ELLSWORTH — A retiring Maine District Court judge plans to swap the law books for the Bible.

Bernard Staples, who served on the bench for 21 years in Belfast, Bar Harbor and Ellsworth, retired last Thursday.

The Bangor Daily News says the 77-year-old Hulls Cove resident will begin studying this fall at Grace Evangelical Seminary in Bangor to be a minister.

Much of Staples’ work as a judge dealt with family issues including divorce, child custody and child protective services.

Staples says he’s seen firsthand the dissolution of the family during his time on the bench. The aspiring minister says he hopes to see a time when marriage again becomes a lifelong commitment for parents.