PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who also is a public school teacher has asked officials to allow him to wear his religious habit in the classroom.
The Rev. George Nedeff is a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. He recently was hired as a substitute teacher in Wood County.
Nedeff, 75, told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1IjNBtf ) that he believes students might benefit by having a priest in their schools.
Along with a crucifix and a rosary, Nedeff wears a gray, ankle-length habit as a representation of the order and his vows.
"I am a priest. I am proud of it," he said Wednesday. "I'm proud of the religious order I'm part of, and this is my life now."
School officials respect Nedeff's request, Wood County Superintendent John Flint said. But a decision hasn't been made.
"We know him and he is very sincere and very heartfelt, but we have to do our due diligence," Flint said.
West Virginia Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said state law doesn't specifically prohibit or allow the wearing of religious vestments in the classroom. Federal law provides conflicting guidance, she said.
Nedeff has been a priest for nine years and recently returned to the area after recovering from a life-threatening illness while serving in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Nedeff serves as a "substitute priest" on weekends for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston-Wheeling, filling in at parishes throughout the area. Nedeff said he fully expects his clothes will generate conversations in the classroom.
"The students are going to want to know about me," he said. "I'll probably introduce myself and give a little talk about myself, what led me to this point, what led me to become a priest."
Ultimately, Anderson said, the decision will have to be made by Wood County Schools.
Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com