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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Governor McGreevey to Rev'd McGreevey?

McGreevey seeking to become Episcopal priest
Posted by The Star-Ledger
May 02, 2007 6:52PM
Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger

Former Gov. James E. McGreevey has started the process to become a priest in his newly adopted Episcopal faith and has been accepted into a three-year seminary program starting this fall.

McGreevey, who often described himself as a devout Catholic while in public office, was officially received into the Episcopal religion on Sunday, at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan.

He also has been accepted into the Master of Divinity program at Manhattan's renowned General Theological Seminary, seminary spokesman Bruce Parker said in a statement this afternoon.

"He has met all of General's admissions requirements and, as with all students accepted for admission, his application was evaluated by a committee composed of faculty members and several students, along with the Director of Admissions. We look forward to welcoming him as a member of the General Seminary community," Parker said.

McGreevey also has begun the church's "discernment" phase that usually precedes any seminary work, said the Rev. Kevin Bean, vicar at St. Bartholomew.

"This process that he's in right now, is not going to be some snap of the finger, overnight process. That will not happen. That's not how it works. He knows that," Bean said. "And so at the parish level, and at the diocesan level, everyone knows that this is a process that ... intentionally is deliberate. You don't enter into it unadviseably."

McGreevey declined to comment today. Messages left for officials at the seminary were not immediately returned.

Those closest to McGreevey said they were not surprised to learn of the ex-governor's decision.
"This is something he's been thinking about for years," said David France, who last year co-authored McGreevey's best-selling memoir, The Confession. "His spiritual life has always been central to who he is. From the time he was a kid, he thought about going into Catholic seminary a number of times. The idea of going into the Episcopal seminary has been in his mind for at least a couple of years."

McGreevey, 49, resigned in August 2004 after announcing he was gay and had an affair with a male staffer, who has denied it.

News of McGreevey's plans come a day after his estranged wife, former first lady Dina Matos McGreevey, released her own tell-all memoir, called Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage. The McGreeveys are embroiled in a nasty divorce and custody battle, which has boiled over in recent weeks and led a Superior Court judge in Elizabeth to instruct the couple to use common sense and remember that their daughter will one day read everything they're saying about each other.

While in office, McGreevey's pro-choice political stance put him at odds with the Catholic church. And soon after his resignation, McGreevey began attending Episcopal services. A central point of contention between the McGreeveys in their divorce is whether their 5-year-old daughter, being raised Catholic by Matos McGreevey, should be allowed to accept communion while at services with her father.

Of the Episcopal discernment protocols, Bean said: "There's a whole process that takes place within his parish here at St. Bart's, of discernment. That is followed by a process of further discernment at the diocesan level, involving the bishop and all. The decison to go to seminary is part of a more thorough process of discernment to ordination. It's not just going to seminary that gets you ordained ... It's a pretty extensive."

Contributed by Josh Margolin and Jeff Diamant


Wormwood's Doxy said...

Oh my...seems like some time would have been a good thing in this instance.

Elizabeth---please forgive me for blogwhoring, but would you please check out my latest post on mine? I am trying to collect sermons on HIV/AIDS, and you would seem like such a natural candidate.


Weiwen Ng said...

well, prayers that he and his family will be able to resolve the divorce peacefully and justly, and that God will grant him wisdom to discern if the Episcopal priesthood is right for him.

I would in fact be quite happy if God told him to go for it.

Michael said...

The General Seminary is "renowned" now? Renowned for its shrinking endowment, its crumbling buildings, or its fleeing faculty?

Bateau Master said...

Wonder if he would be willing to share his "Road to Damascus" experience? It has to be a whopper!

With book, divorce, and custody issues swirling, I am not sure the rigors of seminary and taking up pastoral ministry is the most discerning course of action.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Or, precisely what he needs.

I seem to remember the Psalmist saying,"The sacrifiice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and ontrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (51:18)

And, neither should we.

Bill said...

I read his book last year. I believe he has had this on again, off again calling for quite some time. There were of course the homosexuality issues which would have never been resolved in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s just as well he never got too deeply involved when he was a young man. If he has finally found a home in the Episcopal Church, as have I, good for him. I had the same issues with the Roman Church. It’s only since coming over to the Episcopal Church that I have begun to become truly close to God and Church. This new spirituality was never possible in the restrictive climate of Rome.

The discernment process will slow him down a little which I think is what he needs. After coming out of the Roman closet, it’s so easy to run headlong into the open and inclusive Episcopal environment. It’s closely akin to a youthful infatuation, a lover’s embrace. After being denied for so long, it’s very easy to be totally overwhelmed by it. I find myself deliberately “slowing down”. I ask myself, do I really want to do this or do I really want to do that, and then, after going through my own mini-discernment process, making a slow deliberate decision.

I’ve picked up on this tendency in others who have come over from the Roman camp. We literally try to throw our whole mind and bodies into the warmth of a loving church. From what I’ve read of the “discernment process”, it’s a good thing. It slams on the brakes and forces you to take a long hard look at your life and what you want to do with it. Becoming a priest isn’t something you want to do on a whim.

I wish Jim the best of luck. If this is what is meant to be I couldn’t be happier for him. My prayers go out to him.

Mike in Texas said...

Bill, I have the same impression as yours from reading his autobiography.

The Ranter said...

Still, he's been an Episcopalian for all of fifteen minutes and he's going to seminary.Shouldn't there be a bit of time for the community to get used to him. Couldn't he start out as a layreader or chalice bearer or by hosting a coffee hour? Doesn't it seem premature, to become one of us and decide to go to seminary all in the same week? What is the hurry?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, he was recieved on Sunday, but he's been an active, tithing member of St. Bart's for the past two and a half years.

The Ranter said...

OK. But still. He is in the middle of a big scandal, and I think that there needs to be some lag time before the community at large is going to be ready to recieve his ministry. Memories are long. On the same note, nobody has officially announced that he is in the ordination track, DioNY released a statement claiming no knowledge of him, so this all might be a bit premature. You wonder what is going on though, because I have always understood that attending one of our seminaries required the approval of one's bishop.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Ranter, first up: you are correct. Back in the day, seminaries used to insist that only postulants be admitted to the MDiv Program. Many people like Jim used to start out in the MA program and then, when made postulant, would switch to MDiv.

As I said, that was 'BACK IN THE DAY'. What happened? Well, frankly, two things:

1. The cost of tuition
2. The decline in the number of seminary students.

Seminaries began to convince bishops that this needed to change. Most have. It's about pragmatics.

As for the controversy, well, many of us are involved in controversial things. It's just that the media is not impressed.

Who would think that someone would care about the former governer of The Garden State is gay and divoring his wife. Men declare themselves gay and divorce their wives on a daily basis.

Except, controversy concerning public people sells papers and air time and . . .well, journalists and newspaper and radio and tV station owners have children to feed and send to private school, too, you know.

It's all pragmatics, my dear.

Sad, innit?

Bill said...

The Ranter said...
"Couldn't he start out as a layreader or chalice bearer or by hosting a coffee hour?"

On a more serious note, I would never put an inexperienced or untrained person in charge of the coffee hour.

scott said...

bill's onto something there. There's some serious training needed when dealing with parched parishioners at the coffee hour. Juggling all those carafes, queueing up the next basket of grounds for brewing, all while maintaining an attentive expression during the chatter. i mean really, it takes experience.

Then again, i'm sure Mr. McGreevy's got the requisite experience from all those past political fund-raising chicken dinners. Let's give the guy a chance!