Former brother, ex-Episcopal rector to serve as Catholic priests

Posted May 26, 2012, at 6:22 p.m.
Last modified May 27, 2012, at 5:18 p.m.
Emile Henri Dube
Courtesy photo
Emile Henri Dube
David Affleck
Courtesy photo
David Affleck

LEWISTON, Maine — When he graduated from what was then St. Dominic Regional High School, Emile Henri Dube’s goal was to be a priest.

He just never thought it would take him more than 40 years to be ordained.

Dube, 60, was ordained a diocesan priest Saturday at Holy Family Church, 607 Sabattus St., by Bishop Richard J. Malone. He is one of two men to become priests this summer after years in other careers.

David Affleck, 62, will be ordained June 3 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Affleck, who lives in York with his wife, Katherine, served as a priest in the Episcopal Church for more than 20 years.

Dube served for 35 years as a brother in the Catholic order of Salesians of St. John Bosco, headquartered on the East Coast in New Rochelle, N.Y. During that time he worked in Columbus, Ohio, the Bahamas and Harlem in New York City, where he worked with at-risk youth, which is the mission of the Salesians. He also ran the youth ministry section for his order in Orange, N.J., and raised funds for the order’s international work.

“I had originally joined the order to be a priest right out of high school,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I found Latin difficult. Academically, it was easier to become a brother.”

About six years ago, he felt a calling home to the Portland diocese, which serves all of Maine, and to the priesthood. Dube recently graduated from Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., with a Master of Divinity degree.

“The seminary is designed for men going into the priesthood as a second career and haven’t been in a classroom for 30 or 40 years,” Dube said. “The academics are very good but they are also very helpful with and understanding about different learning styles.”

He said Friday that next month he would be moving to Aroostook County to serve in the Parish of the Precious Blood in Caribou, which includes 10 churches.

Affleck took a very different route to the priesthood. Originally from Long Beach, Calif., he earned his bachelor’s in business from California State University in Sacramento. He also attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, where he received his Master of Divinity in 1995. Affleck served Episcopal congregations Woodland, Folsom and Sacramento, Calif., before moving to Saugus, Mass., to serve at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

It was while serving at the church in the Boston suburb that Affleck began examining the dogmas and the doctrine of the Catholic Church through their Catechism.

“I became convinced of their value and the teaching authority of the [Catholic] church,” Affleck said in a telephone interview Friday. “That, together with the traditions and the doctrine, is why I decided to become a Catholic.”

In 2008, Affleck made his profession of faith to the Catholic Church and after taking a number of written and oral exams was considered for the diaconate and the priesthood. Since 1980, a pastoral provision has allowed former Episcopalian priests, married or single, to become priests in the Catholic church, according to Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese.

Affleck said that ministering to people in both denominations was similar.

“The people are the same and the issues people go through will always be the same,” he said. “One thing I’ve found in visiting Catholics in hospitals and nursing homes is that receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist is very important to them. Episcopalians, in my experience, were more interested in spontaneous prayer in that situation.”

Previously, two former Episcopal priests have become Catholic priests. One is deceased and the other left the priesthood after a few years, according to Bernard.

The age at which Dube and Affleck are becoming priests bucks the trend of younger men becoming priests, according to national statistics released earlier this month by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or USCCB, based in Washington, D.C. The median age of priests to be ordained this year is 31, according to a May 17 press release. Two-thirds of priests to be ordained in 2012 are between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the USCCB. Last summer, the Malone ordained John “Jack” Dickinson at the age of 26.

The data comes from a survey that has been conducted for the past 16 years of men ordained priests for dioceses in the U.S. and religious communities. Commissioned by the secretariat for clergy, consecrated life and vocations of the USCCB, it is conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a Georgetown University-based research center.

Like Dube, most of the people about to be ordained have been Catholic since birth and were active in parishes as children and teenagers. Just six percent converted to Catholicism later in life as Affleck did. Both men are white, as are 71 percent of the men to be ordained this year, according to USCCB.

The entire report can be found at www. usccb .org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class.

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