In the 1980's a former Episcopal Priest, married with several children and grandchildren was ordained a Catholic priest by then Bishop Raymond W. Lessard of the Diocese of Savannah. The ordination took place at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Fr. Munn then was allowed bi-ritual faculties to begin a small Greek Catholic (Byzantine) Parish in Augusta named St. Ignatius of Antioch.
In June of 1991 I became pastor of The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta and Fr. Munn was my part-time parochial vicar for the entire period of my pastorate there until I became pastor of St. Joseph Church in Macon in 2004.
The Augusta community embraced Fr. Munn and he never denigrated the celibate priesthood and often said married clergy domesticate the clergy. He saw a married priesthood as an exception. There was another married priest who arrived in Augusta and now there are two more, one a former Episcopal bishop.
Keep in mind that the Church of the East that as returned to full communion with the Pope and thus no longer in schism has a married priesthood because they are from Eastern Orthodoxy which always has had a married priesthood. But one must be married before becoming a priest and bishops of the east must be celibate normally selected from their monastic tradition.
What Pope Francis is suggesting today in terms of married men becoming priests is no more radical than Pope Pius XII allowing married Lutheran ministers to become priests during His Holiness reign or Pope St. John Paul II allowing for the pastoral provision which opened the door to Anglicans/Episcopalian priests to be ordained. And it is certainly no more radical that Pope Benedict establishing the Anglican Ordinariate with its own liturgy which allowed their married priests to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church and be ordained Catholic priests.
And what is even more radical about Pope Pius XII precedent which opened the door to Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict is that these Protestant clergy are not actually ordained priests nor are their even confirmed. All that is recognized is their "Protestant" Baptism and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They must make their First Confession, be Confirmed, make their First Holy Communion and then be validly ordained a deacon and then a priest in the Catholic Church.
So what Pope Pius XII initiated was allowing married men who are Protestants and have only received the Sacrament of Baptism and Holy Matrimony the call to become Roman Catholic Priests. Should fully initiated Catholics who are married be allowed the same call?
Here is Fr. Munn's obituary:
Featured obituary: Rev. Father Daniel M. Munn
Munn, 'at heart, was a pastor'
By Virginia Norton| Staff Writer
A former Episcopalian priest, he joined the Catholic Church in 1981 and became a priest at Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1982. He served as parochial vicar there until his death.
He was one of the first married men to be ordained in the Catholic (Latin rite) Church, said the Rev. Miguel de Peralta, a priest at St. Ignatius, who is now director of pastoral care at the hospital.
The Very Rev. Munn was ordained with permission from the Vatican after Catholic bishops asked that clergy from other Christian traditions be accepted for ordination. He taught at the Medical College of Georgia and Aquinas High School and was an instructor in the deacon formation program for the Melkites. His title, the Very Rev. Father, signified that he was an archpriest in the Melkite Church, the highest title a married priest can receive.
The Melkites are among the Catholic Church's Eastern rites. Their liturgy is similar to that of Eastern Orthodox churches, but the Melkites, unlike Eastern Orthodox churches that broke with Rome in 1054, recognize the authority of the Roman pope.
"There was never a man more generous and loving than Father Daniel," the Rev. de Peralta said. "Even with his academic degrees and intellectual powers and church awards, he was a man who, at heart, was a pastor."
The Very Rev. Munn's degrees included a doctor of ministry degree, with a major in theology, from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He also had studied psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland.
He held several posts at MCG between 1966 and 1984, including chaplain, pastoral consultant in family medicine and director of MCG's program in human sexuality.
Kevin Murrell, an Augusta psychiatrist, was a resident at MCG when he met the Very Rev. Munn. Their friendship spanned 25 years.
"It is a great gift to have an honest friend. I always knew I would get his best and most honest answer and probably an unbiased one, too," he said.
The priest had a dramatic side and a rich voice to match. He was named Best Actor by the Augusta Players in 1980 for his portrayal of King Henry II in the company's staging of The Lion in Winter.
A vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, followed by a rosary at 8 p.m. at Holy Trinity, 720 Telfair St. Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga., will celebrate a Mass at 12:15 p.m. Monday at the church.
The Rev. de Peralta will hold a funeral service at 6 p.m. at St. Ignatius, 1003 Merry St. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Westover Memorial Park.
The Very Rev. Munn is survived by his wife, Jan Gay Munn, daughters Susan M. Venable, Rebeccah M. Grady and her husband Michael, and Erin M. Williams and her husband Frank, all of Augusta; and a son, Dr. David H. Munn, of Augusta; and 12 grandchildren.
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