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Montreal has ordained its first married Catholic Latin-rite priest

A Catholic Church in Verdun welcomes a new priest
WATCH: St Thomas More Parish in Verdun has welcomed a new priest into the fold. Father Robert Assaly celebrated his first mass on Sunday. An while this may not sound unusual, as Global's Gloria Henriquez explains, Father Assaly's journey to the Catholic Church has been far from ordinary.

Robert Assaly had what some consider the dream life: a stockbroker and a self-made millionaire by 24 years old. In spite of having everything he could ever need, he realized something was missing.

“I sat on the step of my fully paid house as an atheist and said, ‘God, if you exist, do something,’ and over the course of a few weeks, I heard a call to be a priest,” Assaly said.

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The then-atheist would become a priest in the Anglican Church. His vocation took him to serve in the Middle East for a few years.

But it wouldn’t be the last time his life would take a major turn.

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“Ten years ago I walked into the archdiocese’s offices in Sherbrooke [street] and said I have a calling, I think, to be a Catholic priest, not even knowing there was such a thing as a married Catholic priest,” Assaly explained.

Turns out, there is one now.

Last week, Father Assaly was ordained and became the first married Catholic Latin-rite priest in Montreal.

“And probably the last because there aren’t many Anglicans here in Quebec,” Assaly explained.

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Painting of Jesus Christ survives fire that destroyed 150-year-old church

Assaly is not only a father in the church but also a father of six children. He’s able to remain married because of a reform made by Pope John Paul II that allows exceptions for married Anglican priests who want to convert.

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“With the shortage of priests, this is a wonderful step forward,” said Father Joe Sullivan, who attended the ordination.

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After 10 years of preparation, Assaly preached his first mass on Sunday at Saint Thomas More Church in Verdun.

“It was beautiful to be doing, finally, the very essence of what I was called to do.”

That calling meant moving homes and being on-call for his parishioners 24/7.

“As difficult and challenging as it is, it’s been more joyous, more hopeful, more fulfilling, more meaningful than I could have asked to imagine.”