It was barely a week into Father Patrick Allen’s new ministry when, in the course of taking his two children to activities in his nonreligious clothes, at least five people asked:
So, what do you do for a living?
Allen smiles graciously, sometimes bringing his hand to his chest in a humble gesture, one that coincidentally shows his wedding band.
“This might begin a long conversation,” the James Island father says.
“I’m a Catholic priest.”
When his daughter, Lucy, goes to Charleston Catholic School next year, she will be the only student whose father comes not only for parent conferences and class parties, but also to celebrate Mass.
Ordained a Catholic priest July 7, Allen joins a small but growing group of former Episcopalians embarking on a new journey, one they hope marks a critical step down the long path to Christian unity.
They have embraced a new option in Catholicism that allows Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic yet retain elements of their liturgical and theological traditions.
Allen is the second Episcopal priest in South Carolina to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, often dubbed the “Anglican ordinariate.”
Pope Benedict XVI created the ordinariate, a non-geographic diocese within the Catholic Church, for groups of American Anglicans who wanted to enter full communion with the Vatican.
The result: Two weeks ago, Allen lay prostrate before the Most Rev. Robert Guglielmone, bishop of Charleston.
Those on hand for his ordination included his closest Anglican mentor and friend, the priest who heads the ordinariate and the once-Episcopalian families joining him to create a new Catholic community…