Re: “God speaks, but few answer,” May 25.
"Who can limit the call of God? God calls whomever God calls. The problem is that the church takes on the role of limiting God’s ability to call any but celibate men.
It may be true, at least in the Diocese of Venice of Florida, that few men are answering God’s call, but this is not true for the women who are responding to God’s call to priesthood.
There are nearly 200 women priests worldwide with the majority in the United States. We have not left the church, although we have “technically” been excommunicated.
We have answered God’s call to lead the church to a new model where all are welcome — no one is excluded from the sacraments.
Why not wait for the Vatican to accept women as priests? How can we wait when God has called? Jesus did not ordain anyone. He called men and women to follow him — and they did. They were married and unmarried and we do not know their sexual orientation.
We have prepared — studied theology and been pastoral ministers in many settings: parishes, diocesan offices, hospitals, homeless shelters, schools and everywhere God asks us to be. Our ordinations, although breaking Canon 1024, that limits priesthood to males, are valid.
Our ordaining bishops were ordained by women bishops who were ordained by a male bishop still in good standing with the Vatican whose name will be released upon his death. He said that he did this not for the women who are called but for the life of the church.
We all answered the call to serve. We listened when God spoke no matter what it cost us.
It is also a matter of justice for women in the church. Just think of what it would mean for women worldwide if the largest Christian denomination would accept women as fully equal to men in ordination. No longer would the Catholic Church be silent in its failure to recognize women as equal.
President Jimmy Carter has made this point eloquently in his book when he said, “Religions that relegate women to second place have to bear responsibility for the pervasive violence against women.” He has been in communication with Pope Francis on this matter and we pray that the wisdom he brings will bear fruit.
Our branch of the movement, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, has already ordained six priests this year. Locally, there are two women priests serving in Fort Myers, five located within the Diocese of Venice, with a total of nine priests and a deacon in Florida.
In Fort Myers, we celebrate Mass every Sunday at 2 p.m. in a church located in a house dedicated to that purpose and to help homeless individuals make a transition to permanent housing: Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, 2621 Central Ave. A hot meal follows and faith formation for children and youth.
On April 26, after much preparation, sixteen young people and adults were confirmed by ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan in Sarasota.
All are welcome to join with us in worship on Sundays. On the first Tuesday, we also serve persons experiencing homelessness, who gather at the church to pray, share a meal, and seek resources and counseling. Many days are spent following up with those who have shared their needs. We have a score of faithful volunteers who help us serve the homeless and low income of our community.
The mission of Good Shepherd Ministries is to follow the mandate of Jesus in Matthew 25 by feeding, clothing and sheltering, ending homelessness one person at a time. To this end, we have collaborated with other agencies and have helped over 90 persons attain and maintain housing.
God speaks, God calls, and we are answering with women everywhere. Who are any of us to limit the voice of God?"
The Rev. Judith Lee, ARCWP and The Rev. Judith Beaumont, ARCWP are co-pastors, The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers. www.arcwp.org