Pro-life Hero, Protestant Minister to Catholic Priest: Fr. Paul Schenck, Prophetic Sign of Coming Full Communion
reserve to the Lords work.
Paul and I shared a deep love for the early Fathers of the Church. We had numerous theological discussions. I saw the Holy Spirit drawing him out of a Protestant vision of the Church and into an increasingly Catholic vision. When he became an Episcopal minister, I was there. I knew it would not satisfy his hunger. I believed that Paul was hungering for the fullness of the ancient yet ever new Catholic Christian Faith.
At his ordination in the Episcopal Church, I gave him a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours which I had engraved to "Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck'. I hoped it would be prophetic. He showed it to me this past Weekend with a huge smile on his face. Paul came to my ordination to the Order of Deacon in the Catholic Church in 1996.
The next year, 1997, it became clear that my ordination and my continued role with the ACLJ were not compatible. The somewhat painful details were recently described in David Edwin Harrell Jr.'s excellent biography of Pat Robertson entitled "Pat Robertson: A Life and Legacy." (see, pp.263, 264)
Ironically my last appearance as Executive Director of the ACLJ as co-counsel with Jay Sekulow was in the very first case which I took when I moved to build the ACLJ. This time it was before the US Supreme Court. Paul's courageous work on behalf of children in the womb served as bookends for an entire chapter in my life.
We stayed in touch. I introduced Paul to a dear friend, A Melkite Catholic Bishop, who played a significant role in his journey to the Catholic Church. I was honored to serve as the Deacon at the Mass where Pro-Life Hero Fr. Frank Pavone received Paul into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2004. Paul laid aside his ordained ministry in the Reformed Episcopal Church to become a Catholic.
He and I discussed his desire for ordination over the years following on several occasions. I watched him go through what I have watched others go through who have walked the same road. His desire to be Catholic led him to give it all up - and offer to serve in any way that he could in the Church he loves. Over the years the mettle of this man always shone through. He is a man of heroic virtue, courage, and perseverance.
It was against this background that I traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this past weekend; to rejoice with my long time friend at the goodness of the Lord in calling him. He was ordained a deacon six months ago. With a dispensation from Rome waiving the celibacy requirement, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Father Paul "Chaim" Schenck was ordained by his friend, the humble and holy Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Fla. His Diocese is without a Bishop since Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has been called to the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend in Indiana. In a rare turn of events, Fr. Paul was allowed to choose a Bishop to ordain him.
I sat next to my brother deacons and behind the numerous priests who were present. I wept through most of the exquisitely beautiful ordination. His dear family was there, along with a Church filled with people whose lives have been touched by his heroic service to the Lord. They came from his days as an Assemblies of God Pastor, an Episcopal minister and now a Catholic Priest. It was an extraordinary event. When the Mass was ended I asked Fr. Paul for his blessing. He placed his hand on my head and gave me a priestly blessing, in Hebrew.
I believe that Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck is a prophetic sign of the coming full communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I will share more about that in the future. I ask our global readers to pray for Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck, Priest of Jesus Christ. He is a gift for a new missionary age. May there be many more.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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