A conservative Episcopal priest, who is a top administrator in the Tennessee diocese, is leaving the church to become a Roman Catholic.
Andrew Petiprin recently announced his plans to change his religious tradition and resign his post as the Episcopal diocese’s canon to the ordinary. He wraps up his job on New Year’s Eve, and Petiprin and his family will start 2019 in the Catholic Church.
“I’m not really running away from the Episcopal Church, but running toward the Catholic Church,” Petiprin said in an interview.
Petriprin said he started the job excited about the chance to influence the future of the Episcopal Church, but it became clear several months ago that God was calling him to Catholicism.
“There are many reasons, but no one of them is definitive,” Petiprin said. “One of the great things that has happened to me over the last few months is, although I remain conservative on many of the questions that the Episcopal Church is facing, I have far less anger or bitterness about any of that than I used to have.”
Petiprin, who has been an Episcopal priest for eight years, is a conservative in a denomination that has made progressive shifts in recent decades. Like Bauerschmidt, he does not support the Episcopal Church’s decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in the church. That change came in 2015 and was broadened this summer.
As to his future:
He is excited to join a church that believes marriage is between a man and a woman and takes a strong anti-abortion stance.
But Petiprin also is delighted about the devotion to Mary, Jesus’ mother, among Catholics as well as their strong reliance on the saints. He has found the rosary and the prayers to the saints to be a powerful practice in his life.
On Tuesday, Petiprin and his family will be received and confirmed at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Nashville.
Petiprin still needs to figure out his next career move. He is considering teaching, writing and administrative work, but has not ruled out the priesthood in his new church. A path exists within the Catholic Church that allows married Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests.
He posted this on his Facebook page:
We are thrilled that the Lord has called us to the Catholic Church after a long time of discernment. When we came to Nashville we did not expect anything like this would happen, and it has been an honor to serve a fine man like Bishop John Bauerschmidt and to be among such fine people as the Episcopalians of middle Tennessee. And of course, before taking on my current duties, it was among the greatest joys of my life to be a parish priest at St. Mary of the Angels, Orlando. Becoming Catholic does not mean running away from all these good things, but rather running towards the call to the fullness of faith that we hear so clearly now from God. I leave the Episcopal Church with no bitterness, and only gratitude for these many years of formation and service.
Please pray for us. I do not yet have a job to jump to, and we expect that in the short term we may have financial hardship. But as Scripture teaches everywhere, obedience to the Lord can be risky, but we have complete peace in doing his will. Our long term prospects are very good in every way! I take completely to heart what St. John Paul II said many times with courage to an uncertain world: “Be not afraid!”
As I sort out what I will do next for a living, I will also be writing and speaking about our conversion. I know that not everyone reading this will understand or agree with what we are doing, but I trust that most will be interested to learn more about our journey. For some of you this move will come as a shock. For others it will make perfect sense. In either case, know that it is the Lord’s doing. In recent months the question for me has not been whether becoming Catholic was right or wrong, but rather whether we would have the strength to obey the Lord’s command. It turns out you really can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The prayers of many saints have been the wind in our sails.
I am especially grateful for those in whom I could confide over the last few months, both inside and outside the Catholic Church. My old friends have proven their mettle, and I have made many new ones whose prayers and support have been so powerful. My mom and sisters and other family members continue to bless me in the most extraordinary ways with their encouragement.
May God bless us all!
Prayers for all concerned. This is a big leap of faith — in every sense — and I have to say I admire his enthusiasm and courage.