Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sign Petition Not to Porsecture Y-12 Peace Activists- Sister Megan Rice, Greg Obed and Jim Walli, Prophets for Justice

We petition the US government NOT TO PROSECUTE three courageous Y-12 peace activists — who used hammers, blood, banners and paint to bring public scrutiny on a little-known, illegal activity of the US government: the US nuclear weapons modernization program.

We further petition the USA government TO HALT all nuclear weapons modernization and abide by existing international treaties."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Gary Macy on Women in Ministry in the Early Church/ Archbishop Matilda/ Ordination as a new role or function in community

"...Another reference to a woman as a bishop occurs on the tombstone of Matilda, the daughter of Otto I, who died in 999.  I think she probably tried to hold for a year, don’t you?  She’s described not only as an abbess, but also as the Metropolitana of Quinlinburg.  Metropolitana is a word that’s only used as a word for an archbishop.  It’s a very rare word, but it only means an archbishop.  Now what did she do as an abbess; or what did the 9th century person think Bridget did?  Well, we have a pretty good idea of what they thought, because there were a number of abbesses who had episcopal authority.  The most powerful one is the one I mentioned: the Cisterian abbess of Las Huelgas, near Burgos, in northern Spain.  She wore her mitre, and as I said, carried her crosier until she was forbidden to do so in 1873; it took a year of litigation to get her out of there though.  These were really, really tough abbesses.  The history of Las Huelgas is impressive. Alphonse VIII of Castile and his wife Eleanor of England, daughter of the more famous Eleanor of Aquitane, decided to establish the monastery of Las Huelgas after Alphonsus victory over the Muslim armies at Cuenca in 1178. So we have 1178 to 1874.  Over the centuries the abbess accumulated complete ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the territory, villages, and villas subject to Las Huelgas.  She had the power to appoint parish priests for the countryside subject to the convent of Las Huelgas.  This involved some 64 villages.  So she established the parishes; she appointed the priests.  She could establish new parishes;  she could unite parish churches, or reopen closed churches.  She could approve confessors for all her subjects, and examine their credentials, if necessary.  Apart from and alongside the power the abbess had over her own clergy, she also had the power to confer licenses to say Mass, or to hear confessions, or to preach in those areas subject to her control.  She issued wedding licenses.  No bishop or delegate from the Holy See could perform a visitation of the churches, or the altars, or the curates, or the clerics, or the benefices under the care of the abbess.  They could not come in to regulate her.  She could commute last wills and testaments.  She had the power to visit and examine the adequacy of the apostolic, imperial or royal notaries; and if she found them delinquent in their duties, she could punish them, or prohibit them from office.  She had the authority to reserve cases regarded to her subjects, just like any other bishop; and finally, she was able to convene a synod, and make synodal constitutions and laws for both her religious and lay subjects.  So she was pretty much a full on bishop...  "

"So any ceremony and/or installation, or election of a bishop, or a priest, or a deacon, or a sub-deacon, or a porter, or a lector, or an exorcist, or an acolyte, or cannon, or an abbot, or an abbess, or a king, or a queen, or an empress, was an ordination.  Why?  Because what you were doing was that the local community was giving you a new state, a new role, a new function, within the community; and that’s what an ordo was.  That’s what an ordo meant, okay?  "



After Louisville and Cincinnati Ordinations, 7 Women Applicants Enter Discernment Process for the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP)

Some wonderful memories of sharing with Tri-City communities in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington.
Luncheon at Ruth Steinert Foote's home in Cincinnati,
Christa, Bridget Mary, Janice, Mary Jo, and Pat
Louisville ordination at St. Andrew UCC, Louisville

Bridget Mary enjoying Janice's garden in Lexington, KY.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Five Roman Catholic Women to Be Ordained in Falls Church, Virginia on June 22, 2013: Women Priests Invite Pope Francis to Model Gospel Partnership Like Clare and Francis

Release date: May 30, 2013, Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc
Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min, (Media), 859-684-4247
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,, 703-505-0004

Celebration of Priestly Ordination for:
Barbara Anne Duff of Macon, GA,, 478-718-0613
Joleane Presley of Manassas, VA,, 410-900-3998

Celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate for:
Mary Collingwood of Cleveland, Ohio,, 216-408-4657
Marianne Smyth of Silver Springs, MD,, 240-444-0781
Mary Theresa Streck of Menands, NY,, 518-434-2277
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests calls on Pope Francis to embrace the full equality of women in the church and world. Just as Clare and Francis were partners in living out the Gospel with the poor and marginalized, we pray and invite Pope Francis to do the same with women priests.

