Best Response to Priestly Scandals: Pray for Faithful Priests - Like Fr. Paul Schenck
love for the early Fathers of the Church and loved to speak of theological truth. I watched as the Holy Spirit was drew Paul 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 he was hungering for the fullness of the Catholic Church and it was only a stop along the way home.
At his ordination to ministry as a priest in the Episcopal Church, I gave him a copy of the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours (the breviary) which I had engraved to "Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck'. I hoped it would prove to be prophetic. Paul came to my ordination to the Order of Deacon in the Catholic Church in 1996. The grace of that ordination called me out of the ACLJ and into a new chapter in my vocational calling in 1997.
Right before I left the ACLJ I introduced Paul to a dear friend, A Melkite Greek Catholic Bishop who played a significant role in his continuing journey to the Catholic Church. I had been invited my Bishop friend to travel to the Holy Land with the Bishop where I hoped to meet my life champion, Blessed John Paul II.
Days before I was to leave, my father had a serious heart attack. I suggested that Paul Schenck, then an Episcopal minister, go in my place. There, in the land where Jesus walked, Reverend Paul Schenck met Blessed John Paul II. It was meant to be. My time to meet Blessed John Paul II came later in Rome.
Paul's journey continued. In 2004 I served as the Deacon at the Mass where Fr. Frank Pavone received him into full communion with the Catholic Church. Paul laid aside his ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church to become a Catholic. I watched him go through what I have watched others go through who have walked the same road.
His hunger for the fullness of the truth found within the Catholic Church led him home. However, I believed that the Lord had called him to ordained ministry and would make a way. In fact, the Lord did, years later, through the pastoral provision for former Anglican ministers.
The evening before his ordination to the Catholic priesthood in 2010 he showed me the worn copy of the Liturgy of the Hours I had given him all those years ago, inscribed to "Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck" and smiled broadly. With a dispensation from Rome waiving the celibacy requirement, Fr. Paul was ordained to the Holy Priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by his friend, Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Fla.
I sat next to my brother deacons and behind the numerous priests who were present and wept through most of the exquisitely beautiful ordination to the holy priesthood. His wife and children were there, along with a Church filled with people whose lives have been touched by his service to the Lord. They came from his days as a Pro-Life champion, an Assemblies of God Pastor, an Episcopal minister and now, as a Catholic Priest.
Fr. Paul is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg where he is Director of the Respect Life Office. He is also the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and serves as its Chairman. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policy makers the information, education and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions and help to build a truly just society for all men and women, including our first neighbors in the womb.
It is wonderfully ironic that this Pro-Life champion who suffered the brunt of injustice in the Courts now ministers to those who administer Justice. His Pro-Life work continues to grow on a National level. As we watched a once high profile priest set aside his priestly ministry in the midst of a terrible controversy - we need to pray a renewal of the priesthood and an increase in priestly vocations.
We also need to hear the good news! There are priests who are faithfully serving the Church and reaching out to help build a new culture of life and civilization of love, like Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck. They are humble, properly submitted to the authority of the Church and bearing tremendous fruit in this new missionary age. The best response to priestly scandals is to honor and pray for faithful Priests, like my friend, Fr. Paul Schenck.
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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.
Keywords: Fr. John Corapi, Fr Paul Schenck, National pro-Life, Center, NPLC, Deacon Keith Fournier
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