By Emily Spitz,
McKinney Courier-Gazette (TX)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
At first glance, the Rev. Dean Pratt may appear non-conventional. As a married priest, he has sparked some debate among Catholics, but he says the majority of people are very accepting of him and his wife.
He describes his experiences and thoughts in his new book, “Gleanings from the Journey of a Married Priest and his Artist Wife.” Pratt began actively working on the book two years ago, but said it has been in the making for 40 years. The book goes back through his life as a religious and community leader, and is illustrated with his wife’s paintings.
“I thought I’d learned some things I wanted to share,” he said. “I tried to include things that were real learning experiences for me.”
Pratt attended seminary at age 35, after studying to become a lawyer.
“I found that I was more concerned with what’s fair and what’s right and wrong,” he said, explaining his decision to leave law school.
Originally a pastor at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, he converted to Catholicism in 1980. Pratt married his wife, Barbara, before converting to the Catholic Church.
Pratt said the switch was hard, but that he believed the Catholic Church needed him more because there was a shortage of priests.
His goal was not to become a pastor, but to go where the church needed him. Pratt helps as a priest at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, and is an on-call chaplain for Medical Center of McKinney. He worked as a police and hospital chaplain for 14 years.
Pratt described his experiences with life and death as a chaplain as a “sacred role,” adding, “You’re with people during the dearest times in life.”
Many stories in the book focus on lessons he learned as a hospital chaplain. One focuses on a young woman dying of cancer who blinks to communicate that she wants to be taken off a ventilator and allowed to die. Pratt tells about his moving experience with the woman and her family who didn’t want to let go.
“It is one of those stories a priest never forgets,” he says in Gleanings.
“You learn a lot about evil and the nature of human beings, but you also learn about love,” Pratt said. “I can’t put a price on these experiences.”
Gleanings is available at http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp?bookid=34136. After some disagreements with the publisher, Pratt and his wife paid to publish about 50 advance copies of the book themselves.
“It’s been quite an experience,” he said. “I’ve worked my tail off.”