Meet the Chaplain: Father Jonathan Duncan – Greenville Chapter
Father Jonathan Duncan is not an ordinary Catholic priest. His conversion from Anglicanism brought him into the Catholic Church on All Saints Day 2013 with his wife and their then-three young children.
Now a married father of four, Father Duncan, 36, is a former Episcopal priest who was permitted priestly ordination in the Catholic Church. As a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Father Duncan brings a unique perspective to his role as an assistant priest at St. Mary Church in Greenville, South Carolina and as the fulltime chaplain for St. Joseph’s Catholic School there.
Father Duncan is also the new chaplain of Legatus’ newly chartered Greenville Chapter. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.
What made you “cross the Tiber” into the Catholic Church?
I ultimately came to believe what the Church said about Herself. Ministering as an Episcopal priest, I became acquainted firsthand with what it’s like to try to minister to people while not being under the authority of the magisterium, and not serving people with a consistent, solid deposit of faith. I began to see how without that, it was moral and theological chaos.
How do people respond when they discover that you are a married Catholic priest with children?
With the people I’ve encountered, they’re happy to have one more priest. There are a lot of areas where priests are in short supply, so at the end of the day, I think they’re just happy to have another priest who’s available for the sacraments and for ministry.
Also, my wife and I make it very clear that we are not advocating or pushing for the Church to change its discipline on priestly celibacy. I’m thankful that the Church made an allowance, which is all it is, a provision, to allow me to be ordained. I would hold nothing against the Church if it didn’t have that allowance. I’m in no way saying that every Catholic priest should be married. In fact, the wives of other Catholic priests whom I know, my own included, will be first ones to tell you that on a wide scale this should probably not be the norm for Catholic priests, It’s because wives are the ones who endure when you have to be gone so many nights a week.
Does being married give you any special insights into the problems your flock faces?
In a way, yes, but I think there is also a value to objectivity. I can speak to someone who’s married from a certain bit of familiarity and experience, but at times you honestly need someone who’s outside of it, a celibate who can speak with a level of objectivity
Who are your spiritual role models?
As an Anglican convert, it’s sort of cliche to say St. John Henry Newman, but I think Newman for sure in terms of that path of reflection and conscience. For me personally, there is also Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I was reading stuff about him even prior to coming in to the Church. And then there is Thomas Aquinas. In him, I think you see a real on-fire devotion to the Eucharist, to the Scriptures, to the faith. You have that ardent devotion coupled with ironclad reasoning, logic, and clarity of thought without any fuzziness. I appreciate that.
What have been your early impressions of Legatus?
It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get to know a lot of Catholic leaders in business. In the community, and at the end of the day, I think you have to recognize that these are folks who through the businesses they’re creating, through the work they’re doing, these are people who are going to help shape the culture in our area and in our community. If that’s the case, we want to make sure those culture-shapers are being formed and shaped themselves in their Catholic faith.