Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If you are new to this blog, you may wish to read the archived blogs first since the story is being written somewhat chronologically. What is posted below is the most recent. Thank you.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Installment 3

"Holy Spirit, Are You Kidding?"

Crossing the threshold into the inner-workings of the church albeit the church community or church reform is like stepping into another culture, probably best compared to becoming an educator, or going into politics, or moving to a third world country for a few years. New socialization is required. It is somewhat of a shock initially because you've been Catholic all your life and you thought you knew what was going on.  So many questions. For instance, who outside the church's inner circle knew that mandatory celibacy was not God's law? Who knew the law was churchmen's law, churchmen's political law? Who even knew that 100,000 priests had left?  Who knew that priests fooled around? We were accustomed to the transient lifestyles of most pastors and curates in our parishes. Most transitioned after six or seven years. Who knew where they went? Catholics thought it was to another parish. The majority of us didn't realize many were leaving to get married. These new findings were very different and I was such a neophyte. Many married priests were innocent too.
Who knew that the political hierarchy wrote two sets of Canon Laws, first to forbid priests to marry and forbid priests who married from exercising their ministry. The second set of laws --21 of them--reminded priests of their duty to minister if they were asked by the people. In fact, one law specifically says the request cannot be refused (Canon 843). Did the hierarchy have fears of divine repercussion because of the mandatory celibacy law they wrote in 1139? They knew it did not come from God. The second set of laws--those that forced priests to minister when asked--were written but never made public, so no one really knew unless they read The Cole of Canon Law.
Most importantly, priests were bound by promise to obey the bishop at all costs--even after they left their clerical position. Lee Ganim was told to move 500 miles away from his station when he took a leave of absence, and he did. Anthony Padovano was told he would be welcome again after his wife died. Ralph Pinto was told to have an affair ("Get it out of your system.") instead of marrying Linda. Fortunately, he did not obey. All were told never to tell anyone they were a priest, and to put their chalice in the closet forever.
I was defiant all of my life. I guess I would have never made it in a convent. Strange that I should have been the one who would take those 21 Canon Laws to encourage married priests to defy  the promises they made to their Bishop, obey Canon Law and take care of the people. Strange that the Canon Law research had been sitting around married priest circles for twenty years and no one was doing anything about it. 

I remember attending a workshop on Canon Law, conducted by a Canon Lawyer, at my first married priest conference in June, 1992. One priest wanted to know if he would be permitted to celebrate the Eucharist (Mass) in his living room with his family. His chalice had been put away for years and the only thing he was told he could do was to provide the Last Rites to a dying person.

The CITI workshop the morning of the conference had maybe seven or eight married priests in the audience. As we were sharing stories, one  priest told of a Chicago area church that had no resident pastor, yet 19 married priests would be sitting in the pews when the visiting priest came for Sunday Mass.  (They called the visiting priest a circuit rider who celebrated Mass in three or four churches each week.) So I said, "Why not puncture the visiting priest's tires at his previous parish earlier in the day so a married priest could say Mass instead?" They thought it was funny, but the concept rang a bell because the morning workshop attended by 8 was followed by a larger room and people sitting on the floor at the afternoon session--75 or 80 people.

It was also at that conference that I saw, however never met, Del Smolinski, the Canon Lawyer who changed my life in CITI. Del had spent twenty years researching The Code of Canon Law which he was able to use for his own position as a married Catholic hospital chaplain back in the 1980s and 1990s. It was what we needed to put these priests back in public ministry, at the time I thought for the purpose of replacing circuit rider priests with resident pastors in the many churches that had already been closed because of the priest exodus. 

                                                        Del Smolinski, 1993                                                 

So, what to do about all this information? Canon Law that allowed married priests to minister publicly and 25,000 U.S. priests married and awaiting the (second) call. It was my summer dilemma. My summer prayer. My summer questions to God: "So, you've called me to Your service; you've given me this enlightenment and knowledge, but, you haven't told me what to do. I need a little help here." 

The married priest conference took place in the latter part of June,following months of research on my new curiosities regarding mandatory celibacy. Stories were also abounding about clergy sexual abuse, stories one would see only if one were looking. I was seeking reactions from other mainstream Catholics--"Who else knew what I had discovered?"

