Tuesday, February 18, 2014

(Catholic Church-USA) Married, with children - and a priest. Former Anglican Father Pedro Toledo is first in South Florida to join Anglican ordinariate

Father Pedro Toledo kisses his wife, Betsy, during the Sign of Peace.
Photo/Website Archdiocese of Miami

(Website Archdiocese of Miami) PINECREST | It’s a claim very few newly-ordained Catholic priests can make: They celebrated their first Mass on their wedding anniversary.

But that is just what Father Pedro Toledo did Feb. 16 at St. Louis Church in Pinecrest, celebrating his first Mass on his 34th wedding anniversary, with his wife, Betsy, daughters Lina and Eilyn, sons-in-law Ruben and Victor, and 17-month-old granddaughter Olivia in attendance. The only one missing was his son Andres, who is away at college.

As Archbishop Thomas Wenski said while ordaining Father Toledo Feb. 15, his is “the exception that proves the rule (of priestly celibacy).”

The 56-year-old Venezuelan became the first former Anglican priest in the Archdiocese of Miami to be ordained Roman Catholic under the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 to allow members of the Anglican community to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining their liturgical traditions.

Father Toledo was received into the Catholic Church Sept. 15, 2013, along with his family and 21 members of his Reformed Episcopal congregation, Rey de Gloria (King of Glory) in Miami Springs. They had been meeting at St. Louis Church in Pinecrest for over a year to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“We were letting them use our chapel Sunday afternoons for their Episcopal services,” said Father Paul Vuturo, pastor of St. Louis.

Once they decided to join the Catholic Church, they simply joined the Spanish-speaking community at St. Louis. The Anglicans have an English-language rite that differs from the Roman Catholic one, Father Vuturo explained, but there is no separate rite in Spanish.

“St. Louis has become our mother,” said Father Toledo, who was ordained a deacon Jan. 18 by Bishop Fernando Isern, bishop emeritus of Pueblo, Colo., and pastor of St. Kieran Parish in Miami.

Father Toledo’s conversion to Catholicism is really a return to the faith he was raised in until age 10. That’s when his parents became Pentecostal Evangelicals. He continued along that path and came to the U.S. in 1991 to study for the ministry. After obtained his master of divinity, he headed a Christian Reformed Church in Orlando from 1997 to 2002. In 2003, he moved to Miami to start a Hispanic Christian Reformed Church. In 2008, he joined the Anglican Church.

While acknowledging “the contribution made by each tradition to the maturity of my Christian faith,” he said that finding “inconsistencies and problems” in the Protestant and Evangelical churches prompted him to “review more deeply my beliefs.”

He began reading Church Fathers such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. He also got to know St. Louis Church while attending retreats next door, at what was then known as the Dominican Retreat House and is now MorningStar Renewal Center.

In fact, he and his family began attending Mass at St. Louis on days when their church had no services, such as Holy Thursday and Christmas Eve.

“Liturgy played a big role in my movement from the Reformed Church to the Anglican. Then liturgy and ecclesiology made me move to the Catholic Church,” Father Toledo explained. After that it was simply a matter of asking himself: “This is what I believe. What am I doing outside the Church?”

He would have been content to simply be a layman, he said, but his congregation urged him to explore the ordinariate.

“Because of them, I’m in the priesthood,” Father Toledo said. (read more)

For more information on the Anglican Ordinariate, visit www.usordinariate.org.

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