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Ex-Fort Wayne priest who founded new denomination dies

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 10:15 am

A former defrocked Fort Wayne priest who went on to help found the diverse Orthodox Catholic Church of America has died.

Metropolitan Archbishop Earl Paul Brian Carsten, commonly known as “Skip,” of Auburn, died at Parkview Hospital on Friday night following a stroke. Carsten was 65.

Carsten, a Gary native, originally came to Fort Wayne in 1965 and served as head pastor of St. Andrew's and St. Hyacinth's Catholic churches. He also served as an assistant pastor at other Fort Wayne churches before he left the city and the Catholic Church to become an Episcopal priest in the Michigan City area.

There, Carsten was publicly criticized by an Episcopal bishop for his homosexuality in 1990 after he was forced to leave the church because of homosexual behavior.

That shunning led Carsten to start the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, which has no ties to the Roman Catholic Church and welcomes members from various backgrounds, including Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran. Members can maintain practices of their church affiliations.

Carsten was elected archbishop of the church earlier this decade. , He saw the church's membership grow from 33 founding organizers and members to nearly 90 members worldwide.

“Skip was one of those people who would always ask, ‘Is this what the Gospel would want us to do?'” said Bishop Robert Zahrt of Fort Wayne. “We used to joke that Skip knew everybody. And everybody that knew Skip felt that he was one of their best friends. He just didn't do a pastoral call, he became involved with people, and many people became his friends. He was a phenomenal man.”

Carsten is survived by his mother, Isabelle, of Auburn.