Thursday, October 27, 2005

Making hay...

Even when The Son doesn't shine on you:

Outside the church, men of perform weddings and other services

By Jack Broom
Seattle Times staff reporter

One is a psychotherapist. Another is a retired travel agent. A third sells medical equipment.

But Sean Patrick O'Reilly, Ralph Bastian and John Shuster share an additional identity: Each is an ordained Catholic priest.

Each has left the church as an organization, but still — without official church approval — maintains a type of ministry.

"I checked out of the institution. I left the system. But I never left the church," said Shuster, 54, who lives in Port Orchard. To him, the "church" is the faithful, not the authority in Rome.

Shuster, who is married, spends most of his time on his current occupation, traveling from Alaska to California selling and servicing emergency-room equipment. But he still performs occasional weddings and other services, including hosting an annual Christmas Mass at his home for about 30 people.

"People come in. We sing carols. I get some pita bread and wine and have my chalice. I dress in my vestments. It's like the old midnight Mass Catholics used to go to."

Shuster is vice president of CITI (Celibacy Is The Issue) Ministries, a national organization of men who left positions with the church, most because the church doesn't allow priests to marry.

CITI claims some 2,500 members, several hundred of whom make themselves available for weddings and other services through the group's Web site,

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