"Jane Kryzanowski remembers the day she got The Call.
It was 2011 and a female Catholic bishop — yes, there are such people — was in Regina for a workshop, describing her own spiritual journey — and something started “burning” in Kryzanowski‘s soul.
She felt “a real resonance” as the bishop talked.
The bishop noticed something and later asked Kryzanowski, “Are you the one I’ll be coming back to ordain?”
It was, Kryzanowski recalled, “like being struck by lightning.”
Tremors and shivers and “I think I broke into tears.”
After much thought, she began checking how to become a woman priest, trained but not recognized by what she calls the “institutional” or “traditional” Catholic church.
There’s academic and psychological screening, a criminal record check, and plenty of training: 10 units of preparation under the Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada Association model of ministry. There’s study of the sacraments and papers on their theology, pastoral and spiritual aspects.
There was, she wryly admits, a lot for a pensioner like her to learn. But what kept her going was a particular need to help those she feels are disenfranchised by the traditional church, to tell them “there is a place where you are welcome; there is a place where you can come and gather around the table and share the eucharist.”
Kryzanowski is an unlikely change agent — until you get talking and see her dedication, wit and gentle determination.
She was born and raised in southern Indiana and muses that with her interests and values — but a male gender — she might have gone to a seminary. But she was a woman who fell in love and came to Canada, settling in Humboldt and later Regina, where she worked in the offices of several Roman Catholic parishes.
Ordained by that woman bishop in 2015, she is part of a group whose members meet in homes with the priest as a facilitator or servant of those attending. It is, she laughs, a little like the ancient Christians meeting in the catacombs or, earlier, when disciples met in homes.
How many Canadian Catholics follow this alternative approach? She isn’t sure, though she figures there are at least 25 in Regina. All of their priests need jobs or pensions to support themselves.
As to why the institutional church refuses to ordain women as priests, she refuses to cast blame other than to say there’s a “purple culture” in the church that is patriarchal and can’t imagine a world with woman priests, and is willing to resist change rather than tap into their wisdom and enthusiasm.
She also agrees that, as others have speculated, the Vatican is wary of antagonizing ultraconservative Catholics in the Third World — consider the tensions in the Anglican communion over gays.
But she sees a possible way out. Just as the Vatican recognizes regional Catholic churches from Eastern Europe and South Asia that have, say, married clergy, perhaps there one day will arise a regional church focused on North America and western Europe that will coexist with more conservative brands.
And perhaps Pope Francis will open some doors. Kryzanowski notes approvingly how he’s talked about opening the deaconate to women.
“Maybe that will be an opening for the discussion of ordaining women.
“We hope,” she says with a smile, “that might be the case.”