Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood, ARCWP, ordained four women in Brecksville, Ohio. Susan Gusik, was ordained a priest and Toni-Kay Attanasio, Geraldine Lococo and Kathleen O’Connor Sauline were ordained deacons.
Mary Eileen delivered the following homily:
We gather today to celebrate with great joy the ordination of Susan Marie Guzik as priest, and Toni-Kay Attanasio, Geraldine Lococo, and Kathleen O’Connell Sauline as deacons with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
As most of us know so well, very joyful and grace-filled experiences often happen at the same time others are found suffering in the worst way.
This very day protesters are gathering across our nation demonstrating against a zero-tolerance policy on immigration. The many people struggling to come into this country have been victims within their nation of origin, and find after coming here, their struggle continues with the past and present policies we have here, in this nation, on immigration.
The separated families’ situation goes on indefinitely. Many parents are already deported and their children remain in limbo in migrant detention facilities. Family shelters for those families who can now remain together are quickly running out of room.
This is not a public relations problem. This is a human moral tragedy. The sorrowful images that are flashed across our television screens portray an inhumanity that is spreading like wild fire across our nation. This crisis of immense proportion is far from over.
To be clear, this is a moral opportunity. This is the moment in time to which we have been called to be here for our vulnerable children and brothers and sisters in peril. There is great urgency swelling up in the hearts of those who care to re-unite children with their families. And the question of the day is: When will it happen?
Matthew’s Gospel comes to the rescue today, on this very day of joyful celebration and righteous protest.
The setting of Jesus’ teaching is so serene—a mountain set apart, a teacher directing his message to his closest disciples, simple statements coupled with glorious rewards. What some have come to know as Christian law, the Beatitudes actually originated in the ancient Jewish Wisdom teachings. The reading draws a connection between a particular manner of behavior and the consequences that flow from such behavior.
It is important to note that the behavior or values Jesus advocates is frequently the opposite of those espoused by society at large. And indeed, these teachings offer us an opportunity to seek the wisdom that we so desperately need in our times. To be certain, each and every one of them invite us to turn our standards and our way of life upside down and inside out. In this way, we come to understand the challenges set before us. We need to change the narrative. These beatitudes, these blessings, call for profound inner transformation.
The disciples of Jesus are not merely his followers; they also continue the work he began. Work to secure justice for the oppressed, giving food to the hungry, giving sight to the blind, protecting strangers, sustaining the fatherless and the widowed. Our ordinands today, as disciples of Jesus, are committed to work to sustain the good that is in the world and to transform whatever needs transformation.
My friends, these women of faith are living examples of the Beatitudes in our time.
Susan Guzik, our octogenarian, who, contrary to what some may believe, is not being rewarded with a life time achievement award today, but rather with the recognition and confirmation that her entire life has been grounded in the vastness of her priestly life and witness among us. She remains an avid reader with a desire to learn and to serve. Sue is always seeking right relations with God, self, others, and all creation. She seeks it actively, hungering and thirsting for justice. Through her many active years in Stephen Ministry responding to the needs of people, she has nurtured right relationships in her family, her parish and surrounding communities for many decades.
Toni-Kay Attanasio, our California school psychologist, is a mighty force for the good. She has taken on the toughest kids in the toughest area of the city. Many have come to know that those efforts, grounded in her contemplative nature, reflect a deep commitment to individuals with special needs and their families. She is a beacon in the dark, a guiding post for those who need direction, a fierce advocate for those in need. And along with all of that-- and perhaps more importantly-- she is a spiritual seeker, believer, and prophet for our time. Toni-Kay has traveled the rough roads of persecution and accepts it as part and parcel to following Jesus’ life and ministry of equality and justice.
Gerry Lococo, a leader of prayer and spiritual force for the Sunday’s Bread Community in Pittsburgh, is a calming presence and listening spirit among us.
When you spend any time with Gerry at all, you know you have encountered God face to face. Contrary to Jewish thought that believed human beings could not see God and still live, anyone who is in Gerry’s presence walks away knowing that they are not only alive, but spiritually energized! She stands in a holy place and receives many blessings. In turn, so goes those who meet, pray and live with Gerry. Be it in a show of solidarity in ecumenical gatherings, or a clear voice for justice, Gerry shines her light for all to see and witness.
Kathleen Sauline can walk into a room and immediately gauge the level of joy or discord present. She has been blessed with an inner sense of knowing where she needs to be in service to others. Kathleen has a clear vision of the necessary components that build authentic relationships. She has worked with teachers, guiding them through restorative practices that build right relationships with their students. The faith community that nurtured her through the years of raising her family has encouraged her and has fostered within her an enlightened sense of church. Kathleen offers others mercy and forgiveness in generous portions. She has learned the meaning of mercy as a foundational component of Christian ministry.
Blessed are we who gather here today to witness the ordination of these formidable women of faith. Our church will be blessed beyond our imaginations by their lifegiving prophetic witness.
We celebrate this sacrament of Holy Orders this afternoon knowing that the blessings of the Holy One are upon us, for we have been anointed and share in Jesus’s life and ministry as priest, prophet and royal witness to truth, equality and justice in our church and our world.
Our prayer is that our institutional church will soon awaken to realize these pearls of great worth are ordained women who are keeping the vision of justice and equality in an inclusive church alive and well. Yet the same question comes to the surface once again: When will it happen?
The narrative does change, my friends, when we encounter individuals who have a vision and follow Our Creator’s Living Spirit among us. We come together today with full understanding of the challenges we face as a nation and as a church. We believe that transformation is possible on any level of society, if we see with eyes of faith and work with hearts that move mountains. We celebrate that very faith in these women’s hearts today. May it always be so!