On our first day in Ireland, Mary Theresa, Joan and I were on our way to pick up groceries and saw a sign for St. Senan's Altar. So we wandered off the main highway to a tiny road with grass growing up the middle of it. Several times, we had to back up or other drivers backed up in order for two cars to squeeze by. Everyone was very gracious and waved when we met.
On our way, we saw stunning wildflowers, green fields and the Altar dedicated to St. Senan in memory of the Penal times when Catholic priests were not allowed to celebrate Mass in churches. The priests secretly gathered with the local people outside in the fields and used rocks as altars where they celebrated Mass.
It is fitting as we start on journey on a quest for women called in Ireland, we found St. Senan's altar, a symbol of liberation from oppression rooted in Jesus' example in Luke 4: 18-19. "The Spirit of God anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the sick, to give sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free."
In this time of struggle for human rights, for justice for women , we are called to work for social justice by transforming structures of oppression in the church and world. The exclusion of women as liturgical leaders deacons and priests is one of the last bastions of male domination. Our international women priests' movement offers a new model of inclusiveness and table companionship that affirms the gifts of all the baptized in our church. and uses equal rites to create gender equality in grassroots Catholic communities where people welcome women priests.
Like the Irish priests who found a way to celebrate Mass when forbidden by the English, Roman Catholic Women Priests have found a way around the oppression of church law, that treats women as second class citizens in their own church, by ordaining them in apostolic succession in order to transform structures of injustice and lead the church toward gender equality and inclusivity.