Congratulations to Fr. Scott Caton
Dear Blog Visitors:
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Scott Caton upon his ordination to the priesthood. I appreciate his inviting me to this wonderful and moving event at Rochester's Sacred Heart Cathedral. It was an opportunity for me to gather with old friends I haven't seen in a while, inclusive of church musicians, liturgists, members of the clergy and lay representatives of multiple parishes.
Scott will be a spectacular priest and I look forward to his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Michael's, a beautiful historical church in Rochester.
What makes Fr. Caton's ordination rather unique is the fact that he is married with six children. Technically speaking, he is the very first married Roman Catholic priest ordained for the Rochester Diocese. What allowed this to happen was a recent provision that permits ordained Protestant ministers to convert to Catholicism and become Catholic priests after a long period of study and mentoring. In Scott's case, he comes from a Baptist, Presbyterian & Reformed background and the Vatican approved his becoming a priest for the Rochester Diocese. Also, with special permission from Bishop Matthew Clark, Fr. Caton will be allowed to continue in his teaching position at Roberts Wesleyan College, while serving the equivalent of part-time duties within the context of his priestly assignment.
I was asked an interesting question by a reporter today: "Weren't you the first married man to be ordained a priest in Rochester?" My response was that my ordination actually took place in New Jersey and my ministry in Rochester is independent of the Rochester Diocese.
While I am very happy for Scott Caton, I also feel sad for the many former celibate priests who entered into marriage and were later relieved of their canonical diocesan priestly duties by the powers-that-be. This creates what amounts to a double-standard in the Roman Catholic Church: If you are a married Protestant minister, you are allowed to become a married Roman Catholic diocesan priest with permission from Rome. If, on the other hand, you are a married Roman Catholic, you cannot be ordained a diocesan priest, due to the rule of mandatory celibacy. Additionally, if you are a celibate priest who becomes married, you can no longer function as a diocesan priest. This needs to change, especially in light of the priesthood shortage and the tragedy of closing parishes.
I want to wish Fr. Scott Caton well as he begins his ministries as a Roman Catholic priest for the Rochester Diocese. He is a wonderful, faith-filled person, who will be a spectacular asset to all he serves. Although he has no political or personal agenda, I nevertheless feel he will help the cause for an inclusive clergy, whereby those who are witness to Scott's ministries will be able to articulate the fact that celibate and married priests can indeed work very well together.
UPDATE: The following are three photos I took just prior to Fr. Scott Caton's inaugural Mass at St. Michael's Church in Rochester. St. Michael's is a historic church, built in 1901, inclusive of a beautiful worship space.
Pictured are a few of the stained glass windows and the altar area:
Peace to all,