Today, women priests continue to follow the tradition of women disciples living and preaching the Gospel taught to them by Jesus. We are leading the Roman Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women.

On Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Barbara Anne Duff (Macon, GA) and Joleane Presley (Manassas, VA) will be ordained priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP). Mary Collingwood (Cleveland, Ohio), Marianne Smyth (Silver Springs, MD) and Mary Theresa Streck (Menands, NY) will be ordained deacons in ARCWP. The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, VA and Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at First Christian Church, 6165 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044 (please consult for directions) All are welcome.

Media are invited to interview these women by email or phone. Respectful photo taking/videos during the ceremony is acceptable.

 The candidates are theologically prepared and have many years of experience in ministry.

 Barbara Anne Duff is a former Maryknoll sister, educator, Air Force Nurse and VA Hospital Nursing Home administrator. “I am fulfilling my original call to minister to those who are on the margins of society. We women priests are working toward a renewed priestly ministry, supporting nonviolence and social justice in our church and in the world.”

 Joleane Presley works full time as a Senior Chaplain at a rehabilitation hospital in Maryland. She has her Masters of Divinity degree from Duke University and is trained as a chaplain. “Working with people with disabilities and meeting their spiritual needs has been a dream come true. Being ordained as a woman priest brings all of these dreams full circle. God has called me from age seven to be a priest and serve those who are hurting and ill. I believe that women who are called are making a difference in this hurting world.”

 Mary Collingwood, wife, mother, grandmother, educator and outreach minister, has served the church her entire adult life in diocesan offices, on parish staffs and in Catholic schools and as a board member to various non-profit agencies.

 Marianne T. Smyth has a Masters Degree in Counseling and four certificates from Global Ministries in Theology and Scripture. A secular Carmelite for seven years, Marianne was a caretaker for her elderly mother and worked with students with learning disabilities and who were drug/alcohol dependent. She now ministers to those facing sickness, dying and death.

 A former Sister of St. Joseph, Mary Theresa Streck earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. She is an artist and peace activist who is co-founder and director of the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, New York, a school primarily serving low-income families.

 Women priests are answering the call and our movement is growing since it began in 2002 with the ordination of seven women on the Danube. There are now 150 women in our Roman Catholic Women Priests’ Movement in the world, including 100 in 30 states in the U.S. living and serving over 60 inclusive Catholic communities and welcoming all to receive the sacraments.

 According to a recent CBS Gallup Poll, over 70% of Catholic in the U.S. support women priests. There is no shortage of vocations as women are now saying “Yes” to this call and are being ordained. In 2013, ARCWP will have ordained 13 women priests and deacons. We have more than a dozen candidates who will soon begin preparation for ordination.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Louisville Public Viewing of "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" (Four Women Priests Respond)

ARCWP Priests Rosemarie Smead, Donna Rougeux, Janice Sevre-Duszynska and Bridget Mary Meehan
Louisville Public Viewing of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican,” Award-Winning Documentary on the History of Roman Catholic Women Priests

On Monday, May 27, 2013 at 7 p.m. a Louisville public viewing of the Jules Hart documentary, “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican,” took place at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 2608 Browns Lane, Louisville, KY 40220.  
Following the movie a discussion of the women priest movement featured  Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, newly-ordained Rosemarie Smead, Donna Rougeux and Janice Sevre-Duszynska who was ordained in 2008 and whose journey to the priesthood is featured in the movie. Commentary by Maryknoll priest Father Roy Bourgeois on the women priest movement and the sacrifices he made for supporting it gave a male priest’s perspective on gender injustice within the Church.

