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Becoming Catholic in a Time of Scandal: An Episcopal Priest’s Journey of Grace

Why would a high-ranking priest in the Episcopal Church decide with his family to come into full communion with the Catholic Church?

This comes at a time when a recent poll showed that one-third of Catholics are considering leaving the Church due to the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

Some might therefore look at Andrew Petriprin as a man who has sold everything to run into a burning house. He left his priestly ministry and position as a canon to the bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee to follow Jesus Christ’s call to enter the Catholic Church Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

But Petiprin told the Register that amid the Church’s worst scandal since the Reformation era, there is an “outpouring of grace happening now” — and that, for whatever reason in the midst of this present crisis, God has drawn him and other Christian disciples of Jesus Christ into the fullness of communion and truth found in his Catholic Church.


Andrew, many people no doubt are wondering: How does a canon of the Episcopal Church decide to come into full communion with the Catholic Church at a time like this?

A lot of people have asked me that. I actually think that there is a kind of outpouring of grace happening right now, drawing people in precisely at this time. I think in some way that doesn’t make a lot of sense to people, who might think it is a little bit strange that I and others would feel now is the right moment, in the midst of so much confusion in the Catholic Church, to come in.

But to me, it makes all the sense in the world. The difficulties of the Catholic Church do not make its truths any less true. And that’s really what has drawn me in. This is the moment, for whatever reason, that God has called.


So how did you know God was saying, “Canon Andrew, now is the moment for you to leave the Episcopal Church and come into full communion with the Catholic Church?”

Well, a lot happened to me over the last year and a half. My ministry in the Episcopal Church for the last year and a half or so (or up until the time that I converted) was working on the diocesan staff. I wasn’t ministering in a parish to people in the same way that I had before, and in some ways seeing the operation of the Episcopal Church more from the inside and sort of looking ahead to the future clarified a lot of things for me.

It also just allowed me to get my head up a little bit. When you’re in parish ministry, in whatever tradition it is, you’re just so busy with tending to people’s needs; and in some ways, that makes it kind of difficult to contemplate the larger questions of whether you’re in the right place or not. For me, getting out of parish ministry and coming into diocesan ministry just gave me some space to think about some of these questions and to look ahead to the future.

Interestingly, though, my time on the diocesan staff in the diocese of Tennessee here in Nashville also opened up some possibilities for me to encounter some Catholics in ways that I hadn’t before.

Read more at National Catholic Register. 

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