I became inspired to actually write ad copy for the first time in my life (my work in the Boston advertising agency had been on the business end, not creative). These ads addressed the issues of priest shortages, closed churches and the political climate surrounding the hierarchy regarding mandatory celibacy. Dick and I had received a healthy bonus for sales achievements the previous year. I used my share to incorporate CITI and to run ads in National Catholic Reporter to arouse interest among the religious community, and in regional issues of TV Guide Magazine to create awareness among the public sector. The response was phenomenal. 

These above ads were part of a series of ads directed to the Bishops that ran in National Catholic Reporter in 1992. They were among other ads winning the prestigious Boston Hatch Awards that year.
The above ads ran in regional editions of TV Guide Magazine and also won prestigious awards in Boston Hatch Awards. My greatest joy was when they were hung next to ads written for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1993.

Letters and $$ arrived from priests and married priests, along with stories from the general public who had suffered emotional abuse at parish level (e.g., one grandmother wrote that her two grandchildren would not be baptized because her son "no longer attended Sunday Mass and was not putting donations in the basket.") At that time, no one really knew that almost 75% of the Catholic population no longer attended weekly services (1992). TV Guide later wrote that they hadn't had this kind of reaction to any ads in their magazine in over 15 years. Our ads ran in only 7 out of 106 Tv Guide markets.

I was perplexed. So many churches had closed, so many had no resident priest, so many Catholics without the Sacraments especially those in dire need like my Mother. Why then, were the news releases I was sending the media regarding optional celibacy not being published? Why were they completely ignored? I certainly knew what I was doing given 17 years experience in advertising and television and another almost 13 or so years in sales and marketing.

Several articles had been written about clergy sexual abuse and mandatory celibacy by a reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When I contacted him to inquire about the CITI news releases, he said that the subject unfortunately was being treated with a "ho hum" attitude by the news media because, "mandatory celibacy has been around for 860 years and isn't about to change soon." He wished me well and added, "I hope you don't lose your faith over this."

At the end of these puzzling weeks, I threw the problem back to the Holy Spirit, "If you want me to do something, you're going to have to come up with a better plan." That was my prayer throughout July and August, 1992.

In mid-September, I was in Maine at our cottage with my sister who was visiting for a few days. During one of the weekend nights, I had a dream, a vision. I saw two hands holding the Communion Host the way we see during Eucharist at Mass. However, there was a brilliant gold ring on the third finger of the left hand. I even saw the brochure with this illustration in my dream. Above it, three words:


Oh My God!!!
The next day, I phoned Del Smolinski and told him of my vision. I then set up a conference call among Del, another married priest and myself and together, we developed the contents of the brochure to include pertinent information regarding Canon Laws that validated married priests and their public ministry...along with suggestions as to how one might call a priest for spiritual needs.
The slogan Rent A Priest became so popular that it brought to our front door, television cameras from as far away as Belgium and Austria, later NY Times and the front page of the International Herald Tribune. Reporters made fun of it, some thought it was irreverent, we even made news in National Catholic Reporter in February 1994.

                                               Belgian Catholic Television Crew
                                               in Framingham, Mass. USA to
                                               do a story on Rent A Priest, (
                                               prompting a Rent A Priest
                                               organization of married priests
                                               in their country.

 Most excitingly, 60 Minutes saw our little homemade booth with a felt cloth sign in the fall of 1994 at a national Catholic church reform conference. The Mike Wallace interview in 1995 ( was my personal favorite because CITI's married priest Vice President John Shuster and I had not been invited to participate in the round of interviews taking place at that weekend's conference, yet we were the ones who made the cut. The slogan was controversial and we were an embarrassment to many of the more conservative church folks. But, the public "got it."

Mike Wallace, Rev. John Shuster, Louise Haggett, January 1995 ( and

While our intention was to attract priestless parishes, the surprising response to Rent A Priest was among the unchurched, lapsed Catholics as well as the many divorced who wanted to remarry without an annulment, and for various interfaith rituals--those among the hundreds of thousands who had been turned away from their local parish. Our motto became: "If the church says no, call us."

By the end of 1992, we were beginning to get requests for priests, but hardly had any priests to respond. Even though they were obligated to the people, defiance of their promises to their bishop was a difficult thing to overcome and they had not yet been convinced enough.




