Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm a Protestant Clergy Convert to Catholicism

With nowhere to hang my hat!  So I hope Deacon Keith Fournier is correct.  I hope the ordination of Anglican priests into the Catholic home is the first baby step in a movement to embrace folks from other non-Anglican traditions.  Of course if it is, knowing the speed with which the Catholic Church moves, this should probably help my great grandchild's kids.  Still, at least it's something.  If nothing else, it might turn attention back to the 'Protestant Clergy Convert Movement' that seemed so promising through the 80s and 90s.  I know, I know, there are still those of us coming into the Church even today. But it isn't what it was, that's for sure.  The numbers are still spliced and parsed to make it look good, but there is no real forward momentum to keep adding to the attitude of welcome and acceptance and utilization for those who came in.  Certainly not to counter the numbers of those leaving the Church in various parts of Europe and America. Things are, at their best, about the way they were when Scott Hahn came into the Church.  Some might argue they've slipped back a notch.  And that seems to go for Protestant laymen as much as clergy.  At least here in America.  So maybe this indicates change is in the air.  We'll have to see I guess.


  1. I've been reading your blog for some time. I appreciate your views and I enjoy your unique takes on some of the stories I read. But I'm a little confused. I am also a minister, and I have been looking at the Catholic faith for several years. That's one of the things that brought me to this blog.

    You seem to say there is nothing for you in the Church. Have you heard of The Coming Home Network? You can find them through Google. They help Protestant ministers who are thinking of becoming Catholic. The impression I have is that most converts find employment in the Church, even if it takes a while. Check them out, and they might be able to help you.

    I know you asked us to sign our names somehow, but you'll excuse me for staying as anonymous as possible at this time. I'm sure you understand.

    Anonymous Fan

  2. anonymous fan
    feel free to link to daffey's email and send him a message directly. you can find it in the about me section. I have emailed him several times and he is great!

  3. AF,

    Yeah, I've heard of CHNI. My point was that there is no real system for deaing with converts in general, and certainly not protestant clergy converts. In some areas, they embrace them. In others, not so much. That really hasn't changed since the days Scott Hahn came into the Church. And fact is, many of the famous clergy converts weren't really converts from ministry at all. Or they had ministries that could easily transfer to a non-Protestant setting (professors, for instance), or they were bi-vocaitonal, and actually had other incomes. The number of bona fide 'walked out from behind the pulpit and came into the Church and everything worked out peachy' cases was actually small. Either they stopped on the way to get back into the secular workforce first, or they arlready had something to fall back on, or they were never really ministers in the official sense. I only personally have met two who literally were fulltime vocational ministers who became Catholic straight out of the gate, and one - the last time I heard - still hadn't come out of the nosedive.

    In any event, Truth is Truth. If you think the Catholic Faith is true, then sell that field to get the pearl. Somehow, some way, it will eventually work out. I would like to see the Catholic Church take a more active role in seeing it work out, but sometimes God works through things, and sometimes God works despite things.

    DS is right, email me for more information, and I'll do what I can. Thanks for reading my humble little blog.

  4. I'm not sure you are correct. I see many new stories coming from clergy converts. It doesn't seem as bleak as you suggest. From what you are saying, I get the impression that you are having a difficult time right now. I can only guess what that means. I don't know if it is because of family problems or job trouble. Based on your title of this post, I would guess it's economic and vocational. Whatever the problem, you should not let that obscure the good that is happening simply because it doesn't apply to your own experience. If you know of the Coming Home Network, then I'm sure you have seen EWTN, and probably know of The Journey Home. There are guests there who have come into the Church who eventually find their place.

    Maybe you need to think of it in terms of vocation. Your vocation was not as a minister, because technically you were ordained outside of the sacraments of the Church. Don't think of it as simply transferring your credentials to a new denomination. From the point of view of the Catholic Faith, you are not, nor ever were, an ordained minister. Your vocation now must set within the boundaries of Catholic teaching. If God calls, and you become ordained in the Church, then you are ordained. Otherwise, your vocation is elsewhere. A father, a husband, an employee in the workforce. It is not the Church's job to find you employment, or give you a position. Perhaps if you see that, you will step out and find where the Lord has led you, and things will open up. Then you may be able to appreciate the good things that are happening in the Church. I hope this helps.

  5. I am a clergy convert as well, for 5 years now, and Dave you are absolutely correct that few came from behing the pulpit. And you are correct as well that while there are no doubt many parishes/diocese that deal well with this, most do not. Our parish is not a small parish. There are 2500 to 3000 people who attend each week. But, they are completely unequipped and really clueless on dealing with any convert, let alone protestant clergy. I sat through the program for 9 months and pretty much made a decision to just keep my mouth shut. I told Jim Anderson, who was helpful and gracious, that they could not possibly be bad enough for me not to become a complete catholic. After all, you don't get to that point without already having cleared any ideological, theological or practical hurdles. They simply just did not know how to do it. That is all. I expected this and I dealt with it. And I never expected any kind of preference, although I did have peers who did try to shoehorn their way in, and did try, and some with some success at becoming employed by the church. It was a little embarrasing to watch frankly. One tried to convince the church that he was ordained on the level of a Montsignor. Stunning. And embarrasing. At any rate, I did not petition for, or expect anything from anyone except to become fully catholic at the completion of the program, and be a happy parishoner. And, lest anyone misreads this, I am the happiest of parishoners.
    It would have been nice at some point for my pastor, whom I adore, or anyone really, to have put their arm around me at some point and say, "I know, and I get it, and welcome home".
    The problem is, that effectively, the catholic church is largely introverted. Small wonder. Our culture has beaten the hell out of it. I did, in earlier years. All things being equal, I do prefer it over the pushy protestant ethic, where, by the end of your first week at any given church you can be in charge of 3 ministries and on 5 committees. But still, at some point, we all need to feel the warm embrace of the church. Its just not something that catholics do well.
    *A happy catholic convert in Texas

  6. Hey Tex,

    That's pretty much my experience. I tell my boys I didn't become Catholic for the job prospects. Though I do wish there were a little more straight talk about what clergy experience when they become Catholic - you really are at the mercy of your location. Unless, of course, you are like most who were 'clergy' in the broader sense of the word and already had some other income. If you have no other income, and have been a life long full time vocational minister, it needs to be said that you will be trusting God on a day-to-day. With that said, I'm with you, and am nothing but happy about entering the Catholic Church. Even times being what they are. Thanks for the post!


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