Ordained in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, these men offer a unique pastoral perspective to their flocks.
Father Brown in Oakland diocese, Father Huston in San Diego got in under the wire
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 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.
I would have loved to follow in these footsteps but I’m too old now (77)! These days, I am so happy to serve as a deacon; I thank God and Our Blessed Mother every day for the grace to assist at the sacrificial altar! As long as my health holds out, may it be for as long as I live!