Meanwhile, the Pastoral Provision goes merrily marching along. I particularly like the comment by the Archdiocese that these guys are the exception. Seems to me like we're getting to the point where they're more like the norm than the exception...
By Annysa Johnson
Nov. 5, 2010
If all goes as planned, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will install its second married priest next spring with the ordination of Deacon Russell Arnett, a former Episcopal priest who converted to Catholicism in 2007.
Arnett, who was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Jerome Listecki in October, would be the first priest in the diocese to enter through the so-called pastoral provision, a 1980 Vatican provision that made it easier for Anglican clergy and laity to convert to Catholicism.
"Russ is a great candidate," said Father Donald Hying, rector of the archdiocese's St. Francis Seminary, who worked with Arnett in spiritual direction and formation.
"He's already serving in two parishes, and that will be a natural segue for him."
Arnett, 52, was first ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1999 and has been married for nine years. He would be the archdiocese's second married priest, following Father Michael Scheip, a former Lutheran minister who spent a year at St. Mary Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls beginning in 2008.
Arnett, who grew up as a Southern Baptist, said he was drawn by the theology and what he sees as the historical authenticity of the Catholic Church."There is a quote by John Henry Cardinal Newman that says, 'To go deep into the history of the Catholic Church is to cease being a Protestant.' And that's what I found," Arnett said. "I was drawn to the historic councils and teachings of the Catholic Church."
The archdiocese made it clear in a Q&A published on its website and the Catholic Herald newspaper that it is not softening the church's position on celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood.
"The ordination of a married man remains an exception and one that is granted only in very specific cases involving men who had already been called to ministry in another church," it said.
According to the Archdiocese, there are about 100 married priests in the United States who have converted from other Christian denominations, primarily Lutherans and Episcopalians.
The 1980 provision by Pope John Paul II followed requests by some Anglicans to convert to Catholicism after the Episcopal Church sanctioned the ordination of women in 1976.
Arnett graduated from Nashotah House Theological Seminary and has served Episcopal congregations in West Bend and Texas. He is currently the administrator at two Kenosha County parishes, St. Francis Xavier in Brighton and St. John the Baptist in Paris.
While studying for the Catholic priesthood, he spent three years at St. Jerome Parish in Oconomowoc, where he taught religion classes for children and adults and worked with the youth ministry program.
St. Jerome pastor Father John Yockey said his church will host Arnett's ordination on March 19.
"With the life history, personal gifts and ministerial experience he brings, Russ will be a special blessing for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee," he said.