Sunday, August 15, 2021

Homily by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Jill Striebinger at Ordination as Priest on Aug. 15, 2021






https://youtu.be/3vq42WVmv9E



Bridget Mary: 

This is the day God has made as the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordains Jill Striebinger as our first woman priest in South Carolina!


Jill comes to ARCWP with education and background in: military, business, marriage, mothering, disability advocacy, and intellectual pursuits in history, theology, and mythology. Jill’s work in disability advocacy, supporting mothers of children with developmental disabilities has led her to participate in a people focused supportive community. 


As a woman priest, Jill plans to incorporate feminine images of God in worship to reflect the nurturing love of the Holy One who embraces all her children. Jill plans to create prayer circles in which parents can share their hopes, and struggles in this challenging time.


Jill chose the feast of the Assumption for her ordination because of her  deep devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus, who was chosen by God “to do God’s thing, ” as Richard Rohr points out, “God is always choosing people to be and to image God in this world…to promote other people’s empowerment and specialness.” Mary did God’s thing throughout her earthly  life, and continues to accompany us as we live our call to do God’s  thing. 


Today  as we celebrate the Assumption of  Mary who broke through the wall of death to life, we rejoice that when our earthly life is over, we too will be transformed as we pass through death into the fullness of eternal life in God’s embrace.  


The Gospel of Luke recounts the story of  Mary, as a young, Jewish, woman living in a patriarchal world dominated by violence and poverty, whom God calls to do God’s thing. In response to the Angel’s invitation, Mary chose to be a God-bearer, a mother, a married woman, and a prophet for justice for the oppressed. 


After her encounter with the Angel, an exuberant Mary dashes off to the hill country to help her older pregnant  cousin, Elizabeth. Imagine the scene, as the mothers- to -be embrace and delight in each other’s kinship and unexpected pregnancy! 


What if the purpose of their pregnancy stories  as Brian McLaren writes is: “to blur the line between what we think is possible and what we think is impossible,” (to) “challenge us to align our lives around the impossible possibilities hidden in this present moment.” (We Make the Road by Walking, p. 68-69.)


In the next passage in the  Gospel of  Luke, Mary proclaims a prophetic hymn of praise for the power of the Spirit subverting violent power, and turning the world upside down for the excluded and outcastes. Her prayer, known as the Magnificat, is a prayer of  liberation for all whose lives have been devastated by poverty, violence and inequality. This prayer is our prayer today as we work for a world in which everyone can flourish and in which everyone is treated fairly and justly. 


In Luke 8;1-3, we meet influential women disciples who, not only accompanied and supported Jesus,  but,  bankrolled his ministry.  “With Jesus went the Twelve as well as some women, Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Suzanna and many others who were contributing to the support of Jesus and the Twelve with their own funds.” Since then to now, women have continued to spread Jesus’s message, live the Gospel, and build Christian community. So, why are they not being ordained for public ministry in all Churches?


The writers of the Synoptic Gospels tell us that only the women  disciples were faithful to Jesus. They were with him when he died, they were the first ones at the Tomb and the first to proclaim the good news of Easter.  In John's Gospel, the Risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene and sent her to proclaim the good news to the male  disciples. 


It is clear that Jesus treated women as disciples and equals.  So too, should religious leaders including the the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church follow Jesus’ example and open all ministries to women including Ordination. 


 Since this may not happen in our lifetimes in the Roman Catholic Church,  people ask us why we don’t leave the Church, and join a religion that ordains women?


First: The people are the Church, not the hierarchy alone. Since Baptism makes us members of the Catholic Church, no punishment- including excommunication by the pope, can cancel our baptism. Women priests are members of the Church. This is our family! 


Second: There are close to 1.5 billion Catholics worldwide, many of whom want women priests. In addition, the second largest denomination- if they were a denomination- are Catholics who have been alienated from the institutional Church. Catholics, for example, who are divorced and remarried without an annulment and who are LGBTQI, both groups are excluded from receiving sacraments and are treated as second class citizens by the clergy. 


 Third: In our people-empowered women priests-led  communities and ministries, all are spiritual equals regardless of status, gender and marital status. In our inclusive communities, all are invited to celebrate the rich mystical, teachings, sacramental rituals, and social justice advocacy of their Catholic faith.  We believe that God loves everyone, everywhere, no exceptions. 



The reality is women priests  are here to stay!  Our membership has grown from 7 in 2002 to almost 300 in 2021. Nothing will stop the Spirit moving in our midst to bend the arc toward the full equality of women in the Church and world. 


Now, Jill , who will be  the first Roman Catholic Woman Priest in South Carolina, will share her call to priestly ministry with you. 


