Divorced grandfather ordained a priest in California

Divorced grandfather ordained a priest in California August 5, 2011

He’s shown above with his children and grandchildren (and, according to the caption, his ex-wife on the far right).  His surprising vocation is described in The Tidings:

Grandfather-of-three, Patrick Sheridan, was ordained a Benedictine priest during a July 16 concelebrated Mass at St. Mary in Palmdale with Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar, presider, and Abbot Damien Toilolo of St. Andrew’s Abbey.

Nearly 300 people attended the ordination liturgy. The offertory gifts were brought up by Father Sheridan’s daughter, Heather, her husband, James, and their three children: Kyndall, Cory and Kennedy.

Before entering the monastery of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo in 2003, Father Sheridan managed several restaurants in the Antelope Valley and raised two children with his former wife, Ginny Jamison, who attended the ordination ceremony. The divorced, civilly-married couple received a “certificate of nullity” from the church allowing Sheridan to receive the sacrament of ordination.

Father Sheridan began his theological studies at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, but finished his last two years at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. He is currently managing the abbey’s ceramics shop and assisting with the monastery’s new ink and toner online business.

“Father Sheridan is level-headed and, with community life, he is able to bring perspective and balance. His humor and approachability will be a pastoral asset to the abbey,” said Abbot Toilolo.

More pictures and details here.

Congratulations, Fr. Sheridan!  Ad multos annos!

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7 responses to “Divorced grandfather ordained a priest in California”

  1. It’s not our place to know the whole story. Some things are just personal. Thank God for another priest!

  2. The reasons for the breakup of this man’s marriage are surely personal, but the fact that he is divorced has been publicized (on this blog, among other places). In a time when marriage is under assault, I think this could send a dangerous message–namely, that while a marital commitment makes a man “unworthy” of the priesthood, breaking that commitment does not. Our married diaconate has provided the Church with strong (and countercultural) models of lifelong devotion to spouse and family. A story like this seems to me to undermine the example the deacons have set.

  3. Ron…

    On the other hand … his marriage was annulled. So, in the eyes of the church, a sacramental marriage never existed.

    He might be able to bear a fruitful witness to the full meaning of sacramental marriage, and offer a unique perspective on divorce and annulment to the people in the pews.

    FWIW: I know of at least two deacons in Brooklyn — one in my class, one in this year’s class — who are also divorced, and who also took vows of celibacy at ordination. To a certain extent, their situation isn’t all that different from this priest’s. All had marriages that were annulled, and were later admitted to Holy Orders.

    Dcn. G.

  4. He might well. One of our latest candidates awaiting ordination to the diaconate is divorced, and I know that he has very strong views on what it takes for a man to live in faithful marriage, views based on his own admitted failures in that regard. But I also know that annulment itself is widely regarded–not only in society generally but also in Catholic circles–as a backhanded way of allowing Catholics to divorce and remarry freely without losing their standing in the Church, a concession to the loose sexual mores of our time. That is obviously another issue, but I think I am right about how the story of this man’s ordination will be seen by most people who read it: “There go those hypocrites again . . . “

  5. thank you, Dcn. Greg for your response to Ron…speaking from experience, the fruitful witness you spoke of is critically needed…

  6. Ron…

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d say, “There go those merciful Christians again, believing in conversion and redemption and second chances….”


    Dcn. G.

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