Sunday, September 15, 2013

NEWS Stories: Ordination of 3 Women in Albany, New York/Sept.15,2013/Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,

Albany Times Union: "Group installs female priest:Grass-roots organization ordains nun, but Catholic Church won't recognize her"       

Bryan Fitzgeral, Times Union
By Bryan Fitzgerald 
People gather inside the Unitarian Universalist Church for the Liturgy of Ordination celebrated by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 in Albany, NY. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

"There was no air of controversy inside the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Washington Avenue Sunday afternoon — only jubilation.
In an ordination ceremony that will not be recognized by the Catholic Church, a woman was ordained as a priest.
Despite the Catholic Church's stance on female priests, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests says the Sunday ordination of Mary Teresa Streck was legitimate and that the longtime nun is now one of about 160 female Roman Catholic priests in the country. None of them are recognized by the Vatican.
"It is with great joy I present to you our newly ordained priest," Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan told the excited crowd after Streck's ceremony was completed.
Streck, a nun for 18 years before launching the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, was greeted with thunderous, rock-star-like ovations at various times during the nearly three-hour-long ceremony.
Two female deacons, Mary Sue Barnett and Maureen McGill, were also ordained during the service.
"This is a very joyful day," Streck said after the ceremony. "Nothing but joy."
The leaders of the Catholic Church have been unwavering in their assertions that women have important roles in the church but are not recognized as priests, often saying there is no theological basis for their ordinations.
Meehan and others in her grassroots group say there is no theological basis for barring women from the priesthood, adding that women were ordained in the church's earliest years.
In July, Pope Francis told USA Today that "the church has spoken and says no ... that door is closed," when asked about female priests.
Churches have disciplined and even expelled priests who have so much as attended ordinations recognizing women as priests. Meehan said that the Albany diocese sent out a memo telling its leaders not to attend Sunday's service under threat of reprimand, though the diocese could not be reached Sunday to confirm or deny Meehan's claim.
The church has also said that any woman who is ordained is excommunicating herself from the church.
Streck said she the threat of excommunication never deterred her.
"I do not consider myself excommunicated," Streck said. "I hope other women consider this path."
While speaking to crowd at length, Meehan, who lives in Florida, often likened the women priest movement to civil rights activism, invoking Rosa Parks on several occasions and saying the ancient guidelines the church says forbids women priests are outdated.
"Rules of those times had nothing to do with love and compassion," Meehan said. "The Catholic Church needs to wake up."

Catholic sect ordains female priest

Without Vatican OK, Unitarians host group

— "Mary Theresa Streck didn’t have to say much to raise thundering applause from the crowded First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany hall Sunday afternoon.
Standing in white robes before Bridget Mary Meehan, bishop of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Streck said, “I am here and I am ready.”
Her voice was almost apologetic, like she knew what was coming. A wave of cheers filled the hall.
Streck, an Albany native, was ordained a priest by the group on Sunday, joining roughly 40 other women priests in the association.
The Roman Catholic church doesn’t actually accept women priests. That’s why the ARCWP, which is not under the direct authority of the pope, conducted its ceremony in the Unitarian hall.
Ever since the ARCWP began with seven women back in 2002, Meehan said there’s been some major pushback from Vatican leadership.
“There is nothing more annoying to [the Vatican] than me,” she said. “This is about equal spiritual rights for women. We are the Rosa Parks of the church.”
But a few minutes before her ordination, Streck herself didn’t seem all that concerned with the opinion of people at the Vatican, or her own status as a church Rosa Parks.
“This just seemed like the next thing to do,” she said. “I felt led.”
Streck’s relationship to the Roman Catholic church was always unique.
“I knew I wanted to be a nun when I was in third grade,” she said. “I always felt called.”
She joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph at 17 and stayed in the fold for 18 years. Then in 1984 she fell in love with Jay Murnane, a priest.
Decades after leaving the order to marry Murnane, Streck said she’s still close with the sisters.
Together, Streck and Murnane built the Ark Community Charter School in Troy and continued their ministry.
These days she runs the Ark alone, Murnane having passed away. And she attends an open Catholic service every month at the Unitarian church, which caused her to pursue the priesthood.
“I hope one day women priests will be accepted by the full church hierarchy,” she said.
Until then, she seemed happy to be ordained at all.
Two other women, Maureen McGill, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Mary Sue Barnett, of Louisville, Ky., also were ordained as deacons.
It was a very open sort of ceremony. The hymn, “All are Welcome” was sung. A woman danced down the aisle at one point with a bucket of incense, streaking the air with bright white smoke.
The congregation was asked to pray over the newly ordained, a job usually saved for other priests.
“We’re trying to bring the Catholic church back into the Jesus movement,” Meehan said. “Some of our priests are lesbians. Some are trans-gender. Jesus called everyone. That includes the congregation.”
Richard Roy and Stephen Peterson, both priests in the National Catholic Church of America and a married couple, sat near the front, casting approving eyes over the proceedings.
There weren’t many young people. The crowd largely belonged to a generation convention says would oppose women priests.
Roy had an explanation.
“Basically everyone here grew up during Vatican II [1962-5],” he said. “That ushered in a more accepting church. Subsequent popes tried to deny it, but we all saw the truth. Young people weren’t around for that.”

