the Mennonites


I was wondering if anyone knows why Menno Simons quit the priesthood (after 20 years) in order to start the Mennonites in 1536. Did he want to get married? or what?
Thanks and God Bless


<<I was wondering if anyone knows why Menno Simons quit the priesthood (after 20 years) in order to start the Mennonites in 1536. Did he want to get married? or what?>>

I really doubt it was anything that simple. If it were just a case of marriage, he could have gone with the Lutherans.

You could always look him up on Wikipedia (though I know it should be viewed with caution) and take it from there.


According to his own account, he had been convinced for a while that the Anabaptists were correct, but didn’t want to give up his position as a priest. Only when he saw how terribly they were being misled by many of their leaders (particularly at Munster, where some wackos took over the city and started killing people, practicing polygamy, etc.) did his principles get the better of him. It’s really odd because you have this guy who by his own account was “in the camp of the enemy” describing what he presumably regarded as a conversion to the true flock of Christ as primarily an act of pity for the misled Anabaptists! (OK–I looked at the wikipedia article and saw a quote that looked much more like a typical conversion story–the above is based on my memory of reading Menno’s own account some years ago, and without going back and looking at the whole thing I wouldn’t know how much my memory may have distorted it, but the note of pity and the sense that they needed a leader was definitely there).

Menno did marry after leaving the priesthood. I think the importance of this is typically exaggerated in Catholic polemic. Of course most men will get married if they no longer think they are bound not to, and in the Reformation it was seen by the Protestants as a moral duty and a sign of rejection of Catholicism. Remember that before the Council of Trent it wasn’t that hard for most priests to have a woman if they wanted to. I.e., they were unlikely to be kicked out of the priesthood for this, and there were even prominent churchmen who had mistresses (though this probably wasn’t as common as reformist propaganda claimed).



Here’s what I find written by his own hand.



… In the year 1524, …, I undertook the duties of a priest in my father’s village, called Pingjum, in Friesland. Two other persons of about my age, also officiated in the same station. The one was my pastor, and was well learned in part; the other succeeded me; both had read the scriptures partially; **but I had not touched them during my life, for I feared, if I should read them they would mislead me. Behold! such a stupid preacher was I, for nearly two years.**Well… I had never read anything about this guy so this is curious.

He and his fellow priests were minimally trained compared to post Council of Trent standards. This is one of the things that Trent went on to correct.

In the first year thereafter a thought occurred to me, as often as I handled the bread and wine in the mass, that they were not the flesh and blood of the Lord. I thought that it was the suggestion of the devil, that he might lead me off from my faith. I confessed it often sighed and prayed, yet I could not be freed from this thought.

OK…he has doubts about the Eucharistic Real Presence. Not all that uncommon, (think of the miracle of Lanciano) but The Eucharist IS Scriptural

Those two aforementioned young men and myself spent our time daily in playing, drinking, and all manner of frivolous diversions, alas! as it is the fashion and way of such useless people; and when we were to treat a little of scripture, I could not speak a word with them without being scoffed at; for I did not know what I asserted. Thus concealed was the word of God to my understanding.

These guys were also pretty slack, though I wonder just how much of this might be Simons exaggerating to make Catholic clergy look bad.:shrug:

At length I resolved that I would examine the New Testament attentively. I had not proceeded far therein, ere I discovered that we were deceived. My conscience, which was troubled on account of the sacramental bread, aforementioned, was soon greatly relieved, without any human aid or advice; though I was encouraged by Luther in the belief, that human authority cannot bind to eternal death.

Well…we see some Lutheran influence already. He certainly can’t be much of a Bible reader if he can’t see the Eucharist in the New Testament. That explains his error there.

…It sounded strange to me, to hear a second baptism spoken of. I examined the scriptures assiduously and meditated on them earnestly, but could find nothing in them concerning infant baptism. After I had discovered this, I conversed with my pastor on the subject; and after much discussion, he had to admit, that there was no scriptural foundation for infant baptism. Notwithstanding all this, I dared not trust my own understanding, but consulted several ancient authors. They taught me that children were to be washed by baptism from their original sin. I compared this doctrine with the scriptures and found that it made baptism take the place of the blood of Christ.

