Skip to comments.Father Patrick Allen, married father of two, leaves Anglicanism to become Catholic priest
Posted on 07/20/2013 1:45:48 PM PDT by NYer
It was barely a week into Father Patrick Allen’s new ministry when, in the course of taking his two children to activities in his nonreligious clothes, at least five people asked:
So, what do you do for a living?
Allen smiles graciously, sometimes bringing his hand to his chest in a humble gesture, one that coincidentally shows his wedding band.
“This might begin a long conversation,” the James Island father says.
“I’m a Catholic priest.”
When his daughter, Lucy, goes to Charleston Catholic School next year, she will be the only student whose father comes not only for parent conferences and class parties, but also to celebrate Mass.
Ordained a Catholic priest July 7, Allen joins a small but growing group of former Episcopalians embarking on a new journey, one they hope marks a critical step down the long path to Christian unity.
They have embraced a new option in Catholicism that allows Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic yet retain elements of their liturgical and theological traditions.
Allen is the second Episcopal priest in South Carolina to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, often dubbed the “Anglican ordinariate.”
Pope Benedict XVI created the ordinariate, a non-geographic diocese within the Catholic Church, for groups of American Anglicans who wanted to enter full communion with the Vatican.
The result: Two weeks ago, Allen lay prostrate before the Most Rev. Robert Guglielmone, bishop of Charleston.
Those on hand for his ordination included his closest Anglican mentor and friend, the priest who heads the ordinariate and the once-Episcopalian families joining him to create a new Catholic community.
None asked, What do you do?
What he does today, fresh into his Catholic ministry, completes a circular life’s path.
Allen was raised Catholic in a Florida parish until he was 11. Then, his parents began attending an evangelical Presbyterian church.
Ever fascinated by history, he went to college unsure but with an eye toward teaching history.
He attended a Presbyterian seminary college working on his master’s in divinity, though not seriously considering the ministry, much less the Anglican priesthood. Meanwhile, a friend in Charleston invited him to work at Camp St. Christopher.
Allen served as head counselor and then assistant director of the summer camp for nine years, time that proved pivotal to virtually every front of his life.
He confirmed his desire to teach and mentor.
He fell in love with a young woman named Ashley Duckett, who also worked on the camp’s summer staff.
And he met future mentors such as the Rev. M. Dow Sanderson, a deeply intellectual priest who adhered to an Anglo-Catholic tradition that appealed to Allen.
Allen also discovered the Book of Common Prayer.
“I fell in love with it,” he recalls.
He felt drawn to the sacramental nature of Anglicanism and studied people including John Henry Newman, Anglican priest-turned-Catholic cardinal. Newman famously once said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
Allen also met the Very Rev. Craige Borrett, rector of Christ St. Paul’s on Yonge’s Island who encouraged the young man to consider becoming an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion’s American province.
“I had successfully avoided the idea up to that point,” Allen says with a grin.
The weight of it
At the University of the South (Sewanee) in Tennessee, Allen was immersed in Anglican studies. He hung a picture of Pope John Paul II on his wall.
Looking back, it seems a prophetic choice.
While delivering the benediction at his ordination in 2001, Allen looked out over the masses kneeling before him.
“The weight of it came to me,” he recalls.
A naturally introverted man, Allen put his studies into action.
“Nothing prepares you for getting involved in people’s lives in such very personal and important ways,” he recalls.
Then-Bishop Edward Salmon assigned him to a tiny parish in Calhoun County.
It was the ultimate gift, Allen later realized.
He was near the parish Sanderson led at the time. While some other Episcopal churches were booming with contemporary services, Sanderson adhered to high Anglicanism.
Meanwhile, Duckett, the young woman he’d been dating, went to medical school at MUSC.
They married in 2003. She did her residency at Vanderbilt University. He moved to a parish nearby.
In time, they returned to her hometown Charleston where she joined MUSC’s faculty.
And Sanderson, then rector of Church of the Holy Communion in downtown Charleston, made a place for Allen.
“Holy Communion has a very unique role in the diocese here,” Allen says.
The parish adheres to the tradition of the Oxford Movement, which asserts Anglicanism’s Catholic continuity with the earlier, pre-Reformation church.