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Installment No. 2
Setting the Tone

The Call
“See my servant, whom I uphold; my Chosen One, in whom I delight. I have put my Spirit upon him; he will reveal justice to the nations of the world. He will be gentle—he will not shout nor quarrel  in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will see full justice given to all who have been wronged. He won’t be satisfied until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth.”

As I sat in the church pew in January, 1992 on the Feast Day of Jesus, I heard the above reading from Isaiah 42 and instinctively believed that God was talking to me. It was so  powerful that I looked around me to see if anyone else was impacted. It was like thinking someone is waving at you from the other side of a crowded room and you look around to see if the wave is meant for someone else. No one else looked as stunned as I was so it was definitely my call, one that I would hear many times over the next few Januaries. That experience was to be the first of many profound “spiritual doo-doos” especially in the 1990s.

When the Holy Spirit plucks you out of nowhere and starts inspiring you pretty directly, it’s difficult to ignore! There is no mistaking it! When you are singled out, you feel like you're the only one called. You and you alone. And there is no mistaking that you have to respond, probably like when Jesus chose his Apostles; or even when He picked the first seven women who were ordained by three Roman Catholic bishops in Austria several years ago; or the  Chosen Few among the hundreds of thousands of Catholic clergy sexual abuse victims who are bringing the church to justice today; even Pope Francis who is trying to right the wrongs in the church. The call is inescapable no matter where you are or what you are doing. 

That was the beginning of the formation  of CITI-Celibacy Is the Issue though I did not know it at the time. The call was real--the blueprint missing.

The Eye Opener

The eye-opening experience that led to the mission was my childhood friend Jeanne who visited me at my Dad’s funeral. in February 1991. I had not seen Jeanne in 40 years so imagine my surprise when her response to my question, "So what does someone our age do around here for excitement?" (I knew she had been divorced). She said, "My life is quite complete. I have been in a relationship with a priest for 13 years." I was speechless. I had never heard of such a thing! 

 Jeanne and I reconnected and shared lunch several times over the next few months. My family was going to Maine  frequently to clean out and sell our homestead. Since I had recently discovered the shortages in the Roman Catholic priesthood while trying to find a priest to visit my Mom, I was too curious not to ask questions about her relationship with her priest friend. This was all so new to me. 

I would later spend many hours at various libraries in Maine and Boston during 1991 and 1992, where I discovered priests in relationships, priests who had married and clergy sexual abuse. While churches were closing in the Midwest, nothing so public was happening on the East Coast.  In fact, eleven families in a remote area of Wisconsin had become Episcopalian because their local  Catholic church was closed and sold to another denomination. The congregation had been forced to drive great distances to attend Sunday Mass. Regarding clergy sexual abuse, I found a 15-page article that appeared in Vanity Fair in December, 1991 regarding a very public case in New Orleans, where the priest perpetrator had been hidden from the courts for two years because he was a friend of the Catholic District Attorney.

Another powerful "spiritual happening" occurred in 1991 at the funeral of the father of a friend of ours, a few months after that of our parents. The impact of another grieving family so soon after my own parents never occurred to me, else I might not have attended. I cried throughout . When the casket was coming down the church aisle to leave for the cemetery, all of a sudden I felt a loving arm against my back, holding me. I turned left, right and behind. No one had touched me. It was definitely the spirit of some being or Being. I'll never forget that moment.

Our religion was not a participatory religion. My recollection is that we were never taught theology or the Scriptures, only church rules and regulations. and we were not really spiritually aware as children at such sacraments like Baptism (birth), First Communion (7 years old) and Confirmation at about 13 years old. Even to this day, the Catholic Church prefers we not read the Bible unless an ordained priest is available to provide the church's "interpretation" as our local congregation was recently told at a winter retreat. It is therefore, not unusual that we as  mainstream Catholics would not remember being informed of the Vatican II Synod that took place in the 1960s.