How exactly does he miss the verses on it.
The Case For Infant Baptism

Afterwards, desiring to know the grounds for infant baptism, I went and consulted Lather. He taught me. that children were to be baptized on account of their own faith.

I perceived that this also was not in accordance with the word of God.No such Catholic teaching…so I’m not surprised. :rolleyes:

Next I consulted Bucer. He taught that infants were to be baptized, that their baptism world cause those who had their training, to be more careful in bringing them up in the way of the Lord. I perceived that this doctrine, too, was without foundation.

As shown in my article on infant Baptism…he’s dead wrong here as well.

I then consulted Bullinger. He directed me to the covenant and circumcision. This I found incapable of being substantiated by scripture.

That’s too bad because the New Testament definitely makes a comparison of circumcision and baptism. If, as God Himself commanded, the family of the infant can make a profession of the Jewish faith on behalf of the child then why does not the same principle apply to Christian baptism?


I believe he got married and had two children, I read I think in the wiki.

There is a lot in it about him and his clash with the amish(amman).

Would be nice if we knew who his ancestors are and if he is excommunicated for what he did. Will probably never find out he is just a grain of sand in the ocean.

But I did read that in 2000 some mennonites want to reconnect with the CC. go to the mennonite site and read it but I don’t think anything came of it.


There is a very nice story; titles
Home away from Home
**This Rock **1995 vol.6 #11
by Dwight Longenecker

his story coming to the Catholic faith from generations of mennonites(6 I think he said)
It says he lives in Lancaster England but it is dated maybe Karl Keating would be a good source for more info on this subject?
Not sure how to get there I was all over the google site looking and came across this.
I’m sorry just go to CA and this rock and the year will take you there:p


That happened long after Menno’s death.



Dwight Longnecker became an Anglican priest, ordained in England. He is now a married Catholic priest. His conversion story is on *The Journey Home *at EWTN. He has a blog called ‘Standing On My Head’.


Michael you have brought forth lots of new info I could not find,I like to think it adds some pieces to the puzzel.

I did some searching at the library whatever they had about the Amish and the Mennonites, but a lot of course is speculation.

Menno and his associates must have been very young maybe 18 and sounds from your info not read in the bible. But if he was a priest for 20 years I’m sure he learned. We have a historical landmark about hundred miles from us that was started by a man of 18 sent from Italy and started many churches. He was not ordained when he arrived in America and many told him it wasn’t necessaary but he made sure and traveled far and wide to be ordained and it took him awhile after that is all history started many churches and built a monastery etc schools etc.

But in Menno’s time prereformation must have been a turmoulous time. Hopefully he wa well grounded in the church and when the turmoil came about the anabaptist leaders were getting their heads chopped off. Since this did not happen to him I would like to think he took his congregation aside, and tried to rescue them as a leader, with the blessing of Rome :shrug: don’t know but in those days it must have been dangerous and difficult to get messages back and forth.

Form your info it doesn’t look like he was apposing the sacrament, just the timeing and more than likely bapism was not done as quickly as it is done today. I would like to think he followed his fathers advice and remained faithful.

So here is a priest that was not apposed to baptism, searching and reading all he could and trying to save his flock as well, from the impending reform that was coming and watching others getting their heads chopped off.

I want to speculate that the Church did not excommunicate him, if it did where are the papers, maybe more he exiled himself and yet kept communion and if partial anyways and created as best he could an established schism but not heretical.

He established bishops, deacons etc. and a new order that has continued and if we knew who his desecndants were we could learn more.

He was opposed staunchly by amman, but that is another story, yes it was his bishops that did the work, but look how faithful they were, in a sense Mennon eatablishe his set of apostles, against the Amish, read about this it is very interesting how far amman was willing to go.

The Amish were made to leave the country and the Mennonites were allowed to stay, but that is another study. Read more on it and it will bring more pieces of the puzzel together.This part of history is so amazing.

This is a sort of silly vision but which I pray that some day I can ask God about, :slight_smile: Mennon kneeling, at the cemetary, on top of Purgatory Hill, praying please may I come in and waiting for a soul to pray for intercession for him.


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