Friday, October 22, 2021

Homily: Ordination of Geraldine Mary Lococo ARCWP as a Priest on Oct. 21, 2021 in Allison Park, PA. by Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP


Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP
ordains Gerry Lococo 
ARCWP







                                            

Left to right: Rose Gordyan ARCWP, Anne Keller ARCWP, Gerry Lococo ARCWP,
Irene Scaramazza ARCWP


Remembering the Spirit of Life infusing the hearts and minds of the disciples has become a sacred memory that is prayed and celebrated each year on Pentecost. The day is designated as the moment the Spirit moved in, with all Her strength and grandeur, to flood the bodies and souls of those fearful disciples hidden in a room, birthing the fire of faith within them.  These are the readings that touch Gerry’s heart and is why we are fashioning this ordination around them.  


Yet, we all know that a faith community isn’t formed in a particular moment or day, nor is a church realized by any one event.  In fact, unless there is both physical and spiritual preparation for such an event, no such development could ever happen.  Similar to pregnancy, there needs to be a nurturing environment that allows life to flourish.  True in the formation of human life, true in the formation of the spiritual life of a faith community.


If we dig deeper into what caused and still supports the church being church, we find that the process of conversion happens over time. Not only didn’t the disciples understand the breadth and depth of Jesus’ teachings, they needed the Spirit of God to persist in raising their consciousness of what such a belief system entailed. 


Recall the disagreement between Peter and Paul over accepting the Gentiles into their fold, leading Peter to broaden his understanding and appreciation for God’s inclusive embrace of all.  Such disagreements are found in the church today.  It is obvious that consciences still need to be raised in acknowledging and incorporating women as equal disciples and leaders.  And Spirit Sophia is in constant motion, lighting the fire for that necessary conversion to take hold.


Another very significant element for spiritual awakening within the church is the steadfastness of women.  In early Christianity, women were not only relied upon to keep the fires stoked in the gradual development of a believing church, but the widows provided financial support for the disciples in their evangelization efforts.  It was the women who presided at the house liturgies.  It was the women who spread the faith within their communities.  Through the ages, the women began religious orders, provided healthcare facilities and schools for those in need. Today, the great majority of those who minister in our churches are women.  And Spirit Sophia, along with Her feminine human counterparts, continue to persist!


As our longing increases to recover our equally shared leadership roles, we recognize a church that continues its need for nurturance, that is in dire need of a renewed vision.  The creative energy among us is palpable as we look to the guidance offered by Spirit Sophia through women called to prophecy as ordained ministers of our time.  


One such woman is Gerry Lococo. 

 

Following in her mother’s footsteps, she began her high school studies as a business major. She was hired as a legal secretary after her graduation, which provided her hands-on learning experience in social justice.  She was eventually trained to serve clients in a paralegal capacity.  It was in this context that Gerry realized she was being drawn to the vocation of social work.


Women’s Health Services of Pittsburgh provided the environment for Gerry’s social work practicum, after which she was hired at Mercy Hospital’s Dept. of Social Work.  As a new hire, she worked in the Emergency Dept/Trauma Center for eight years, followed by assignments in the Burn and Neurosurgical Units.  After 15 years or so, with the blessing of her husband, Gerard, Gerry transitioned to a part time position at the hospital to give her own body and spirit a needed respite.   She has many stories to share about the strength and weakness of body and spirit through these experiences.  Despite Gerry’s own life-altering health problems, she persisted.  


Gerry later took what would become a 16-year social ministry position at St. Stephen’s Parish, where she served on the Parish Council and Apostolic Committee. Her pastor, Fr. Neil, was a progressive priest who also shared her desire for church reform.  After Fr. Neil died and a misfit pastor was assigned, she heeded the advice of her good friend, Sr. Mary Theresa, and looked for a place where her spirit would continue to be fed.


Birthing comes natural to women, be it the birth of a child, or the birth of a church. Without women, neither have a chance of becoming much of anything.  And, as we learn from Holy Wisdom who is ever ancient, ever new, there is always a period of formation before new life comes into focus.    


Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, on Easter Sunday 2015, Gerry found her spiritual home with the Sunday’s Bread Community which continues to feed her call to ministry.


Today we recall the nurturing environment this faith community offered Gerry when you chose her as your prayer leader.  Living the Gospel message in real time comes to life when we gather the courage and choose to live what we believe. Truth cannot be hidden away in a room!  May the Sunday’s Bread Community flourish in spreading its mantel far and wide, welcoming the disenfranchised waiting for your embrace.  


For the church to regain its focus on equality and justice, women priests are here proclaiming Jesus’ message of inclusivity, equality and love through our lives of prophetic obedience to the Spirit.  And on this day in particular, we recognize this Spirit of Pentecost flooding the heart and mind of Gerry as she is ordained a priest within the Roman Catholic Women Priest Movement, persisting in birthing new life, in personifying the true message of Jesus for our time. 


What shape will the reform of the church take?  I present to you:  Geraldine Mary Lococo!




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