It was, in some ways, an oasis in the storm, a like-minded sanctuary to contemplate and teach even as the Episcopal Church faced growing divisions.
Cracks of schism were widening nationwide over the Episcopal Church’s ordination of an openly gay bishop and other theological issues. Local Bishop Mark Lawrence and many clergy in town supported a more traditional reading of Scripture.
Ultimately, even Holy Communion could not avoid the question.
When Lawrence and most local parishes disassociated from the Episcopal Church last fall, each parish’s leaders had to decide whether to stay with the national church or go with Lawrence’s group.
Yet, for Allen and many at Holy Communion, the choice was a uniquely different one.
Remain Episcopalian, or pursue a larger reunion of Anglicans and Catholics? Pope Benedict XVI had just created the new ordinariate.
“I already knew I would wind up in the Catholic Church,” says Allen, who by then had two young children.
He had settled into a realization that the Catholic Church was what it claimed to be: the church founded by Christ.
At first, he hoped the entire parish would convert.
“But leaving the church they grew up in was not a possibility” for many, he recalls.
Holy Communion remained with the Episcopal Church.
About two dozen members decided on their own to convert to Catholicism. So did Allen.
In a letter to his parish, he wrote: “Mine is a move forward to the Catholic Church, and I am nothing but grateful for my years in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.”
Still, it concerns him that the timing could be suspect.
“I didn’t want the fact or appearance of dividing the church and leading people out of there,” Allen says. “Instead, it was a fulfillment of the faith we held.”
At the end of last year, he relinquished his Episcopalian orders and no longer went by “father,” not in the religious sense anyway.
Six months later, at his Catholic diaconate ordination, Allen lay prostrate before Bishop Guglielmone. Allen’s 2-year-old son, Henry, ran up to lie down beside his dad.
Someone snapped a photo of the moment.
The picture is, in some ways, a reflection of Allen’s life now. Catholic priest. Father of two. Husband.
“It has worked out the way God designed,” Allen says.
He describes both his former bishop Lawrence and current bishop Guglielmone as gracious and supportive of his move.
He, along with his wife and 19 former Holy Communion members he calls “pilgrims,” were confirmed together last month. They have formed the Corpus Christi Catholic Community, which meets in St. Mary of the Annunciation in downtown Charleston.
When Allen was ordained to the priesthood, Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, head of the American ordinariate, was on hand.
Sanderson and his wife were, too.
“We were so very proud of him as he began this new chapter in his call to serve God,” Sanderson says. “He and I share the same theological core values, and we will always remain close friends.”
Today, Allen is learning the finer points of celebrating Mass and assisting Monsignor Steven Brovey, rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. He’s also building Corpus Christi from scratch using a fully Catholic Mass with elements recognizable to any Anglican.
“All things that are good and pure and true in the Anglican church have a home in the Catholic Church,” Allen says.
Pope Benedict compared the ordinariate to building a house and including a room for cherished items from one’s former home.
There’s also a missionary aspect to building Corpus Christi that appeals to Allen.
“It is a seed,” he says. “And my somewhat unique status brings on those questions.”
So, what do you do for a living?
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I think I’ve read that married men who become Catholic priests have to forego any marital relations with their wives. Is that a fact or am I not remembering/understanding correctly?
We could be related! My mother’s name is Patricia Allen. My #3 son is Allen Patrick.
“I think Ive read that married men who become Catholic priests have to forego any marital relations with their wives.”
What I heard is that they may still participate in all the activities of the marital union, but if their wife dies, they can’t take another one.
I believe that they have to abstain from certain relations for some period before mass begins.
Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches ordain married men, but do not allow priests to get married. Matrimony has to come first. This is the case with permanent deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the converts from Anglican orders: they can be married at the time of ordination, but not marry (or remarry) afterward.
Within this sacramental structure, there are spiritual and practical factors on either side of the question of ordaining married men. As the experience of the Anglican churches (including the Episcopal Church USA) has shown, in cultures where marriage doesn’t mean anything, clergy relationships range from exemplary through extremely messy to catastrophically scandalous.
Anything anti-biblical, anti-God in this religious 'performance'??? Absolutely...