A simplistic summary of Vatican II: Pope John 23rd called the Synod explaining that it was time to "open the windows and let the fresh air in." Among other major changes that might take place like Mass in the vernacular, it was expected that birth control would now be allowed among practicing Catholics. Most important to those inside the walls was the issue of optional celibacy for priests. The expectation was that priests would now be allowed to marry.  Unfortunately, our beloved Pope died while the Synod was in progress. When Pope Paul VI took over, everything changed--and nothing changed regarding these major issues except Mass in the local language. 

The twenty years that followed saw a mass exodus of priests, 9 out of 10 to marry. Of those, 40%-45% married nuns. Thus, the beginning of priest shortages in the church. A sociological study  conducted in the 1980s with files from diocesan archives is available in the book Full Pews and Empy Altars(Schoenherr and Young, 1993).

In the spring of 1992, someone recommended that I read Shattered Vows by award-winning journalist and married priest David Rice. It was an account of some of the priests who left their clerical status to marry. The book was translated into eight languages and became a bestseller in several European countries with a television documentary to follow.  Shattered Vows was blocked from distribution in the U.S. When the U.S. version was finally released, it was abridged, edited to remove pages that implicated the bishops and their harsh treatment of priests who married.  (Later when the original unabridged bestseller edition was finally published for the U.S. audience, the Catholic Church bought the U.S. publishing house and the newly-printed books never made it to the retail shelves. One can occasionally find a used copy of the original book on

I was particularly drawn to the chapter featuring Carla and Paolo Camellini, a Carmelite priest from Italy. Carla was a church-authenticated visionary like St. Teresa of Avila, founder of the Carmelite order, both having spiritually ecstatic relationships with Jesus. Carla, a widow with two children spent summer vacations in the area where Fr. Paolo happened to be the local pastor. During one of her vacations, she experienced an intercession with Jesus,  directing her to tell Paulo that they were to be married, and to form an international association of married priests. (There were over 100,000  married priests worldwide at the time.) Carla was reluctant to approach this priest she hardly knew, but did as she was told. Within two weeks, Paolo was granted a dispensation from Rome from his celibacy vows and they were married.

Ten years later, Carla received a new Divine message that “it was time” to begin the work on a global married priest movement, which became the International Federation of Married Priests, formed by Paolo, Rev. Heinz Jurgen Vogels, then President of the German Married Priest movement and one or two other married priests from various European countries.

                                             Carla Camellini, October, 1995, Assisi Italy

I was profoundly touched by the story of the Camellinis because through my many readings and prayerful moments the previous few months, Teresa of Avila was  strongly in my presence and I had no idea why. I contacted Shattered Vows author David Rice in Ireland and said, “I have to meet Paolo and Carla.” His response, “It would be Impossible because they live in a very small remote Italian village and they don’t speak English." (I would meet them a year later.) St. Teresa of Avila’s presence every day was so strong,  I was crushed at the news of being unable to communicate with the Camellinis, but kept wondering, “What does Teresa of Avila have to do with all this?” There was also a lot of “Why ME?” going on too.

Prior to my involvement as a now more informed Catholic, I had also never  heard of mystical theologians. The spiritual inspirations during CITI's foundation especially in 1992 were so frequent at times that I was afraid I was beginning to "lose it." I would wake up  in the morning and say to Dick, “Wow! Do you know what the Holy Spirit said last night?” His response, “Sure.” He thought for sure I had gone off the deep end. 

I was  finally given the name of mystical theologian Dr. Keith Egan connected with Notre Dame. When I related to him all that was happening, He said, “I believe you. Stop worrying about where the messages are coming from and just do what you’re told.” At that point, I knew that at least I wasn't nuts, and followed his direction. Dr. Egan also referred me to Sister Vilma at a nearby Carmelite Monastery and suggested that I visit her at some point. However, when I called, she was traveling doing retreats and would not be available until fall.
On October 15, 1992, I was traveling to the western part of Massachusetts doing some sales work.  For some reason, Teresa of Avila was taking over my thought process throughout the day. I couldn't concentrate on my work and couldn't figure out why. When I returned to our office in Framingham about 6:30 p.m. just prior to going home, I felt compelled to reach Sr. Vilma right away. I called the Monastery and was told, that Sr. Vilma "could not come to the phone right now. This is the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila and Sr. Vilma is very busy getting ready for a special service at 7:00 tonight." I freaked out! I quickly shut out the lights, closed the office door and went home.
A pamphlet was in our mailbox the next day announcing a series of mystical workshops at a Franciscan Monastery in Northern Massachusetts and the first one would be featuring St. Teresa of Avila. Needless to say, I attended.  The talk was given by Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, a Carmelite who had spent his life researching this saint and had written many books on her. Fr. Kavanaugh said, and this was confirmed later by Sr. Vilma, that the main focus of Teresa of Avila and the Carmelite order was to pray for the "priesthood" and for the "preservation of the sacraments." 

