Friday, August 30, 2013

We have a married priest now.

I have always been appreciative of the celibate Roman Catholic clergy. There is clear Scriptural support for the way that this vocation stands in between this world and the next as a sign of the world to come, in which we shall not be marrying but shall be “like the angels.” It is not my opinion that it should be changed in the west, or that changing it would somehow fix all our problems.

Furthermore, I have been blessed with so many excellent priests, all of whom seem to “do celibacy well.” As a woman, I feel I can speak for most when I say that certain people exude more of a sexual energy than others. It is a blessing to have the spiritual fatherhood of a man who does not emanate that. I am sure it is not automatic but stems from discipline and the grace given to them by God to fulfill their chosen vocation. As I write this, I realize this is important for all priests, married or not; but, like most, I am conditioned to think that this must be harder for a man who is committed to a life without marriage and sexual intimacy. Do we not all have to wage this battle, married or not? Chastity is for all.

Since our former priest left, we have the still somewhat unique situation here in America of a married Byzantine Catholic priest, with a wife and two daughters. He is not the first married Catholic priest in our area. There is a former Methodist pastor who was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and received the permission of Bl. John Paul II to be ordained. As an Eastern Catholic, having a married priest shouldn’t be a novelty, so to speak, since it is a long-standing reality that married men get ordained in the East, but for a long time, the presence of married Eastern Catholic priests in America has been suppressed by Roman Catholic Bishops. The ones who were here were brought in from other countries, rather than ordained in America.

Our new priest is from Ukraine. The courage of him and his family to be here without knowing a lot of English and to live in Alaska of all places moves me to the core. Before I knew we were getting a new priest, I had the blessing to meet his wife down at a women’s retreat in Arizona a few months ago, so it was wonderful to learn that she and the rest of the family would be joining our community. I also had the chance to get to know their two lovely daughters, who are incredibly sweet and, of course, the best of friends with every other young girl in the parish by now.

To see the two daughters bounce into Liturgy during the week and take their spots in the front row, knowing that their dad is the priest and is celebrating the Liturgy and will soon feed them Holy Communion, really touches my soul. I am not finding it weird at all that he has a family that God has created through their union. It makes me sad that some people in the Roman Church think that a married priest somehow brings less grace than a celibate one. I remember having a certain attitude, as in, “A married priest can’t give his ALL to a parish.” Well, cope with it. He is a human being. And if he has a family, why on earth shouldn’t we appreciate the beauty of that and give him the space and time that he needs to do it well?

I probably manage to turn everything into some sort of issue with cosmic significance, but to witness the power and beauty of both mysteries of holy matrimony and holy orders in one human being is very profound.

As usual, I do not think this needs to be an "either/or" thing; to have both traditions alive and well is not only possible, but a reality.


priest's wife said...

re-posting with a link back to you....

Christian LeBlanc said...

We have two married priests in our city, one a former Anglican now in the Roman Rite; and a former ECUSA priest now part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It's very seamless- I have confidence in the Church to do what's right.

Seraphim said...

I could definitely see a married priest being an issue if a parish was large enough, but what I see happening in my area are Orthodox priests with parishes of around 500 being able to meet the needs of parishioners adequately whereas the shortage of Roman Catholic priests tends to leave a single priest spread too thin with 1000+ parishioners to care for.

Collin Michael Nunis said...

I think it makes more sense to re-live the fullness of the Church once more - In a big parish, married priests could be associate pastors or auxiliary priests. And let us not forget, we still need deacons to do pastoral things in the Church that do not necessarily need a priest.

JUD said...

Very interesting story. I do not know of any married priest in The Netherland. However, we did have a priest from Ghana. I felt very humbled that he came all the way from Africa, to teach us about faith. He himself said he expected to learn a lot here, since a couple of houndreds of years ago dutch priests, among others, came to spread the gospel in Africa. He was very disappointed to see only grey headed people in church, since he was used to seeing lots of young families that always came to church and for them faith is very important. Very different situation here! He will be going back to Ghana soon, he feels he had more people to help there... Definately makes one think (he was not married).