Former Methodist minister seeks the Roman collar

In 2002, Mark Kurowski, in what he calls the hardest move of his life, left the United Methodist church he’d served for 12 years as pastor, thirsty for the truth of the Catholic faith.

Now, 40-year old Kurowski, who is married with five children is seeking to become a Catholic priest--a position usually reserved for the celibate.

The year after his conversion, and frustrated with the lack of ministry jobs for lay Catholics in his area, the former pastor enlisted the help of the Bishop of the Diocese of Gary to help him petition the Vatican for a dispensation of the priestly celibacy requirement.

This fall, Kurowski is scheduled to enter north Chicago’s Mundelien Seminary.

Kurowski told the Chicago Sun-Times that his heart was changed while presiding at a communion service at Marquette Park United Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana.

He had read accounts of the early fathers of the Church who spoke of the bread and wine used in communion as the literal Body and Blood of Christ, something the Methodist church views as merely symbolic.

It was then, he said, that he “felt like he hit a brick wall with Methodism.”

"If it was just a memorial or a remembrance, that wasn't good enough for me," he told the Sun-Times. "I hungered and thirsted for more."

Kurowski has three years of seminary ahead of him before he has the opportunity to join 100 other married Catholic priests around the country.

The Catholic Church teaches that married people can pursue the priesthood, mainly in cases of clergy from other denominations who become Catholic. Throughout history, there have been numerous married priests, including the apostle James, who was one of the 12 archetypes for the modern priesthood.

Distinct from doctrines like male priesthood which have no exceptions, celibate priesthood is a Church discipline which is practiced by the Church in the west and can have legitimate exceptions.

Despite personal and family struggles that have come along with following his new path, Kurowski is convinced that his call is from God.

"It's not an easy thing to follow Christ when he asks you to give it all up," he told the Sun-Times. But "it isn't about Mark Kurowski. It's about Jesus."

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