04 December 2019, The Tablet

Married father-of-five approved for ordination

Deacon Drake McCalister is a former Pentecostal Church pastor

Married father-of-five approved for ordination

Deacon Drake A. McCalister poses with Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, Ohio, at Holy Family Church following his ordination as a transitional deacon June 29, 2018.
CNS photo/Matthew DiCenzo, The Steubenville Register

A former Pentecostal minister and married father of five has been approved for ordination by the Vatican. Deacon Drake McCalister will become the first married priest to be ordained in Steubenville Diocese, in Ohio.  He will be ordained on December 19.


McCalister served as a Pentecostal pastor for 13 years but resigned his pastorate after he began to be drawn to Catholicism. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2018.

Catholic News Agency reported that McCalister was first drawn to the Catholic Church after listening to a Catholic radio show. He said the more he listened, the more he felt drawn to the Catholic Church and started to do his own research.

After five years of study and discussions with his wife, the pair decided to join the Catholic Church with their children in 2004.  But it was only in 2010 that McCalister considered ordination. Catholic News Agency reported that he will draw from his family life in homilies and is most excited for “life in the spirit and engagement in the mission”.

In 2016, McCalister wrote about his conversion in the Steubenville Fuel. He said he first attended Catholic Mass on a holiday in Utah, 800 miles from his home. He wrote that he initially feared members of the Catholic Church would be “cold, disinterested and inhospitable”. However, he said: “At the end of the liturgy, God gave me the greatest gift possible for my first Mass.” A parishioner turned to him and invited him for coffee. That experience changed McCalister’s view on the Church and from that moment: “I was regularly surprised how often I found zealous and engaging people with whom I could connect” in the Catholic Church.

Although clerical celibacy is the norm in the Catholic Church’s Latin rite, exceptions are made on a case by case basis for married clergymen from other denominations who decide to become Catholic. An example is the Church in England and Wales, that accepted married priests from the Church of England who could not accept the ordination of women in the C of E. The exception applies to priests from other denominations who are already married – if an unmarried C of E cleric becomes Catholic, he will be obliged to remain celibate. 
In its final document, the Amazon synod, that was held at the Vatican in October, recommended that the possibility of ordaining married men of exemplary character who are supporting their communities in remote regions should be examined. In effect this means ordaining men normally termed "viri probati". The proposal is now on the desk of the Pope, who has in the past suggested he is open to the idea, in order to address the shortage of priests in such regions. 







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