Local News Archive
Print Issue: June 6, 1991
Pope Approves Ordination Of Former Episcopal Priest
By Rita McInerney
Thirty months after the request was sent to Rome, Dec. 8, 1988, Pope John Paul II has approved ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood for a married former Episcopal priest, Thad B. Rudd.
In the first step to ordination, he will become a transitional deacon on Saturday, June 8, at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Officiating at the liturgy will be Archbishop James P. Lyke, OFM, who will ordain Stewart Wilber as a transitional deacon and 14 men to the permanent diaconate at the same ceremony.
Mr. Rudd, 52, former rector of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour on North Highland Avenue, Atlanta, was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, March 25, 1989, at All Saints Church, Dunwoody. Joining him were his wife of 30 years, Sherri, and two daughters, Allister Richey and Kendyl, and a group of Episcopalians from his former church.
Archbishop Lyke, commenting on the Vatican decision, said, "I'm delighted that the positive response has come from the Holy See. I look forward to working with Thad during this diaconal period as he pursues his ordination to the priesthood. I'm delighted that he is with us."
"When I go to Rome for the pallium I plan to visit the appropriate congregation to look into the ministry of David Dye with the hope that the process for his incorporation into the Roman Catholic priesthood will bear fruit."
Mr. Dye, who directs the Catholic Center at Georgia State University, submitted his request to the Holy See at the same time as Mr. Rudd. His wife Chantal, daughters Leslie Marie and Gabrielle, and his son David, were received with him into the Roman Catholic Church on Dec. 10, 1988, by the late Monsignor Peter Ludden.
In the letter signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approving Thad Rudd it is stipulated that the candidate must agree that he will not remarry, in the case of his wife's death, after ordination to the priesthood.
The letter also says that "With regard to the Church's traditional discipline of celibacy for her priestly ministers, it must be ensured that there be no scandal, that priests and people understand this exception to the traditional discipline..."
The "exception is possible through a pastoral provision in effect since 1980 in the United States when the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the decision to admit former Episcopal clergymen, some married, to the Catholic priesthood. The decision applies only to persons, who, while wishing to retain some elements of the Anglican tradition, fully accept Roman Catholic doctrine and the authority of the pope and bishops.
The requests of the two men were the first for the archdiocese of Atlanta.
Father Don Kenny, archdiocesan director of vocations, said Archbishop Lyke, after received Vatican approval, consulted people who have been associated with the applicant since he joined the Church. They are Father Edward Dillon, vicar general; Father Stephen Churchwell, judicial vicar; Monsignor Donald Kiernan, pastor at All Saints, and Father Chris Williamson, formerly at All Saints and now at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Father Don Caron, parochial vicar at All Saints, and Father Kenny.
While at All Saints, Father Williamson celebrated Sunday Liturgy for the Anglican use community of St. Augustine of Canterbury which has been worshipping at All Saints since January, 1989. This group includes members of Mr. Rudd's congregation at the Church of Our Saviour. They are allowed to use special prayers of the faithful from the Book of Divine Worship, a prayer book approved by the Vatican for use by former Episcopalians.
The archbishop has assigned Mr. Rudd as a transitional deacon with Monsignor Kiernan at All Saints. His salary will be paid by the parish and the chancery. Mr. and Mrs. Rudd live in the north Georgia mountain area between Cleveland and Dahlonega.
Thad Rudd, a lieutenant colonel with the 265th Engineer Group of the Georgia National Guard, went to the Persian Gulf in late 1990 and returned April 21. A few days later he had a telephone call from Father James Parker, of Charleston, SC. He assists Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston who oversees the processing of applications under the pastoral provision. Father Parker, a former Episcopal priest, asked him if he could take a required written test the following week.
"I hadn't cracked a book in seven months," the Persian Gulf returnee recalls.
On May 6, under the supervision of the Father Churchwell, he took an eight-hour test on eight different church subjects. It was given in one-hour segments and required essay type answers.
Ten days later he was in Washington being questioned on his written examination by a group of theologians and church experts from all around the country. He passed all eight subjects with distinction in moral theology, ethical theology and canon law.
The tests were required for certification and show he possessed the required knowledge necessary for the diaconate. "He got very high grades," Father Kenny said.
According to Father Parker, there are now 50 married former Episcopal priests functioning as Catholic priests in the U.S. Thad Rudd was one of five taking the exams in Washington. Four of the five are married. When the five are accepted it will bring the total of married Catholic priests accepted under the pastoral provision to 54.
Father Parker is serving in Charleston and another married former Episcopal priest, Father Daniel Munn, is serving in Augusta for the Savannah diocese.
There are also five personal parishes in the U.S. made up of groups of former Episcopalians who became Roman Catholics and worship together.
Father Kenny said he has made inquiries about David Dye's application and has been told it is still in process. The process seems to be quicker for former Episcopal priests who bring communities with them, as Mr. Rudd did.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Rudd said while he was in the Persian Gulf he was in charge of the spiritual welfare of 4,000 men and women. "I managed four other chaplains" in the four battalion force which pushed "as far into Iraq as you could go," about 30 miles from the Euphrates River.
"Our job was to swing around and cut off any retreat" by the Iraqis. After the retreat he witnessed the flight of thousands of Iraqi soldiers fleeing Kuwait.
Like every other war-seasoned veteran, he has a favorite story. He tells about visiting a field hospital where he found a Twinkie wrapper on the floor. That prompted him to wonder "Where are all the Twinkies?" He took the crumbled wrapper back to this tent and then wrote asking the Continental Baking Company that question. To his delight he had a letter back from the CEO informing him they were sending one million Twinkies, "by land and sea" to the men and women serving in the Persian Gulf.
Along with their two daughters the Rudds have a son, Thad, Jr. There are two grandchildren.