A former Protestant pastor who is a married father of eight was ordained a Catholic priest on Saturday for the Diocese of Harrisburg.
The newly ordained Fr. Paul Shenck was raised Jewish and baptized a Christian when he was 16 years old. In 1994 he left the New Covenant Tabernacle, an evangelical church he founded, and then became a pastor in western New York for the Reformed Episcopal Church. He entered the Catholic Church in 2004.
He and his wife Rebecca have been married for 33 years.
While Latin-rite Catholic priests are ordinarily required to be celibates, a special provision instituted in 1980 by Pope John Paul II allows the ordination of married men in certain cases. Fr. Shenck is the Diocese of Harrisburg’s first married priest.
The new priest celebrated his first Mass with his mother at St. Francis Home in Williamsville, Penn. He was ordained by Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Fla. because the diocese’s former bishop Kevin C. Rhoades had been moved to the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend in Indiana.
Previously, Fr. Shenck served as the executive vice president of the American Center for Law and Justice. He moved to Baltimore in 1997 and opened the National Pro-Life Center on Capitol Hill.
He is presently chairman of the National Pro-life Center and director of the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Harrisburg.