Thursday, June 9, 2011

Married Priest: It's Not What You May Think

Pretty soon there'll be a Catholic priest in England who has nine kids.

The explanation isn't what some might assume - and yes, I know about the pedophile priests. Moving on.

Here's part of what I read in today's news:
"Father of nine preparing to be ordained Catholic priest"
David Kerr, CNA (Catholic News Agency)/EWTN News (June 9, 2011)

"There can't be many Catholic priests who have a wife and nine children present at their ordination. But that's exactly what awaits Deacon Ian Hellyer next week.

" 'I'm currently experiencing a funny combination of peace and excitement - with just an occasional moment of fear,' says the 44-year-old from Devon in England who, until a few months ago, was the Anglican vicar of five rural parishes. ..."

But, He Can't Really Be a Priest?!

This ordination seems to be about as 'official' as it gets:
"...Hellyer is just one of 68 former Anglican clergymen being ordained this month into the Catholic Church's Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It was established by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year as a 'Roman home' for Anglican converts within the Catholic Church...."
I'm not one of the folks who decided that Vatican II was some kinda plot - and that's another topic.

The point is that, yes - there's every indication that Vicar Hellyer will shortly be Father Hellyer.

Sincere? I Think So

As for whether or not his conversion is sincere? If it's not, something very odd is going on.

Raising children isn't, really, as ridiculously expensive as 'experts' say now and then. There's economy of scale involved as families grow - and many folks don't need the high-end items and services that tend to be listed as 'necessities.' Yet another topic.

Still, children eat food, wear clothes, and need shelter during at least part of the day - so a family of nine does take resources.

Mr. Hellyer doesn't seem to be 'in it for the money:'
"...For Hellyer, though, that decision has meant more than simply a change of religion. It also means giving up a salary, a house and a pension plan. The sacrifice of the move is made all the more obvious by the size of his family: he has a 3-month-old baby girl, four other daughters and four sons...."
And, the assumptions of "Jesuit Ruling Priests of Baal"1 claims notwithstanding, Catholic priests aren't necessarily rich. I've opined about poverty, wealth, and the Catholic Church before. (February 4, 2010)

He Reminds Me of Me

I've never been a deacon, vicar, or anything particularly 'churchy,' apart from singing in the choir. Unlike my father, who was a lay minister for a while - and that's yet again another topic.

Still, Mr Hellyer's career track reminded me of mine. Vocational track, more precisely, in the Catholic sense of the word:
"...Interestingly, all of Hellyer's children are already being raised Catholic since his wife is a cradle Catholic...."
I'm a convert, too, and had to agree that our children would be raised as Catholics. Church rules.

I agreed - after doing some intense research into the Catholic Church's history and teachings. And that's - you guessed it - another topic.

As for the priestly celibacy angle - this isn't the first time I've run into a married priest. He was a convert, too, had kids, that involves sex: you do the math.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:In the news:
1 I am not making that up. (November 12, 2008)


Brigid said...

Well, I have heard that the celibacy thing is more disciplinary than anything else (though there is some symbolism, too). I'm not going to argue the point.

Brian Gill said...


I'd suggest that you ask 'the deacon' about that. The "some symbolism" is, as I understand it, the priest being a sort of stand-in for Jesus at Mass. Which is not an adequate definition, of course. There's a discussion of Holy Orders in Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chapter Three, and particularly 1552. Among other resources.

As for Mr. Hellyer, he's a somewhat unusual case: a convert to Catholicism, who is an ordained minister in a branch of the Christian faith. Your best resource for an informed answer on details would be, like I said, 'the deacon.'

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