A priest forever: one man's career after the collar

A priest forever: one man's career after the collar June 27, 2011

He’s still serving others.

Details, from the Post Crescent in Wisconsin:

Tending to the needs of others is a natural part of Gary Crevier’s character.

“My whole life has been of service, people helping people,” said Crevier, 69, of Appleton.

During his childhood, his parents were foster parents.

“That whole aspect of reaching out to people was there,” he said.

He spent time on missions, was a Catholic priest for 23 years and, after leaving ministry in 1991 to get married, worked in low-income housing and then was a social worker at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution. There he became a certified substance abuse counselor and certified licensed social worker for the state of Wisconsin.

His desire to help others led him to join the Fox Valley Warming Shelter in 2007.

Along the way, many role models have helped to keep him involved.

“My personal spiritually is a big part of all of that,” he said. “My identity flows from who I am.”

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19 responses to “A priest forever: one man's career after the collar”

  1. I don’t get it. Why are we spotlighting a priest who abandoned his priesthood? His acts of service are very commendable, but to say that “he was a Catholic priest for 23 years and after leaving ministry to get married”, as though that’s a perfectly reasonable and acceptable thing to do is insulting to the priesthood and the Church.

  2. Jen…

    The news is dominated by stories about men who have left the priesthood under a cloud of scandal (Cutie et al). I thought it valuable to remind people that this isn’t always the case.

    Dcn. G.

  3. Sorry, Dcn. Greg- I’m with Jen.
    One can only conclude that if he left to get married, he fell in love while an active priest. Not good.
    I see your point, but I don’t think leaving to fulfill other aspirations, that you should have settled before ordination, is all that admirable.

  4. Deacon Greg,
    Isn’t the fact that he left the priesthood after 23 years somewhat of a scandal in itself? And why leave unless he was already interested in marriage, as Sal pointed out? And, is there supposed to be a “career after the collar”?

    I don’t know… I don’t mean to nitpick, but this seems like an awfully nonchalant way to treat the vows of priesthood.

  5. I understand, Sal.

    It’s not my intent to make him a hero. I came across the story and thought it was unusual to see a positive portrait in the media of a laicized priest. (There are a lot of them out there; I knew a few of them myself, and they’re all faithful Catholics.) As I strive to offer a lot of Catholic perspectives here, and this is a subject that doesn’t get a lot of attention, I thought this was worth a post.

    They, too, are a part of our story, and members of the Body of Christ.

    Dcn. G.

  6. Jen & Sal…..I’m with Greg on this one. I knew Gary when he was a priest; great guy then, great guy now….I find it hard to understand being so critical of someone who has done so much good in his life,and continues to do so.
    Scandal ??? Look around; there are many,many other things to call a scandal before you can begin to call this a scandal.

  7. Deacon, I think it is great that anyone spends their lives helping others. That’s lovely. It is what Christ calls us all to do. But He does not call us all to be priests. This man took on the highest vocation he could possibly receive, and then abandoned it. It seems that like so many priests of a certain age, what they really wanted to be were social workers. They should have decided on that from the beginning. To say “Look at all the good things he has done” is, frankly, moot. He is living his life as a helpful Christian. Great. Would that he had done that from the beginning.

    “There are a lot of them out there; I knew a few of them myself, and they’re all faithful Catholics.”

    Well, apparently not THAT faithful, eh ? There certainly are a LOT of them out there. And the Church has deemed every one of them unfit for leadership because they abandoned their vows. God be with all of them– but frankly, when they take the collar off, that’s all I need to know about them. The rest is a footnote.

  8. Ho hum, another priest breaking his sacred promises made before God and His Church. Nothing to see here, move on, people in the pews.

    Maybe my neck of the woods, California, is different than New York. Then again, with the recent SSM vote demonstrating that NY has the same mix of complacent bishops and CINO legislators as the Golden State, maybe not. In any case, have to take issue with your comment that it is “…unusual to see a positive portrait in the media of a laicized priest.” Matter of fact, in the media here the best priest is an ex-priest. It is only us patsies who stay faithful to our priestly promises who get piled upon.

    At least he didn’t apostasize and has tried to do some good with his training. My experience is that most ex-priests try to do some good with their training. Most avoid the press and don’t seek to have their laicized status publicized, unless they are ticked-off progressives. Then we know nothing about them than the fact that they were once active priests.

  9. How about a story of one who became a priest after the death of his spouse? This story did not impress me..
    another social worker–big deal. A priest is above that in my book.

