The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 21, 1968 · Page 19
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November 21, 1968

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 19

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West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 21, 1968
Page:
Page 19
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Page 19 article text (OCR)

2fr-Palm Beach Post, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1968 Former Ministers, Nuns Take 'Next Step (C) N Y. Times News Service 1.000 former members of of Durkin, product nine years in a seminary was or- of two months works as a physical therapist in a hospital. John Thomas, 42, is a bachelor who is the executive of the Planned Parenthood Council of Marin County, north of the Golden Gate. For 15 years until May 1. he had been an Episcopal priest, for eight years at Gig Harbor. Wash. SAN FRANCISCO - A former nun. an Episcopal clergyman and a Roman Catholic convert have formed "the Next Step," which is designed to meet a need that is as new as the forces now assailing organized religion. They estimate that as many as 1.000 former ministers and -I li.U.l.mi mi i I " - NEWS JACK nun in the order of Sacred Heart for 17 years until June 1967, and Miss Nina Seawick. a Catholic convert and veteran of social welfare projects in various sections. Sass lives in a San Francisco apartment, while Miss Caestecker and Miss Seawick live in a house in Menlo Park, 30 miles down the San Francisco peninsula. Miss Caestecker explained how it was to leave Sacred Heart: "The way I was developing and the way I saw my life developing became very inconsistent with the kind of restrictions and the kinds of responsibilities." Miss Seawick was a student at Barat College of the Sacred Heart at Lake Forest, III., where Miss Caestecker taught. They decided to come to San Francisco to try to open some sort of organization to help women leaving the Roman Catholic religious orders to get re-established. They have helped women who were nuns for 15, 20. 25 andaslongas40years. In the winter a year ago, the two women encountered Sass, who had the same thought about men leaving the ministry in all religious groups. He had come to San Francisco to visit relatives, and became astounded at the large numbers of former priests and Protestant pastors he encountered. "Many of the men who leave are in need of new relationships because they are leaving the whole community," he explained. "The laity they serve are their friendship circle. "Many of these men in Protestant churches are married and have children. Consequently, when they pull out they're losing their income, their pension fund, their insurance, their medical coverage, their housing, theircar." Recently, said Miss Seawick, she was called one night by a former priest who was in the bus station in Menlo Park, with just 20 cents, and no home, no connections. Next Step helped him to reestablish. Thomas J. Durkin, 30 years old, formerly an assistant pastor in Philadelphia, is an example of another sort of resettlement problem that comes toNextStep. women's religious orders now live around San Francisco Bay. They are not anticlerical, and their oganization has the cooperation of the leaders of the majorchurches. "They're picking up some pieces of people who have not left the church, but have left the clergy, and there's a difference. " said the Rev. Eugene Schallert. a professor of sociology at L'niversity of San Francisco, a Jesuit school. He is a student of the Catholic Church's problem with priestly dropouts. Personnel of Next Step is just the three founders: Rev. David Sass, an ordained Episcopal priest in his 30s; Miss Cele Caestecker, who was a dained in 1964. He helped hold a secret Mass in a seminary in Philadelphia, with the result that he was required by his clerical supervisors to spend two months in a retreat. Within two months of leaving the retreat house, which he views as more like a prison, he had a job in personnel work for the state of Pennsylvania, and within nine months was out of the priesthood and married. 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