Six months later, at his Catholic diaconate ordination, Allen lay prostrate before Bishop Guglielmone. Allens 2-year-old son, Henry, ran up to lie down beside his dad.
Act 10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. Act 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
And they teach everything the do is in line with scripture...Sure, uh-huh...
As far as I know, if their wife dies, they can not seek to be married again. They must remain single at that time.
Where did you get that idea?
I am not an ecclesiastical scholar and I don’t play one on TV. It is a very complex issue with myriad unpredictable consequences. Bottom line: I think the Church should CONSIDER
allowing married men to become priests and/or priests to become married.
The fact that the Church ordains some married men demonstrates that it is considered, and indeed done. However, allowing clergy to marry following ordination cannot be done: a priest is not the proper matter for the Sacrament of Matrimony, so there would be no valid marriage. Clergy living in fornication relationships is a bad idea.
I’m just a humble suburban breeder, myself. One needn’t be an ecclesiastical scholar, just literate and interested, in order to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Peter was married too, as were many of God’s apostles.
If you are close friends with priests you quickly realize that the 24/7 nature of their vocation leaves no room for a vocation to marriage as well. The happiest, holiest priests I know well understand this and willingly make the sacrifice for God and for the rest of us.
I still don’t understand why a priest cannot be a priest and afterward get married. As long as it’s a loving, monogamous,heterosexual relationship blessed by the Church through the Sacrament of Marriage, what’s the problem? And as long as the priest continues to discharge the duties of his holy calling, what’s the problem? Surely any problems or scandals ensuing would pale in comparison to the those the Church is currently experiencing. Any scandals would at least involve consensual adults rather than innocent children.
Baloney. Owning your own business is a 24/7 job and is much more difficult than being a priest. Yet many entrepreneurs are married. No disrespect intended, but I can think of dozens of jobs that are far more demanding than being a priest.
AFAIK, the rule goes back as far as the early Church. Married men could/can enter the priesthood, but priests could not/cannot marry. Additionally bishops could not/cannot marry. Period.
I don't know the history, but I can think of several reasons.
First, practically, a single priest, looking for a wife, would make ministry with women awkward, at best.
Secondly, Jesus and St. Paul recommend priestly celibacy. Since priests act "in the person of Christ," they should live in imitation of Him, as much as reasonably possible.
That is absolutely adorable.
Good points. I stand informed. Admittedly, I’ve not thought the issue through and do not know Church history very well. My remarks are largely off the cuff. I suppose I should just shut up and study up on the subject if I wish to comment intelligently on it.
Does anyone else care to take this up? Half my family came home from Mass, and we're babysitting two extra infants.
Any scandals would at least involve consensual adults rather than innocent children.
Are you unaware of the experience of public school students with their married teachers, or the involvement of married non-Catholic ministers with children?
DO you know any truly holy entrepreneurs?
No problem. So are mine ;-)
Thanks to everyone for their answer.
I’ll keep checking the thread.
I love all the photos. Especially the ones with the children.
Yes, I do. Again, I admit I have not thought through this
this complex issue, and I am not going to comment anymore on it. I apologize for pretending to know things I don’t about and I am just going to shut up and learn from all of you.
Since the Catholics believe that Peter was the first pope - scriptures teach us that Peter WAS married. His mother-in-law is referenced in Matthew 8:14, 15:
Jesus Heals at Peter’s House
14And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered to them. 16When the even was come, they brought to him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
I was going to post this, but thank you. We are not to worship men nor kneel at their feet, let alone lie prostrate in front of them.
I don’t find it adorable.
I raised 4 boys, and I have 3 darling grandsons under the age of 5, but there are certain observations and rituals that should be treated with that are solemnity, and children need to be taught that they need to be respectful. What in the heck was this guy’s wife doing at that time?
I haven’t read anything in the Bible indicating that Jesus or the apostles were celibate or not. Perhaps tradition has favored that they were celibate, but I believe that developed years after their earthly lives v
should be treated with that are solemnity =
should be treated with solemnity
I think it was otherwise in the past. There was a really deplorable situation in the late 1800's when Eastern (Ukrainian-Byzantine) Catholic immigrants were coming over to the US with their married priests, and some U.S. Catholic Bishops refused to accept them as priests in their dioceses.
