Perryville grad becomes priest in new Catholic church
NORTH EAST — By the time Mark G. Dickson-Patrick graduated from Perryville High School in 2010 he knew he was going to become a priest.
“Ever since I was a little kid I knew what I wanted to be,” Dickson-Patrick, 25, said. “I graduated from Perryville and went into seminary.”
What sets him apart from traditional Catholics is that Dickson-Patrick is married and gay.
At 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church in North East he will be ordained by The Most Rev. David M. Martins, bishop of the Diocese of New England with the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas.
“It is not officially part of the Roman Catholic structure,” Dickson-Patrick said.
The Independent Catholic Church of the Americas accepts gay marriage and women in the priesthood while following the same savior, Jesus Christ.
“We preach the redeeming love of the gospel like Jesus did,” he said, adding the church focuses on bringing the scriptures into modern context.
Dickson-Patrick pointed specifically to the scripture in the Old Testament book of Genesis about the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The scripture describes how Lot, a foreigner in the city, invited two men who were strangers in the city to stay the night in his house. However, upon hearing about this, the men of the city demanded that Lot turn over his guests so they can have sex with them. When Lot refuses, the strangers reveal themselves to be angels and they blind the men. Lot and his family are then whisked out of the city the next day before it is completely destroyed.
The traditional Christian view is that these two towns were destroyed because they were guilty of sexual immorality. However, Dickson-Patrick believes that’s not the case.
“Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin was they were uncharitable,” he said.
Other verses from scripture have been misinterpreted too, Dickson-Patrick said.
“The verses about ‘don’t have sex with men’ were talking about temple worship,” Dickson-Patrick said, referring to pagan practice that Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians were warned about repeatedly. He said the issue of homosexuality is taken out of context from those scriptures.
Dickson-Patrick will pastor a congregation called Oratory of St. Andrew, which is still in search of a place to worship.
“Our goal is to get an independent Catholic mission between Harford and Cecil counties and get involved in ecumenical ministries, soup kitchens,” he said.
Although born and raised in Cecil County, DicksonPatrick and his husband Alexander S. Dickson-Patrick now live in Bel Air. He would like to find a site convenient for people from both counties to attend. So far they have held services in private homes, but their numbers are growing. He noted some embrace the new idea while others are still working it out in their hearts and minds.
“We have parishioners tell us they are not quite sure of this,” he said. “Then there are others who say, ‘Rome, you were wrong about this.’”
While not technically under the Vatican rule, Dickson-Patrick says he admires and respects Pope Francis.
“I see a father who wants to genuinely help his children find wholeness,” he said. “I want to be like that. We’re on this journey to holiness together.”
Dickson-Patrick said he chose to name the parish he will lead after St. Andrew because, like the disciple who sought God in all things, Oratory of St. Andrew has the same mission: “To be a place for people to come and pray and seek where He abides.”
For more information on the ordination ceremony — which is open to the public — or Oratory of St. Andrew, contact Dickson-Patrick at 410-688-5595 or go online and visit http://www.oratorystandrew.org/
The Rev. Mark G. Dickson-Patrick will be ordained Saturday as a priest in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas.