Thursday, January 31, 2013

Married man ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville

John Cornelius has given up sex with his wifeJohn Cornelius did something over the weekend with which people in the area may not be familiar. He joined the Roman Catholic Church as a married priest.

“All the time and many,” Cornelius said last week when asked how often gets questions about how he can be married and become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Cornelius was ordained Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville.

“I’ve had people I’ve worked with and for in the vicariate come up and say ‘What are you going to be?’” Cornelius said. “I say, ‘I’m going to be a Roman Catholic priest.’ They say, ‘How can that be? You’re married.’”

Cornelius said he was being ordained for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. 

The ordinariate is for those groups of Anglicans in the United States who seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. He and his wife, Sharyl, who have three daughters, converted to Catholicism two years ago. Cornelius was ordained a transitional deacon Nov. 17 and has been serving as a pastoral associate at SS. Brendan and Jude Parish.

“I try to explain to them there are rites in the Catholic Church in which priests are married,” he said. “Pope Benedict (XVI) has tried to bring people who wanted to come into the Roman Catholic Church in and he wants to allow them to keep some of their patrimony or their ‘church culture.’ In the Roman Catholic Church, there are 33 or 34 of what they call Eastern Rite Roman Catholics. All of the priests in those rites can be married. Really the only one that can’t be married is the Latin Rite, the Roman priests. They have to be celibate. There is a large group of Anglicans and former Anglicans, some from the Episcopal Church, some from the splinter groups, who had requested, a number of times ... to be allowed to come into the Roman Catholic Church, with their patrimony — their music, their spirituality. their liturgy,” he said. “They’ve been working on this for quite a while and I think the Roman church has been working on it for quite awhile.”

Cornelius said Benedict XVI, on Jan. 1, 2012, presented the way Anglicans could enter the Roman Catholic Church and keep their patrimony. Part of that patrimony was married priests.


Cornelius, 64, who grew up in Bolivar, was ordained by Bishop Richard J. Malone. Following his ordination, the Diocese of Buffalo said, he will lead the Fellowship of Saint Alban in Henrietta (Diocese of Rochester), a small community of former Anglicans who have joined the Catholic Church.  

When available, he will also assist with ministry at parishes in Allegany County.

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