Jill: 

Thank you all for coming today to celebrate this special day with me! I was inspired to write prayers that encapsulate the reason for my calling.  The prayers speak to the nurturing presence in all of us.  They speak to Mary and her lived experience of being a mother, a sister, and a friend.  Each of you will be gifted a rosary and prayer book.

This rosary is dedicated to the role of people who provide nurturing.  It is a set of prayers that encircles those who provide direct care for children, elders, and the disabled.  It is a complete prayer asking for the support of Mary, who walks with us and provides comfort for our journey.  In these prayers we elevate the nurturing function that we all have within us.  In our readings today, Christ came into being because Mary said yes to this loving presence within her.  

My personal calling was a message that Mary must be exalted, after years of prayer and discernment, I understood that we are all meant to live in power together, not power over, and not power at the expense of anyone or anything. We are all called to be birthers and nurturers of God in ourselves and in our everyday interactions with each other. We are all called to share equally with one another in community.

The centering intention is called the Glory Be Prayer.  In it we acknowledge all of the three life roles of Life Sustaining, Life Giving, and Life Nurturing.  We also honor those who receive the care and those who are unable to provide care at this time.  I will read it to you now:

Glory be to all the fathers, step-fathers, and all people

Who provide direct support for mothers and people who birth, You are loved.

Glory be to all the fathers, step-fathers, and all people 

Who provide direct support for mothers and people who directly care for children, elders, and the disabled. You are loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in those who provide life sustaining support for all mothers that they do not know.

Glory be to all the mothers and people who birth. You are loved.

Glory be to all the mothers, step-mothers, and all people 

Who provide direct care for children, elders, and the disabled. You are loved

The Light of God shines brightly in those willing and able to provide enduring labor for those that need daily assistance.

Glory be to all the children, it’s never your fault. You are loved.

Glory be to all the elders and disabled in the care of others, it’s never your fault. You are loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in those who are not in control of their own circumstances.

Glory be to those who have lost pregnancies and children. You are loved.

Glory be to those who are unable to: birth, provide care for, or support others at this time.  You are loved.

Glory be to those who have lost loved ones or who have lost themselves.  You are all loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in everyone; we are worthy as we are.  Hold all doubts with love.

Bridget Mary:

Let us now ordain our sister, Jill, to do God’s thing here in South Carolina by following Mary’s example of partnership with the Spirit in promoting the  “belovedness” of everyone! Amen! Alleluia!








Now, Jill , who will be  the first Roman Catholic Woman Priest in South Carolina, will share her call to priestly ministry with you. 






























Jill: 

Thank you all for coming today to celebrate this special day with me! I was inspired to write prayers that encapsulate the reason for my calling.  The prayers speak to the nurturing presence in all of us.  They speak to Mary and her lived experience of being a mother, a sister, and a friend.  Each of you will be gifted a rosary and prayer book.

This rosary is dedicated to the role of people who provide nurturing.  It is a set of prayers that encircles those who provide direct care for children, elders, and the disabled.  It is a complete prayer asking for the support of Mary, who walks with us and provides comfort for our journey.  In these prayers we elevate the nurturing function that we all have within us.  In our readings today, Christ came into being because Mary said yes to this loving presence within her.  

My personal calling was a message that Mary must be exalted, after years of prayer and discernment, I understood that we are all meant to live in power together, not power over, and not power at the expense of anyone or anything. We are all called to be birthers and nurturers of God in ourselves and in our everyday interactions with each other. We are all called to share equally with one another in community.

The centering intention is called the Glory Be Prayer.  In it we acknowledge all of the three life roles of Life Sustaining, Life Giving, and Life Nurturing.  We also honor those who receive the care and those who are unable to provide care at this time.  I will read it to you now:

Glory be to all the fathers, step-fathers, and all people

Who provide direct support for mothers and people who birth, You are loved.

Glory be to all the fathers, step-fathers, and all people 

Who provide direct support for mothers and people who directly care for children, elders, and the disabled. You are loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in those who provide life sustaining support for all mothers that they do not know.

Glory be to all the mothers and people who birth. You are loved.

Glory be to all the mothers, step-mothers, and all people 

Who provide direct care for children, elders, and the disabled. You are loved

The Light of God shines brightly in those willing and able to provide enduring labor for those that need daily assistance.

Glory be to all the children, it’s never your fault. You are loved.

Glory be to all the elders and disabled in the care of others, it’s never your fault. You are loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in those who are not in control of their own circumstances.

Glory be to those who have lost pregnancies and children. You are loved.

Glory be to those who are unable to: birth, provide care for, or support others at this time.  You are loved.

Glory be to those who have lost loved ones or who have lost themselves.  You are all loved.

The Light of God shines brightly in everyone; we are worthy as we are.  Hold all doubts with love.







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