Another former Protestant clergyman (who also happens to be married) is taking his final steps toward the priesthood, this time in Arkansas.


The goal is in sight. Hours of seminary study are winding down. Very soon, George W. Sanders Jr. of Hot Springs hopes to fulfill what he says is his life calling.

sanders_seminarian_pic.jpgHe wants to wear the collar of the Roman Catholic priest.

His ordination — anticipated for fall of 2011 — will rank as an important event in the history of his parish, St. John the Baptist Church. Parish members have watched his walk in faith over the years. They saw him receive the office of lector in November and they look forward to seeing him receive the office of acolyte in January.

“I think those who know him are just so excited that he is reaching the goal he has wanted to attain,” Carolyn Wethington, parish director of religious education, said. “Everybody knows his story and how long it’s taken, and his tenacity. Everybody’s really excited about it.”

Sanders, 54, was a Charismatic Episcopal Church priest for three years. George and his wife, Brenda, converted to Catholicism in 2003. Hot Springs has been their home since 1994. The parish and city are a deep part of their faith walk.

One of the early influences in the decision of George and Brenda Sanders to become Catholic was Father James West, the former pastor at St. John Church. George and Father John first met at a pro-life rally. A solid friendship developed. Father West also had been a convert.

“One of the great things is he (Father West) never condemned us,” Sanders said about his and Brenda’s journey to Catholicism. “He appreciated us. He told us I will become Catholic; that was after we became close friends and I shared with him my passion and love of the Church.”

Sanders, vice president of finance for U.S. Food Service of Little Rock, is attending classes through St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., once a month. He hopes to become a transitional deacon in 2010 and be ordained a priest in the fall of 2011.

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