Bishop Jane Kryzanowski RCWP, Calgary, Canada
Graphic: Jane Kryzanowski, bishop elect of Regina, Sask. Evan Radford/StarMetro Calgary For too long the Catholic Church - always administered and managed by men - has defined women and their roles in the religion, while excluding them from the priesthood, says Jane Kryzanowski.
It's something she first noticed as a young girl in Grade 6 while growing up in Indiana.
Now 75 years old, Kryzanowski is set to be ordained as the second-ever Bishop of the Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada branch, replacing Marie Bouclin of Sudbury, Ont.
Kryzanowski's ceremony was to take place Saturday in Calgary, on the eve of the feast of St. Mary of Magdala, according to a release from the group.
Reflecting on growing up Catholic and the disagreements she grew to have with some of the religion's doctrines, she returned to that Grade 6 incident.
"I knew that I felt a call to the priesthood," she said of herself at that time.
"There was a priest that came to the classroom, and he said 'Who of you wants to be a priest?' I think he forgot the word boy ... and of course (my) hand goes up, and it's like, 'Well, you can't, you're a girl.'
"(It was) a great deflation," she said. Girls were expected to join a convent to become nuns, if they wanted to live in service to the Catholic Church.
She joined an Indiana convent right after high school. She stayed there for eight years, but left, because she knew her calling was to be a priest, not a nun.
In the 1970s, Kryzanowski immigrated to Canada, where she settled with her husband, Felix, in Humboldt, Sask.
She still continued what she calls her search for her place as a Catholic woman.
"The way that I see it is for centuries, the institutional church has been defining women, who they are, what they're role is, what they can do, what they can't do ... And there's a canon law that says only a male can be ordained; that leaves us out," she said. "But why?"
Nobody in the church could answer the question for her, she said. "Why can't I? If God is calling me, why can't I answer that call?" By 2011, she almost resigned herself to accepting the notion she wouldn't serve as a priest. But a chance meeting with Bouclin that year led to her ordination as a deacon in 2014, then as a priest the next year with the Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Not recognized by the Vatican, the Canada branch of the group of 12 women priests is part of a larger, global organization of women Catholic priests.
The Bishop-elect estimates that she serves a regular group of about 30 people in Regina; she estimates that Calgary's Monica Kilburn-Smith works with about 50 people on a regular basis.
That's on top of other events and ceremonies the women priests are invited to preside over, such as house churches, weddings, baptisms, hospice and hospital chaplaincies, prison ministry, funerals, celebrations of life and interfaith collaboration, among others.
Nationwide, women priests are working in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. They use a similar ordination ceremony as what men do for their ordinations.
However, they differentiate themselves by including people who they say are normally excluded by the Catholic Church - LGBTQ people, Indigenous people, women who want to work as priests and male priests who want to marry. Kryzanowski calls it a community of inclusion, one that's built outside of the traditional, hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.