New priests to be ordained in Catholic church

WHEELING – A former Episcopal priest will be the first in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to be ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood through a procedure established more than 30 years ago.

The Rev. James Conyers’ ordination is through the Pastoral Provision set in place by His Holiness St. John Paul II in 1980 to allow Episcopalian clergy to become Roman Catholic priests.

“I am exceedingly grateful to God that as a former Episcopal priest, I can through this provision carry out priestly ministry in the Catholic Church,” Conyers said.

Conyers and the Rev. Justin Blanc will be ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the diocese, at 11 a.m. June 28 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling. Clergy, religious and the faithful from around the state will celebrate the occasion.

During the ordination, Blanc and Conyers will be vested by their brother priests with the outward signs of the priestly office, which are the stole and chasuble. They will then kneel before the bishop, who will anoint their palms with holy chrism.

Bransfield will then present the paten of bread and chalice of wine to them.

“As I approach this extraordinary time in my life, I remain in awe before the mystery of how God works in our lives and how the most ordinary of things can be transformed by the presence of love,” Blanc said.

Blanc was ordained a transitional deacon last June by Bransfield in his home parish of St. James in Charles Town, W.Va., and has spent the last year in ministry and finishing fourth theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

“I am grateful to my family, friends, St. James Parish in Charles Town, Bishop Bransfield and the many people throughout the diocese who have supported me along the way and welcomed me so warmly during my summer assignments,” Blanc said.

Blanc is a 2007 graduate of Shepherd University at Shepherdstown, W.Va., where he obtained a degree in history. He taught English and math in Thailand in the summer 2004 and has volunteered as a confirmation class teacher and as a youth group leader. He also has joined his fellow parishioners every year for St. James’ annual mission trip to Webster Springs, W.Va., where they conduct home repairs for those in need.

Conyers was ordained a transitional deacon by Bransfield at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Ronceverte, W.Va., last July and has been serving at the parish since then.

In 2007, Conyers and his wife Deborah wanted to become Catholic. He then contacted the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to inquire about the Pastoral Provision, a decision by the Holy See which provides for the reception of priests and laity belonging to the Episcopal Church into full communion with the Catholic Church and for the ordination of married, former priests coming from the Episcopal Church.

Under the guidance of Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Conyers began a customized home study program and followed a schedule by Msgr. Anthony Cincinnati, V.E., S.T.D., and the Rev. Richard Shoda of Wheeling.

“The coming ordination is a long awaited event, and I am very thankful for all who have made it possible,” Conyers said.

“Many in the diocesan staff have contributed to the effort over the past seven years. I thank Msgr. Annie, Msgr. Cincinnati and His excellency, Bishop Bransfield, who have been very supportive over the years,” he said. “A special thanks goes to Father Richard Shoda, my theological mentor, and Father William Anderson, my spiritual director.”

At the end of the ordination, the pastoral assignments of the newly ordained priests will be announced.