WHO AM I ?
I am a catholic priest who has also received the sacrament of matrimony. I am not an ex-priest.
Since getting married I have continued to do evangelisation with Basic Christian Community groups, with prayer groups and with human promotion groups. I am not a priest who has left the church and ministry.
I am a happy fulfilled Christian. I know I did not turn my back on Our Lord when I received the sacrament of matrimony. I am a husband, a father and a grandfather. I love my wife. She inspires me and encourages me. We have been doing pastoral work together for the past 37 years ever since getting married. I have not lost interest in the church or am I less motivated about pastoral because I am married with children and grandchildren.
I married for love and not because I was unhappy as a celibate priest. I thank Our Lord for the day I met my wife. I can see now that it was His plan that we meet just as it was His plan that I enter the seminary. I thank Him for the years I spent doing public ministry.
By the grace of God I have been able to reconcile priesthood and marriage. Priesthood and marriage have worked for me, they may not work for everybody. I know two married priests who after being married and with a family are now separated from their wives and are now living alone.
Priesthood demands sacrifice just as married life too and both states of life need to have a deep life of prayer. Thanks to my seminary training I practice meditation every morning. I spend some time in quiet peaceful conversation with Our Lord, as a celibate priest meditation too was very important to me. As a parish priest I used to celebrate Mass with great joy for the people. Today I celebrate Mass in my own home with great joy for my family.
In the future I can see celibate and married priests working together for the good of The People of God. I do not see celibacy as the only call to service. This sharing of ministry between celibate and married priests can be done with no competition or rivalry from each one. However, the structure of the parish could be changed. Instead of all the church and pastoral activities taking place in the actual parish church, the parish could be divided up into a network of Basic Christian Communities, communities that could meet in peoples homes to pray together, to reflect on, to share the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist presided over by either a celibate or married priest.
As a celibate priest I worked hard as most celibate priests do. I was a parish priest in Brazil for 17 years as a member of the Holy Ghost Fathers Congregation. After getting married I had to look for a secular job to put bread on the table. Not only did I have my secular job but there was also the shared housework with my wife as we looked after our two healthy and active children. I remember many nights when the children were young my wife and myself walking up and down the bedroom with the babies in our arms to try to get them to go to sleep and having to get up early next morning and go to work without getting any sleep. This is the reality for most married couples. It wasn’t easy trying to reconcile our family life and finding time for pastoral work as well but from my experience as a married priest it is possible to be married, have a family, plus a secular job, live in a housing estate like everybody else and do pastoral work as well with Basic Christian Communities. In my parish in Brazil I had many examples of dedicated married men and women who gave their lives to the church as well as their family.
I began this article by asking the question “WHO AM I”? I end by saying that I am someone who began a journey years ago when I entered the seminary and who today is still on this journey, now with my wife, children and grandchildren and with Our Good Lord and His Blessed Mother.