Yes, you’re old enough

Father Brown

Father Brown (from Catholic Voice)

The following comes from an Apr. 15 story by Jim Graves on the site of Catholic World Report.

Father Jerry Brown, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brentwood in the diocese of Oakland, California, was ordained to the priesthood in 2001, at age 54.

He was born in Napa, Northern California’s wine country, to two non-religious parents.  He developed an interest in the Catholic Church through some friends, even considering the priesthood.  His father persuaded him to instead become a priest in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1970, and served for 25 years.  He married, and had four children (two of whom are surviving; one died as a small child, the other as an adult in an auto accident).

In his years as an Episcopal priest, Father Brown saw the Episcopal Church change dramatically. “The church I left,” he said, “was a different one than the one I joined.” Socially, the Episcopal Church “embraced every liberal cause….”

He saw his church empty, growing unable to support a priest with a family.  With the church “imploding,” he left active ministry and took a job as a registered nurse.  He met a nun who ministered at his hospital, and decided to give the Catholic Church a second look.  He liked what he saw, and took RCIA classes through the diocese of Oakland.  He entered the Catholic Church in 1995.

A priest friend suggested that, because of Brown’s training, he should consider the Catholic priesthood. His marriage had ended in divorce after the death of his child, and was eventually annulled.  The bishop of Oakland at the time, John Cummins, welcomed Brown to the seminary….

Celibacy is a challenge, but to Father Brown, it makes sense.  As an Episcopal priest, he served a congregation of a few hundred, which was considered a large church.  As a Catholic priest, he serves a congregation of 5,600. He mused, “How could I fit in a wife and family?”

Father Huston (from JPCatholic)

Father Huston (from JPCatholic)

…. Father Richard Huston is a priest of the diocese of San Diego.  He was ordained in 1995 at age 69.

Father Huston was born in Los Angeles in 1926.  He attended Catholic schools, and recalled meeting a retired priest as a boy.  The priest prayed over him, and told him one day he’d be a priest.

Huston went on to the high school (minor) seminary, studied there for more than two years, and “felt the urge” to leave.

World War II was in its final years, so he joined the US Navy, where he served as a cook….

In 1946, Huston was discharged and got married.  He recalled, “I felt compelled to marry this girl.  We had a wonderful, 43-year marriage.”

The union produced three children, two of whom survive today.  Huston worked as an architect, and eventually moved to San Diego.

In the final years of his marriage, Huston and his wife visited Medjugorje, where he had a “premonition” that his wife would pre-decease him.  Upon their return home, she was troubled by stomach pains, which were discovered to be pancreatic cancer.  The doctor predicted she’d survive six months; she lived another six months and one week.  She died in 1990.

Well into his 60s, Huston approached the bishop and asked him if he could enter the seminary for the diocese.  He made an offer the bishop couldn’t refuse: 1) he’d pay for his own seminary education, and 2) he wouldn’t be part of the diocesan pension plan.  Father said, “The bishop had nothing to lose!”

….Father Huston does parish work, and also has engaged in a variety of apostolates.  For 17 years he was chaplain for the Divine Mercy movement, and has also been chaplain to Courage, a group which helps people with same-sex attraction live according to the Church’s teachings.

But his chief ministry is marriage preparation and counseling, using the experience of a successful, 43-year marriage to help him….

To read the entire story, click here.

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Comments

  1. FrMichael says:

    “Well into his 60s, Huston approached the bishop and asked him if he could enter the seminary for the diocese. He made an offer the bishop couldn’t refuse: 1) he’d pay for his own seminary education, and 2) he wouldn’t be part of the diocesan pension plan. Father said, “The bishop had nothing to lose!””

    Here’s a man who understands how a diocese works! God bless the good priest for dedicating the remaining years of his life by serving in sacerdotal ministry!

  2. mike magee says:

    Come sweet cash. How things change when no cash outlay required.

    I wonder what the response would be if a well qualified but financially not well off man approached the Bishop.

  3. Tony de New York says:

    GOD bless all this priests and seminarians.

  4. 1 Cor 7:32-34 “…. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord;
    but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided….” – St. Paul

    All those entering Seminary are expected to pay their own way. In fact they are not accepted if they have debts, until those debts are paid.
    This is also true of most convents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maddie, you are wrong.
      In many cases, the bishop pays your way during your time in the seminary.
      Most young men pursuing a vocation have no money, and some come from poor countries.
      If you think they could pay for their tuition, food and room, you are badly mistaken.

  5. When I’ve met these former married, now widowed, Priests, I feel that I’m am meeting Our Father in earthly flesh.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Old men who have lots of money, and lots of faith and devotion, can be good candidates for the priesthood.
    The bishop knows they will not be a drain on the already stretched retirement fund, which is usually in pretty bad shape.
    Old men who have no money and are just looking for a cushy job with retirement benefits don’t belong in the seminary — they will work for a couple of years, and then expect the people of God to support them until they kick the bucket!!!

  7. FrMichael says:

    Mike Magee:
    “I wonder what the response would be if a well qualified but financially not well off man approached the Bishop.”

    With a full seminary education costing around around a quarter million dollars, plus retirement costs of an abbreviated priesthood, we don’t have to wonder what usually happens.

    Maddie:
    “All those entering Seminary are expected to pay their own way.” Absolutely not. I don’t know of a single order or diocese who requires this of the typical seminarian. At most, some dioceses require a small amount of repayment. But with seminary costs something on the order of 10-15 times annual salary, priests’ salaries would have to be greatly augmented if the diocese wanted to recoup their money.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Look at it this way! When a young man enters a Military Academy, not only is his education paid for in full, but he receives a salary while a cadet.

      If the Catholic Church cannot do the same for its seminarians, what does that say about us?

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerikca!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Anonymous says:

        Kenneth, you are right on target with your comments this one time.
        Now, learn how to spell the word “America.”
        You move from “Amerika” (Russian?) to “Amerikca” to God knows what else.
        A man your age should know better.

        • Kenneth, you make absolutely good sense. The seminary should be free. There ought to be some conditions applied, such as working in/for the church for five years if not ordained, but … If the diocese says it can’t afford to do that, then it needs to start teaching and preaching about the concept of stewardship. It is well known that Catholics give less than half what other traditional church folks give. If we were better trained, and knew that our money would not go to building mansions for the bishops, perhaps we could provide low cost/free education and formation.

  8. A good-news story never fails to attract the cynics and the negatives. How about the good news that these men chose to become priests when they could have gone off into retirement or some other job being a positive for people. i know one of the priests, and his vocation is amazing. A bit traditional for me, but he is growing his church by the hundreds each year, has more ministries going than most of can think about and is a force in the community. Faith formation is very orthodox. The downside of course is that he only has one priest to help him in this huge parish. Attitude has a lot to do with attracting people to the ordained life. When I retired at 55, I thought about becoming a deacon but was told that I was too old because I would be 60 years old when training was completed. That was true, but, going on 25 years later I could still be contributing, but I guess I am too old.

    • “A bit traditional for me …” So what are you saying Bob One; that the priest was an actual Roman Catholic?

  9. Abeca Christian says:

    God bless them. I pray that they do God’s will and lead His sheep well. May they be faithful and loyal to the teachings of Christ’s church!

  10. I’d probably steer clear of a priest who continues to claim to have received premonitions at Medjugorje.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-devil-and-medjugorje

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