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Former Rochester Married Priest Reenters Schism

March 14th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Today’s Democrat & Chronicle features a story about Rochester’s first married priest. Yes, you heard me correctly. Melvin Walczak was ordained a priest in the Polish National Catholic Church, a schismatic group which broke from the Catholic Church in the late 1800s. In 1985, Walczak, who was already married, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the Diocese of Rochester’s first married Catholic priest. In fact, he was the first married priest in the country who had not converted over from the Episcopal church. His conversion to Roman Catholicism did not require re-ordination. Walczak served in various diocesan roles, including at Penfield’s St. Joseph parish. In the mid 1990s, Walczak left the priesthood behind to take on a secular job with the local Republican party. He and his wife separated in 1990.

The article states that after reading about St. Casimir’s dire situation (they have roughly 20 parishioners and face the decision whether or not to close their doors), Walczak decided to rejoin the schismatic parish. Walczak contacted the Polish National bishop, and was assigned to lead St. Casimir’s once again. The former Roman Catholic convert who served as a Diocese of Rochester priest has essentially rejoined a schismatic sect. I believe this results in the man incurring excommunication latae sentiae for leaving the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Rochester probably does not need to make a public statement on this situation since Walczak hasn’t served in public ministry for over 15 years.

Photo from Democrat & Chronicle.

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