Drake McCalister was ordained to the transitional Diaconate on June 29, 2018 at Holy Family Church, Steubenville and was ordained to the Priesthood on December 19, 2019.
First, a couple of clarifying points
Background on the Process
The dispensation from clerical celibacy for a priest is a dispensation from an ecclesiastical law, nor a moral or doctrinal law. The Catholic Church has specific Canons in the Code of Canon Law that govern dispensations.
In the case of clerical celibacy, this dispensation can only come from the pope himself.
Beginning in 1967 Pope Paul VI, after the Second Vatican Council, writes in his encyclical On the Celibacy of the Priest (#43, 44),
In 1980 Pope John Paul II established a pastoral provision to make the process more structured and easier for Episcopalian/Anglican clergy, who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, to receive a dispensation from celibacy and be ordained to the Catholic priesthood.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, building on what had begun in the pastoral provision, allowed entire Anglican parishes to enter the Catholic Church, along with their priests (even if married). These provisions are only for Episcopalian and Anglican clergy who enter the Catholic Church. Clergy from other denominations who seek a dispensation from celibacy are handled on a case-by-case basis with a personal process of formation tailored to the needs of the individual.
Since Pope Paul VI, the Catholic Church, on a case by case basis, has granted some Protestant clergy converts a dispensation from the discipline of celibacy.
The intention is to allow men who received a genuine call from God to ordained ministry and were recognized by their overseers, to continue in that ministry after becoming Catholic. These men are not of those who left the Catholic Church, but were simply raised outside of the Church.
Once these men heard the full proclamation of the gospel in the Catholic Church, they responded by resigning from their ministry, often at great personal cost, and entered the Catholic Church knowing they might never return to ministry as they knew it. Had these men been Catholic at the time of their call to ministry, they would have entered the priesthood.
Each case must be personally approved by Rome and each pope since Pope Paul VI (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis) has granted some dispensations.
While the majority of married priests are from an Episcopalian or Anglican background, there have been men ordained to the Catholic priesthood from many denominations: Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Charismatic Episcopal, Disciples of Christ, Southern Baptist, Foursquare, and more.
This process began for me in 2010 when I presented myself for the permanent diaconate in my diocese. During the first year of aspirancy (preparation) the Holy Spirit kept prompting me in my prayer time that I should ask the question as to whether or not I would qualify for a dispensation from celibacy and pursue the Catholic priesthood. I put this off for a couple of months until I could ignore it no longer. I brought the subject up to my spiritual director and, in consultation with him, I took the issue to my bishop at the time, Bishop Daniel Conlon.
Bishop Conlon was amenable to the idea and had me withdraw from formation for the permanent diaconate and enter a time of prayer and discernment for the priesthood. To aid in my discernment, he connected me with a couple of married priests which I found very fruitful. In 2016, under Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, I finally received approval and a time frame from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, which put my final ordination in 2019.
This has been a very long process, but it has continued to build my trust in the Lord and His Church. I know that the Lord’s timing is perfect and I continue to reflect on His Word: