Monday, October 5, 2020

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: Mission, Beliefs, Values- Founding Vision- by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Hi! I’m Bridget Mary Meehan, one of the founding members of ARCWP.

On this our 10th Anniversary, I would like to share with you  an overview of our founding vision, mission, beliefs and values. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) is an international community within the International Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.   

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is committed to a renewed model of ordained ministry in an inclusive community of equals in the Roman Catholic Church.

As a community of equal disciples, our calling is first and foremost to follow Jesus the Christ, our model of liberation, and to grow in unity with all in the heart of God. Aware of our deep connectedness to one another, and to the community of creation, our mission is to live Gospel justice and inclusiveness by ordaining women and men as equals and partners in the Roman Catholic Church.

Even though the women priest initiative is marginalized by the condemnation of the Church hierarchy, we choose to live our call to ordination in public ministry on the inside edge of our Roman Catholic Church. We offer a renewed model of priestly ministry rooted in the solid foundation of the prophets and mystics who have gone before us.  Grounded in the faith of mystics and prophets, we follow the example of Jesus who called both women and men to ministry around an open table where everyone is welcome at the extravagant feast of divine love. 

In our values, ARCWP makes a direct connection between the institutional church's ban on women's ordination and poverty, violence, abuse and injustice toward women in society. The hierarchy's oppression of women violates the human rights and God given call of women to live as spiritual equals in every area of life. Until the institutional Roman Catholic Church changes its teachings, women will continue to be treated as second class citizens in the world. The full equality of women must encompass equal rights and equal rites!  Human Rights are Equal Rights! ARCWP is  a holy shakeup transforming the Church, one inclusive community , one inclusive ministry at a time living Gospel equality now!!

ARCWP, like our sisters and brothers in  other branches of the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement, affirms our spiritual authority and prophetic call to ordain women in apostolic succession for public ministry in a renewed priestly ministry. We create welcoming communities and prophetic ministries  in which the community of the baptized are spiritual equals empowered to celebrate sacraments. Our international movement has ordained members in thirteen countries and on five continents. Both ARCWP and RCWP-USA communicate and share resources on a regular basis. We have a common listserv and share on national retreats, and monthly prayer meetings.

Like two religious orders, ARCWP and RCWP have different approaches to governance and different programs of preparation. 

ARCWP makes decisions by a consensus process that involves all members in a circular process of prayerful discernment and decision-making. ARCWP does not require a degree in theology to begin the path to ordination. We honor the life experiences and ministerial service of candidates as valid theological and spiritual resources and create a custom designed program for candidates who come to ARCWP without contemporary theological preparation. 

ARCWP provides competency courses through the People’s Catholic Seminary that align with the ARCWP ordination units. The competency courses not only provide access to contemporary theologies and spirituality, they also provide a supportive learning community for ARCWP members. 

Our members live their vocations within different communities who have different theologies, cultures and comfort levels within the institutional Church. The vision that women priests’ communities share is one of hospitality and mutual partnership in living the Gospel in the 21st century. The priest or deacon do not minister alone, but, work within the vision and mission, culture and beliefs of their faith communities. The role of the ordained is to act as a facilitator of diverse ministries that aim to promote full participation of the gathered assembly in meaningful sacramental liturgical celebrations, pastoral care, ongoing education, spiritual development and social justice work.

It is important to point out that neither RCWP or ARCWP have any official authority over our diverse women-priest led communities.  Each community is independent.  The ordained do not function in a “Father knows best” mentality about the liturgy, sacraments and ministry.  Every inclusive community develops, evolves, and makes their own decisions on all pastoral issues. There are no diocesan structures.  

For more information about ARCWP, visit our website at

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