Catholic second in command leaves for Abercrombie administration - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Catholic second in command leaves for Abercrombie administration post

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Marc Alexander at a press conference Thursday in the governor's office. Marc Alexander at a press conference Thursday in the governor's office.

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For years, he was a visible leader in Hawaii's Catholic church. But now, the Rev. Marc Alexander has hung up his priest's collar to join the Abercrombie Administration as the Governor's Coordinator on Homelessness.

Alexander has been a Catholic priest in Hawaii for 25 years, the past five as Vicar General, second only to the Bishop. He also holds a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Gregorian University in Rome. He has now left the active priesthood to join what he said was a different calling.

"It's an honor, it's overwhelming," Alexander said. "I think all of us who work with homelessness, even a bit, know how demanding the task is before us."

Alexander was the church's voice in its support of a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in the 1990s. But that didn't matter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who is a supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples. "In Marc Alexander, I have a remarkably capable, extraordinarily well organized, and from an executive capacity, one of the senior people in the state," said Abercrombie.

A priest leaving such a high position in the Catholic Church is very unusual. And it drew a strong response from Bishop Larry Silva. In a printed statement, he said, "I was shocked and extremely disappointed by his recent decision to withdraw from priestly ministry, and I am sure that many will be as shocked and surprised as I was."

Bishop Silva said Alexander informed him of his decision to leave last Sunday. The bishop then relieved Alexander of his duties as Vicar General. 

"It is something that is shocking, and not something that happens every day," Alexander acknowledged. "I think on the other hand, Bishop Larry also understands that in discerning this and thinking about it, that one, at times, can have a calling that is in a different direction."

Alexander said he had been thinking about leaving the active priesthood for several years, and that he submitted a resume, along with thousands of applicants, through the Abercrombie transition web site.

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