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The Deacon's Bench

What a journey! 

It’s the first Catholic ordination in one Pennsylvania community — and it’s one for the history books:
St. Joseph’s Church in York will be the setting on Saturday for an event sure to go down in local religious history, and perhaps more.
Paul Schenck, born into a Jewish family, eventually ordained as a Protestant minister, converting then becoming a Catholic deacon … plus being married and blessed with many children … will be ordained a Catholic priest in solemn ceremonies at St. Joseph’s on Saturday.

This will be the first-ever Catholic ordination in York, and surely, from a ministerial perspective, concludes an extraordinary spiritual journey from Jew, to Protestant, to Catholic.

A married priest? How is that possible?

Under a decree issued by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Since then, some 100 married Episcopal ministers have been ordained Catholic priests in America.

Deacon Schenck told The Catholic Witness: “… I’ve spent nearly my whole adult life in Christian service as a pastor, teacher and chaplain. To be able to express that vocation within the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church is a great blessing.”

Presently, Deacon Schenck, who lives in Manchester Township with his family, is serving in the Harrisburg Catholic Diocese as director of its Office of Respect Life Activities. He has an extensive national record supporting the pro-life movement, a record involving street activities, jail and legal skirmishes reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Rick Kern wrote in World Magazine:

“Schenck’s resume and his accomplishments, while too numerous to list, include a hand in the establishment of more organizations than most of us volunteer to help in throughout our lifetime. The roster is long and distinguished and like the Apostle Paul, includes plenty of jail time.

“A soft-spoken intellectual, the clergyman is passionately dedicated to making others’ lives better and leading broken hearted, disenfranchised people to the One who alone can heal them.”

All the major TV networks have interviewed the deacon at one time or another. He’s been on TV with Larry King, Ted Koppel and Jim Lehrer. Life magazine has featured him, as have USA Today, the Washington Times magazine, World Magazine and others. For several years, he served as executive vice president of the American Center For Law and Justice, an organization frequently defending cultural and religious traditions in the national news.

Deacon Schenck and his wife, high school sweetheart Rebecca, have nine children, “one in heaven and eight on earth,” as he describes it. The family entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2004.

You can read more about Deacon Schenck here.

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