"The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests celebrated the ordination of a woman this afternoon in Albany.
She's one of about 160 women who call themselves Roman Catholic Priests in the world, but the Catholic Church calls them excommunicated. In a ceremony filled with emotion and applause, Mary Theresa Streck was ordained a priest.
“I'm feeling very joyful. I am very excited about this pathway that I've chosen,” said Streck.
Her path started in a Roman Catholic Church in Loudonville.  She joined a convent and that's where she says she learned to live the gospel and how to live it equally with men and women.

However, Vatican law currently bans women from becoming priests. Streck is now one of more than 160 women in the world who couldn't wait for possible changes in the future
“Unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church discriminates against women and Canon law says only a baptized male can be ordained,” she explains.
A spokesman for the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese says "a woman who claims to be an ordained Roman Catholic Priest has separated herself from full communion."
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests says just because its ordinations of women as priests are illegal under the church's Canon Law, doesn't mean they're not valid.
“There was a bishop, an unnamed bishop, who ordained our first women bishops. Therefore we have what the church calls Apostolic Succession.”
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan says the argument that Jesus only chose men as his disciples is also not accurate.
“The church should follow the example of Jesus who had male and female disciples,” she says.
Meehan and Streck say this movement is really about transforming the church into a community of equals."
ALBANY -- A historic day for women in the city of Albany. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordained the first female priest in Albany.

Mary Theresa Streck says the journey has been long...but worth it.
"I'm hoping that I'm breaking the stain glass ceiling absolutely," she tells us.
"We are seasoned daughters of the church, we love the church, we don't believe we are leaving the church instead we are leading the church," Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a priest with the ARCWP tells us.
But it hasn't come without controversy. We're told some members opted out of sundays ceremony because they were threatened of being kicked out.
"I certainly would not want anyone to put themselves in any position of harm because they are my brothers and sisters, but it saddens me that they would be pressured not to come to this joyous celebration," Streck says.
"According to a recent CBS gallup poll, 70% of Americans support women priests in the catholic church, this year alone, the association of roman catholic women priests ordained 15 deacons and priests.
"it's sexism and it's injustice, and sexism like racism is a sin. so we just like in the civil rights movement and in other movements we are breaking an unjust law. our ordinations are valid and so we believe we are moving the church forward," Sevre-Duszynska says.
"Like Rosa Parks who refused to accept second-class citizenship and refused to give up her seat on the bus, we are no longer going to tolerate second class citizenship in the Roman Catholic church we are leading the church we are leading the church not leaving the church into it's future," bishop of the ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan says.
The movement of the ARCWP has been growing since it's start in 2002, with the ordination of seven women. Today there are more than 150 women in the world in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, including 100 in 30 states in the U.S., and now they can add one more here in the Capital Region."

Local woman ordained as Roman Catholic priest
A woman from the Capital Region is now a self-proclaimed Roman Catholic Priest. Mary Theresa Streck was ordinated on Sunday. YNN's Maria Valvanis reports.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "It's a very joyful day for me," said Mary Theresa Streck.

Hundreds of people filled the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany to watch as Mary Theresa Streck became the first Capital Region Roman-Catholic woman to be ordained.

Streck said, "It's a pathway that I've been on for a very long time and I'm so excited to be now an ordained woman priest."

"When I was growing up in the fifties girls couldn't even be alter girls, much less become a priest," said Linda Burtis, a Delmar resident.
Burtis said she wasn't sure if she would ever see a Roman-Catholic woman ordained in her lifetime.
"Today was history, today was seeing the Catholic Church the way I've wanted to see it since I was a child," she said.
However, the Catholic Church doesn't neccessarily agree. Vatican law forbids woman priests, and threatens anyone who disobeys that law with excommunication.

"It is not a penalty that we fear because the prophets and saints have always had to cross the line of hierarchy or disaproval so we too feel that we must be prophetic woman of the gospel of Jesus Christ and live as decipels and equals," said Bishop Mary Meehan.
Bishop Mary Meehan, who presided over the ordination, said more than 160 woman world-wide call themselves Roman-Catholic Priests. As the movement grows larger, they are calling on Pope Francis to make an official change.
"Our message to him is you need to embrace woman as your sisters and equals and honor their gifts as priests, it is time," said Meehan.
Streck added, "I don't consider myself excommunicated, because this is my church. The large crowd that was here, the people of God affirm my role as priest within this community."
Streck's first meeting will be held at 3:00 p.m. on October 20 at the Unitarian Society. She said everyone is welcome to attend.  "

First woman priest in NY to be ordained in Albany

Posted: Sep 15, 2013 10:52 AM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. – Three woman will be standing up to the current rules of the Roman Catholic Church by being ordained on Sunday.
At 2:30p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Washing Avenue, Mary Theresa Streck will be ordained as a priest.  She will be the first woman priest in the State of New York, as part of the group, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. 
Two other women, Mary Sue Barnett of Lousiville, KY and Maureen McGill of St. Petersburg FL will be ordained deacons.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests hopes Pope Francis I, who has been in his position as Bishop of Rome for six months, will embrace gender equality regarding church roles.
Streck is a former Sister of St. Joseph and earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.  She is a co-founder and director of Ark Community Charter School in Troy, a school which aims to serve low-income families.
Barnett is a wife and mother who earned her Master's Degree in Religious Studies and Biblical Studies.  In Louisville she is a mentor for a young adult feminist group.
McGill is a wife, mother and grandmother who retired from her position as an attorney in Florida. 
The movement of women priests has been an ongoing movement for eleven years, when seven women were ordained.  According to the women heading the association, there are more than 150 female priests worldwide.
A CBS Gallup Poll shows more than 70% of Catholics in the United States support the idea of women priests

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