“Because of our age, because of our health, because in particular, we love each other, we decided to move the date way up.”

This story broke last week:

The Rev. Monsignor Howard Lincoln, who celebrated his final mass at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert last week after leading the Catholic congregation for 20 years, has informed members of the church community that he plans to marry a woman as he moves into retirement, church leaders said this weekend.

It was later announced that Lincoln and his secretary married over the weekend. And the couple sat down with a local TV station for an interview, below:

What has gone largely unreported is the unusual story behind Lincoln’s vocation:

Lincoln, who met three popes while presiding over Catholic churches in Southern California, took an unconventional path to the cloth. He was married for three years to his childhood sweetheart and managed a Pasadena pub before a divorce and a series of spiritual experience led him to pursue a life as a priest.

In becoming a reverend, Lincoln overcame what he once described as a “checkered past” that included his divorce and five years as manager of Monahan’s Irish Pub.

He grew up in the small fishing village of Gig Harbor, Wash., near Tacoma, and after marrying he attended law school in San Diego. The couple divorced in 1971.

Lincoln began working at the pub five years later. It was there that he said he began to understand people from different walks of life. He’d hear their stories, their troubles, and how they went about overcoming them. He began to develop relationships and learned how to better connect with people.

Though he didn’t attend church much while in his 20s, Lincoln said that in his early 30s he received a sign that he should return to church. He said it was an indescribable sense of peace that overcame him. When he was 35, he entered Fuller Seminary, a Protestant seminary, in Pasadena. He received a Master of Divinity from Fuller and later studied at an Episcopal seminary in Pittsburgh.

Lincoln, though, said he felt what he describes as a divine pull to become a Roman Catholic priest. He has wanted to be married again and knew that wouldn’t be possible if he became a Catholic priest. Still, he followed the spiritual prompting and switched from Episcopalian to Catholicism.