"If there’s one thing Mary Bergan Blanchard wants to make clear, it’s this: she is definitely not a radical.“I’m too old to be a radical,” she said, laughing. “I’m too practical.”The thing is, most people would probably consider the 82-year-old Albuquerque retiree to be rather radical. Take, for example, the fact that in the 1970s, when a federal mandate to desegregate the city’s public schools set Boston ablaze with racial violence, Blanchard moved there from New York specifically to teach in the public school system. Or consider that in May, the former Sister of Mercy was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in direct opposition to Catholic canon law, which forbids the ordination of women.But if you think any of that is radical, Blanchard says you would be wrong. She moved to Boston because she was deeply disturbed by the country’s racial issues; she was a teacher and she wanted to do something about it. Practical. She became a woman priest because women are underrepresented in the world’s religions, and, because she was recently retired, she was looking for a new calling. Also practical."
From left to right, Irene Scaramazza, Sue Guzik, Bridget Mary Meehan, Barbara Billey, Mary Collingwood, Mary Bergan Blanchard at ARCWP Ordination of Deacons and Priests by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Cleveland.
..."It’s impossible to know exactly how many women entered religious life with an unrequited or latent desire for priestly ministry. But if the current number of women priests who used to be nuns is any indication, it was more than a few. There’s no hard data on the issue, but insiders at the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a wing of the international Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement that has been ordaining women and married men since 2002, estimate – based on conversations and observations – that more than half of the women they’ve ordained were once Catholic sisters..." Bridget Mary's Response: When I was 18 years old, I entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters. I always felt called to consecrate my life to God. When I was in grade school I would attend Mass because I wanted to during Lent. I had a sense of God's closeness. Now I am a Sister for Christian Community and an ordained woman. I never dreamed that women would be ordained as priests in my lifetime. God is full of surprises! As a bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, I ordain women, including some former nuns who are called to live their vocation to a renewed priestly ministry in inclusive, egalitarian communities where everyone is welcome. As a woman raised in an Irish Catholic family who lived in a convent for 10 years, one could say that I am a radical. Some have called me a heretic. I believe that women priests are prophets leading our church to live Jesus' example of Gospel equality. Women priests are visible reminders that God created women as equals and, therefore, women belong around the altar along with the gathered assembly. We are no longer settling for second class citizenship in our church! Amen to the miracle of grace and the holy shakeup that women priests bring! May more former nuns and present day nuns join in this great adventure of walking on water today! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org