"Turning a Parishoner into a Priest"/ Eitz's Ordination as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2013, 4:32 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — The priest will be ordained in a purple Lutheran church. The Communion bread, symbolizing the body of Christ, will be gluten-free. The congregation will pray to "our mother our father in heaven."
But the real departure from Roman Catholic tradition will be evident when Maria Eitz approaches the altar Sunday for the laying on of hands that turns parishioner into priest.
Over the last decade, as the Vatican has faced a serious shortage of priests, a small but growing number of women have answered what they believe to be a call from God. California is home to more ordained Catholic women than any other state. Eitz — a retired theologian with four adopted children — will be the first woman ordained as a Catholic priest in San Francisco.
The more than 120 women worldwide who have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons say their faith gives them comfort and hope. But that same faith also is bound by Canon Law 1024. Short and blunt, the church edict states that "a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly."
The Vatican has said that women who presume to be priests, and those who help them, are committing a grave sin. And like Catholics who have abortions or commit heresy, female officiants are subject to the ultimate penalty — automatic excommunication. The church does not acknowledge ordained women or the sacraments they offer.
The first female priests were ordained in 2002 on a boat on the Danube by a bishop who previously had broken ranks with the Vatican. A year later, bishops who asked to remain anonymous until after their death for fear of reprisal ordained the first female bishops so that they, in turn, could ordain other women.
According to Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA Inc., more women are expected to be ordained as priests and deacons in 2013 than in any previous year.
To Eitz, the threat of excommunication is meaningless. It has happened to her once already, when she became a deacon in 2012. She ignored it then and ignores it now, she said, because "if you are baptized, you cannot be unbaptized. If you are called to the table that God calls people to, you cannot be excluded."
The soft-spoken 72-year-old said she was taking the controversial step because "it is right and just."
"It needs to happen. Not so much for myself … but for the people who will come after," she said. "For the girls. For the other women."
At 9:30 a.m. on the Saturday before Mother's Day, Eitz and Victoria Rue prepared for Mass at Sophia in Trinity, which describes itself as "a Roman Catholic community celebrating a radically inclusive God."
The adherents gather in a small chapel at the rear of Trinity Episcopal Church — whose main sanctuary was shuttered four years ago because the congregation could not afford to retrofit the 120-year-old sandstone fortress, with its Tiffany stained-glass windows and E.M. Skinner organ.
Like Sophia, most of the communities led by female priests meet twice each month, either in private homes or non-Catholic churches whose members sympathize with the effort to ordain women.
Eitz is Sophia's deacon; Rue is its priest.
Their first duties on this chilly spring day, however, were far from priest-like: They cleaned up a clutter of coffee cups and sugar packets and rearranged the chairs from straight rows into a circle. In its center, they set up the altar — a wobbly table steadied by a wad of paper napkins.
As two dozen or so worshipers filed into the chapel, Eitz and Rue donned crisp white clerical robes.
But not for long.
"As you know," Rue told the congregation, "Maria and I wear these robes because they are symbols of our baptism. But because … separation between the clerics and lay people is rampant in our Roman Catholic Church, Maria and I think it is very important to not wear them, these albs.
"So we take them off," she said, "to bear in mind that we are all one."
A voice from the circle chimed in: "Didn't Jesus say we are all priests?"
"Exactly," said Rue, who has a doctorate in theology and teaches comparative religious studies at San Jose State University.
The robes fell.
It was just one of the signs that this would not be Mass as most Catholics know it.
There were some familiar touchstones — the collection basket got filled, the sign of peace was exchanged. And like male priests the world over, Rue urged parishioners: "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith." The group responded in the usual way: "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again."