On November 3, 1994, Paulo and Carla Camellini wrote me that "one of the last message from Jesus to Carla was to proclaim Santa Teresa D'Avila like Patron Saint of Married Priests mission. As you can see, through to Teresa D'Avila , God joint us to you and you to us." [sic.]



Saturday, January 11, 2014

If you are new to this blog, you may wish to read the archived blogs first since the story is being written somewhat chronologically. What is posted below is the most recent. Thank you.

A new blog has been started by this blogger. It will tell personal stories and photos behind the founding and running of CITI/Rentapriest. You may access the new blog at

Thank you.

A Little of my Background

A Life of Extended Blessings
January 9, 2014
"Fighting ideas is like fighting clouds. You can punch and kick, but what difference will it make? The way to impact the world today is by tackling the tangible items."
When I read the above in my horoscope a few days ago, it was like re-living my experiences in Rentapriest, a name that is still being googled more frequently than its original parent company name CITI or Celibacy Is the Issue. The horoscope reading finally inspired me to begin to reminisce on paper (blog) about the 20 or so years of life-changing events for myself as well as those who may have been impacted by Rentapriest, be they Roman Catholic priests, their spouses or the recipients of their ministry, or the many who have supported them and the mission of optional celibacy in the Catholic Church.

For those new to the story, Rent A Priest (Rentapriest) is a free referral service of married Catholic priests (priests who married) available for sacramental ministry to Catholics and others needing spiritual assistance.

My mother, Yvonne Blanche Gousse Labbe, was the inspiration for the founding of CITI/Rentapriest, for it was in her time of need that I discovered the shortage of priests and subsequently priests who married, Catholic clergy sexual abuse* and a host of other politics in the Catholic Church, what I had thought was my sanctuary.

In the summer of 2013, I was told that one of my mother's ancestors, Etienne de Lessard, donated the land for the Ste. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Ste Anne de Beauce, Quebec, Canada, I thought, "Why am I not surprised. This is just another one of those 'doo-doo doo-doo moments in my life." And so my husband Dick and I arranged a trip North. I just wanted to see with my own eyes, and to drink the spirit of, Etienne de Lessard, who is buried in the Church. Ste. Anne of course was Jesus' grandmother and the Shrine is one of the foremost healing sanctuaries in the world.

My Mom was a very special woman. We've always described her as an angel, also a very smart and strong woman. A Canadian priest cousin of my Dad's told him of his betrothal to my mother in 1933 that she was "un morceau d'or" (a piece of gold). The Ste Anne lineage was just another confirmation for me.
Divine intervention led me to CITI/Rentapriest in 1992 and the most phenomenal journey of my life. The Holy Spirit even provided a nonprofit specialist, married priest Rev. Donald Horrigan, to help me transition to retirement when it was time in 2011. The stories behind the work of the Holy Spirit during the 20 years of my involvement with CITI/Rentapriest have never been told. I had been warned early on that only scholastic justification would be recognized by the religious community, so "Don't tell those stories." Well, this is the beginning of the stories that need to be told before the end of my own life.
CITI/Rentapriest was "produced and directed" by the Holy Spirit. I was just an instrument. I have no other explanation for the many coincidences--God-incidence, providence or "doo-doo doo-doo happenings"--with regard to my life in the movement.
Perhaps the earliest unusual spiritual experience I remember was playing the part of Jesus in the first, second and third grades. I still wonder why the nuns would have chosen a girl for the role in a co-ed school with many boys available in my class. (I often wonder why the Holy Spirit chose a woman for Rentapriest too). There was very little dialogue for my part of the baby Jesus in the school play during the first two years. However, I remember having to learn quite a few lines the third time I played the part.
During grade school, we lived  a mile or so from the church. I remember spending much of my weekend time at the church. I was fascinated by weddings and funerals, especially the beautiful hymns. I don't recall much about the funerals in terms of the dead or grieving families, but I do remember the confetti and pretty wedding gowns. In fact, we would gather the confetti and bring it home for the plays we put on in the garage.

