What do you do after you leave the priesthood to get married?

What do you do after you leave the priesthood to get married? September 4, 2012

Religious News Service has a look at one man’s story:

Nationwide, about 80 Protestant clergy have left to become Catholic priests, according to research from Catholic University in Washington. Some Eastern Rite Catholic churches, which are loyal to Rome, ordain married men. And after 1980, the Vatican allowed Protestant clergy who converted to Catholicism to remain married to their wives.
But [Gerry] Murphy isn’t necessarily a supporter of married Catholic priests — the issue could cause resentment within the ranks of a majority celibate priesthood, he said, even though it might help bolster the priest shortage in the country.When Murphy was struggling with whether or not to leave the priesthood, he weighed having a family with the risk of losing his priestly calling.

“I resolved this dilemma by recognizing that my journey into ordained ministry was a necessary and enriching part of my spiritual formation,” he said, “but there was more I was called to experience and explore in my life.”

He ultimately resigned his post in Oakland, taking time to meditate on his life. During that time, he explored a Catholic online dating site. That’s where he met his wife, a devotee to Our Lady of Lourdes who had once considered becoming a nun.

She still gushes about their first online conversations. They were engaged after five weeks, and married about five months later.

Once Murphy left the priesthood, he still wanted to be involved in ministry in some way.

“But once you resign, you’re blacklisted from a lot of jobs,” within the Catholic Church, he said. And when he did find a job at a Catholic high school, his bosses told him, as a condition of his employment, he couldn’t mention his time as a priest nor why he left the priesthood.

The couple lost a lot of their closest friends, “and neither of our families are supportive of us wanting to continue our ministry,” Kanelopoulos-Murphy said.

They did find jobs in campus ministry, two funeral homes and running religious retreat centers in Arizona and Virginia.

Photo: Religion News Service

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