In one particularly lamentable case, the Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul, MN --- a brusque, rash, and unfortunately influential cleric named John Ireland --- insulted a Ukrainian priest named Fr. Alexis Toth, simply because Fr Toth had been married (he was a widower). Oh, it makes wince-worthy reading.
The upshot was that Fr. Toth stormed out of the Catholic church, taking 20,000 Ukrainian Catholics with him, and shepherded them all into the Orthodox Church.
Sometimes clerics are ignorant jerks. Painful, but it happens.
The big creative surge in the past 30 or so years is to have married deacons. In the Catholic Church, deacons are also clergy: they receive Holy Orders just as priests doe.) The US Catholic Church now has more married deacons (15,000) than it has priests in religious orders like the Franciscans and Jesuits (14,000.)
So you could say we've got lots of marries clergy, just not married priests.
Our parish has 2 priests and 3 deacons. I love those guys. And their wives!
The evaluation of prostration depends on what is meant by it in each case. There is a LOT of prostration of human being to other humans, and to angels, in the Bible. In none of these cases is it meant to be adoration of a mere human or angelic creature: if it were, it would be idolatry. But that is not what was meant:
Lot prostrates to two angels
Jacob prostrates to Esau
Ruth prostrates to Boaz
1 Samuel 20:41
David prostrates to Jonathan
1 Samuel 25:23
Abigail prostrates to David
2 Samuel 14:33
Joab prostrates to David
2 Samuel 24:20
Araunah prostrates to David
1 Kings 1:23
Nathan prostrates to David
2 Kings 2:15
the sons of the prophets prostrate to Elisha
2 Kings 4:37
the Shunammite widow prostrates to Elisha
As for Fr. Allen's testimony of Christ: this is not an essay by Fr Allen about his faith, but an article by Jennifer Berry Hawes, a staff writer in a secular paper. Presumably she based some of it on an interview with Fr Allen, but she did not retain a question-and-answer format. Apparently she omitted quite a bit (this always happens in newspaper articles) and chose to make it in the form of a human interest feature.
Fr. Allen would have had no control over the formatting and editing, the pictures, the headline, the focus, the length, or any other journalistic aspect of the article.
The bottom line is: either she didn't ask him about his coming to faith in Jesus Christ, or she just omitted to put this part in the article.
If you're interested in this aspect, you might want to ask Fr. Allen?
None of us put complete statements concerning our Faith in Jesus Christ our Savior, in every post. I don't. Neither do you, iscool.
Thank you so much. All clear now.
Although the article says “Allen lay prostrate before Bishop Guglielmone,” the priest is actually prostrate before God. The gesture signifies, in this case, total gift of self TO GOD.
All that you say about prostration makes complete sense to me and is also common in my tradition, with the same inner meaning.
9" I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lyingI will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you"
We can not put God in box.
Although I don't know where you get the odd idea that it's wrong to kneel before a superior. That's an egalitarian Enlightenment idea, not a biblical one.
There's also a shortage of Priests in all 21 Churches in the Eastern Rites which already ordain as a norm, married men. Marriage isn't the panacea many think it would be. Strike one.
there are too many gay (pedophilic or not) priests.
Better check out the behavior of all these protestants for starters and see that perverts masquerading as clerics aren't unique to Catholicism or the discipline of celibacy. Strike two.
I don't really know how the whole celibacy thing got started.
Read the following for starters:
Then take a long look at Matthew 19:11-12, 27-30; Luke 18:28-30 and 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.
there is no evidence that that(sic) Apostles were
Except that Scripture makes no mention of any of the 12 being married except Peter, at one time. His wife is not mentioned in Scripture. Strike three.
I believe the Church at one time allowed priests to be married.
As mentioned earlier the Church still allows married men to be ordained as a norm in the Eastern Rites. While ordaining married men was once allowed in the Latin Rite, the couple had to agree, prior to ordination, to adopt the discipline of lex continentiae; total continence, after ordination. No agreement, no ordination. The Church has never allowed priests to lawfully contract marriage after ordination.
the Church should admit that there is little or no theological or moral justification for not allowing priests to be married and drop the whole thing.
