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ST. LOUIS - The Maronite Catholic Church ordained a married priest in St. Louis Thursday night for the first time in a century. Wissam Akiki walked into the sanctuary at St. Raymond's Cathedral as a deacon and walked out as a fully ordained priest after more than a two hour ceremony.

Bishop Elias Zaidan performed the final ordination ceremony before Father Akiki put on his priest's robe in front of his wife, his daughter, father and in laws.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a friend of Father Akiki, was in attendance and present Akiki with a key to the city.

Father Akiki said there were two most important days of his life thus far: the day he married his wife and his ordination day.

Bishop Zaidan said Father Akiki's ordination opens the door for other priests across the country.

Married priests are commonplace in Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. The Vatican restricted married priests in North and South America in the 1920s.

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