Married Anglican convert ordained to priesthood in PEI

  • August 25, 2009
{mosimage}Married priests. Although it isn’t unheard of, it is still an anomaly in Canada. Less than a dozen exist across the country, with one new addition in Prince Edward Island this month.

On Aug. 9, Fr. Martin Carter was ordained at St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown. Carter, 63, has been a resident of P.E.I. for 20 years. He converted to Catholicism in December 2005 before he began the road to Roman Catholic priesthood.

“It was somewhat of a long journey,” Carter said. “I became attracted to the Catholic Church in reading church history in 2002 or 2001.”

Formerly a research scientist as well as an Anglican pastor on the weekends, Carter used to travel around the world for conferences as a scientist. As there wasn’t always an Anglican church available, he would opt for a Roman Catholic Mass, although he wouldn’t receive communion, he said.

But his conversion came through a series of experiences and reflections, he said, struggling to summarize the journey.

“It really didn’t have anything to do with the Anglican Church so much. I have a great respect for the church and the clergymen,” he said. “But I felt God was calling me to a more fuller expression of Christianity, one that you could trace back to the Apostles.” 

Married pastors must gain the permission of Rome before they begin studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Once ordained, they assist other pastors and can never become a bishop.

At St. Pius X parish in Charlottetown, where he began working Aug. 15, Carter works in a pastoral position assisting pastor Fr. Keith Kennific. He will also assist at the basilica in Charlottetown.

“At this point he’s doing sacramental ministry and that’s  not uncommon for priests to do that. There’s practically no difference with that and an associate pastor,” Kennific said. “There are priests assigned to do sacramental ministry if they have other responsibilities and so on. He will bring his own life experiences to the ministry as any other priest does.”

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