July 18th, 2012
07:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – The Revs. Chuck Hough IV and Chuck Hough III have more in common than just their names. The two have become a rarity in the Catholic Church – a father and son who became ordained Catholic priests at the same time.
Both men are both former Episcopal priests, each with a wife and children.
The younger Hough grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with his father as a leader in the Episcopal Church and ended up following in his footsteps, joining the church when he was 25.
The elder Hough had been an Episcopal priest for 31 years before both he and his son decided in 2011 to join the Catholic Church. First they became members of the Catholic Church, then applied to join as priests through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a group to help Anglicans join the Catholic communion while maintaining some hallmarks of the Anglican tradition.
“We felt that something was missing for years and years,” the father said.
The uniqueness of a dad and son joining a church that requires priests to remain celibate and unmarried is not lost on the Houghs, who were formally ordained as Catholic priests June 30 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller, Texas.
“We may be the only two that have been ordained together, certainly in U.S. Catholic history,” said the 57-year old father. “The father and son priests in Catholic Church history usually have been a widower who was later followed by his son.”
The Houghs have long been advocates of a closer relationship between the Catholic and Anglican churches.
The elder Hough said he grew up in an Anglo-Catholic diocese in Dallas and raised his son in a similar vein. During their time as Episcopal priests, both men said they identified as members of the Oxford Movement – Anglicans who view their church as one of three branches of the Catholic Church.
One of the most notable theologians in this movement was John Henry Newman, a man who the Houghs said inspired them while they were Anglican priests. Newman, an Oxford professor in the 1880s, had long advocated for the unification of the Catholic and Anglican faiths. After publishing his final salvo in the Oxford Movement, Tract 90, Newman ended up converting to Catholicism and would later become a cardinal within the church.
During their Oxford Movement work, the Houghs said they began to believe that joining the Catholic Church was really what they wanted.
“I came to recognize fully that reunion from the Holy See was the pearl of great prize for us,” the elder Hough said. “It became the most important thing for us."
Both men said their conversions mark a success in the church’s goal of allowing married Episcopal priests to join the Catholic priesthood, one laid out by Pope John Paul II in 1981. In particular, the younger Hough, who is 30, sees their conversion as a model for future conversions.
“This is not a new issue for the local diocese here in Fort Worth,” he said.
But allowing married priests into the priesthood comes with specific issues that unwed Catholic priests don’t face. While all priests need health insurance, a stipend and housing, married priests require a Catholic diocese to provide these benefits for an entire family.
The younger Hough, who has two small children, said the increase in benefits wasn’t an issue for the Fort Worth Diocese.
“From the day I resigned until now and into the future, we have been fully taken care of by the Catholic Church,” he said. “Housing, health insurance, everything was provided so that we can pursue the calling.”
And in pursuit of this calling, the Houghs have become incredibly close – their relationship clear in the way they speak about each other.
“I have come to recognize my son's terrific gifts, and I celebrate those gifts,” the father said. “This is just the frosting on the cake.”
The younger Hough said, “Like father, like son. If God gives me the grace to be like my father, I will be a blessed man.”
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