You possess a very poor grasp of Scripture and the Priesthood.
I think it would, in the short and long runs, revitalize the Church and attract many, many highly qualified and inspired married men into the priesthood.
Contradicted by the current shortage of Priests in the Eastern Rites. How many married men; particularly with children, do you know that are willing to embrace a lifelong vocation that pays about $1000/month?
It would also attract thousands of single men who would like to become priests but who now cannot because they also someday want to be married with children.
A specious at best argument which again is indicative of you lack of knowledge about the Priesthood.
Is that so wrong?
In short, because his first vow is to the church whereas a married man's first vow is to his wife. In the Eastern churches, there have always been some restrictions on marriage and ordination. Although married men may become priests, unmarried priests may not marry, and married priests, if widowed, may not remarry. Moreover, there is an ancient Eastern discipline of choosing bishops from the ranks of the celibate monks, so their bishops are all unmarried.
In 2005, speaking to the 11th General Synod Fathers, gathered for their eighth meeting at the Vatican, Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, former 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. 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 (in Lebanon) 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,"
The tradition in the Western or Latin-Rite Church has been for priests as well as bishops to take vows of celibacy, a rule that has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages. Even today, though, exceptions are made. For example, there are married Latin-Rite priests who are converts from Lutheranism and Episcopalianism.
I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith in a Maronite Catholic Church in NY. Our pastor comes from the Maronite Lebanese Missionaries. He is an ordained monk and missionary. And, he is celibate. He is also tri-ritual and has faculties to celebrate the Maronite Divine Liturgy, the Melkite Divine Liturgy and also the Roman Catholic Novus Ordo liturgy. In addition to the responsibility of running our parish, he also assists the local RC bishop by saying mass at a local hospital and also celebrating mass in various diocesan parishes during the week, in order to consecrate a sufficient number of hosts for their weekend priestless services.
He visits the sick, the homebound and those in assisted living facilities. He devotes his life to Christ and we are so very blessed to have him as our pastor.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul actually endorses celibacy for those capable of it: "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (7:8-9).
It is only because of this "temptation to immorality" (7:2) that Paul gives the teaching about each man and woman having a spouse and giving each other their "conjugal rights" (7:3); he specifically clarifies, "I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another" (7:6-7, emphasis added).
Paul even goes on to make a case for preferring celibacy to marriage: "Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. . . those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. . . . The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband" (7:27-34).
Pauls conclusion: He who marries "does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better" (7:38).
Paul was not the first apostle to conclude that celibacy is, in some sense, "better" than marriage. After Jesus teaching in Matthew 19 on divorce and remarriage, the disciples exclaimed, "If such is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). This remark prompted Jesus teaching on the value of celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom":
"Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it" (Matt. 19:1112).
Notice that this sort of celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom" is a gift, a call that is not granted to all, or even most people, but is granted to some. Other people are called to marriage. It is true that too often individuals in both vocations fall short of the requirements of their state, but this does not diminish either vocation, nor does it mean that the individuals in question were "not really called" to that vocation. The sin of a priest doesnt necessarily prove that he never should have taken a vow of celibacy, any more than the sin of a married man or woman proves that he or she never should have gotten married. It is possible for us to fall short of our own true calling.
At one time. Scripture makes no mention of his wife.
as were many of Gods apostles.
Scripture makes no mention of any of the other 11 Apostles being married. The disciples of Christ and the disciples of the Apostles and Paul are a different matter.
You have a poor grasp of the Sixth Commandment.
When, where and by whom were you catechized?
“Any mention of Jesus in this guy’s testimony??? Nope...Any testimony of this fella trusting Jesus to become his Saviour??? Nope...”
Because you’re looking at a news article. Look here instead:
Why are Protestant anti-Catholics always so dumb???
Scripture teaches us that Peter was married at one time. Scripture makes no mention of his wife. If you think you've got a smoking gun there, which you don't, ponder the following exchange between Peter and Christ:
"Then Peter answering, said to Him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed Thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:27-30
"Then Peter said: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed Thee. Who said to them: Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." Luke 18:28-30
You skipped Matthew 19 and Luke 18?