  10. God willing, I will be ordained a deacon in September. I’ve already made a written promise to my Bishop that, should my wife pre-decease me (God forbid) after my ordination, I will remain celibate. Does this mean I don’t have to take that promise seriously?

  11. I don’t see how this story is glorifying Gary Crevier’s situation. As Deacon Greg pointed out, usually when the media features a laicized priest, it has a negative connotation. Often it is somehow connected to the sex scandals. We may not agree with the choices this man made, but at least he went on with his life and tried to make a difference in a good way. How many of us know divorced people who continue to be active Catholics? Marriage is also supposed to last for a lifetime. Hopefully we don’t spend our time judging them for having failed somehow. We don’t know what we would have done if we had been in the shoes of those whose first vocation didn’t work out. Life goes on, and God doesn’t abandon anyone.

  12. Totally agree with James A. and FrMichael. When they remove the collar–that ends their story for me too. No interest–only disappointment that they wanted to become a priest in the first place and then sold out for a woman. I say this as a mother of two adult sons. I would have been thrilled if God had called them to the priesthood and devastated if after 20 years they gave it up for a wife…

  13. Catholics desperately need to read and hear some true life scenarios about today’s good priests. These are the guys that we should be encouraging and pointing them out as heros to our kids. They make little money; many have student loans and car payments; & some dioceses are even falling short regarding retirement options for these dedicated men.

  14. The reality is, all of those years of social work, as much as they may have, and suspect they did, comfort many, couldn’t even come close to the value of ONE mass, offered with Christ, in the Divine Offering. Only a Catholic Priest can bring down Jesus Christ to the altar.

    Sadly, so many have lost (or never knew), the awesome power of the mass, nothing short of being at the foot of Calvary. Even more so, there is absolutely nothing in our “humaness” (unlike the mass which is Jesus making the offering/request), that could even come close in value to even a life of Mother Theresa.

    Having lost most of the sacred, our culture makes heroes out of social workers, which in and of itself is of course a good thing, but far from the end all. On that note, most of us need the poor and the vulnerable more than they need us.

    As for Gary C, I know nothing about him short of the above article, but I will add him to my list of priest for whom I pray.

  15. Melody @ 12,

    Your comment “usually when the media features a laicized priest, it has a negative connotation,” has my interest. Exempting the perverts in the priesthood, both active and laicized priests, do you have any examples of the media reporting negatively on ex-priests? Perhaps it is the region of the country where I live, but that’s not the local experience. Usually we hear enconiums (enconia?) about how “priestly” the deceased was, how much more valuable their vocation was once they removed the collar, what a wonderful husband/father, etc. I have even heard and read chancery flacks saying the same.

    The ex-priests I admire are the ones who remain faithful, downplay their ordination so that it is little-known fact, and use their talents and training for the good of their community.

  16. Fr. Michael, actually I should clarify my statement; the ONLY times I have read in regional media about a laicized priest has been in connection with some kind of scandal. And this newspaper article that Deacon Greg has quoted from only seems to have mentioned it in once in the text; it didn’t go on and on about it. Of course it is sad when someone leaves the priesthood (or fails in marriage, for that matter). What I objected to is the tone in some of the comments.

  17. P.S. to the last comment; if anyone wants to read an uplifting and inspiring commentary on the priestly life by someone who stayed in, try “Fantastic Vocation” by Father Joe Miksch.
    Father Joe was our pastor for many years.

  18. Deacon Greg,

    A little late on my reply. In any event I think this was an excellent decision on your part.

    Before one offers criticism for a priest, or a deacon breaking his “vow”, this should be considered:

    We deacons and at one time all are clergy ordained as deacons. We “promise” obedience. During our promise we state ” I will, with the help of God”.
    Yes, we are but mere humans who are no more capable of perfection than the man in the moon. That does not by any means lessen the seriousness and the intent of that promise.

    The reality is that everyone struggles to remain faithful. Some priests are wonderful and faithful their entire lives. Some have occasional failures. Others have lost their faith and remain priests out of an inability, for a variety of reasons, to move on.
    Others as this priest has apparently done, pray and struggle to discern. Sometimes that discernment moves them in ways that we might not approve. So be it. But who are we to judge!

    I give thanks for the gift of his priestly life. I admire his processing a very heavy burden and finding a way to continue to be a “servant”.

    The saddest part may be that we as a church are unable to consider celibacy as a viable, but not necessary option. Our eastern catholic brothers seem to have continued the option as did the earliest church.

    Thank you brother Greg for this post.

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