‘Almost unheard of’: Father and son both preparing for ordination to the priesthood

‘Almost unheard of’: Father and son both preparing for ordination to the priesthood April 3, 2018
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Andrew Infanger is talking about his path to the priesthood.

He went to Mass every Sunday, studied at parochial schools and spent part of several summers at a camp run by Benedictine monks. He earned his bachelor’s degree in theology at a small Catholic university.

Still, he never really considered himself a model Christian or pious enough to become a member of the clergy. He made other career plans. “I sometimes think I was the last person you would’ve expected to become a priest,” he said.

Yet today, Infanger is less than two months shy of ordination. Sitting in the chapel at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, the deacon is dressed in all black, except for a white clerical collar. Next to him sits his father, Peter. The two have an easy rapport and smile frequently at each other while they speak. When one pauses, the other often finishes the sentence. It’s clear they are close.

And there’s more than that.

Peter Infanger is completing his fourth year at Mundelein Seminary just outside Chicago. In another year, he will be a deacon, and then — “God willing” — he expects to follow his son into the priesthood.

A father and son serving as Catholic priests is not just rare, it’s almost unheard of. In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church — the predominant rite in the West — priests take a vow of celibacy and do not marry. Exceptions are few and happen on a case-by-case basis, such as a married Episcopal priest converting to Catholicism.

The Infangers know of only one other similar situation in the United States. Father Henry Wertin was ordained in 2016 in Pueblo, Colo., 12 years after the death of his wife in a car accident. He has 10 children, two of whom are also priests.

In the Infangers’ case, Peter’s wife Michelle died in 2013 of breast cancer — the same year Andrew, now 30, was accepted into the seminary just south of the Milwaukee border in St. Francis, just off the Lake Michigan shoreline. Peter followed his own discernment process and was accepted in 2014. Now 63, he will become a priest at what traditionally is retirement age.

Read it all. 

God bless them both.


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