Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Olga Lucia, the priestess", Article by Javier Darío Restrepo, Director of Vida Nueva Colombia

"Facing this woman, so vital and enthusiastic than no one would say she has been alive 70 years, and nowadays surrounded by scandal for being a priestess, Bishop Gerardo Valencia would not be outraged.
Olga Lucia has evoked the memory of her teacher in answering my first question, the type of question you ask just to break the ice:
- What do I call you, Olga Lucia, Reverend Mother, Priestess? What do I call you?
- The people in the community call me by my name, including the children. Those who do not know me say Reverend, or Mother. This I learned from a friend who cared for you very much: Gerardo Valencia Cano.
Olga Lucia Alvarez, first woman priest in Colombia, South America

Indeed, the Bishop of Buenaventura, who died in a plane crash, would assume the fact of Olga Lucia’s ordination by Bishop Bridget Mary in early 2010 with the same bold spirit with which he agreed to serve as support for the priests in Golconda, a group which surprised and exasperated the hierarchy with their groundbreaking political and social proposals in the early 70s. Olga Lucia was his pupil in the Union of Secular Missions that he founded. It was the spiritual home of the young saleswoman from Tejicondor when she decided to take her life in a radically different direction. Later she became the secretary in an office she remembers as liberation theology, a place that saw the first flow of the early concerns about this form of thought within the Church. This is why, after an intense apostolic activity, when she first heard of the existence of the global network of Catholic priestesses, who already had ordained 230 women, she felt she had found what she had always sought.
"Was it necessary to institute female priesthood in the Catholic Church?" I ask, echoing the views of those sectors who reject priestesses as unnecessary and contrary to ecclesiastical discipline and tradition:
-the Institution of female priesthood has always been in the Catholic Church. The fact that the Church does not want to recognize it institutionally is something else. In Jesus' ministry there was no lack of women, they helped him with their own financial resources (Luke 8: 1-3). They tried to have Paul appear as a misogynist, but this is not true, as he is the one who mentions women most and he recognizes the ministerial work they did in the service, growth and strengthening of the Kingdom of God.
During the Vatican II years a doctor in theology, Miss Munch, submitted a formal request to be ordained a priest before the ecclesiastical authorities in Rome. While no answer was ever provided, she put the issue on the agenda of what could be discussed. Maybe that is one of the facts in the history of the global network of priestesses with which Olga Lucia made contact in 2008 through the internet.
But her access to the priesthood through the Global Network of priestesses had its own process.
As she recalls, she had to prove her apostolic experience and her religious and theological training, the consent of her family, references from people who knew her, her criminal record and medical certificates concerning her physical and mental health. Among all these certifications she had to include the history of her passage through the Anglican Church and her adventures with the missionaries of Monsignor Valencia Cano.
Now she celebrates the Eucharist in the many places that invite her, surrounded by people who know her and who believe in her pastoral practice, but she cannot avoid being followed by some who exhibit curiosity, amazement and, in some cases, hostility. She is living the loneliness and the resistance of all pioneers.
Those who comment on Olga Lucia tend to think that it is not yet time for priestesses and that their presence on an altar is traumatic, breaks the mold and seems to violate a long tradition, is that true?
- It is not people who do not accept the figure of female priesthood. It is the institutional church.
- One hears it said through the grapevine that "female priesthood has been a failure, and that the churches have not grown," commenting on the experience in other churches. The priesthood is about service, in and for the Kingdom of God, in the proclamation of the Good News, and not to grow churches. "
- My experience in the ministry is and has been totally different and very enriching. It is the community that asks for my services and my accompaniment, both spiritual and pastoral.
I see her as someone who inaugurates the future and who pays the price for doing it too early."
Translated from Spanish by Silvia Brandon-Perez

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