Tulsa chaplain was rarity in church: a married priest
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 4:58 AM
It might have taken a little divine nudge, getting the pope on Gary Sherman's side.
After all, with the church's rules on celibacy, married Catholic priests are virtually unheard of.
"I think God was smiling upon me," the chaplain at St. John Medical Center once told the Tulsa World.
Still, the Almighty moves at his own pace.
Sherman, who had married as a Lutheran minister before later converting to Catholicism, waited nearly a decade to find out whether he could become a married priest, something the church ordinarily prohibits.
Finally, in 1985 - eight years after Sherman had submitted his request - Pope John Paul II granted him special permission.
"Gary had definitely put it on the back burner. He was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen," said Mary Sherman, his wife and one-time high school sweetheart.
With the pope's approval, Sherman became the only married Catholic priest in Oklahoma and one of just a few dozen in the country.
From there, he went on to dedicate himself to the diocese's work in the Tulsa area, serving with various parishes before becoming a hospital chaplain, a job he loved.
The Rev. Gary David Sherman, a chaplain for St. John for more than 10 years, died Friday. He was 62.
A funeral Mass is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Holy Family Cathedral under the direction of Fitzgerald Ivy Funeral Home.
Sherman served previously as a priest with several Tulsa churches, among them Immaculate Conception, St. Jude, Holy Family, St. Therese, St. Catherine, St. Monica and St. Augustine.
A native of Temperance, Mich., Sherman met his future wife in high school there. They married after college.
He was a Lutheran minister in Indiana and then Pennsylvania. But his wife was Catholic, and Sherman subsequently decided that Catholic theology was more consistent with his own beliefs.
By the time he was finally cleared to become a priest, the couple had settled in Tulsa, where he was working with Catholic Charities.
Mary Sherman said he really enjoyed being a hospital chaplain. It freed him from the administrative concerns that accompany church work, she said, and gave him more time with people.
But he continued to be active with churches. Sherman was certified in three rites - Roman, Maronite and Byzantine - and continued to conduct the Byzantine liturgy regularly for St. Athanasius in Tulsa.
Sherman held degrees from Wittenburg University in Springfield, Ohio, and the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.
Sherman's survivors include his wife of 40 years, Mary Sherman; six children, Jacob Sherman, Laura Sherman, Gabrielle Sherman, Zachary Sherman, Joshua Sherman and Maximilian Sherman; three siblings, James Sherman, Linda Rimmer and Deborah Dennison; and three grandchildren.
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
The Rev. Gary Sherman performs Mass at St. John Medical Center, where he was the chaplain for more than 10 years. Sherman, 62, died Friday. Tulsa World file