I remember writing plays and directing them; in particular one in which the Blessed Mother was Annette Baril from up the street. Annette's mother had the most beautiful peonies I had ever seen so I staged a scene where there would be a peony at the Blessed Mother's feet and of course, that would have to be portrayed by Annette since she brought the flowers. In sixth or seventh grade, I remember writing and directing a play for the entire school including the faculty of Presentation of Mary sisters and the pastor and curates. It featured my friend Jackie Lessard as Alice Blue Gown, a popular song in the mid to late 1940s. Jackie jokes today that the reason she got the part was because she was the only one who had a blue gown.
During these early years, a neighbor and I would also spend some Saturdays at the convent helping the nuns clean up (wash windows, dust, etc.). My spiritual devotion was pretty strong. I remember having Holy Water near my bedroom door and talking to God in everyday conversation instead of rote prayers. I still do that. Once my Mom asked if I had thought of becoming a nun. That probably burst my bubble as it was never in my frame of reference even though I enjoyed the company of the religious...nuns and priests, even to this day. They have always provided a comfort factor in terms of "God talk" and I love a Home Mass, a gathering of friends and family for more spiritual sharings.
The friendships I had with nuns and priests as a schoolgirl and into my adulthood was probably a major reason why the revelations in 1991-92 (shortage of priests, married priests, clergy sexual abuse, mandatory celibacy and the rest of church politics) came as such a shock. As an adult, I wasn't part of the internal system--parish council, Cursillo or other religious group, but I considered myself a close secular friend to nuns and priests. I thought I had an ear to the convents and rectories and these subjects never came up in conversations. Many personal things from their lives were shared. However, I had no idea that nuns or priests got married or even had romantic relationships, let alone the politics and corruption.  
When our Canadian cousin priest would visit in the summertime, he always brought his housekeeper. Today, I wonder just who she was in his life. Having Lucien around the house so much probably humanized these Holy people for me, though I always revered them as the Chosen Few who responded to the gift of the Holy Spirit--Jesus was alive in their belly, as I saw it.
Fast forward to the early 1990s and losing my parents five weeks apart from one another. There are so many personal stories to tell about the founding of CITI/Rentapriest especially as a result of my Mom's unexpected death that I can hardly wait to get started. There are also some great photos.

*The Bingo Report: mandatory celibacy and clergy sexual abuse, 2005. Available through

(As I write this, I realize that in the 22 years that have passed, I don't think my siblings and I have ever had a retrospective conversation about how the untimely death of our parents affected us introspectively. We obviously went through the motions and emotions together, but we are quite spread out geographically so our infrequent gatherings surround children and grandchildren events, not around each other, an interesting observation as we near our own end of life.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


If you are new to this blog, you may wish to read the archived blogs first since the story is being written somewhat chronologically. What is posted below is the most recent. Thank you.


In the late 1960s when it was expected that the Second Vatican Council would vote to end mandatory celibacy in the Catholic Church, priests were poised to get married. Then Pope John 23rd died and Pope Paul VI was in charge. Mandatory celibacy and birth control went out the same window that John 23rd had opened for this new fresh air to come from the Holy Spirit.

Shocked by the results of Vatican II, the climate in the Catholic priesthood changed and a mass exodus began that lasted for almost twenty-five years. Over 25,000 priests in the U.S. left their clerical ministry and nine out of ten did so to get married, many of them marrying nuns, according to a sociological study done in 1985 and reported in “Full Pews and Empty Altars” (Schoenherr and Young, 1990).

Priests got jobs, started families and became part of the mainstream—some may even be your neighbors or co-workers today. When they left, however, resentment set in by the hierarchy, as one archbishop admitted; some were blackballed in their communities and couldn’t get decent work, and they were told by their bishops that under no circumstances were they allowed to function as priests—in fact, “don’t even think of celebrating Mass” and “don’t tell anyone you’re a priest.” Some were forced to move as much as 500 miles away because of “scandal,” as the church put it.

