Left to right: Mary Theresa Streck and Bridget Mary Meehan celebrate with ARCWP community at retreat liturgy,www.arcwp.org
A spiritual retreat brought 45 members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests to Wolf Road as they shared their message of social justice and continued to push their quest to be recognized by the Vatican.
But with Pope Francis presiding over the Vatican, the group's members are hopeful of making progress. "Pope Francis has not changed the teaching of the church, but he has changed the attitudes," Meehan said.
On May 31, two ARCWP members met with a Vatican representative in Rome. This man, whom they declined to identify, has direct access to the pope, Meehan said. Janice Sevre-Duszynska of Baltimore said she was one of the two ARCWP members to attend the meeting. She described being guided into the meeting at Vatican City. She said the meeting was with a "high-ranking official" and that he was very gracious.
The group isn't challenging the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Meehan said. They're trying to convey their message of being included and recognized.
"We are the suffragettes of the past decade," Lucey said, referring to the women who fought for the right to vote in the U.S. and other countries.
While the group looks hopefully at this initial contact, the members continue their involvement with social justice issues. As Meehan explained, ARCWP looks at the church as a circle for sharing its teachings, not as a top-down organization.
ARCWP, Meehan said, says its ordinations are authentic and valid as they follow the principle of apostolic succession. They can trace their path back to a male bishop who ordained the first woman bishops extending the succession.