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WISH TO MARRY LEADS FORMER CATHOLIC PRIEST TO EPISCOPAL CHURCH
By Bettina Lehovec Friday, January 29, 2010
BENTONVILLE - Guillermo Castillo began preparing for the priesthood as a teen. He spent three years in a junior seminary and another seven at the seminary of San Jose de la Montana in his native El Salvador.
"I was very happy about my vocation, my calling to serve the community," Castillo said with the help of an interpreter in a recent interview. Yet after his ordination at age 28, doubts began to creep in.The celibacy he had taken for granted as a condition of the priesthood began to seem like an unbearable weight. A desire for the companionship of marriage and family competed with the vows he had made as a Roman Catholic priest."I was suffering very hard," Castillo said, raising his fists to chest height and pressing the knuckles against each other to illustrate the dilemma. "I tried to come to terms with it, but as the years went by it became a vicious cycle - over and over the same feelings, the same situation."
Castillo had joined the staff of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Rogers in 2005, on a three-year loan from his diocese in El Salvador.He took his inner turmoil to Monsignor David LeSieur, who counseled him with compassion, Castillo said.Several months before his threeyear contract would have ended, Castillo returned to El Salvador and renounced his priesthood in the Catholic church. He feared that if he continued, something scandalous would result, he said."It was a difficult decision. (The priesthood) was my vocation ... (but) I didn't want to wound my church or my family."
Castillo returned to Northwest Arkansas in May 2008. His brothers live here, he explained.He thought it would be easier to find work.He began courting Araceli Herrera, a parishioner at St.Vincent de Paul and a widow.Both say their former relationship was strictly pastoral.
Several months after he returned to the area, they married.Araceli has two daughters, Audrey, 12, and Kimberly, 13. On Sunday, she gave birth to a son, Anthony."We are very happy," Guillermo said with a big smile on his face."Before I was alone. It was a big struggle for me. Now I'm veryhappy. I have somebody to share (life) with."
From One Priesthood To Another: On Sunday, Castillo was received into the Episcopal Church, part of an ongoing process toward Episcopal priesthood.If completed, he will be the first Hispanic Episcopal priest in the state.The Right Rev. Larry Benfield, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, said he is "tickled" at the prospect of having Castillo as a priest."There's a burgeoning minority (of Episcopalians) among Latinos in this state," he said, citing a congregation in Newport that has more Latinos than Anglos."There's so much we have to offer in the Anglican Church with our liturgical tradition."
The Rev. Roger Joslin, vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, which Castillo attends, added that Latinos alienated from the Roman Catholic church because of policy issues such as birth control, divorce and the marriage of priests find a welcoming home in the Episcopal Church.
Such is the case with Castillo, he said."To see him fulfilling his vocation is very exciting to me.Guillermo's a priest. He needs to remain a priest."
Not everyone sees the situation that way. A number of parishioners at St. Vincent de Paul were upset by his decision to leave the Catholic priesthood, Castillo said. Reactions ranged from shock and grief to anger and criticism.Those who view the celibacy of priesthood as divine rather than as a discipline had the hardest time understanding, he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock was not available for comment by press time.Some who know Castillo support his move to the Episcopal Church."I believe in God, not religion," said Rosa Tenas, a lifelong Catholic who attended the special service at All Saints. "If you believe in the Lord, you can go anywhere. It's the same to the Lord.""I think he made the right decision," said her husband, Danny Tenas, who is not a Catholic. "I'm glad that he's coming to this new church so he can continue to serve the Lord."
Castillo will begin leadingSpanish-language services at All Saints this week. Joslin tried to start a Spanish-language service in 2008, with little response.He speaks Spanish fairly well, but lacks the cultural grounding to reach native Latinos.Having Castillo in the pulpit will bridge that gap, he believes.Joslin will celebrate the Eucharist during the Spanishlanguage services until Castillo is accepted as a priest.
AT A GLANCE ALL SAINTS SERVICES English service: 11 a.m. Sunday Spanish service: 1 p.m. Sunday Location: The church meets at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bentonville, 406 W. Central Information: 426-1561,
www.allsaintsbentonville.org SOURCE: STAFF REPORT Religion, Pages 8 on 01/30/2010