The Register-Guard, the largest newspaper here in Eugene, Oregon, had a front cover article in this past Sunday's edition about the new parochial vicar at the largest parish in the Eugene/Springfield area:
Two things set Father Bryce McProud apart from most newly ordained Roman Catholic priests: He once tried out for the Metropolitan Opera and placed highly enough to consider it a career option. And he’s married.
The opera part is easy to understand. About 40 years ago, about the same time he was considering a calling to the ministry, he “sang quite a lot,” and apparently very well. “At that point, I had to choose between opera and the church,” McProud said. “I prayed about it a lot and decided to go with the church.”
As for being married, McProud, a longtime minister in the Episcopal church and now parochial vicar at St. Mary Catholic Church in Eugene, received a dispensation from Pope Benedict XVI that allowed him to make the switch and, as an already married priest, to bring his wife along.
Since July 1, after a few weeks of volunteering in local parishes following his ordination on June 4, he has been a full-time member of the St. Mary clergy, celebrating Mass, officiating at funerals and hearing confessions of parishioners in the old brick church at 11th Avenue and Charnelton Street.
He and his wife, Deanna McProud, have been married “almost 41 years,” he said. “We have a son, and we have two wonderful grandchildren.”
The piece is quite good and does a solid job of providing background and context to Fr. McProud's rather unique situation. It also has this:
McProud’s disaffection with Episcopal doctrine started in the early 1990s, “after the church’s general convention voted to become pro-choice on abortion,” he said. “The other major issues were not as important to me.”
He had been ordained into the Episcopal priesthood in 1978 and had served in parishes in Yakima, Wash., and Albany before coming to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Eugene in 1985.
By 2004, he realized that he was part of the “Catholic-minded” among Episcopalians — the other two main divisions are liberal-minded and evangelical-minded, he said — and he decided to pursue a dispensation to join the Catholic clergy.
“The decision evolved over a long period,” Deanna McProud said. “We talked a lot about the various churches we had been in during our lives. I always had been drawn to the Catholic Church, so it didn’t seem strange to me.”
Again, the background material provided by reporter Randi Bjornstad is quite helpful for readers unfamiliar with how it is that some Catholic priests in the Latin rite are married. However, the term "Roman Catholic Church" is a bit misleading (although, admittedly, used by many Catholics), as it is not a term ever used by the Catholic Church to describe herself, as Dave Armstrong and Jimmy Akin explain. Far more important, however, is this error:
However, the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t recognize clergy ordained in other churches, so for McProud as well as others, the switch meant attending seminary, passing examinations and then serving for several months as a Catholic deacon before qualifying for ordination.
Not true. The Catholic Church doesn't recognize clergy ordained in Protestant denominations, but it certainly recognizes clergy ordained in the Orthodox Churches and Ancient Oriental Churches. Thus, the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, states:
These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy. Therefore some worship in common (communicatio in sacris), given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not only possible but to be encouraged. (par. 15) ...
To remove, then, all shadow of doubt, this holy Council solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, while remembering the necessary unity of the whole Church, have the power to govern themselves according to the disciplines proper to them, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful, and more for the good of their souls. The perfect observance of this traditional principle not always indeed carried out in practice, is one of the essential prerequisites for any restoration of unity. (par. 16)
And regarding "Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West", the document states:
Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue. (par. 22; emphasis added)
Which brings me around to a point that I bring up every few months: the majority of priests in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are married. (Bishops are chosen from those priests who are not married.) The Register-Guard article would have benefited, I think, from at least a passing reference to this fact, especially since one of the three Eastern rite Catholic churches in the state of Oregon is in the Eugene/Springfield area, Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church, which our family has attended regularly since 2000. Still, all in all, a good piece about Fr. McProud, who I hope is settling in nicely at St. Mary Catholic Church.