On this day, though, the reading was from the Gospel according to Luke, acted out by two members of the congregation. The homily — more conversation than sermon — was about "How do we encounter God in our lives?" Rue said. "How is this Eucharist an encounter?"
The congregation's core beliefs are another story too. Rue and Eitz support abortion rights, contraception, married priests and same-sex marriage. Rue is a married lesbian who has been out since 1973.
As for Communion, John "Fitz" Fitzgerald, a regular at the Sophia services, had baked the sacramental bread at home. He has been experimenting with a gluten-free recipe because Eitz requested it for her ordination. He is not yet happy with the results, golden brown and a little lopsided.
Unlike during traditional Mass, Rue did not hand each parishioner a piece of the Eucharist while declaring, "The body of Christ." Instead, Sophia's members passed the plate of bread around the circle. Each took a piece, looked at his or her neighbor, said, "You are the body of Christ" and passed the plate along.
Then Rue prayed: "May God bless you and keep you. May she be gracious to you. May she lift up the light of her countenance upon you. And may our good God give you peace.
"Mass has ended," she intoned.
"And the service has just begun," the group responded.
Eitz was born in Germany and spent several years in an orphanage after World War II. She did not become a Catholic until she was a young adult, and she never dreamed of being a priest.
"I was never drawn to Catholicism — or to God, if you want — because of sin and forgiveness," she said. "It was always the knowledge that there has got to be justice."
Eitz sat at her dining room table, preparing for her ordination. Bishop Regina Nicolosi of Minnesota would preside. The wall behind Eitz was strung with bells — each representing a different chapter of her life.
There was one from Saigon, a reminder of the orphans she helped airlift out during the Vietnam War and the children she adopted as a single mother in the 1970s. There are several from East Africa, where she arranged medical care for a nomadic tribe during a deadly drought in Sudan in the 1980s. One was a gift when she became a deacon.
A banner stamped with brightly colored children's handprints was hung on the living room wall. For 36 years, Eitz ran a program called Respite Care from her home on the edge of Golden Gate Park, working with special-needs children as part of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.
When she began attending Sophia in Trinity in 2010, "it was an utter joy to have women at the altar," Eitz said. "It was actually a matter of justice, because, you see, that is what needs to happen."
The San Francisco Archdiocese begs to differ.
Calling the women's ordination movement a "fringe group," spokesman George Wesolek said he was unaware of Eitz's upcoming ordination. The Catholic Church, he said, relies on scripture and tradition and ordains men alone because Jesus was a man and picked men as his apostles.
"The thing you have to recognize here is that the … church is 1.2 billion members," Wesolek said. "The issue of women's ordination and even same-sex marriage are kind of like boutique issues in the church. It's the American church. We're 75 million, but we're really a minority."
But Gary Macy, chairman of Santa Clara University's religious studies department, argued there was "very good evidence of the ordination of women as deacons up until the 12th century.… There are descriptions of women who led the liturgy."
Sophia in Trinity members, such as Sherri Maurin, believe that their congregation's concerns are central to Catholicism, a religion that they refuse to leave and are intent on changing. It is a faith, she said, that needs priests like Eitz.
"I have always felt that Maria was called to priesthood," said Maurin, who described herself as a full-time peace activist. "She is a teacher, a caregiver and a model."
Eitz said she was not concerned about the controversy — or the punishment. She has wrestled with her own uncertainty and knows she is doing the right thing. However, she said, she was a little rattled by how much life is going to change.
What calms her mind? Hafiz, a Sufi poet from the 14th century, and Mary Oliver, whose poems weave the natural and spiritual worlds.
With fog blanketing her Inner Richmond neighborhood and her cocker spaniel sleeping at her feet, Eitz opens a collection of Hafiz's work. She has marked her favorite poems with feathers. She begins to read out loud.
"I / Have / Learned / So much from God  / That I can no longer / Call / Myself / A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim / A Buddhist, a Jew," she read, beginning to  relax. "The Truth has shared so / much of itself / With me /  That I can no longer call myself / A man, a woman, an angel / Or even pure / Soul."

