront about it; the other isn't.
My point is...The Catholic church MADE SUCH A BIG DEAL out of ‘can’t be married or a female to be a priest “...on and on, even putting down those who said maybe we should allow married priests.
If they had said, back then, well, we will look into that, there may be exceptions,its church doctrine but not irreversible...that would have been different. Now here comes the explanations why THIS OR THAT person is an “EXCEPTION”. The church has done the same thing with THE JOKE ABOUT ANNULLMENTS, in lieu of “divorce”.
For a religion and a church that is so dogmatic and black and white ( which is very ok with me, no problem having clear focus)....to here and there “make exceptions” with extensive “explanations” defeats the whole purpose of WHY we have the doctrines. You can’t have it both ways, be very traditional and INSIST on the boundaries, and at the same time modify them,then you might as well be Episcopalian.
It will be Female Deacons first.
As a practicing Catholic, this is not easy for me. see my post 21.
I have always felt my religion was “special’ and that priests and nuns dedicated their whole lives to God and the celibacy and the lack of “family’ were great sacrifices which I was amazed at. the arguments that , “well, we need more priests, and times have changed,etc.” ...wow, Why not be Baptists.
I realize through much back and forth on FR that this is very dimly viewed, but if you’re going to worship as you believe without interference from worldly authority, you’re going to have to separate yourselves from this.
The Church has never allowed priests to marry. Once a man is ordained, he may not marry. I've never read of any exception ever to that rule, not in the Latin Church nor in any of the Eastern Churches, nor among the Orthodox. No exceptions.
As well, the Latin Church generally doesn't permit married men to become priests. However, this is the general rule only in the Latin Church (that part of the Catholic Church that falls immediately under the jurisdiction of the Roman Patriarch as opposed to Catholics who are under other Patriarchates) and the first exception to that rule was... St. Peter, who at least at one point had been married (although he may have been a widower by the time he became a follower of Jesus).
The general prohibition of permitting already-married men to be ordained is a discipline, not a doctrine or dogma of the faith, and has been thus since the Church was founded. It's an important discipline, a valuable discipline, but not an absolute discipline.
It admits of exceptions, and has since the earliest days of the Church.
On the other hand, the “ordination” of women is a matter of doctrine.
“It will be Female Deacons first.”
Not going to happen.
The interesting thing about this, sociologically speaking, is that if it had been going to happen, it would have happened in the 1970s or 1980s, when the ferment for change in the Catholic Church was at its highest. There were many bishops and priests at the time who would have welcomed that. A pope who would have gone along with that move would have had the support of a large portion of the then-existing hierarchy, especially among many bishops in the West.
But the heyday of those folks has passed. The folks who would have supported this are dead, retired, or near to retiring. The Mahoneys, Bernadins, Gumbletons and others who would have welcomed women's ordination are on their way out the door, some with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, others having already greeted their Maker in person.
The younger bishops and priests want no part of this nonsense. I see it in my own archdiocese, with the priests that I know personally. The older fellows - in their 60s and 70s - some of them (not all of them, mind you) think the idea of female clergy is just swell. But among the younger ones - the ones in their 50s, 40s and younger - they are adamantly opposed.
The same is true concerning actual church-going Catholics. You have some theological liberals left among the older folks, but regarding the folks who are younger, and who actually go to church (as opposed to those who say they're Catholic but haven't darkened the door of a parish church in recent memory), they're also much more theologically conservative.
Other than some old Depends clergy and laity, and self-identified “Catholics” who can't even roust their sorry butts on a Sunday morning to do the least obligation of being a Catholic, there really is no push inside the institution of the Church for female ordination.
I think you don't understand the difference between dogma, (which never changes once it's definitively taught), doctrine (which could conceivably change but almost never does), and questions of discipline or prudential judgement (which can change whenever the persons in authority over them think it's wise to do so).
The impossibility of ordaining women to the priesthood or episcopacy is dogma. It was infallibly taught by John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and the Vatican at the time said that he wasn't teaching anything new, but was merely reiterating something that had already been infallibly known.
It can't change.
Not ordaining married men to the priesthood is a question of discipline and prudential judgement, reinforced by a long tradition, a lot of experience, and an Apostolic "druther" expressed in Scripture (1 Cor 7).
But it's still just discipline. There were married priests, and even bishops, and even perhaps a Pope or two, in the first millennium.
(We know from Scripture that St. Peter, the first Pope, was married at one point. Whether he was still married, or was a widower, when he met Our Lord is not clear.)
There have been married priests in the East (in churches in communion with Rome as well as those which aren't) for centuries, perhaps more or less continuously back to Apostolic times.
In the 1970s there was a vocal movement calling for permission for ordained priests to get married.
This is different from allowing a married man to be ordained a priest.
An unmarried priest getting married after his ordination was never the teaching or the practice of the Church in any age - no Orthodox church practices this either.
In the modern era this important distinction has been lost.
The church has done the same thing with THE JOKE ABOUT ANNULLMENTS, in lieu of divorce.
The granting of an annulment is, and has always been, a matter of discernment.
From 1970 to about 1990 the process of discernment was perfunctory and too many were granted.
That situation has changed.
to here and there make exceptions with extensive explanations defeats the whole purpose of WHY we have the doctrines
Again, there is a difference between discipline and doctrine.
The fact is, we do not live in a medieval world where pretty much everyone is Catholic and is raised Catholic from the cradle and non-Catholics are a tiny minority who don't really mix with Catholics.
An individual like Paul Schenck was a virtual impossibility when the canon law of the Church was being formulated.
But there are Paul Schencks today and the Church needs to examine their situation and respond in an authentically Catholic manner.
Likewise, in the Middle Ages, the notion of someone wanting to be married who had no intention of ever having children was unthinkable.
Yet in our contraceptive-minded world, such an emotionally abnormal disposition is increasingly common. In other words, there are far more people alive today who are mentally incapable of honestly contracting a normal Catholic marriage.
The Pauline privilege has always existed and it did not compromise Paul's strong doctrine on marriage.
You speak of "why we have the doctrines" - we have the doctrines for the purpose of accurately informing the world about the saving love of Jesus Christ crucified and inviting it to partake in that love through the sacraments.
I turn again to Paul who, although a strict guardian of Church doctrine for precisely this reason, insisted that discipline not be utilized to the extent of scandalizing the weaker brethren "for whom Christ died."
The Pastor is the Spiritual Father of the Parish, and as such, needs to be free of other relationships that would impinge in the time he has available to minister to his parishoners.