Novitiate was a cloistered religious retreat on a small lake in the middle of a thousand acres of forest in New Jersey’s Picatinny Mountains, about 50 miles due west of New York City. When 30 young men from across America showed up there in September 1962, we were a wary bunch of college wise guys, gingerly sticking our toes in the water of a vowed religious life, testing vocations to the priesthood. The Catholic Church we were signing up to serve, it seemed, had not changed since the Council of Trent in the 16th century. And that was fine with us. We wore loafers, chinos, crew neck sweaters. We were attuned to Chubby Checker, J.D. Salinger, Duke Ellington. Yet we were embracing a discipline forged in another era, putting on black cassocks, taking on Gregorian chant — casting off “the world, the flesh, and the devil...
Now 50 years later:
"...Membership in the church, especially in Europe and America, has hemorrhaged. The moral authority of the Catholic hierarchy has been gutted. Priests, at best, evoke pity. Nuns upholding Vatican II values are targeted by inquisitors. The magnificent Roman Catholic Church, a millennial font of reasoned faith and aesthetic genius, is on the road to becoming yet another fundamentalist cult."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
But, now the grassroots communities are taking ownership of the church. In over 29 states, we have women priest-led communities in a more inclusive, empowered church. A new flower is blooming as women priests live prophetic obedience and as Catholics follow their consciences! It resembles the early church more than the current hierarchical church. The focus is on inclusivity, empowerment, accountability and transparency. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp, www.arcwp.org