ARCWP Debra Meyers Ordination Homily by Bridget Mary Meehan (May 25, 2013)

Homily: “Samaritan Woman -Apostle of Gospel Equality”
By Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
We rejoice because Debra Meyers, a professor of history and women’s studies at Northern Kentucky University, will be ordained today as the first Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Debra Meyers joins her sister priests Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Donna Rougeux, and Rosemarie Smead in sacramental ministry to the people of God in the Kentucky and Ohio area.
Today, like the Samaritan woman, Debra will leave her water jar behind and proclaim a new Pentecost of God’s love for all as she ministers on the margins as a woman priest, living God’s compassion and justice in a community of equals!
 The ministry of Debra Meyers is a living witness to our liberating God’s presence in this local community. Debra serves single mothers in her work as a professor and student advisor in order to empower women to break the cycle of poverty. In our society one out of six Americans lives in poverty. Single mothers and their children represent a disproportionate share of the impoverished and many women can only find jobs that pay less than a living wage.  According to UN statistics, two-thirds of the illiterate, the hungry and the poorest of the poor are women. The vast majority of single mothers have little hope of escaping the desperate cycle of poverty without a college degree. 
Debra follows in the footsteps of giants like feminist theologian  Sister Joan Chittister, a long time advocate for social, cultural, and economic changes that will allow women to rise from poverty."In a recent article from her column published in the National Catholic Reporter entitled: “Where I Stand”,  Sister Joan commented on the reasons given by the Vatican for the hostile take-over of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious: “Because, they say, the work of the nuns has been "tainted by radical feminism." Well, if working to elevate the role and status of women around the world is tainted work, then we are obviously guilty as charged. After all, nuns were the first people in the church to set up schools to educate Catholic girls. ..From where I stand, if that's what it is to be "tainted by radical feminism," then finally, finally, let the Gospel begin in this entire church.”
Another nun, Sister Megan Rice, like the prophets in the bible, reminds us of the cost of standing up for justice. Last summer, the 82 year old nun, accompanied by fellow social justice activists, Michael Walli and Gregory Obed broke into a Nuclear Weapons Facility in Tennessee. Sister Megan sums up their courageous witness in these words:”It’s idolatry putting trust in weapons. Weapons are always false gods because they make money. It’s profiteering.”When the three prophets were apprehended by a guard, they lit candles and prayed. A jury found them guilty. They were immediately jailed and await sentencing. (“The Prophets of Oak Ridge, by Dan Zak, Washington Post, April 30th, 2013)
Rejection, hostility, and jail are nothing new for followers of Christ, either in the Gospel or in our contemporary world. Once again, we celebrate Pentecost fire empowering us and the Spirit of God calling us to live the fullness of our baptism as prophets and apostles today in the new creation.
The good news is that women in the Gospels, and women today are prophets and apostles and that Jesus was a radical feminist. The story of the Samaritan woman reveals that Jesus engaged a woman in the longest conversation in the Gospels. Jesus began by asking her for a drink.
This is such a wow moment! Jesus chose this bright, assertive woman on the margins for an in- depth theological conversation that revealed his identity as Messiah, and she immediately becomes an apostle.  Can you imagine the photos and story running in the Tabloids today? “Female Sex Worker turned Evangelist Converts City; Religious Leaders Appalled!”
Scholars remind us that the story of the Samaritan woman reflects the esteem that the Johannine community had for its women leaders. Jesus offered a profound example of Gospel equality that shocked his male apostles then, and continues to shock today- especially the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
Their response to why women can’t be priests today goes along these lines: “God calling women to be priests? You have got to be kidding right! Jesus was a man. Only men have the right equipment, so to speak!?”
Today God is calling women to be leaders in the church proclaiming freedom and equality in ways that will liberate and heal us from the bondage of sexism and patriarchy. Perhaps, this encounter with the woman at the well, reminds us that rule- keeping and social or religious acceptability is not what true religion is about. Now more than ever we need to proclaim by our words and lives that God is love and that all people are loved and blessed by God. No one is excluded from the divine embrace. All are invited to the Banquet: the divorced and remarried, gays, lesbians, transgender, women and men, all races, all cultures, everyone! We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to show up, to have a conversation or even an argument with God! Isn’t that what being an apostle, a prophet. a Christian is all about?
Now I would like to share with you a brief overview of the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement. Roman Catholic Women Priests are ordained in apostolic succession because a male bishop with apostolic succession and in communion with the pope ordained our first bishops! The anonymous bishop told the women that he ordained them to promote justice in our church.

 It has been over ten years since seven women were ordained on the Danube in 2002. In 2006, 12 women were ordained in Pittsburgh in the first U.S. Ordinations. Now there are over 150 in our movement in Europe, U.S., Canada, and Latin America. There are over 60 inclusive communities in the U.S. led by women priests, and we are in 30 states.

As part of an international Roman Catholic Women Priests initiative, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests claims justice as constitutive of the Gospel and equality as a human right. Our vision is justice for all, justice for the poor and marginalized, justice for women, and justice for women in the church including ordination. 

 Women priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God, and therefore worthy to preside at the altar.  We are living prophetic obedience to the Spirit by disobeying an unjust, man-made, canon law that discriminates against women in our church. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. Like Rosa Parks, whose refusal to sit in the back of the bus helped to ignite the civil rights movement, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests are not leaving the church, but leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality. No punishment, including excommunication, can stop this movement of the Spirit. In fact, one could argue that Pope Benedict, who canonized two excommunicated nuns, has made excommunication the new fast track to canonization! 
Now the question is how will Pope Francis respond to the women priests’ movement in our church? I pray that our new pope will follow Jesus’ example of Gospel equality and that he will appoint women to some of the top positions in the Vatican to help reform the clerical structure in our church.

 Now we ordain our Sister, Debra Meyers.  Like the  Samaritan woman, Debra will proclaim the depths of God’s love and welcome all to the Table of Plenty. Let us rejoice with Debra Meyers as she is ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest today!
Bridget Mary Meehan, D.Min., a Sister for Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. Dr. Meehan is currently Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 19 books, including Praying with Women of the Bible, and   Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God.
She presides at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida and celebrates liturgies with groups in N.Va. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009. Dr. Meehan can be reached at 

Homily Clip:ARCWP Ordination of Debra Meyers/Cincinnati