Newly ordained married priest a rarity in local diocese
“’Who in the world do you think you are,’” he recalled thinking, “’that you think you can do this?’ As soon as it came into my mind, the answer was there. ‘The church thinks you can do this. Your professors, your bishop, your vocation director think you should be here.’”
Snider, who began serving parishes in Highland, Pierron and Pocahontas on Sunday, may be one of the more intriguing stories in the Springfield diocese, which encompasses 28 counties across the middle part of the state. Snider, 52, is a former minister in the Congregational denomination, and he has been married to his wife, Pam, for 30 years.
Catholic priests in the Latin or Western Rite take a vow of celibacy, forsaking marriage, and that has been the norm since about the 12th century. Eastern Rite Catholic priests, who are obedient to the pope in Rome, can marry before ordination. Since the 1950s, the Catholic Church also has allowed numbers of Lutheran and Anglican or Episcopal priests, who are also allowed to marry, to function as Catholic priests, though their numbers remain small.
Officials say a situation like Snider’s is decided on a case-by-case basis and is rare for a diocese the size of Springfield. Initial inquiries about Snider’s possible ordination began in 2004. The diocese had to get specific permission from Rome for Snider’s seminary studies and for his ordination as a transitional deacon, the step before full priestly ordination.
Even with the number of priests falling, Snider and others from the Springfield diocese don’t think his ordination will revive debate about doing away with celibacy for all priests.
“The only reason (celibacy) should be changed is if the witness and the mission of the church would be better served without it,” said Snider. “The concerning thing I’ve heard is that this is a sign the Catholic Church is going to give up the rule of celibacy. No, this is just an exception. It’s having to rein in people’s expectations.”
Added the Rev. Charles Edwards, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Highland, who will serve alongside Snider: “Yes, people will ask the question about (celibate priests.) It won’t necessarily jumpstart the dialogue about it. [More]
The State Journal-Register