ST. LOUIS (AP) - When Deacon Wissam Akiki is ordained as a Maronite Catholic priest in St. Louis, he's expected to have hundreds of supporters there, including his wife and daughter.
For the first time in nearly a century, the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States is ordaining a married priest. The ceremony is scheduled for Thursday night at the ornate St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral near downtown St. Louis.
The Maronites commonly ordained married men as priests in the U.S. before the 1920s, when the practice was banned.
St. Raymond's Chancellor Louis Peters says married priests are common in the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon.
Pope Francis gave permission for Akiki to be ordained, though he did not lift the ban on married priests in the U.S. It is simply an exception.