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Utah priest’s son poised to become a celibate priest

First Published      Last Updated Nov 21 2013 06:33 pm

Following in his father's footsteps, a Utah man will be ordained Sunday to the priesthood of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Deacon Chrysostomos Gilbert, son of the Rev. Matthew Gilbert from Salt Lake City's Holy Trinity Cathedral, will be installed in New York City during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

After his ordination, Chrysostomos will replace the Rev. Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides as the church's presiding priest.

The son, however, has chosen to remain celibate, unlike his Utah father, who is married with six children.

The Greek Orthodox Church views marriage and celibacy as equally valid ways to serve God.

"Orthodox churches show no preference for one at the expense of the other," according to the Orthodox Research Institute, an online reference library.

The church believes the choice dates to Christianity's earliest days, when some of Jesus' disciples were married and others were not.

The rules are clear: A priest can be married, but he must wed before he is ordained. If he divorces, he can remain a priest if he remains celibate. If he remarries, he loses his priesthood.

Bishops, on the other hand, are still drawn from celibate priests (although most parish priests, such as Gilbert, are married). Monks are celibate, too, and live together in communities.

The eldest child in the Gilbert family, Chrysostomos has said the decision to be celibate was not difficult.

"I have felt called to this since I was a little boy," he said this past spring. "I want to give my life to it for the rest of my days."

Peggy Fletcher Stack