Monday, September 3, 2018

"We Have Met the Women Priests and They are Us" by Kathleen Sauline ARCWP

Kathleen Sauline ARCWP

I am a candidate for the priesthood in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. I join with the women and men of our Association; the members of Roman Catholic Women Priests; and with other women priests, deacons and candidates throughout the world in leading our Roman Catholic Church toward its Spirit-led vision of Church flowing slowly but steadily from Vatican II and toward Christ’s mission for us as Church.

As a young woman, I often experienced and reflected upon how much God loves me and how I would best embrace my role in the world in bringing God’s love to others. Me, my mother and father, and my siblings (five of us born in six years) were all flawed and imperfect, as are all of God’s children.  Our family extended to Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and dear friends. Despite and because of our flaws, we loved and were loved unconditionally. That early taste of God’s love through family; strengthened by my fervent quest, in motherhood, to create opportunities for my daughters to “Dance With God” (modeled in the book by that name by Gertrud Mueller Nelson); created in me a heart burning with the desire to gently, yet persistently, remind every human being just how much God loves them and that God loves them exactly as they are. To remind each person that God is not waiting for them to improve, to work harder, to reach perfection, to die…but rather that they are held close to God’s heart and sent out as vessels of God’s love. Imperfect as we are, often without knowing we are doing so, we bring that awareness and experience of God’s love to others, our primary purpose in this beautiful life.

 While serving as one of the Assistant Principals at the world class International Baccalaureate, 1,400-student, Shaker Heights High School in Ohio, U.S. I heard a walkie-talkie call to go to the school library to assist because of a disturbance.. As I walked into the library, I witnessed a verbal disagreement between a student and a new security monitor. I whispered to the student to please go to my office and asked the monitor to join us there. I invited both individuals to sit in my restorative area. The monitor and I sat down and the student declined. The monitor asked if I was going to accept that disrespect from the student. I explained that the student was on a journey, as we all are, and that his standing for our discussion was demonstrating the respect I required. As the two began to talk, I realized that the monitor had referred to the young man as “son” in an attempt to connect. “I am not your son”, said the young man. As the young man calmed, I asked him to return to class. I asked the monitor to join me in discussing the situation further with the head of security. The security head explained that the young man had been a foster child since birth and how the well-meant reference to “son” might have hurt the young man deeply. The security monitor said excitedly: “I just had a whoosh. Do you know what I mean? I just had a whoosh. He explained that at that moment he understood where the young man was coming from. The Security Monitor allowed himself to be open to new information that helped him understand in new ways. The word “whoosh” has stayed with me ever since. It reminds me of vulnerability as described by Dr. Brene Brown and I have come to claim it to remind me that wonder happens on our shared hearts..

From my perspective, our Catholic sacraments can and do bring this wonder on shared hearts to a waiting world. A world where too often our hearts are numbed with addiction, control, people pleasing or materialism and thus less open to experiencing and sharing God’s love. In our Baptism, naming us priest, prophet and kin, we are claimed as ministers of God’s love; God’s Word is ours to bring alive in our world, especially on its margins. Eucharist brings to our souls and our Eucharistic Communities the food of healing and grace, nourishing us with God’s love and mercy and the inspiration for transformation. Confirmation calls our young adults to embrace their Baptism in awareness and wholehearted acceptance and to take on their roles as bearers of God’s love to the elderly, to those for who they will become role models, to those in need of friendship and encouragement. They continue to receive the sacramental gifts and they begin to strengthen into awareness that they are sign and sacrament to the waiting world. Our Reconciliation process allows for acknowledging wrong, seeking forgiveness and sending forth with the strength to transform from turning away from God in our free will to turning toward God through loving others. Anointing brings sign of the Spirit’s strength and the courage to seek healing and to face pain and death ourselves; and face to face with those we love. Our Marriage covenant marks a blessing for strength and close knowing caring and calls forth the support of our family and community for our union. 

Our Mass, our sacraments are too critical to the process of passing on our beloved Catholic faith to limit our recognition of the call to Ordination to patriarchal misinterpretation of Christ’s call. Ordination, the Sacrament to which I am most recently called, builds upon my heartfelt engagement with all of our Church’s sacraments to lead others to fully recognize how deeply they are loved by our God and to commit their own gifts, talents and challenges to building and enriching their life long love for each of the beloved individuals our God has called us to reach and serve.

Kathleen O'Connell Sauline

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