Through the efforts of one married priest Canon Lawyer, Delmar Smolinski of Michigan, research was conducted in the Code of Canon Law to find church laws that validate the priests’ ordination, and “what about those canons that apply to ministry?” Twenty-one canons were in fact found, beginning with, “…after it has been validly received, sacred ordination never becomes invalid,” (290). More importantly, in the laity section of the Code of Canon Laws lies power to invite a married priest to any sacrament for “any just cause” (1335) and that he “may not deny the Sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them” (843).

While Canon Laws may not be the reason hundreds of thousands of people have contacted over the last 15 years, it has helped many priests realize that what the bishops told them upon leaving about their priesthood and ministry was not true. It may also explain the reason there has been no cease and desist from the Catholic institution. What CITI Ministries is doing in promoting their availability falls within these Canon Laws—we are valid. The people may not care, but CITI protects married priests in its defiance of the hierarchy, but not its laws.

A few facts:

1. In 1996, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) based at Georgetown University, conducted a study of Catholics who no longer attended Catholic Church. The results, reported in Maine’s Church World in Feb. 1996 indicated that 73.3% of American Catholics (48 million) had stopped attending Catholic Church. Clergy sexual abuse revelations since 2002 only added to that figure so the publicly held figure of 30 million is grossly incorrect.

2. When CITI MINISTRIES INC first went into “business” in 1992, it was with the notion that married priests would be invited by bishops and the parishioners to fill in where there were shortages in the church buildings. However, no one called.

3. Much to our surprise after some national publicity due to the name Rent A Priest (received by the Holy Spirit's inspiration in a dream), calls came from the unchurched. While mostly for marriage and remarriage because of denials by their pastor, many calls to rentapriest were also surprisingly received from those whose babies were refused baptism because the parents no longer attended Sunday Mass and “put money in the collection plate."

But, people get complacent and priests get even more complacent. Without the availability of married priests, many important life cycle events may not have the Catholic traditions we grew up with. Married priests may forget what was afforded to them by CITI Ministries by making this service available was out of their lives, in some cases for as much as 20 or 25 years.

Now, CITI is struggling to stay afloat. Is this the end of our mission? Maybe it’s the end of the commercial aspect of our mission and the referrals for marriages are taking care of themselves. Is this all married priests were looking for? A marriage business?

If it's the end of our mission, why are Home Churches popping up? A few of the laity are beginning to notice the value of CITI/Rentapriest because of its association with Roman Catholic married priests. In the past three years, 75 lay people have become support members of CITI. In addition, a clergy sexual abuse survivor and his wife who were responsible for starting a Home Church with married priests are now members of the CITI Board.

While these numbers may not seem like a lot, we are remindful that in 1994 with all its efforts at Corpus/FCM/CTA and other church reform meetings, CITI had only signed up six married priests for its referral service because the others were skeptical. Home Churches are a new phenomenon with Catholics, especially the ones on the fringe, and they too are skeptical. It will take time, but CITI’s laity support member base grew by 23% in 2010 over 2009. Something is going on!

Please help support this effort to the end. We’re crossing a new threshold and really becoming the lay organization that we have been promoting, and we really need your help to continue. There is nothing better that the institution would like at this point than to see us disappear. That is their mantra. Will we succumb to their “If we wait, Rentapriest will go away?” or will we continue to support an organization that has (maybe too quietly) been using our ministry as our protest or our advocacy -- we don't picket -- no time because people need us for spiritual assistance. Close to a half million folks have contacted CITI/rentapriest for a free married priest referral in the past 15 years or so.

How can you help? If you’re a married priest certified member, continue your certification with an added donation. If you’re a sacramental recipient, become a support member at $50 per year for the couple. If you are a Home Church member, do likewise; maybe set up a special collection once a month to benefit CITI's work. If you are none of these things but believe in our ministry, please send a donation so it can continue--so we can continue to recruit married priests and so we can continue to supply referrals. CITI is a 501.c3 non profit and all donations are tax deductible. You can donate online at or send a donation to CITI Ministries, Inc. 14 Middle Street, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Thank you and God bless you.

In behalf of all of us,


Louise Haggett, Founder/President

CITI Ministries, Inc.