The pastoral provision at work in Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A fundamental feature of Catholic priesthood is celibacy.
So why does the Rev. Bradley Barber of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Fayetteville have a wife and four children?
Since 1980, priests who converted to Catholicism have been allowed to remain with their families.
"It's a little known thing," Barber says. "It's not blasted and trumpeted around the nation that there are married priests in the Latin rite, but there are. And I'm living proof of it."
Barber and his family are new to the parish. He was on the pastoral staff at a Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, for nine years and before that was an Episcopalian minister.
St. Joseph's church members say they will adjust.
"Catholic churches don't vote. It's not a democracy and we accept whatever appointment is made," says church member Paul Warren. "Now, Father Barber was appointed to be at St. Joe's in Fayetteville, and I think that people are always curious to understand who their next priest is and he came with some things that are new to us, a wife and children."
Barber says that in his first two weeks, he and the congregation have been getting along well.
"People are just glad to have a pastor. They're glad to have somebody who truly wants to be here, and who wants to minister to their needs and serve them," he says.
The parish of roughly 1,200 families had been served by an interim priest since August. Their longtime priest, the Rev. Paul Worm, was removed as pastor for alleged misconduct.
Barber says he doesn't want to be the "poster child" for the married priesthood and wasn't pushing for an end to celibacy for priests.
"I just want to be a faithful Catholic," he says.
His ordination was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1994. The Barbers moved to Fayetteville last month from Corpus Christi. His wife, Jody, is a native of Little Rock and Barber is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he majored in music.
Barber isn't the first married priest in Arkansas. The Rev. Alan Rosenau serves as a chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs, and is on the staff at St. John the Baptist and St. Mary of the Springs.