Thursday, April 16, 2015

Homily for Ordination of Bermadette Mary Baker as a Priest on April 18, 2015 by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

“Called to be Faithful Apostles of God’s Compassion”
Today we rejoice as we ordain Bernadette Mary Baker a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  Bernadette has committed her life to the Gospel. She has dedicated her life to living God’s love and sharing God’s healing, compassionate presence. As a priest, Bernadette will be a sacramental minister, praying with those who call upon her in need of reconciliation, anointing, and Eucharist. She will serve the broken and dying Body of Christ.


Bernadette not only shares the Word of God but is a “living word of God. She proclaims by---- her being in love with God ---that God is always present loving , healing, empowering and transforming each of us on our journey through life.  She offers comfort to the dying, assuring her sisters and brothers that our ultimate reality is in God’s embrace.  As a priest, Bernadette will live the Gospel as a faithful apostle of God’s compassion.

Jesus called women to be his disciples. In Luke 8:1-3, we read that these women not only followed Jesus, but they bankrolled his ministry providing for the community out of their resources.  The names of the women listed in the Gospel of Luke are Mary of Magdala,
Joanna, Suzanna and there were many others. 

By choosing women disciples, Jesus clearly challenged the patriarchal,  cultural and misogynist norms of his times.  By choosing women, Jesus broke the rules and  empowered the oppressed. This led him to ministry on the margins and bitter conflict with the religious and political authorities.  This led to his death on a cross.


Mark Sandlin’s commentary on Jesus death on the cross portrays a portrait of a Jesus who lived dangerously and who reflected the fullness of God’s love in action.
He writes:
 “Jesus died on the cross because he offended those in power.
Jesus died on a cross because he challenged the status quo.
Jesus died on a cross because love would not sit silently by as those who had little were being stepped on, used, and abused by those who had so very much.
“Why did Jesus die on a cross?”
Jesus died on a cross to show us what love looks like in action.”
(Mark Sandlin, “God Did Not Kill Jesus on the Cross for our Sins.” Read more:

So too, the women disciples in the Gospel understood what love in action felt like.
During his execution on the cross, the women stayed for the entire gruesome ordeal until he died. 
They did not flee as the male disciples did.

The women ventured into the dark of morning to anoint his body and discovered the empty tomb.
Yes, the women disciples knew all about what love looked like in action. It was the women who became the first witnesses given the apostolic commission to “to go and tell” the good news that Christ is risen, but the male disciples did not believe the testimony of the women!  

It was the Risen Christ who appears first to Mary, not Peter, and calls her to be the apostle to the apostles to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection, the central belief of Christianity. 

In our time, God is calling women and men to be apostles of Gospel equality, compassion and justice!

Elizabeth Johnson reflects on feminist understanding of Jesus’s death as a powerful critique of patriarchy and “in the resurrection, the Spirit of God fills Jesus with new life and is poured out on all who believe women equally with men….the testimony of the scriptures is that both in his earthly life and risen life, Jesus Christ included women in his community, not as subordinates to males, but as equal sisters to their brothers, and in the case of the resurrection stories, even as those entrusted.” (Elizabeth Johnson, Consider Jesus, p. 111.)

In the early church women were apostles, prophets, missionaries, healers, teachers and leaders of house churches. In Romans 16:1-7, Paul greets Deacon Phoebe, as an influential leader in the local church, praises Junia and her husband Andronicus as “outstanding apostles”, and greets women leaders of house churches. 

   Like  Prophet Miriam, Deacon Phoebe, St. Mary of Magdala, and Junia, women priests in grassroots communities are creating a  more prophetic, compassionate, just church where all are invited to celebrate sacraments. Here all are family, and no one is left out or shunned because of sexual orientation, marital status or for any other reason. Here all are called to be prophetic rebels and live life on the margins to challenge unjust systems and structures that dominate and abuse our sisters and brothers in the church and in our world. Here we are all called to be love in action.

In July 2014, when a local homeless shelter announced that it had invited a woman priest, Debra Meyers, to pray at an event, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati withdrew funding for a washer and dryer. When the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests heard this news, we immediately made a donation to cover this need. The good news is that many others also donated, so in the end, the Women’s Shelter received such abundance that they gave away money to other organizations that served people in need.

  Like  Miriam and Mary of Magdala, Roman Catholic Women Priests are modern day prophets and  apostles. We are ordained in apostolic succession because a male bishop with apostolic succession ordained our first bishops! Therefore, our ordinations are valid. The bottom line is we love the church , we are here to stay, and we are growing! No punishment, not even excommunication, can stop justice from rising up for women in our church! The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is calling for Pope Francis to lift all excommunications in the spirit of the holy year for a more compassionate church and to honor the primacy of conscience for all those who have been condemned and denied
 sacraments. (On March 13, 2015, Pope Francis called for a holy year of mercy to highlight the Catholic Church's "mission to be a witness of mercy."No one can be excluded from God's mercy," the pope said.)

In 2002, 7 women were ordained on the Danube, in 2006, 12 women were ordained in the first U.S. Ordination in Pittsburgh. Now there are over 200 in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement in Europe, U.S., Canada, and Latin America. 

 Now we ordain our beloved Bernadette, a priest.  May God’s tender love flow through you in your priestly ministry, Bernadette as you share love in action with your sisters and brothers, the Body of Christ, in this beautiful community. I am sure that  Miriam, Mary of Magdala and the faithful women in the Gospel join us today in rejoicing with our sister, Bernadette! 

Bridget Mary Meehan, D.Min., a Sister for Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009.  Dr. Meehan is currently Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 20 books, including   Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God, The Healing Power of Prayer and Praying with Women of the Bible . She presides at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Meehan can be reached at and

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